Conversation on 'Brave Story ブレイブ・ストーリー' with DMJ

Poster of BRAVE STORY

It's rare to have a Japanese animated film shown in local theaters, not a single Ghibli film had ever gotten theatrical distribution in Malaysia, yet this year, I was surprised to see not one, but TWO anime films screened in theaters, the first one being a Doraemon movie (Nobita's Dinosaur 2007 or something like that) and BRAVE STORY.

I'm reviewing this film with DMJ because she's an anime specialist. I said specialist, because she is self-aware, cynical, witty and intellectual enough NOT to be a mere constantly squealing anime otaku fangirl.

HOWEVER, our exchange contains MAJOR SPOILERS and is better read if you have already seen the film and is interested to jump into a discussion with us.

Otherwise, if you want more conventional, spoiler-less reviews, you should check out A Nutshell Review's... review, Saffron Star's review or SHTUFF: Anime Blogage's review

All I can say is that it's a visually amazing animated film that sucks you right into its fantasy world, but is plagued with a weak storyline and underdeveloped characters and subplots. Enjoyable, but not mindblowing.



I said:
yoo hoo
I said:
let's start!
I said:
ooi?
DMJ said:
in a minute
DMJ said:
ok
DMJ said:
let's start
I said:
All right, review for Brave Story begins!
DMJ said:
so how many were in the cinema when you watched it?
I said:
Actually, the cinema was nearly half full.
DMJ said:
shocking!
DMJ said:
when i went the cinema was only filled with 17 of us, and another friend said it was empty
I said:
Yeah, definitely more than when I saw Aaron Kwok's The Detective!
DMJ said:
holy carp!
I said:
(which had a grand total of 2 people, me and another guy sitting few rows behind me)
DMJ said:
lol
I said:
I dunno, maybe there wasn't 50%, but I'm sure more than a third of the cinema was full. People were reacting well to the film.
DMJ said:
it's a nice movie
DMJ said:
how do you define reacting well?
I said:
Yeah, I thought it was too kiddy-ish at first, but I gradually got into the film.
I said:
There were laughters and the like
I said:
Like when cat-girl Miina kissed him
DMJ said:
it was....cute
DMJ said:
furry, but cute
I said:
and the resolution between his fight with the 'shadow him'
DMJ said:
i like it that the catgirl is an actual catgirl, and not some stereotypical girl with cat ears.
DMJ said:
i still don't get that part though
I said:
People just giggled when they saw him hugged the other him, I know not why
DMJ said:
maybe by then my brain was getting runny, so I didn't quite get the conflict between wataru and his shadow
DMJ said:
it's very very BL (Boy Love)
DMJ said:
i don't know how much homoerotic undertones you got from the ending, really
I said:
come on, the whole thing between Wataru and Mitsuru were pretty damned shounen-ai ish
I said:
it's like Sora/ Rikku in Kingdom Hearts
DMJ said:
yup yup
I said:
is this a new trend or something? To do something homoerotic so that fangirls will react well and write yaoi fanfiction about the film? Sheesh
DMJ said:
only with younger kids, so you can take it both ways
DMJ said:
i think so, not sure if the novel was this gayish.
I said:
It's a 13-volume manga, no?
DMJ said:
Either it's a new trend, or society's sensitivity to homosexuality is bringing up the wrong messages.
DMJ said:
13-volume novel, more like.
I said:
It's one of the problems I had with the film I guess, it's so fast-paced that many things seemed underdeveloped
DMJ said:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_Story --> novel first, then manga
DMJ said:
it's like my friend said, when she saw the musical montage, she thought, "i guess this is books 2-7...."
I said:
Yeah, even though I didnt know anything about the source material, I KNEW the film was condensing stuff
I said:
would have been better as a TV series
I said:
or an OVA
I said:
but the whole thing might have been too cliched to be drawn out.
DMJ said:
or the quality would've gotten really low, and that would be depressing.
I said:
Might as well cram the whole story into a full-length feature and up the ante with big-budget effects
DMJ said:
on one hand, you get the gist of the story without a lot of pointless filler-type episodes
DMJ said:
on the other, i really want to know what's up with that miniature snow town.
I said:
Yeah, definitely. The locations in the World of Vision seem so rich and colourful that I want to see the place more
I said:
Seriously, this animated film is beyond the shitty fantasy films churned out by Hollywood these days like Stardust and Eragon
DMJ said:
I don't know about you, but I think Mitsuru would have benefitted from a longer story.
DMJ said:
Stardust is crap? Really? I've heard lots of good things about it.
I said:
Yeah, I think that too. I can't feel the supposedly deep friendship between Mitsuru and Wataru, so when they have to fight each other, the impact isn't there.
DMJ said:
plus when they reveal his painful past, i don't get the pain.
DMJ said:
i know we're supposed to sympathize with both of them on some level, seeing as how they apparently got hurt and betrayed by their parents
DMJ said:
but all i get is OMG HIS PARENTS DED yeah big coincidence there *roll eyes*
I said:
Well, parents killed the cute little toddler sister too.
DMJ said:
who is also so underdeveloped i don't see why he'd want to revive her.
DMJ said:
plus, the ending got really warped - did she just age 3-4 years or something?
I said:
Yeah. Maybe he just undid everything that happened before, like she survived the tragedy or something.
DMJ said:
but how did that happen?
DMJ said:
and who was that big bullfrog girl?
I said:
Exactly, she's just this 'voice' that guided him the whole time
I said:
She's like a deus ex machina
I said:
like Necron in Final Fantasy 9
DMJ said:
things like these could've been put in the movie at least
DMJ said:
or ultimecia
I said:
Yeah, so the film doesn't become as emotionally involving as it should've been
I said:
It made me fall in love with the World of Vision
I said:
and the colourful inhabitants
DMJ said:
the effects and architecture are gorgeous
DMJ said:
i did get sucked into their world, i give it that much
I said:
yeah, and not because of the strong narrative
DMJ said:
but in that case we might as well make it a nature show and chuck the actual story out the window, because the world is more interesting
DMJ said:
i doubt that's the case with the novel
I said:
I'm sure the novel is like another one of those long epic fantasy series where each character is fleshed out
I said:
and the subplots wouldn't be left dangling too (like cat-girl's search for papa)
DMJ said:
and we'd have more reason to cheer mitsuru on besides from him being bishie and voiced by eiji wentz
I said:
Hahaha
DMJ said:
i'm thinking "i wanna cosplay him so i can wear his cloak", but that's just wrong. XD
I said:
Yup. So, yeah, in conclusion, film is technically amazing with its visuals and top-notch animation.
DMJ said:
but story is so lacking and weak we didn't get a feel for it.
I said:
Yeah, exactly. Rather contrived. More style than substance.
DMJ said:
and more BL than necessary.
I said:
I think it might be as enjoyable as Howl's Moving Castle (which is one of Hayao Miyazaki's most disappointing films in memory), but not as good as any of those Ghibli films. Spirited Away this ain't.
DMJ said:
Nor Metropolis
I said:
Yeah, it's pure fan service. Why can't we get more GL or something, sheesh.
I said:
Hell yeah, Metropolis was MINDBLOWING! (we were referring to the animated film, not Fritz Lang's classic)
DMJ said:
I'd like to see less intimate male fellowships even though I'm a BL fan.
DMJ said:
plus, GL are usually found in TV series. Like Buffy.
I said:
Seeing all these intimate male fellowships made me wonder whether that's really how people act and that I've been too cool and reserved towards my own male buddies
I said:
Guess that's all we have to say about this film then
DMJ said:
Looks like it.
DMJ said:
unless we start analyzing the trend in BL overtones in movies.




BRAVE STORY trailer


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