Taking a quick trip to New York I realized that Japan Cuts was going on and Cuts is where a selection of notable Japanese films are premiered or shown. Since we are affiliated with many organizations in the area I thought I would check out some of the premeire anime films that are being shown. First up is the anime take on a retelling of a Buddhist parable about sacrifice entitled Buddha. It has been announced that this will be a trilogy adapted from the manga series.
The worst thing about hearing about trilogies is if the first one is terrible then we will have 2 additional films to follow. Luckily, this anime delivers everything you could want in a grand-scale tome of action and adventure. It combines the story from the first two volumes of Tezuka’s epic 8 volume manga series and if you haven’t read it, you should. Prince Siddhartha – a child of royalty, is to succeed the throne, but from an early age Siddhartha is tormented by confusion and doubt. Being nobility isn’t enough to protect one from the ravages of old age, illness, death, and suffering. When you really thing about it, it’s not the easiest story to adapt but it really does sound like this could have been done much better. Taking into account the grand scale of the task the animators have chosen, I still applaude them. Also, you shouldn’t spend a whole lot of focus analyzing it for all the ways it isn’t the same as the manga.
The modernization of a ’70s comic for today’s audiences is understandable but it just simply can’t be done. It is a different time and the movie needs to reflect modern times. Naturally, three decades in the making, the level of detail into the heritage of that country is astounding. I already can’t wait to get my hands on a Blu-Ray and watch it on my flat screen HDTV. It spends equal time on the spiritual side of the scenario but also Buddhist themes and a narrative driven by hack-and-slash warfighting. Sure, it isn’t 100% accurate, but the best adaptations are those that can both stand on their own and can be enjoyable by fans of the original work.
If you read the manga, then you would enjoy this movie greatly. For those who are in love with the animation style, I am sad to report this film never creates the sense of wonder present in the work of either Miyazakis. People who haven’t read the manga. just be prepared to see a film that lacks a bit of levity. The violence is all fast and bloody now, and have hints of lack of polish. Best case scenario is that this will be the weakest of the trilogy and we see even brighter colors, more action, better story, and less confusing plot. Still, as it stands this film was worth the $13 bucks, and it will be worth the money to add to your home collection, when the time comes. History buffs will especially love this fictionalized account of history, and everyone else will enjoy it mildly as well.