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83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Origin Spirits of the Past
I was so looking forward to this film that I had to put it in the DVD player as soon as it dropped through my letterbox; and from the powerful and beautifully animated opening credits, with evocative music and stirring imagery, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. This film has excellent post apocalyptic and environmental themes that infuse it with a sense of drama...
Published on 19 July 2008 by Spider Monkey

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's with the crop top?!
What's that? A girl wakes up in a changed world of the future? And needs to be rescued by some happy go lucky teenage boy? Huh, Nature has risen against man at last?! An evil man wants to harness her unique gift for his own means?!? ....But will our heroes prevail?! :O

Ok, so it's not that original (a bit of a cliché) but i don't mind that. What hasn't...
Published on 9 Jun 2009 by Catkin


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83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Origin Spirits of the Past, 19 July 2008
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
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I was so looking forward to this film that I had to put it in the DVD player as soon as it dropped through my letterbox; and from the powerful and beautifully animated opening credits, with evocative music and stirring imagery, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. This film has excellent post apocalyptic and environmental themes that infuse it with a sense of drama and excitement, as soon as you've watched fifteen minutes you'll be hooked to the very end. The tag line on the cover says 'the most impressive looking anime movie to come out since Steamboy' and I'm inclined to agree. The film is beautifully rendered and the animation is lush and detailed. If you like ghibli and more modern manga and anime then this film will be right up your street. This film is superbly dubbed into English and you get none of that cheesy dubbing from past anime films i've seen. The story was reminiscent of 'Nausicaa' in places, what with the forest fighting back, but it comes from a genetic modification angle, that ties the film into advances in science since that film and the perceived dangers associated with them. At just under 90 minutes this film is a perfect length and will easily keep your attention for the duration. A top anime film that comes highly recommended.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars lacks a certain charm, but quite fun!, 25 Sep 2009
By 
Michael Smith ""SAY HELLO TO GOOD TIMES"" (Norfolk, UK, in a little village named Crimplesham...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
i'm a huge hayao miyazaki fan. when i heard that this film had elements of his storytelling genius along the lines of his earlier works i thought: ''Hey! I like that idea! someone finally taking on the big boy by playing at his own game!!''

now i wasn't expecting this to be quite as brilliant as his work, but i was expecting a certain level of originality. the story had elements of practically every ghibli fantasy i've ever seen, and i felt the characters were so wooden and tired looking i didn't really care. but i did really enjoy this film! it was big, dumb and fun! like michael mann taking on a hayao miyazaki film, this looks the part, but storywise, its formulaic dribble. a volcano moves for goodness sake! ON WHEELS!!!

but the opening five minutes was pure entertainment. the music and animation was incredible, and it continued at that high level of quality throughout the film. five stars on artistry. i found certain plot elements interesting: i was intrigued by the flashbacks and completely taken by the creepy forest setting. sadly, these story elements weren't really taken to the max, and the potential for this film to be amazing is sadly so obviously clear.

i showed this film to someone who had never seen a japanese anime, and they were enthralled. so as a starting point in japanese anime, this is a good place to begin. for those that love this medium, its mildly diverting storywise, but artistically, its the kind of film everyone should see on a really, REALLY big screen!

also, towards the end when the hero (whose name escapes me) turns into one of the white haired people (forgot what they're called, sorry again!) i thought the animation was in a league of its own. when the heroes tree father was shown, i found it creepy. this film is worth viewing on the opening scene and these scenes alone. and to finish it off, the music really is as good as everyone has said on this site. kokia should have been oscar nominated for something. perhaps the musical score!

so now i've come to the end of my review. this is my grading:

five stars for the looks.
two stars for the story.
six stars for the soundtrack.
i give this four. if you expect little, you will recieve a lot! just don't expect the majesty of miyazaki's naussica, laputa, or mononoke. or even howl's moving castle! in fact, just don't expect anything. just sit back, listen, watch and forget about the story. a film this beautiful should just be looked at. i can only wonder how great this could have been had someone thought more about the story!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's with the crop top?!, 9 Jun 2009
This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
What's that? A girl wakes up in a changed world of the future? And needs to be rescued by some happy go lucky teenage boy? Huh, Nature has risen against man at last?! An evil man wants to harness her unique gift for his own means?!? ....But will our heroes prevail?! :O

Ok, so it's not that original (a bit of a cliché) but i don't mind that. What hasn't been done before in film?

This film is well drawn; the character design simple but the beautifully detailed backgrounds make up the visuals. The story might have you yawning but the characters are over all engaging and there relationships are convincing. I did want to watch this film till the end, it had some nice ideas and the animation doesn't let it down. Worth a watch i say.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully animated..., 14 Aug 2008
By 
pacem et amorem (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
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This is the first Japanese anime that I have watched and I must say I was impressed. Usually the style of animation does not appeal to me but this is beautifully executed and often looks almost real.

Whilst this is a story that has been tackled many times before in a variety of permutations (i.e. man against the natural world) it is an interesting take on the familiar theme. I for one was pretty much hooked from the first few opening sequences. I was engaged and I didn't expect to be.

While it may not be everyone's cup of tea, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. I would recommend you give it a go as it is definitely worth watching and is certainly a positive introduction to the anime genre for those (like me) who have never given it a second thought before!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A familiar story surprisingly well told, 26 Nov 2008
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
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Post-apocalyptic animes are a dime a dozen, and Origin: Spirits of the Past certainly doesn't stand out from the crowd for its originality. Although many have pointed out the similarities to Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind, Japan has been dealing in apocalyptic eco-fables since the days of Godzilla vs. Ghidorah.

Once again, we're in a ruined future where people have forgotten much of the civilisation that fell due to a past disaster - in this case a vividly realised man-made ecological disaster that has split the moon in two, changed Earth's entire eco-system and brought about the end of civilisation as we know it. Mankind is split into two groups: a militaristic state determined to conquer the forest that has become the dominant power on Earth after attaining sentient life and a more Utopian neutral city trying to live in balance with the forest and making the best of what little of civilisation they can salvage. Matters come to a head when a girl is accidentally awoken from suspended animation - a girl who unknowingly has the power to destroy the forest and everything around it...

So far, so familiar, and it's true there are few surprises in terms of storytelling or character. It spends more of its imagination crating the world the story takes place in than on the story itself, but if it's a simplistic tale it's elevated by some genuinely stunning animation, with vivid, often CGi rendered background environments with a wealth of detail that frequently impresses more than what's in the foreground. While there are a few niggle - the opening scene suffers from some surprisingly unconvincingly animated running - much of it is so impressive it's easy to be swallowed up by the visuals. Indeed, from the opening prologue to the forest dragon made entirely of rapidly moving foliage, this is a film where the artists' joy in the possibilities of animation are everything: just as well with a finale that takes tree-hugging to new literal heights. And Bond fans will be pleased to know that even in the future, volcanoes make ideal lairs and still come not with a simple off switch but a self-destruct system! Surprisingly impressive stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New to anime? An ideal starting point, 29 July 2008
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
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Origin is visually gorgeous, and offers an ideal introduction to feature-film style anime if you've not watched much before. Like much of the best anime it combines simplicity with creativity; stunning artwork and subtlety with occasionally crass naivety, one-dimensional characters and blunt (or pointless) plotting. Origin is littered with clever little ideas and wistful, witty sub-plots, but it romps along in the main with a plain old fashioned 'boy meets girl and saves the world' theme.
There's also a walking mountain which spits fire and has huge guns, just in case you thought this was all too poetical!
Despite the fact that it's set in a post-apocolyptic future, when mankind has been knocked off the top spot on the planet, Origin is at heart an optimistic film. It suggests that through the actions of a few people who remain true and pure, and who are prepared to sacrifice themselves, the whole of humanity can be reconciled to the wild, savage Forest which has risen against us.
The path to redemption isn't straightforward, however, so mortal peril, bad guys with tanks, earth druids, bad guys with drugs, walking trees, bad guys with walking gun platforms, fire-breathing tree-dragons which scream from the sky all conspire to keep the action moving. It's in the detail and the realisation of the future world that Origin is strongest: this is a belivable, fleshed-out vision of a world where some humans go to the forest to become augmented... and where other humans build massive weapons to destroy the forest once and for all.
There are few surprises in the way the story unfolds, however, and I wasn't particularly won over by most the the characters (but watch out for the hero's father. He's interesting, although he doesn't get much time on screen). The pleasure in watching Origin came from all the sub-plot and careful build up, not really in the giant battle and finale.
So this is probably better than 3 stars, really, but not quite 4. It's certainly a good film for kids to watch (nowt tasteless on the sex or violence fronts, nor is it too scarily sinister), and has enough intellectual challenge going on to interest most adults.
If you've not tried watching much anime before, then dive in here...
7/10
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The age of the triffids., 20 July 2008
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
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When a girl is revived from cryo-stasis she is told how trees hold power over the world, even going as far as controlling how much water is made available. This convenient explanation fills us in on the back story and explains the reasoning behind the incredibly impressive opening sequence. And it really is impressive, the dramatic music and the slick animation show the advancing of the plants from the moon, burning through the Earth's atmosphere - an event which eventually led to the dystopia we see on screen.

The age of technology has passed and humanity exists against a ravaged backdrop of ruined cities. A blend of hand-drawn and computer animation work well, and the backgrounds are beautifully drawn to give amazing detail - almost photographic in some cases!

I have seen many films which deal with forest spirits (Princess Mononoke (Special Edition) and My Neighbour Totoro being two studio Ghibli examples) but the idea of genetically modified plants with their own intelligence feels like a clever alternative.

The ensuing adventure/battle between those who want the trees to be obliterated and those who want harmony introduces the familiar anime themes of environmentalism, giant mecha constructions, and the desire to finish off a father's work.

In a nutshell: staggering animation with a plot which should have been better but sometimes simply dragged. I'd give this 3.5 if I could, but I can't. So I'm opting for 4. I enjoyed this, and it's a 'must watch' for anime fans, if just for the visuals alone.
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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Humanity Vs Nature Yet Again, 20 July 2008
This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
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I'd added the region one version of this DVD to my Amazon wishlist over a year ago, after I'd seen `Afro Samurai' and been so impressed that I sought out other animated features from the same studio that created it- Gonzo. I don't know why it's taken this long for the movie to be released on region two, but I was really looking forward to discovering whether or not it had been worth the wait...

Japanese cinema (and Japanese culture in general I suspect) shows an intense fascination with the ecological story, especially with the idea of Mother Nature striking back against humanity as we develop ever-evolving technologies to aid us in making our mark on the natural world. Usually the counter-attack from natural forces manifests itself in the most outlandish form possible; fantasy role-playing games and films in the Studio Ghibli catalogue are littered with examples of the natural world mutating new species as a means of combating humanity's increasing technological might. So does `Origin' manage to make it's own mark on an extremely common theme? Yes and no...

The opening music is absolutely majestic (by Kokia) and the perfect accompaniment to a gripping sequence that sets the foundation for the story about to be told. Also I'd have to comment on a superb score, it's absolutely spot-on throughout. Unfortunately the story descends into all the predictable clichés; an ordinary young boy just waiting for the chance to prove himself and a gifted young girl from another world meet under unusual circumstances, their fates intertwine and before long they're embarking on separate journeys that will culminate in their reunion as they come face-to-face with a hideously over-the-top baddie hell bent on destroying the world as they know it. Only they can prevent the utter destruction of all they hold dear, but will they be victorious? I think you know the answer already. So the plot is nothing that hasn't been seen a few dozen times before, but there's still a lot of enjoyment to be had and the occasional stunning visual to behold.

The beauty of `Afro Samurai' was that it combined a totally creative concept with an unusually charismatic anti-hero in the lead role, so for those people that were seduced out of their comfort zones and into anime due to that one-off example of the genre, I don't think `Origin' will have the same broad appeal. It's lacking well-rounded, sympathetic characters and the wooden dialogue is a shame too. The same applies to ardent Myazaki fans, but for a different reason- the subject matter is just too familiar to really entrance.

But while the character animation is not as accomplished as the unique colouring & expression in `Afro Samurai' and a compelling atmosphere isn't quite as well established, `Origin' does boast some fantastic shots involving movement and landscape with a similar kind of experimentation in camera shots, which I expect/hope will now become standard with not just animated movie features in the future, but also those that are series-based as well.

It's lacking a much needed edge, but `Origin: Spirits of the Past' is still recommended viewing for fans of anime like myself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Vision of Nature VS Manpower, 19 Sep 2008
By 
S. Smith "sitorimon" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
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This comes from the team that made Final Fantasy Unlimited which was an anime series that done very well for itself but this is their first full length picture.

The premise is that during research where humans genetically modified plants and trees to be more productive things went wrong. The trees fought back basically and since then have waged war with humans. The remaining towns go about their business with the trees in different ways. Some fight back while others try to find a way to co-exist. However one day a cyrogentically frozen girl is discovered and when she realises that she holds the key to starting the world afresh so begins a battle to take her power away.

The animation is fantastic and is used with CGI battlecraft and light effects to give it a unique feel. The voice acting and in particular the music is well done. I'd be inclined to buy the soundtrack.

The themes may not be new but they are as important as ever and this is a fantastic opening account to Studio Gonzo's career.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Looks lovely, but the story didn't engage me, 7 Sep 2008
This review is from: Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] (DVD)
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I love Japanese cinema, but I have to admit that this is the first animated film I have seen. I had high expectations for the film, but it didn't really meet my expectations. I think this is not necessarily the fault of the film, it's just that this is not really my cup of tea. I did enjoy the animation, especially some of the gorgeous landscapes. The colours were just beautiful. I also loved the music, especially the gorgeous song that was played over the opening credits. The problem was that the story didn't really grab me. I lost interest early on and then found that I didn't know what was going on. I also had a huge problem with the dubbing. I hate dubbed films and will not usually watch them. I like to hear a film in the language it was shot in. I wanted to hear the Japanese language mixed with the Japanese landscapes on screen. I realise that subtitles probably would not have been ideal for a film that may be watched by children. I just found that the American accents grated on me.
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Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD]
Origin - Spirits of the Past [DVD] by Keiichi Sugiyama (DVD - 2008)
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