on 12 May 2013
I haven't watched many stand-alone anime films outside of the Studio Ghibli Collection, `Summer Wars' and `The Girl Who Leapt Through Time', so I was pretty happy to see a couple new, good-looking anime films on their way over to a UK release (Loups Garous being the second) and on blu-ray no less!
Now, usually I'd start talking about the general plot, but to be honest that's pretty hard to do with a piece like this. It's somewhere between a horror, a mystery, an action/adventure and a sci-fi, and constantly messes with your head, throwing in hints and tricks and all sorts of crazy! The synopsis on the amazon page is really all you need to read plot-wise as anymore would only spoil/confuse the experience for anyone going into it. That said, it does all manage to hold itself together well and wraps up nicely at the end, though there are questions still to be answered, you feel like you almost don't want/need to know the rest.
Animation wise I was pretty impressed. This movie looks amazing on blu-ray, there's no doubt about that, but if you can only afford the normal DVD release/don't have a blu-ray player then don't worry because you can definitely still appreciate the detail and fluid animation that went into this project. There is quite a bit of CGI work and for the most part it blends in well and doesn't take away from the experience as CGI sometimes can, though on occasions it appears as though the characters in some scenes are CGI, which can leave them looking a little odd to say the least!
The dub is quite good, and it does help that you can hear and appreciate all the accents going on (American, Russian, Italian and possibly Australian?), so if you prefer to watch dubs over subs, there's nothing too harmful to your ears here!
Warning, this piece can get quite bloody at times, so if you're not into the occasional gore splatter then you should probably be cautious, though the creators didn't overdo it which is nice (compared to pieces like Elfen Lied which basically give you something grossly over-the-top bloody every five seconds) and this planning manages to hold the tension very well for when something violent does happen!
Now I haven't read the manga, and I hear that although the film does retain the basic plot, the manga gives you more details about the characters and their back-stories and that the endings are also different. That being said this is still a fine stand-alone piece and if anything has made me want to read the manga to see a different take on the story.
Overall King of Thorn is worth a watch. It's exciting, weird and beautiful, with a story full of twists and interesting characters so don't miss out and make sure you give it a try.
I would also recommend this to anyone who liked Serial Experiments Lain, Evangelion, and Noein.
on 31 July 2015
When I first came across 'King of Thorn' in an HMV store, I wasn't sure whether it was something worth buying or not. The idea behind the story did sound interesting to me, but there had been cases where animes failed to meet my expectations before. Plus, it was very rare I ever bought a Japanese movie that wasn't made by Studio Ghibli. I decided to put off buying 'King of Thorn' at first. But much later on, I regained interest in it, after seeing a brief review and several clips of it online. I also heard about the awards it was nominated for back in 2010. I finally got round to watching the DVD, weeks after buying it on Amazon. And boy, could I see it won a Montreal Film Festival Audience Award.
The story begins in the year 2012, where a deadly disease known as the Medusa virus (or Acquired Cellular Induration Syndrome) has broken out, killing thousands of people worldwide in just three years. The disease slowly turns the victim to stone before causing instant death upon complete petrification. The fatality rate is 100%. Since there's no way of fighting the disease, the world agrees to sponsor the Venus Gate Corporation with its 'Sleeping Beauty' project. 160 volunteers from around the world are put into cryogenic sleep, until a cure can be found in the distant future. One of the volunteers is a teenage girl named, Kasumi Ishiki, who is forced to enter the chamber without her twin sister, Shizuku. An unspecified amount of time later, she and the other patients wake up to find the facility over-run with thorns and carnivorous monsters. Now, with just six other survivors, Kasumi must fight for her life, to find out how long she's been asleep and just what happened to her sister.
One of the reasons I didn't buy this DVD straight away was because I wasn't sure if the story could support the concept. It's very interesting to have a story where people get frozen into the future and wake up to find themselves in an apocalyptic world. But it's also not the most original idea ever. For me, there had to be something more to the plot to prevent it being just another generic survival story. Fortunately, 'King of Thorn' ended up delivering on a whole lot more than its premise.
Admittedly, the pacing does get a bit quick after the 30min mark. But there are many twists and turns in the story that help keep it unique and interesting. It's almost impossible to predict what's going to happen next, since you think the story is going one way one minute and then the next it goes off in a completely new direction. However, if you watch closely, there are also many on-screen details, which hint at the story's climax. These hints make you want to watch the movie a second time, since you realise the small details you thought were irrelevant actually turned out to be very important to the plot. An example is Kasumi and Shizuku having scars on different parts of their body.
Speaking of Kasumi and Shizuku, that's another thing I really like about this movie: their relationship. It's clear their personalities are quite different, with Kasumi being timid and doubtful, while her sister is mature and reassuring. They're also very close to one another, since the Medusa virus killed both their parents and they only have each other for company. Their bond is tested as they both catch the virus, too.
As a twin myself, I can really relate to Kasumi; I'm less confident than my sister and I don't know what I'd do if she wasn't there to guide me. With that in mind, I can really understand how heart-wrenching it must be for Kasumi to be separated from Shizuku - possibly forever. Even if, by some miracle, they did see each other again, they won't feel like twins anymore: Kasumi would remain young, while Shizuku would probably be an aged woman - if not dead. That's why it's really touching when Kasumi says she will take advantage of their identical appearances. As she grows older and looks in the mirror, she won't see her reflection; she'll see her sister, the same age as her - like it was meant to be.
Having a sibling is touching, but having a twin is more personal. A twin is somebody you've literally been together with your whole life - even before birth - and you have this subconscious feeling that you should always stay together. This movie asks whether one twin could really go on in life without the other, which is another thing that makes the story unique.
There honestly wasn't a lot I was expecting from this movie - like its references to the bible and Greek mythology. However, one thing I was really surprised to discover was how similar the story is to 'Sleeping Beauty'. One of the characters even reads parts of the fairytale as the movie progresses, showing how similar the events are. It's interesting because it questions certain elements to the classic tale. What if the thorns weren't made to imprison the princess, but to keep her safe? What if the princess never wanted to wake up from her dreams, but wanted to carry on living in a world where she could always be safe and have anything she imagined? All of this helps to emphasis one of the main focuses of the story.
Throughout the movie, the narrative touches on the power of dreams, miracles and the imagination. Shizuku tells Kasumi that miracles are real, but they can only happen if you pray for one hard enough. Which is why she asks her to pray that they'll see each other again. Also, the story questions the potential of the human mind. If dreams and imaginations were strong enough could they really manipulate other people's memories, or even create life? There's a lot more to 'King of Thorn' than just reimagining a fairytale.
Another thing worth mentioning about 'King of Thorn' is its characters. Specifically, the group of seven survivors which includes Kasumi; a lady named Katherine; a boy named Timothy; a police officer (Ron); a convicted criminal (Marco); a scientist (Peter) and an elderly politician (Alexandro). At first, I was concerned that the characters would be bland and just feel like a random group of people thrown together, like in 'The Poseidon Adventure'. However, the story allows us to hear some of their back-stories and why they volunteered for the sleep program. Plus, everyone seems to have their own usefulness to the group's survival. Kasumi, for instance, is haunted by the loss of her sister, and refuses to let anyone else die or get left behind. Katherine is medically-trained and keeps everyone in check. Ron and Marco are strong and fight off monsters. Even Timothy, is able to help with his seemingly useless knowledge of video games, because it gives the group vital information about the monsters' weaknesses.
Also, most of the characters are given development as they interact with each other. It's interesting to see how characters like Marco and Kasumi seem to be on the fence about whether they should act like their typical selves - violent or timid, respectively - or change for the sake of the group. The result is that Kasumi becomes more mature, while Marco becomes less selfish. It's even revealed later that the characters have all been playing much deeper roles than anyone realised.
The movie's ending does get rather confusing, but I always like a story that surprises me. There are many shocking and unexpected moments that made me gasp, and I had to pause the DVD for a moment just to compose myself. I'm not sure whether the end is happy or sad, since we have no idea what becomes of the survivors after their ordeal is over. However, one thing is for sure. The story will defiantly play on your emotions and make you feel for the characters you're watching.
When I first saw this movie, I had a sneaking suspicion which company did the English translation - I was proven right when I saw the end credits. The English dub was done by Funimation Entertainment. The reason I worked this out was because the movie uses many of their regular voice actors, like Brina Palencia as Kasumi and Stephanie Young as Katherine. Plus, there was no questioning who voiced Timothy and Alice: Luci Christian and Monica Rial (respectively) - two of my all time favourites. I think it's gotten to the point where I can recognise an anime that's been dubbed by Funimation Entertainment, as much as I know when a movie has had contribution from Hayao Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli. This is the first time I've seen a film dubbed by Funimation Entertainment. And, I've got to say, it's as good as some of the anime series they work on.
In conclusion - regardless of the movie's swearing and violence - I would recommend 'King of Thorn' to several different audiences. First of all, any anime fan who wants to know what Funimation can do with a movie, rather than a series, can check this out and see what they think. Second, if you want to see an anime that's reminiscent of 'Sleeping Beauty', but with more realism and a deeper story, then this might be something worth trying. This may also be for you if you want to see a twist on the typical survival genre. Finally - and this is most important - I would recommend this film for twins to watch together, since it emphasises on the bonds they share and the pains of being separated. Ultimately, though, the movie proves how you don't always have to be together, to 'always' be together - if you know what I mean.
on 7 February 2015
Blu ray quality 8/8
Audio quality 8/8
Symbolism 8/8(try to keep up)
score 500//8 Toshihiko SAHASHI Thank you & WONDERFULLY MESMERIZING.
screenplay 100/8 this will mind bend you.
Ibara no Ou(King Of Thorn, is about sisterhood love, mystery, mindscape, redemption & potentially lost in an eternal world of dreams. If you connect with the characters you will go though their journey.
Another movie about dream within a dream & questions what is reality & succeeds with absolute in your face. This movie is wonderfully paced.
From the moment you hear the score, the narrator talking about sleeping beauty, the coaches going through Scotland & the landscapes the illustration will leave you at awe, you know this movie will be something special. ITS IS one of my top favourite movies.
One of the many funny moment how all people, ignore the media, with resentment, haa haaa.
The ending will confuse you, move you, as the score haunts you, the destruction of the castle without definitive answers, as the director wants you to feel the journey of Kasumi, her loss, this is the genius, what is reality!!
Marco the hooligan right at the end explains this beautifully. "we all could be bits of sleep, rolling in somebodies head".
Check out the score FAIRY TALE.
A beautiful touch in the end of the credits. watch right at the end of the credits.
This movie will stay in your mind for days.
on 24 June 2014
This dvd caught my eye on a lazy search through amazon's anime and the synopsis sounded interesting - post-apocalyptic, very Blue Gender in plot - so I got it on a whim.
The animation is excellent, as tends to be the case in feature films as they have a bigger budget. The story was also very good and - not giving anything away - they took the high road on the secret behind the monsters as it would have been much easier to take the simple, prosaic explanation. Not the case here, I'm glad to say and there was a nice little surprising twist at the end too which I did not see coming.
Overall, I was pleased with this purchase and I only have one major gripe which is more a pet peeve than anything else and this is the matter of scripting and voice acting.
In the main, the translations of these animes are done by American writers who, in my experience, often make a hash of foreign words and expressions - especially British idiosyncracies.
I'm British myself and one of the things that annoys me the most in anime in general is the stereotypical way in which the British are portrayed. Voice actors (in this case, Patrick Seitz, who I think is really good) often do their part well; its the lines they have to say that make them sound ridiculous and this is the fault of the script writers.
For British natives like myself, quite a bit of dialogue Seitz's character gets in this film would come off as funny, which detracts from the seriousness of their situation. Its not a major flaw, more a personal thing and if it doesn't bother you, then you'll still probably enjoy this film if you like action / horror / sci-fi anime.