King of Thorn is a movie that doesn't know what it wants to be. It starts off as a sci fi horror story, but then morphs into a psychological fantasy. The path between those two roads is, (pun intended) a thorny one and the transition between the two is not smooth nor do I feel the journey is successful. I'll explain.
This movie starts out with this premise: There is a new virus killing off the world's population. The Medusa virus is 100% lethal and there is no known cure. An offer is extended to 160 infected candidates: to enter a cryogenic chamber to be frozen and cared for until such time as a cure is found. The lucky participants enter their sanctuary only to find things have gone horribly wrong when they awaken. The machine entrusted to provide for them has seemingly been deactivated, there are no living people anywhere in sight, their resting place has been covered with painful thorny vines, and vicious monsters attack them as soon as they have been released from their chambers. With no cure for their ongoing and progressive Medusa infection in sight, the survivors must begin a terrifying journey of survival out of their resting place to find out what has happened to the world outside their haven. A truly suspenseful horror setup.
But midway through the movie, there is a change. This simple and effective story progression suddenly gets confusing, as the story focuses more and more on the personal relationship between one of the survivors and her non-participating sister. Character development for the other characters is nearly nonexistant, and the story's clear presentation evaporates. It would be a spoiler to tell the new plot direction, but it is safe to say that the horror/survival aspect of the movie is no longer the raison d'etre of the movie nor the focal point of the plot.
The new plot is full of twists and convolutions in an attempt to make it more interesting, but this only serves instead to muddle the direction and clarity of the story. And since the new focus of the story is dependent on the relationship of the two sisters, one character, the girl survivor with the twin sister outside, receives a lot of characterization and background. The other characters involved are cast aside and are very scantily developed with a tiny bit of backstory added for a few of them, and nothing at all given to us for others. There is little to none for character development, not even for the main character. She is essentially the same person at the end of the movie as she was in the beginning. Perhaps some slight character development was given her, but essentially she does remain the same.
Animation is generally good quality, although there are some jarring attempts to insert CGI graphics that are not well integrated. Sound quality is also more than adequate to the task, with obvious but effective musical background relating well to the story, and sound effects that match well with the onscreen action. No complaints about the voice acting, either. There are no real stand out performances; this means that while there are no superlative character interpretations, there are no glaringly problematic presentations either.
This movie could have been much better than it ended up being, if it had stuck to its original story and not tried to change everything midstory. It had the potential to be a thrilling horror vehicle instead of the mixed up and disorganized fantasy it became at the end. Not a bad movie, but definitely a skip if you are wanting to watch a horror film.
This review may contain spoilers-
So this is my review for king of thorn, this is a weird anime to review because there are so many different aspects of this movie, well now we start. The story is basically about a disease that has gotten a bit out of hand, well that is a simple way of explaining it well really it is much more than a simple disease. The story is so intriguing or so I thought anyway, the story is so detailed and the idea behind it is really great. This sort of idea reminds me of Guilty Crown in a way which is also a really good anime. Back to this review, so overall the story was pretty impressive and has so much tension and suspense it is crazy but this makes it amazing. The animation is probably one of the best I have seen, there were few character design error and in one way or another each character design was unique.
The music and sound were average; they didn't really make me interested. For the first time in a review I will now talk about the voice choices, personally they all fit the characters and they were perfect for the type of anime they were trying to portray. The characters were perfectly developed for something like this but still they could have been more creative with a couple of the personalities but this isn't really a problem due to the fact that it was all laid out very well.
Overall this anime is unique and has an amazing basic storyline however I think it would be better if it was a series more than a movie because some bits were slightly rushed. But that ends this really short review.
Right, it's confession time for me. If you have been reading my reviews than you may have noticed that I tend to rip the anime a new one. There is a reason for this though and it has to do with the fact that I can't turn my brain off when watching anime. I can't ignore the stupid shown in the anime and this is a problem as most anime are very stupid indeed.
In this case I'm not talking about a 90 pound girl catching a multi-ton cruise missile and throwing it back. Yes, it is stupid but it is a stupid that I'll allow. It's anime. Things like this are normal here and I'm pretty much fine with it. It annoys me to be sure but I will not rant about it.
So, having explained this lets rip into this anime shall we? Just a heads up: There will most probably be spoilers. The more I hate an anime the more spoilers there will be.
ART: Well..... Appearently this won an away for Asia Pacific screen award for best animated feature film. I wonder why since the CGI sucks ass. For the most part it looks fine but some of the CGI stuff looks just horrendous. When this happens it just rips you out of the story.
SOUND: No complaints here. Overall the sound is better with movies than series and this anime is no exception.
CHARACTERS: Main character is Kazumi. I apologise for making this so short but there is not much that I can say here. It would either tell you everything about the story or the plot.
STORY: Humanity is living in fear of the Medusa virus. This mysterious desease slowly changes its victims to stone and there is no cure. Kazumi and Shizuku are twins who are both infected by the virus. Kazumi is lucky enough to be chosen to be cryogenically frozen untill they find a cure but is sad that this would leave Shizuku behind alone. She gets to the lab and things go downhill fast. Instead of waking up cured she wakes up to Hell on Earth. The facility is covered with strange vines and monsters roam around freely. After most of the patients are killed by the monsters only a few escape the cryo chambers alive. They start a desperate treck to the surface while trying to stay alive. Meanwhile they wonder what happened and if their loved ones are still alive.
RANT: I actually have the manga of this and for a long time I hesitated about picking this movie up. The manga contains 5 volumes and it is rather good. I have forgotten why I eventually decided to get this movie but I abviously did.
I can honestly say that, looking at the 2, the manga is far superior. It is very hard to condens 5 volumes into a single movie of 60 minutes but they did it. I have to give it to them that they did a good job of it too. Unfortunately for them I was familiar with the manga so I'm always comparing.
Trying to take a step back and looking at it without thinking about the manga is very hard. Parts of the story was changed for the movie but that is usually the case with adaptations so I'm fine with it.
If you are not familiar with the manga than you may like this movie for the surviver horror feel it has. If you have the manga then don't watch this as it will only disappoint you. If you debating on which to get decide for yourself. The manga is better but the movie is much cheaper to get and with publisher Tokyopop no longer here I don't know how easy it is to even get the manga.
This is a new favorite for me and honestly I cannot even contemplate how any one could give this story anything below and 8 overall. Anyone who has the capacity to comprehend the story line should find it an amazing work of art!
The story coinsides with the telling of a different version of sleeping beauty than the one I know. The blonde side character has an obsession with sleeping beauty and tells the story along side what happens and it correlates nicely with the way the story progresses. This is done in a similar way to the movie Jin Roh. However this movie adds many more elements to the fairytale outline making the story more easily emersive to the average anime fan than Jin Roh was.
Although the outline is similar to the telling of sleeping beauty it also breaks away from the traditional story with unique themes, exciting and touching scenes, and many unexpected plot twists. I wouldn't call it a simple retelling or anything near that. It follows a similar vein to the fairytale as it is told thoughout the movie yet it still manages to come out completely different from the original story.
I cannot say enough about the creativity of the person who made this movie. It is able to do incredible things with the story and characters with only a movie's length of time. Lastly it has a very touching message that is continually said in just the right situations throughout the movie. "Miracle's only happen when there is a wish." which fits the whole story's plot so well it's rediculous.
I have never until now gave a 10/10 on anything. The story here got my very first 10/10 and it is unbiased. I like some other anime better than this one and I like many other manga more than this... however, despite my personal favoritism of them, they had something I could complain about or that made me feel it was undeserving of a perfect score while this one was a perfect telling of an excellent story. I would change nothing. That is why the story is deserving of a 10/10.
The animation of this movie is what I scored the least out of all the different parts of the movie I rated. This is because there is a change in the type of animation during action heavy scenes (in some cases). While I understand that those scenes which used it were probably easier and less expensive to animate that way, it still was a very visible change to me and I didn't like it.
In addition to the visible change overs, I feel it's important to note that the animation style of the characters and monsters during those few action scenes that they changed is really not my cup of tea. Too many new anime are using this type of animation it reminds me of the cut scenes on one of those older video game consoles. It's like we are rolling back in animation progress... but although I am stating my personal opinion here, I didn't let it affect my scoring because though I don't understand it, it seems some people like this type of animation.
Because I liked this movie so much I wanted to believe there was a deeper meaning behind using this crappy type of older video game console cut scene animation. A possibility I thought of is the fact that the boy Tim (one of the major side characters) is very into video games and his obsession plays a interergral role in how things play out so maybe they used this type of animation in order to portry the likeness to the child's video game... though I'm probably just reading too much into it.
Overall, the animation even with the issue I mentioned has parts that are above average (the ending especially) so I gave it a 7.5.
The music in this movie is also extreemly good and very relivant to the scenes and overall tone of the movie. It has good sound affects to everything that happens and the musical accompanyment is always at just the right place playing just the right thing to create the right mood. The voice actors all sound good in the japanese version. I watched a english dubbed version right before finishing this review and felt that they did a decent enough job with it but I felt that some of the words they choose to use in some situations didn't hit home as well as in the subtitled version. They didn't use the "Miracles only happen if there is a wish" quote at all instead electing to change the words said with the same general meaning each time it was said. It would have recieved a 9 if the english version had been closer to the subtitled version in those key parts. However, even the english version was really good so I ended up giving it a 8.
The characters in this movie are exceptional. Anyone who watched it and didn't rate this catagory based solely on personal opinion would agree. Each of the main and secondary (side) characters were very developed and unique. Although it is only a movie length, with a bit of thought you are able to easily wrap your head around each character and their personal motivations and fears. Each character is very human and has their own flaws. Some are merely insunated but easily graspable to anyone who thinks about it and others are basically spelled out for you.
The main characters Katsumi and Marco are a very unique pair and there is no real romantic involvement... though they do become close over time. It's interesting to see how they develop as characters and the plot twists that each of them is involved in. All the secondary characters we get to know are important to the story and also are unique and developed enough for us to feel for them when something happens.
Overall I gave the characters a 9.5 this is because they were all important and well created with the exception of the polititian who bribed his way in, who really was unneeded and quite uninteresting.
Overall I suggest this movie to pretty much any anime fan. If you are not the type who likes complicated storylines you may come just for the action and get a measure of satisfaction from it. If you enjoy artistic movies and anime then you'll like this too. People who like heartfelt shows should find this appealing as well. It honestly touches a whole bunch of different people's favorite genres. I'd suggest giving it a watch. If you do watch it you should check out the subtitled version if you can. Though the dub is also quite good.
So, King of thorn. I honestly have no idea how I found it in the first place, but since then it was gathering cyberdust in my watchlist. Finally got to watching it.
It can be summed up in 2 words: wasted potential.
This is only partly true though, since it did have some great moments, the atmosphere was awesome, but the animes shortcomings are just too annoying to look past.
Story: basically its the anime version of your typical survivor-horror game which is a good thing. So the recipe is on spot. The plot-twists are also pretty good. Some will find them far-fetched, but it works(more or less). The problems with the story are originality. At some point I was actually counting how many movies, animes or games they ripped off, but lost count, so I will only enumerate the most obvious ones: Fight club, Battle Royale, Alien, Aliens, Blue Gender, the game FEAR and throw in Silent Hill for good measure. So yeah. Originality is an issue. Other shortcomings are the durability of the characters. Your an episodic character, a strong sneeze kills you, your a main character and even John McClane can take courses from you in survival. They overdid this part. Sometime sthe loic is a bit, well, lets call it shaky.
Overall, the story was good, but they could have done better with this source material. 6/10
Music: great music, really liked it. 9/10
Characters: just like the story is a survival horror story, the characters are your typical horror cliches: we have the soldier, who knows more than he tells, we have the scientists who is partially responsible, the soldier/hero, the child who is mostly useless, but somehow has more knowledge of everything than anyone else, the annoying loudmouth who thankfully gets killed fast, the mentally unstable woman(who finds peace in the end) and of course the main character who has no idea what hes doing here just to find out that(spoiler: the whole thing orbits around her). All of them cliche, but it works pretty well actually. Lets see: 8 for character evolution, 1 for originality , 7 for interactions, overall lets be nice and say its a 7.
Animation: oh boy. I have never seen so inconsistent animation in a motion picture. Some parts look very good, but when they switch to CGI. Holy hell! It look completely horrible. Also all the monsters are CGI, so a good 15 minutes of the overall playtime is the heroes fighting monsters that look just wrong and our heroes movements look like a drunk guy fooling around with marionettes. 8.5 for half of it and absolute zero for the CGI.
Dear animators: if you dont have money for all the anime to look good, make a shorter anime. If the long runtime is needed, at least make some aspects of the CGI bearable. The movement of the CGI characters is actually uncomfortable for your eyes. 4.5/10
Overall: I like this anime, but altogether Im mad at it. I would normally overlook the lack of originality(who cares if its original when it works?!), but that CGI animation is an unforgettable sin.
8/10 without taking the animation into account
6.2/10 with taking the animation into account
I can recommend this for a watch. If you get pissed of by the mistakes they made, its still a watchable fast pace anime to pass the time. If not, you should actually like it.