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Brave Story [DVD]
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Brave Story is directed by Koichi Chigira of Full Metal Panic, and produced by Gonzo, the studio responsible for such high profile anime as Samurai 7, Hellsing and Gantz. When 11-year-old Wataru is told he can change his destiny by entering a magic gateway into another world he jumps at the chance, but soon has to summon up all his bravery in a world of demons.
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When this title was recommended to me I had a quick glance at the front cover, and some of the reviews, and thought 'meh. looks ok. why not?' I'm glad that I went in with such low expectations, because it allowed me to be all the more awed! Charming and utterly heartfelt, Brave Story is up there with Shinkai and Ghibli quality.
It's all about Wataru, whose happy childhood suddenly falls apart when his father leaves and his mother falls ill. Desperate to change his destiny, Wataru takes the advice of strange classmate Ashikawa and enters the fantastic other world of Vision through a portal in a delapidated building. Wataru is told that if he can collect 5 gems in this fantasy world he will be granted a wish, so he courageously sets out to put his broken family back together. But his friend Ashikawa is also on the quest for five gems, and unlike Wataru he will use any means necessary to attain his goal of a wish. No wish comes without a price however, and when Ashikawa collects the fifth gem and sets chaos loose in Vision, Wataru finally comes to see that the happiness that comes at the cost of others is not true happiness at all...
Wataru is an adorable hero - rather like Renton of Eureka 7 I had the overwhelming urge to cuddle him throughout the entire movie...he's sweet, polite and earnest, and not bratty, loud or whiny like so many protagonists - but I confess that Ashikawa stole the show for me. He's as morally ambiguous as they come, and from the moment he summons a denizen of the Underworld which murders and eats the schoolyard bullies that were picking on him and Wataru, you know he's not your standard bishounen. The guy has some pretty dark backstory going on.
Character development and likeability is 10/10 - if you don't have a lump in your throat when Ashikawa's motives are finally revealed then you have no soul! - the music is fantastic (very folksy, lots of strings and fiddles and swelling orchestral numbers , and the ending theme is provided by Aqua Timez - Bleach Movie, anyone?!). The ending was perfect in every way, bittersweet and with a big surprise at the end that had me nearly up on my feet applauding. There's also a nice extras section which goes behind the scenes on the japanese voice actors, two of whom are a hilarious pair to listen to.
All in all...AMAZING. This is the loveliest, most touching standalone anime movie I've in ages; it was easily better than Ponyo, and almost snagged Origin's place as my favourite Gonzo movie. Please watch this - it'll be the best few quid you EVER spent.
the production value of this movie is astonishing - dont be fooled by the cover. this is movie is a international colaboration and thus a LOT OF money went into it and you can see it everywhere. gonzo made a great job animating it , the sound is one of the best in anime! it was recorded at skywalker sound san fran and the story is based on a bestselling japanese light novel with great dubbing in english and japanese. i was ordering this because of the low prize and watched it twice in a row, because i was so delighted to find such a jewel in my dvd player :)
We loved the drawing, it is really enjoyable and after watching this and Origin the level is very high for the next one. We also enjoyed Summer wars, the girl who leapt through time... Yes, definitely an animé phase!
Buy it! As an aside, I also recommend watching the intriguingly titled 'We are not a couple' short documentary for some laughs :)
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