As a love fantasy from South Korea, My Beautiful Girl Mari takes a simple story and combines it with unique animation. In a small town that resides by the sea, two friends learn the meaning of friendship as they grow up while occasionally whisking away into a dream-like world inhabited by a mysterious girl. At the same time, the notion of fantasy and reality becomes all the less clearer. Director Lee Sung-gang wisely shuns conventional Japanese and western animation styles to create something entirely new, as the character designs are rather simple and only allow for so much expression. In a world where animation is often becoming more and more reserved for the squeamishly childish or in some cases the violent-minded, My Beautiful Girl Mari is a nice change of pace.
Well the film really did have potential, but the way it was executed made it seem like it was dragging the viewer along to a climax that never comes. For one, Nam-woo keeps going back and forth to the fantasy world, but dosn’t do anything there. The only other human in the place is a silent, floating girl Nam Woo dubs ‘Mari.’ Nam Woo quickly returns to his world, but is determined to return to the magical world he visited and see Mari again. Watching the film was also a struggle as the subtitles were loosely translated and flaunted a horrid yellow tint. However, a surreal though substantial work, there’s really nothing else like it.
Unlike a lot of fast-oriented and action-filled animated movies out there, this one is very calm and smooth throughout. My Beautiful Girl Mari is a nice change of pace to see an animated film that shows no tensions and just allows the viewer to relax while watching it. While the general setting is that of a rural, coastal fishing town, Mari’s world is positively surreal, where all dogs are super huge as depicted in the attached screencap above. Although not as good as Wonderful Days, My Girl Mari does have some excellent graphics, and I also really loved the ending, it made the whole movie worthwhile. A child’s imagination is quite impressive when attempting to find something fun to do.
To conclude, the presentation here is flawless, but did the filmmakers not know that the premise they’re attempting to sell is the conflict between reality and fantasy? Don’t you think it would be a good idea to fully develop the difficulties of reality and fully develop the comforts of fantasy? It is unfortunate the filmmakers were content with unimaginative wandering and didn’t play to the films’ strengths that I stated above. This would have been a milestone in Korean animation and one that I would have to add to my library immediately. Still, I highly recommend it and if you are growing tiresome of Japanese Anime, you might want to give this film a spin. Overall I thought despite its faults, the movie was heartwarming and touching.