Colorful is not an easy anime to digest. The episodes are fast-paced, experimental in animation and sound and music. The show is rather ambiguous as to whether it supports the themes it deals with or not. I enjoyed it precisely because it was underplayed and realistic. With that out of the way, a film does not need to be melodramatic to be powerful or moving in its content. This little boy Makoto, well, let’s just say I don’t envy him. Upon death, a wayward soul is given a second chance to “get it right” by returning into the body of a 14-year-old Japanese boy who tried to commit suicide, and must discover the reason for the attempt to avoid disappearing again.
Colorful is a bittersweet character-driven story, as it follows Makoto Kobayashi, who has just committed suicide and is watched over by a neutral spirit. The soul must figure out what his greatest sin and mistake in his former life was before his time limit in Makoto’s body runs out. He also has a number of other lesser duties he must complete, such as understanding what led Makoto to commit suicide in the first place and learning how to enjoy his second chance at life. The narrative goes through subtle shifts from the struggle against the world you find yourself in and raging against the people there, to learning to see that the world isn’t just one thing, that people themselves cannot be defined by one thing – and sometimes all you need is one person to talk too, someone who doesn’t expect anything and who doesn’t need anything, who is just willing to be beside you, a friend.
There is a reveal towards the end of the film that, though some may foresee, I thought was the perfect way to the end the film. message of “Keep Calm and Carry On” really. The art style is suited to the subtle tone and is more ‘realistic’ with softer colors. Similar to the work of Makoto Shinkai, Colorful beautifully reflects the true-to-life environments in which it so accurately portrays. It really is no surprise that internationally, it received the Audience Award and Special Distinction prize at the 2011 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
Moreover, the attached AMV (Anime music video) above is a nice companion piece for the deeper meaning behind the film. This is an AMV about suicide and how problems at home and school can effect people. I thought that by attaching this video, then maybe others can take a step back and think about their lives. “Is it really worth it?” “Is death the only option?” I don’t think so. Hopefully anyone who is currently feeling in that way will change their mind before it’s too late. If you’re looking for escapism or that magic quality you usually get in slice-of-life movies, you won’t really find it here. This is more of an important film, rather then a good one, and these particular animes are always hard to score. I appreciate the effort involved and hope you all seek this one out. Colorful is a substance dedicated to the Japanese 14-16 youth, but it can easily be understood and liked by an adult.