Sunday, 2 September 2012

Review - Legend of the Millennium Dragon (2011 - Dir. Hirotsugu Kawasaki)

It's been a tough time for me recently. The last four films I've seen have all had a rating of 2 or less. The film before that dire run (P2) only got 4 out of 10 so that was hardly sparkling either. This is a worrying trend. I read SFX and in their reviews most films are receiving low marks, average at best. Apart from anime that is. The recent anime releases all seem to attain above average star ratings. So with hope in my heart I made Legend of the Millennium Dragon my next viewing experience.

Right from the off I knew it was not going to be terrible. It starts with a battle between some army types from 1200 years ago in the Heian era and some creepily animated monsters, the Oni. A massive creature soon makes an appearance and starts causing havoc. Gen'un pops up and cooly sorts it out. 

Gen'un travels to the present time to enlist the help of a 'chosen one', and we are introduced to our reluctant hero, schoolboy Jun Tendo. You know the plot now. But the atmosphere makes up for a lack of originality in the story department.

The music helps to give it a rather strange feel. On screen there are huge historical style battles, yet they are accompanied by seventies style cop music. The other music choices are equally quirky and lift Legend of the Millennium Dragon out of the standard-issue mire. The visuals are equally accomplished. The fights are epic in scale and the Oni have an interesting effect applied to them. There's nothing overly special or original but pleasing nonetheless.

The characters are a weak point. Loads of spillover characters appear and then just as quickly, disappear. Five characters, who make a dubious pact with Gen'un and turn into 'Bayonetta' style gods, could have been interesting, but again suffer from limited screen time. Jun is a non-entity too. He's only there to fulfil his destiny.

This feels like more of a child friendly offering than the recently reviewed First Squad. The story is too obvious to appeal to the more mature viewer. I watched it with a nice cup of tea and some biscuits and quite enjoyed it. I let it's anime goodness wash all over me and purge me of the memory of Donkey Punch. It's way better than anything else I've seen recently so the rating is thankfully a tad higher. Still waiting for something good though...

As a side note, as I was searching for images for this review I came across this intriguing photo from Milocrorze: A Love Story. If this doesn't scream obscurendure I don't know what does. I want to see it. Someone release it now.

If you like this you could also try:
First Squad, Princess Mononoke, Sword of the Stranger.

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