Legend of the Millenium Dragon really came out of left field for me. I didn’t know much about it prior to its release and the cliche storyline was setting my expectations rather low . Through a series of out of this world battles and adventures, Jun, a shy middle school boy, is transformed into a hero destined to battle evil and ensure harmony and tranquility in the world. But the humans and the Oni are not quite what they seem, and both sides are desperate to enlist Jun, and Orochi, to their cause in this long-running conflict. Jun, however, is uncertain where the truth lies amid all the contradictory information he receives from each side, and he thinks maybe the best thing to do is simply to stop the fighting. Based on author Takafumi Takada’s two-volume novel, the studio that brought you Naruto and Bleach animated this so the groundwork for this film is definitely impressive.
This anime film reminded me a good bit of YA fantasy novels, or perhaps novels for a slightly younger (say, 9-12) set, in that Jun is a typical Everyboy who must fight his insecurities and doubts to become the hero (indeed, Gen’un constantly calls him “Saviour”) he is meant to be in a fantasy realm before he can return to his own time, having grown stronger and wiser in the process. Each frame of this film is hand-drawn, and some of the imagery is quite beautiful, while the supernatural battle scenes are quite epic in scope. Not a film to think about very hard after viewing, but an eye-pleasing spectacle to watch. It’s directed by Hirotsugu Kawasaki and based on Takafumi Takada’s work.
The Blu-ray features crisp 1080p video, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, and a lonely concept art supplement that doesn’t whet my appetite at all.The extra features aren’t the only dissappointing thing either as the whole anime lacks a coherent story. Characters appear and disappear before the viewer has a chance to get to know them or care about what happens to them. If anything, because much of the film is spent on Jun’s deliberations, there isn’t much time to explain the appearance of these elements before the plot rushes to its climax. The theme, however, is familiar to those of anime that I absolutely love, and that is in fact anime that focuses on a balance between man’s creations and nature.
A friend of mine I was watching this film with made the remark, ‘Miyazaki could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and crap out a better story than this’. Although somewhat simple, I would agree with him. The dialogue is an endless stream of cliches, the pacing; terrible and hectic. Its voice cast includes Kensho Ono, Satomi Ishihara, Shido Nakamura, and Takashi Kondo who all do fine jobs with what they were given to work with.