Hi no Tori 2772: Ai no CosmoZone

Alt titles: Phoenix 2772

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sothis's avatar By sothis on Jan 20, 2005

Story
Prior to viewing this film, I had already seen the Hi no Tori TV series. The TV series is focused on several different stories that all lead back to the same topic: the phoenix. This movie (the first of the Hi no Tori line) is quite different, focusing instead on a single story with a very sci fi feel.

Humans are grown in test tubes, and raised by only robots until they reach maturity. I seriously wonder why these teenagers aren't completely stunted as far as social skills and emotional growth, but somehow, they seem to be normal human beings once they are let out of the lifelong cage, per se. Anyways, Godo is just a lowly pilot, but falls in love with the daughter of a powerful man -- a love which is forbidden. He gets caught, and oops! He's sent off to a prison camp. Saying much more would be spoiling, but let's just say Godo (and his faithful robot companion Olga) get caught up in a crazy adventure as they travel the stars to find the legendary phoenix, who might be able to help Earth survive its impending destruction.

I had high expectations when watching this movie, and they were somewhat let down. The story is top notch as far as sci fi, that's for sure. I really enjoy the concept of humans being grown in the future, and all sorts of weird societal things going on. Had the story been focused on that the entire time (which it was for at least 30-40 minutes), I would have given this section a higher score. At first, the tone of the movie is very mature and fairly dark, which is fitting for a sci fi feature. Unfortunately, after that there are quite a few comedic or very childish scenes thrown in. It's like every 15 minutes the creators stopped and thought "Oh shit! This won't appeal to children so we better throw in some Disney level stuff!". This included things like animals who looked like they came from a Dr. Seuss book dancing around and singing, or the same weird animals having "comical" moments when they can't sleep, due to other monsters snoring. These scenes were completely ridiculous and really killed the mature sci fi mood. In addition, these scenes definitely did not lighten the mood for the kiddies, it just seemed out of place. In essence, it tried to be aimed at two very, very different audiences, and failed on both accounts for that reason.

Regardless, the sci fi story in itself is solid, though I had a bit of a problem with the relationships and other things I'll mention below.
Animation
Anyone who knows Tezuka's work (Metropolis, Astroboy, etc) will immediately recognize the character designs. Though I don't really mind this look (it's hard to explain, so just check out the screenshots), I still eternally have a problem with one of the character designs in particular: the fat short man with the HUGE bumpy nose. I seriously feel ill anytime I see this character in anything Tezuka related. The nose isn't just huge and the size of a large potato, but it also is covered in bumps that make me think he's broken out in hives (or has a bad case of nose herpes... oh wait, that doesn't exist). I really wish this character template had never been created, but that's another story.

The rest of the animation was well done for the time period, and looked great. The space scenes sometimes were minimal, but still were interesting. The designs of the phoenix were quite unusual after having seen the version in the TV series (which always looked exactly the same). I enjoyed seeing at least three renditions of the phoenix (that looked totally different) in this movie.

For a sci fi series, the colors were what they probably should have been: dark and moody. Then again, Olga was the contrast with bright colors for her robotic outfit, which definitely gave her a more robotic feel as opposed to the black clad humans. I felt Olga's character, in general, was quite well designed, and her transformations into other robotic things was impressive for the time period. All in all, decent animation for sure.
Sound
There are two things I need to discuss for the audio section: the actual music, and the voice acting. First, the music. The entire way through, the music sounded exactly the same: old, somewhat instrumental, and sounding like it belonged in a children's movie. I understand that half of the target audience (for reasons given in the story section) were children, but I still felt the interjection of childish tunes was totally inappropriate for a lot of the scenes. For example, one epic sounding track was blasted during a world getting destroyed by lava! By epic, I mean in a happy way, like how a really old cartoon would end after something great occured. Unless you are an animal that eats and swims in lava, I could see nothing positive about that scene, and still don't understand why in god's name that track was chosen. Unfortunately, it's like this the entire movie. Background and relatively unobtrusive at some times, and totally inappropriate at others.

I watched the dub, and I've seen many people complain about the voice acting and how bad it was. I have one word for you: DALLOS. Anyone who thinks this dub sucked really needs to go watch Dallos aka worst dub ever. Or try out Thunder Prince for size. Hi no Tori 2772, by any means, did NOT suck as far as the dub, for the most part. The voice acting didn't sound incredibly scripted, though the voices didn't always match the bodies. The one area the VAs failed in was definitely showing negative emotion. Godo cried at one point and it sounded incredibly fake. Or, his expression of love sounded completely scripted and cheesy. Besides these super emotional moments, I felt the actors did fine (though not exceptionally well) with their parts.

Overall though, I was really not impressed with the music.
Characters
The two main characters of Hi no Tori 2772 are Olga (Godo's robot buddy), and Godo. Each of these characters are somewhat developed, and we see how their relationship grows (though it seems a bit unrealistic to some extent), but we never see too much into their thoughts and dreams.There are a number of other characters including the fat short man with the frightening nose, Godo's forbidden fling, and his evil "brother" of sorts, but none of them are terribly important or have any sort of effect on us, at least.

Very useless and negative characters include all of the stupid stuffed looking monsters who had NO NO use at all, and were only thrown in to excite the kiddies. I seriously felt like I was in the middle of a goddamn Dr. Seuss video at times, and I half expected a fox to jump out of a box wearing socks. Why, why was it necessary to land on a planet full of creatures made out of dice with legs, or little spouts that all snore simultaneously? Sure, they were wacky and weird, but really brought down the mature feeling of this otherwise good sci fi story. Also, in general, as mentioned in the story section, I didn't understand why the rest of society (including Godo) were so... normal, after having grown up in the SAME ROOM since birth with nothing but a single robot as a companion.
Overall
I really wanted to like this movie, having LOVED the TV series, and for the most part it was good, but also let me down. The sci fi story started out solid, and ended up becoming watered down by the childish and useless scenes. The animation is great for its time, though I don't like that one character design still. Music was average and uninspiring, and inappropriate at times, and the English voice actors really need to learn what emotions are like. ;)

With all the bad, though, Hi no Tori 2772 is still a great watch if you are into sci fi and want something out of the ordinary. Just don't expect it to be as good as the TV series by any means.
7/10 story
7/10 animation
5.5/10 sound
6/10 characters
6.9/10 overall
roriconfan's avatar By roriconfan on Jul 10, 2012

This is the first of a line of movies made by Osamu Tezuka (yes, the God of Manga again) and are all part of his Hinotori saga; Man’s folly throughout the course of history, as well as his search for immortality and happiness. I will not make different reviews about each one of them, I will mention all I have to say about the whole concept here. For those interested there are three more movies as well as a series taking place in the same universe of the show.

To be frank the basic concept is very mature yet its presentation is very basic and childish in an attempt to appeal to everyone. That may be good in a way but it sure makes the whole thing fall apart when shown to a more demanding audience. A major problem is of course the duration which is way too short for its own good. Anything that involves the meaning of life, the rise and fall of civilizations and lots of character drama can’t possibly fit in just one hour. Such things take time and for that reason many will consider the information overflow and the rushed character development as poor storytelling and forced development. This of course counts for the demanding audience and not the flimsy viewers who are willing to accept a plot that runs on turbo or a relationship that blooms in two minutes. If for any reason your disbelief can be suspended so easily then the above is not a problem at all.

The story is in all chapters of the franchise pretty much the same thing. Bad things happening to good people and they try to make the best of what they are left with. Most end up making even more mistakes in their obsession for salvation and progress and end up making things worse. In this particular chapter, it is the story of a man raised in a mechanized society that has rejected family bonds. People are taken cared by robots and even work as substitutes for parents, before they are eventually taken to be trained as warriors or pilots in various hi-tech projects involving the proliferation of mankind throughout the galaxy. The main hero and his friend-robot are too high on ideals and thus early on refuse to accept their programming of learning how to kill and going on a search for the legendary phoenix that will grant them immortality. This results to the boy being sent on a prison as a convict, while his merciless twin brother ends up getting the girl and a high ranked position as a director of a project to harvest the energy of the planet.

There are numerous allusions and metaphors throughout the movie, from ecology, to morality, to betrayal and some more, and if the very rushed development won’t feel bad to you then the movie is indeed very mature and educational around the dark side of humanity. That still doesn’t save it from being naive as the solution to any problem is plain simple and silly. That female robot can do anything it likes no matter the security. The phoenix can appear anytime it pleases to throw a silly morality speech to the audience. Earth starting to fall apart came out of nowhere.

In a similar fashion, the characters are to the most part left as nothing but caricatures; extreme archetypes of good or evil. No time to develop them beyond the obvious and definitely no time to make us feel their sudden pain or love if it happened in a few seconds with little foreshadowing or focus.

The saving grace of the whole film is the production values. Despite being the oldest, 2772 is by far the more artistic and better looking of all Hinotori related anime. The first part of the movie for example is completely mute and we see in fast forward how the hero was raised, while a light music is playing to get us in the proper mood of the show. It really manages to show us all the basics of the society of the film without a single word (which is a very positive thing in terms of good storytelling). The romantic scene with him and a girl he likes, as well as the catastrophe in the finale are very well done in terms of presentation and get the proper feelings across. All the rest are medium to good as they feel more like a silly children’s adventure rather than a dark story of human folly. I mean those robot mascots were real mood killers and had some damn broken powers to offer cheap solutions to any problem.

Overall it is a good film on an aesthetic level. It just needed two more hours of duration to really delve properly into all its numerous and important events, as well as offer more understood character growth and sympathy from the viewer.

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (well-done)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (quite symbolical; especially in the beginning)

SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (silly but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 3/3 (they become part of the story)

STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (rushed)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)

CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)

VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Historical Value 1/3 (still remembered by some as an interesting retro title)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too much overblown drama)
Memorability 2/4 (generic today but has its charm)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 6/10
It needed far more duration and far less talking but it is still good.

VERDICT: 6/10

5/10 story
7/10 animation
8/10 sound
6/10 characters
6/10 overall