2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Nice animation but the story is lacking,
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This review is from: Oblivion Island: Haruka And The Magic Mirror Double Play [DVD & Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Warning - there will be spoilers!
First off, the animation on this film is brilliant. It's really got moments of sheer awe, the film is a sort of mix of 2.5D/3D backgrounds and 3D character models which looks very unique. However this is also one of the problems with the film, its visuals often outmatch many other elements of the film in particular the storyline and characterisation. I definitely think the characters could have been developed more, Haruka should had more screen time in the real world rather than on oblivion island. Her relationship with her father should have been explored more at the start of the film, it just equates him with working a lot and being too lazy to clean up after himself, drinking Haruka's drink etc This leads on the second point in that the film is rather content to stay within the cliches of a childrens film/tv-series, the film relies on rather underdeveloped trivial issues in the beginning of the film like the characterisation of Haruka's father and the focus of Dio's bullies who are some sort of gang who take prominence in the first half of the film. It's never really explained why the gang are out to get Dio at all except they find Haruka accompanying him as suspicious. Basically the gang don't really need to exist except for some tension chase scenes.
Yes I might be being harsh on this film as it is afterall targeted towards kids but enjoyable for anybody to watch. Some of the plot elements were really interesting, I liked the folklore elements, the second half of the story involving the Baron is stronger and definitely brings in much needed sentiment and tension to the story that feels rather more forced in the first half of the film such as the introduction of Cotton, although the dancing scene with the phonograph is really what the films needed more as its fun to see them acting like real people, like children and its relatable. I really like the issues that are brought into the plot about abandonment, neglect, the loss of a loved one, worthlessness, growing up and memories of the past, it's a microcosm of what Haruka is feeling as a teenager growing up into an adult and her insecurities. Haruka's motives to get back her mirror and effectively her childhood memories make for an interesting story and there is some good climatic scenes, particularly Cotton's death was an allegory to Haruka's loss of childhood. There is also the metaphor of neglect and loss of Japanese religion and culture seen in the shrine in the real world, Haruka peers inside to realise that it is unkempt and messy, its neglected and forgotten. This is where the film truly shines when it delves into the deeper meaning behind Haruka's adventure however it isn't perfect, it could have been executed a lot better in terms of story, as mentioned before the first half of the story is rather weak. I wouldn't really compare the film Oblivion Island in my personal taste to the likes of Totoro or Spirited Away but its definitely a solid film and I could see why others could consider it a masterpiece on the level of other such films.