Animators for Brave Story have used a combination of hand drawings and computer graphics to create a beautiful fantasy world! I can’t speak on the majority, but I have always been in love with Gonzo’s animation studios. This movie definitely was focused at a young audience, as it’s about a young boy who winds up in an adventure inside a fantasy world. Still, Brave Story’s elements are similar to Miyazaki’s Spirited Away – you have an alternate world with fantasy creatures, and a child on a save-the-parents mission. And like the anime film Mind Game, there’s an overall message to “Seize the day, take charge of your life” and it’s very convincing. That said, there could have been more development in some areas… character development, relationship development, battle action, more use of creativity while in a fantasy realm. Still this is a solid anime film, and one worthy of your time.
The world of vision is vast and varied, filled with all sorts of bizarre humanoid creatures as well as a few humans here and there. Characters are surprisingly fluid in their movement and the action sequences are breathtakingly animated. That said, the CG is good but nothing to be awed at. Likewise, images are often memorable despite the structural flaws. And it strikes the chord right in the beginning, offering some masterful strokes of comedy, and bestowing our protagonist not with great power, but starting him off right at the bottom, as a hero apprentice.
It would be wrong to assume that Brave Story represents the studio at their best given the prominence of its shortcomings. Brave Story may not attract both child and adult audiences like many of the animated movies nowadays do, but adults will appreciate the job the folks at Skywalker Sound have done. As an adult, I found the movie a bit too long and the story a little predictable, but I can just chalk that up to watching too many films and giving into cliches. I have the feeling the book is more detailed in this respect, and the anime seems to skip a few of the earlier adventures, I suspect, since there seems to be some holes in the story/character development. For example, how the heck does Ashikawa summon whatever that thing is in the beginning? And what was he doing out of Vision in the first place?
My other complaint is the ending of the film. Not the climax or the conclusion to the story, but the very last scene before the credits. My mental ability is not something I brag about so it’s possible there are people other than the writers who have a clue about this finale. At only 108 minutes long, there could have been more to the journey. Perhaps since it was a film geared towards kids that could explain the shortness of it. Now I just wish there was a sequel of some kind, I ended too abruptly for my liking. Brave Story, despite its minor shortcomings, is a really good fantasy film with some great animation and an interesting scenario. Animes don’t make it to our local screens very often, so supporting a good film like this, will pave the way to more good material coming our way.