Friday, 19 October 2012

Review - Origin: Spirits of the Past (2006 - Dir. Keiichi Sugiyama)

As you probably already know, I tend to watch a bit of anime when I want to be guaranteed a half-decent viewing experience. And that's exactly what Origin: Spirits of the Past is: half-decent. No more, no less.

The planet is in ruins with nature fighting back. Agito lives in the desolate Neutral City. As a contrast, a lush forest grows nearby that restricts the water available to the city. Yet another contrast is brought to bear when the Ragna nation enter the fray with all its military might. Agito discovers Toola, a girl who has been asleep for three hundred years. That's a lot of 'Match of the Days' she's kipped through. Maybe Toola has the secret to bringing the world back to its natural balance? Or maybe she just likes singing songs by Dexy's Midnight Runners. From the above description, it does sound a lot like Nausicaa. And it is. Even the costumes of the Ragna leaders feels very familiar. Sadly, it's nowhere near as good as Nausicaa.

The introduction is baffling to say the least with dragons made out of plants zooming through space to attack Earth, although it is pretty thrilling especially when the gorgeous music is taken into account. Reminiscent of the music from Macross Plus, it lifts this opening scene to a must-see level (Tekkonkinkreet starts with a similarly great scene). When this theme recurs later in the film it is very welcome.

It is welcome because there is a rather large lull in the mid-section of the film. I don't know whether it was because I was in stupid-mode (always a possibility) but it all seemed quite hard to follow. This is borne out by the fact I've watched it a few times recently and it's still hard work. There are a couple of funny moments to keep the interest though. Agito falls on his coccyx. Comedy gold. Agito also acquires a crop top. Stylish.

Luckily things start to pick up at the end with a battle between a walking volcano and some cannon toting mechs. Also, rather than sitting and waiting for certain death (or eagles) on an erupting volcano, like the happy couple Sam and Frodo, Agito has a much visually better way of escaping a lava flow. It is moderately breath-taking. Maybe Manga will slap that comment on their promotional materials for the film. Ah, no. Just checked. They've used the quote, "Breath-taking" from The Sun. 

Origin: Spirits of the Past always seems to be available for a budget price, even in HMV. It's well worth a few of your shiny pounds for the gorgeous animation alone, just don't expect anything truly amazing story wise. Watch Nausicaa for that.

If you like this you could also try:
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Macross Plus.


  1. Hmmm... "moderately breath-taking." All the same, I feel intrigued to seek this out. Nice review!

    1. It's worth a watch definitely. 5 Centimeters Per Second and The Place Promised in Our Early Days are another two quality anime offerings that are both worth checking out.

  2. It can't be said we damn anything with feint praise can it? 'moderately breath-taking', 'nearly anthemic'...

    I could easily sleep for 300 years if Match of the Day was constantly on TV. Last night I slept through the News, MOTD and the Fottball League Show!

    The film sounds almost intriguing enough to watch.

    1. The screenshots make it look better than it is but it's a film that I will go back and watch again at some point, so it can't be all bad.

  3. As a fan of Origin: Spirits Of The Past, I think you'd like Oblivion Island!

    "An animated romp for the young and the young at heart! This internationally acclaimed feature film blends Japanese folklore and storybook charm reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland into an exhilarating tale sure to amaze animation fans of all ages. Sixteen-year-old Haruka is on a mission to find her mirror—a precious childhood gift from her late mother that has disappeared. On her search, she follows a strange fox-like creature to Oblivion Island, a mystical world overflowing with once-cherished items taken from their neglectful owners. Trouble follows Haruka and her new friend Teo at every turn as they contend with the island’s overbearing ruler, who will stop at nothing to use the mirror for his own sinister plan!"

    1. Yeah, this definitely looks like my type of thing. Expect a review soon relatively soon. Thanks for the recommendation.