I saw this movie on a reddit recommendation post somewhere and thought I'd give it a try, but after watching it and seeing the reviews on this site, I feel like a more balanced opinion is warranted.
Colorful is a movie that doesn't know what it wants to be, who it wants its characters to be, or even who their target audience is. This movie runs the gammut from lazy slice of life pandering, to lifelessly going through the motions of a seemingly high production value film with no directive vision, to painfully awkward as it meanders through poorly-paced scenes exploring suicide, high school social interaction, violence, family relations, prostitution, and even implied rape - all without exploring any of these themes to any depth nor offering any sort of novel commentary or insight.
Our impossible-to-like main protagonist's personality changes literally from scene to scene merely at the whims of the script; one minute he's a no-holds-barred, takes what he wants and throws caution to the wind free spirit, and the next he's reverted back to being a selfish, unappreciative parent-abusing crybaby with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and very the next scene inexplicably walking through a 10+ minute historical flashback about old trains that have absolutely nothing to do with any aspect of the plot or his life whatsoever.
By the convenient and extremely predictable ending of the film, several major plot threads remain untied, and you'll be left wondering what the point of the past two hours of your life was. Lack of any sort of directive vision, combined with extremely pretentious and cliche themes, in addition to the jarring and constant shifts in narrative tone - running from light hearted humor to brutal street violence and macabre adult content including allusions to sex with minors - render this film a complete disaster. Only because of the decent animation and production value can I even give this a generous 2/5.
Okay guys... Where to start. First off, don't go bashing me for this review rating. To be honest, this movie brought me to tears at some points (which I will go into more detail later) but a well-made film needs more depth and meaning than just a tear-jerking plot.
This plot's progression was choppy, illogical, and at (MANY) times frustrating to watch.
I did say that I cried a couple times but DON'T GET ME WRONG... I never batted an eyelash during the scenes that were supposed to be the climax of the story. The only time I really cried was not for the characters or the story, but it was for how tired I was to be watching this movie and how I could have spent my time better. I'm not exaggerating this. It was also because my eyes were dry. I do have to say that partially the reason why I was crying was because the mood of the movie was quite depressing.
As for the illogical part, everything had no transitions. It progressed without flow and it appeared to me as nonsensical. There was no build-up in the story or the main character's emotions and no sense of him trying/wanting to change. And then suddenly, the story put onto you the 'climax' in which cries because the only reason why he was being a total ass to his family was because he wanted to go to the same school as his one and only friend. Like, the story showed that they became good friends but I don't see that as a legitimate reason for him to treat others with no respect. Especially in his mother's case, he appears to be annoyed with her even though he has no memories of who his true soul is and he has no memories of Makoto's family. I was sitting there thinking how the hell could you be so angry at someone you don't really remember or recognize. To me, the 'climax' of this story was completely irrelevant to the problems that were presented early in the story and quite frankly, the story failed to present a well-thought out idea. Nothing was solved in the end. Nothing.
To be honest, I do not have a good sense of what good or bad animation is. In my opinion, I didn't pay any attention to animation this time 'round. I guess, in a sense, the animation wasn't outstanding enough for me to pay attention to it (or maybe I was just so frustrated with the plot that I just didn't want to devote the time into looking into the brighter sides of this movie).
I didn't notice too many unique things about the animation. I would suspect that some of the parts were rotoscoped (like at the beginning in the purgatorium) but I can't be sure. Mot of ths shading and coloring of the characters are monotone. There was no detail to the hair, eyes, skin, etc. And even so, the art syle of the characters in contrast to the painted backgrounds really added to the overall mood of the movie.
I would like to not that all the characters were well-designed given the fact that all of them were unique and had their own personalities fixed into their character design. I can honestly be vaguely reminded of Aku no Hana anime when I look back to this art style because of the fact that both of their art styles aren't the best quality-wise but when put with the story makes quite a good blend. (Although I think Aku no Hana does better this time around).
The soundtrack of this movie wasn't anything notable. To me, it was the standard orchestral score for a (supposed to be) life-changing movie. There was anything particular bad about the music in this movie however there was nothing really notable either.
I have to say that there were quite a few volume fluxuations that made the transitions between dialogue and background music quite choppy-sounding. For example, after a character's dialogue, the background music's volume would suddenly start to escalate and the contrast between the soft and the loudness caused quite a few occurences in which I had to pause the movie and adjust speaker settings. Throughout the whole movie, the background music was often over-powering the characters' voices.
Second of all, with all due respect to the voice actors, I'd have to say that some of the character's voices didn't fit their image let alone personality. Most notably, the main character. His image didn't sync with his voice at all. I could see and understand how annoying his voice sounded and compare it to how annoying his personality was but when I think back to the person he used to be (deeply thoughtful and reserved), I just can't seem to imagine the past him with his voice like that.
First off, I'd like to share with you the excrutiating pain and anxiety of trying to sit through a full length film with a protagonist that I honestly despise with a burning passion. In fact, none of the characters present in this movie had any sort of realistic emotion.
During each and every scene that was meant to be tear-jerking or life-changing, I sat with my arms crossed and flipping the many tables that I could find because of how irritating the words that flew out of the characters' mouths were. In fact, the only reason I gave it a 2/10 instead of a 0/10 is because I admit that there was potential in each of the characters (except for maybe the pretty girl who is frickin' annoying as blah whose name I temporarily forgotten).
And one thing, I reaalllllyyyyyyy hate the main character. Mostly because he judges everyone by who they look like. I personally can't stand to watch the chronicles of a character that pisses me off in many ways.
Worth you time: 1/4
Overall.... Hmmm.... How do I sum this movie up? Well, I can tell you that I would not recommend this to any person who thinks deeply because I'd feel they'd be deeply offended if they watched this. All there is to this story is a plot that tries to teach a lesson but in a bad wishy-washy, beat around the bush way, an annoying protagonist that undergoes no logical change, and a whole bunch of minutes and anger to fill up the time.
I do encourage anyone to watch this movie to get a feel and idea of your own instead of plainly listen to me rant on and rant. This only my opinion and I wrote this review out the the perplexion of how the other reviews for this movie were quite high. I didn't see the amazing-ness in this movie and I would have liked to share them with you.
I do warn you to prepare some tables beforehand so you can be ready at those table-flipping scenes. Then you won't have made the same mistake I did. My house is in a devastating state... O.o
This may not be the first review of Colorful you've read - it's been out on DVD in Japan for over a month now, so I'm a little late to the party. But I loved this one so much I couldn't possibly let it go by without sharing my praise for this wonderful, heartfelt work.
The film was released in Japan in 2010, the product of a joint project by several studios, by far the most well-known of which is Sunrise. Director is Keiichi Hara, who in addition to directing most of the "Shin-chan" adaptations also wrote and directed 2007's Kappa no Coo to Natsuyasumi (Summer Days With Coo). It wasn't a huge box office success, but caused quite a splash critically, winning several International animation prizes both in Japan and outside.
To say that this movie hit close to my heart is an understatement. While my own clumsy scribblings would bear little resemblance to this adaptation of Eto Mori's 1999 novel in quality or execution, in theme and sentiment it feels very much like something I would have written if I could. I adore magical realism, and even more the coming-of-age story - the bildungsroman. It feels like this used to be a much more common type of story in anime back in the day, when lots of series and movies were about boys and growing up - but I guess it's unfashionable now to create anime about young men and the struggles they face. So in that sense Colorful is a throwback - indeed, the novel was written during that earlier period in anime I refer to - but that just makes it all the more precious to me.
The numbers tell an indisputable story - teenaged boys are about six times more likely to kill themselves than girls. It would be a long post indeed if I were to list all the things Hara does right with this film, but foremost among them might be the way he captures the pain of his protagonist, Kobayashi Makoto. Boys are expected to internalize their sadness and anger - to "man up" and "keep a brave face". The things Makoto has to deal with - his parents troubled relationship, terrible bullying at school, an unrequited crush on a girl "out of his league" - are very real and very believable. Boys deal with this things all the time, in Japan and elsewhere. And sometimes, they deal with them by trying to end their lives.
I won't spoil the major plot twist that comes at the end of the film, just in case you haven't seen it - but I will say that I guessed it fairly early on. Rather than lowering my esteem for the film, though, it bolsters it - because it feels natural and logical to the story. Frankly, it's how I would have written it if it had been my story. The basic premise is that a lost soul shows up in the afterlife, guilty of a sin it cannot recall. An odd little "angel" named Purapura - an impish schoolboy in a short-pants suit and tie - tells him he has a choice. He can go on a "homestay" - inhabit the body of a recently deceased human and try to remember his sin, atone and earn his way back into the reincarnation cycle. In this case, the human is a 14 year-old boy named Makoto who has just attempted suicide with his mother's sleeping pills. Just as he expires in his hospital bed, the wayward soul enters his body and opens his eyes to a strange, unfamiliar world.
With only the occasional visits from the snarky Purapura as guidance, the soul must navigate the maze of Makoto's life - and it's no bed of roses (pun intended). Makoto is small for his age, friendless even before his suicide attempt (which his schoolmates don't know about), and struggles badly in school (32nd out of 32 in his class). A decent high school seems an impossible dream, he pines helplessly for the beautiful but remote Hiroko, and he alone bears the knowledge of a terrible sin against the family committed by his mother - a mother who helplessly tries to reconnect with a totally remote and hostile child returned from the dead. Only through his painting and sketching did this strange boy find any respite from the troubles in his life.
The casting here is crucial. Makoto is played by 14 year-old Kazoto Tomizawa and Purapura by 12 year-old Michael (that's his only name, oddly enough) and - as I've said countless times before - the degree of realism from casting real kids in these roles is indispensable to the success of the film. The entire cast is stellar but those two - especially Kazoto-kun - carry the weight of the movie on their shoulders. There's no denying that the emotional pitch of the story is pretty intense - no punches are pulled in dealing with serious and ugly issues. Suicide, bullying, Enjo Kosai - things adults would rather pretend didn't play roles in their children's lives. But they do - and they're dealt with here in a frank, matter-of-fact way - not sentimentally but not heartlessly either. The tone is just right - this could easily have been either bleak and depressing or corny and sappy - but it's neither. it's painful, honest and true.
One more element that seems to have largely disappeared from anime is the theme of male friendship among teenagers - not the superficial stuff you see in most series, but real, heartfelt friendship - and just what a lifeline that can be to a kid in trouble. It says something about the unconventional choices this story takes that rather than romance (frankly, a remote concept to most real 14 year-olds) or the troubled family relationship, it's ultimately Makoto's friendship with Saotome that proves the most crucial relationship in his life. Anyone who has even been a teenage male will tell you that for all the love of parents and the longing for a girl, very often the best friend is the most important person in your life - and the one that ultimately helps you make it through the long, dark time that is adolescence.
I've referred to Makoto Shinkai as a poet of animation. While this story is a little more linear and complex than Shinkai's standard, I look at this is a visual poem as well. The gorgeous backgrounds, character designs and animation merge with a fairly subtle but impacting soundtrack to create what's more than anything else, a mood piece - a collection of emotions that slowly opens up in the viewer over the 125 minute running time. No detail is overlooked - even a seemingly minor scene involving Makoto and his new friend Saotome tracing the paths of old streetcars is wonderfully moving and beautifully executed.
Again, I won't spoil the twist by talking too much about the ending - but for me, it was an ending that fit perfectly in place. Life is difficult and always will be, but that's rather the point. As much as I love this film and I think every parent (or older sibling, and there's a great one in this story) should see it, I especially wish every teenager could see it - especially boys. A story that moves and entertains while casting light on the real issues people confront is a rare and valuable thing.
Overall and Production:
A self reflective movie that will keep the viewer with asking more and more questions until it's climax.
A highly recommended movie with controversial themes on human nature that will leave misanthropists and philanthropists alike coming to mutual agreements.
Based on the self titled novel by Eto Mori and directed by Keiichi Hara. A work that opened the doorway for Keichii Hara from making children's anime and onto creating feature length movies.
Colorful has a very thin line between it's story and it's characters. It is very hard to separately write about it's story and characters in different paragraphs.
Colorful has very little story. It is a simple idea that makes this movie good, with a minimalist plot that characters the and even the viewers are able to interact with.
Before I go further with explaining what I mean by this you must know what the plot actually is.
“The story is of a soul who gets sent to purgatory, he is given the chance to continue his circle of reincarnation be redeeming themselves as long as they wake up as a boy named Makoto. This boy has just survived a suicide attempt.”
Now to explain what I meant above in more detail, let me say that the characters act with their emotion, they do their own thing while making up there own personal stories to this anime's theme.
The viewers are constantly analyzing the characters and also the protagonist, his highly unethical choices in life make you think of who he was before or even if it is in our own human nature to act the same way that he does.
The characters to Colorful are one of the most realistic depictions of people that not many movie (let alone anime) succeed in portraying. You grow to admire parts of an individuals character but also to be revolted by other parts.
It is difficult to say anymore without spoilers but the high rating for characters is definitely appropriate.
Music And Sound:
The music is a standard atmospheric approach rather then melody. Usually this would lower a score of a movie but seeing how your brain when watching this movie is tuned to think and not hear this is forgivable.
On the sound section them same can be said as above, your mind is in a meditative state with minimal sound when you are putting all your focus on thinking.
As visually pleasing the animation looks, it has a very low budget with minimal effort put into it. A students of Graphic Design will be able to tell you that all the characters have been “rotoscoped”, meaning that there were actual actors being filmed and the animators traced them and made them look anime like.
Background animation was also very noticeably “vectored” meaning that there were real photos taken of trees and buildings and that the animators digitally edited it to look like it was hand drawn.
Usually this would be off putting, yet the movie does try to be real life and not an anime at all.
It is nice to see that the characters look ethnically Japanese and not following the "all anime charectors are white" setreotype.
Being from Europe I find it difficult to relate the Japanese way of life. Some parts of this anime upset me and made me feel alien to watching it. Themes such as ranking students based on there scores and the lower legal age for sexual activity. Also Japans openly way of expressing suicide, a partial reason I feel that this anime was made for.
Seeing how suicide is a major theme in this movie I would like to give a personal view on this movies production in relation to the Japans epidemic of suicide. Feel free to skip this next loosely relevant section...
There is a term called “copycat suicide”. The most famous example is after people ended there lives after reading “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Johann Goethe, as an unexpected unfortunet eventof this novel, people wanted to kill themselves in the same way as the characters in this novel. In Japanese culture it is very common in media to opengly display suicidal themes to it's viewers.
I am saying this because Colorful carries a very anti-suicidal theme throughout it, with motivational speaches on the subject, these themes carry uncomftable messeges to Western viewers that may make people feel offput when waching Colorful.
Pessimisim aside, Colorful is a very rewarding movie to wach. It is not often that an anime successfully pretends to be a real life movie, yet Colorful tricks you into thinking so about it.
Due to the lack of synopsis on this particular anime, I will include a short synopsis for the viewers out there that are interested.
A soul has been granted the opportunity to return to the world of the living and finds himself inhabiting the body of the middle school student Makoto Kobayashi who has commited suicide. In order to continue in the cycle of reincarnation, he must learn why Makoto has commited suicide and find out what his greatest sin was in his past life.
Story - 9/10
In this slice-of-life drama, we follow the soul as he tries to live Makoto's life from a day-to-day perspective. As he deals with issues with family, school, and relationships, Makoto's old life slowly unfolds revealing the true colors of the people around him and the reasons for his suicide.
Animation - 10/10
The characters are portrayed realistically (for an anime) in contrast to the incredibly detailed background and scenery. These elements work very well together in this movie providing strong visuals with a realistic feel.
The animation revolves around the carfully planned use of strong colors. As the title suggests, this movie is indeed colorful (to say the least). During the darker moments in the movie, we see heavy amounts of dark colors with some neutral colors to give us a more depressing feel while in the lighter and happier scenes we get a plethora of bright and vibrant colors.
Sound - 9/10
The character voices are done pretty well, though I had trouble separating Makoto's inner voice from his outter voice at times.
Though there isn't a heavy emphasis on music in this movie compared to other animated movies, however, they are present at key parts during the movie providing a more energetic feeling or a more depressing feeling depending on the setting and atmosphere.
Characters - 8/10
There wasn't particulary any character that I loved or hated. The character development was a bit lacking for my tastes, but at least there was some character development for all the characters involved.
Each character is portrayed realistically (as I said before), so don't be surprised if a certain character reminds you of someone you may know.
Overall - 9/10
Overall, I give Colorful a 9 out of 10. Colorful provides a strong visual experience and delivers a powerful and emotional story with a great heart-warming message.