How can one feel alive without knowing the pain of living? Does disease and suffering create our consciousness and our sense of humanity?
Harmony creates a world in which human ingenuity has eradicated illness through the use of medicules, a clever injection of molecules that police our bodies and report our health to world authorities.
With tailored diets, expert fitness routines, and regular psychological assessments, all of humankind have traded an individual-driven existence in order to live healthy, well-balanced lives.
Declining population rates in the aftermath of nuclear fallout have made the human body the world's most precious commodity. The health and continuation of our species outweighs the selfishness of the individual, and yet, suicide rates among those born into this system are on the rise each year.
Three girls come of age in this world, led by one of them, Miach Mihie, a charismatic and overthinker human being, who brings cynicism seeds around her and in the way of the two others who are intrigued by her. Each girl must decide whether to abide by the self-sacrifice of harmony or to rebel against the insulated lives the world expects them to live.
Philosophically, Harmony is the window dressing for a discussion about the nature and purpose of the human soul. It postulates that not only is the ego unnecessary, it is also a hindrance for human evolution. The strife and confusion in society—as well as that within our own hearts—is due to consciousness itself. Only in a world without “I” could there ever be true harmony.
Project Itoh delivers an astounding science fiction work that walks a fine line between utopian ideals and dystopian disillusionment, and provides ample brain candy.
[Story part : 8/10]
-Pacing is badly driven because of the lenght difference between the novel and the anime adaptation. (0.5/2)
-A solid plot without hole. handled with intelligence and rigour. (1.5/2)
-Extremely deep. It's essential to think a lot to understand. A true "SEINEN" (2/2)
-Regarding Plausibility, it was one of the most relevant and believable perspective of mankind's future I've seen. (2/2)
-An interesting and coherent conclusion in regard to the premise and the foreshadowed spiritual and philosophic issue. But there was an awkwardness in the staging. And it was a little bit rushed. (0.5/1)
-Very good premise. (1/1)
[Animation part : 8.5/10]
-Very high production value. Impressive. (2/2)
-Beautiful visual effects. (2/2)
-A pretty good character design overall, but a bit generic (except for Miach). (1.5/2)
-A contestable staging. There was a half-failed intent to show us several things. (1/2)
-Very detailed background (2/2)
[Sound part : 7.5/10]
-High quality sound effects. (2.5/3)
-A discreet OST, but proper with the atmosphere and the universe. (2/3)
-Efficient voice acting. (2/3)
-Good BGM, atmosphere is totally immersive. (1/1)
[Characters part : 7.5/10]
-About characters presence, there is a huge focus on the protagonist, Tuan Kirie... and that does sound not so bad. Because she's the only interesting character beside Miach Mihie. (1/2)
-Catharsis is symbolically the key word in this show. (2/2)
-Character development is here, but overblown by the rest, especially by the story. (1/2)
-Characters personality : Interesting, rationally cynical, original (only for Miach Mihie concerning this last word)... (1.5/2)
-A gargantuan (Gargan...Tuan...) backdrop, as far as the eye can see. (2/2)
[Miscellaneous part ( doesn't count in the notation ) : 8.5/10]
-An analytical replay is appropriate. (3/3)
-Ending theme is particulary memorable. (1/1)
-Well on, it was an enjoyment. (4.5/6)
OVERALL : 7.5/10
Class : SS mid-tier, almost (or maybe?) high-tier.
So I watched the second of the Itoh trilogy of movies regarding existentialism. The Empire of Corpses was bad, but could still keep my attention a bit through mindless action scenes and old book references. Harmony fails even at that, since it lacks action and is not even animated as well. You can spot the cgi much easier, while the artwork is blander.
The premise is about a world where pain and suffering have been eradicated thanks to the use of nanotechnology. Anyone taking a medicine stays healthy and happy while also not aging as fast. Unfortunately, teenagers cannot be pleased even with a perfect world, and feel the need to rebel against it, for the sake of rebelling. Our main characters are a bunch of psychotic lesbians who want to see the world burn by committing suicide. And if that sounds completely retarded to you, it can easily be explained with the typical excuse of “they are teenagers, it makes sense not to make sense” that anime are constantly using to cover up for bad characterization.
So the years go by, and only one of them commits suicide, while the other two get a job. There is one the plot considers the protagonist, although the only thing she is doing is being an excuse for providing infodumps every five minutes. There is absolutely no personality to her other than hating the utopia she is living in. And by the way, she is living in an actual utopia, since there is nothing wrong with it.
The only people who are discontent with it are suicidal angsty teenagers. Everybody else has a perfectly happy life. So, why do these psychotic lesbians hate this fine society? Because everyone is equally happy and thus everything is the same. It’s basically “nobody understands me, I’m so different, adults are stupid.”
By the way, that’s completely hypocritical when they all have eye scouters which show numerical statistics for every individual, and they are clearly never the same. Your complaints are bullshit. Even your job is bullshit. How did you become an investigator when you are so mentally unstable and everybody has access to your statistics? Why don’t they fire you for constantly getting drunk and not following orders?
Anyways, the conflict of the movie is about some angsty asshole brainwashing people into committing suicide. Not because they want to, not because they hate their society, but because he takes control of their minds. No actual reason, and get ready for a lot of edgy scenes, full of gore for the sake of gore. This asshole goes as far as demanding every person on earth to kill someone within a week, or be forced into suicide. Which causes worldwide chaos, as everyone gets crazy and kills everything on sight. Woah, this is so mature…
Turns out the one causing all that is the lesbian who was supposed to be dead, because reasons. She has the supernatural ability to control peoples’ minds, because reasons. And she did everything for the sake of a surprise attack on the eternal. Whatever, you bitch, you killed half the population of earth. She even tries to further justify this genocide by saying she was raped as a child, and everyone must feel her pain. Something which did not happen in the utopia, but in a barbaric place outside of it. So basically, she destroyed a perfectly fine society, for something that happened to her not because of that society. She is even goes as far as saying she did it all out of love. She killed half the planet and her best friend because she loved them.
And then the movie ends by the plot device that is the protagonist simply shooting the psychotic lesbian. There was no battle, no chase, no resistance at all. She just sat there, waiting to be shot after infodumping her bullshit for half an hour. What an amazing showdown. There is not even any epilogue. We don’t see the after effects of this disaster, aka what the survivors did after it was over, or how the society changed because of it. We only get sceneries of nature with sad music. The author didn’t give a fuck about people, he only cared to say his bullshit philosophy and wrapping everything up.
This is the cardinal sin of most sci-fi. They treat characters as mouthpieces, and kill them off as soon as they served their purpose. There is nobody to care for in the whole movie. Half the population of earth gets slaughtered in a completely hollow way, and the only thing the author focuses on is spewing existential dribble and showing us trees and lakes.
There isn’t even a sense of plot. The protagonist is constantly moving around the world, not because she follows clues but because she is told to go somewhere for the sake of infodumps. She could have spent the whole movie talking over her phone and it wouldn’t make a difference. Traveling doesn’t mean anything, it’s just pretty colors in the background. The setting doesn’t matter, nor its people, because they are just excuses for existential dribble, which will bore the hell out of everyone within a few minutes. Final verdict, Itoh is a terrible storyteller.
Harmony attempts to meaningfully discuss the difficult subject of Suicide, and fails miserably at it.
This movie is one of those stories that pick a controversial and deep theme out of a hat, this time it was suicide, then start to build a world and concept around it and seemingly put the characters on two sides of a debate... And then just shit all over what they made with a random, supposedly deep, "psychological/trippy" sequence towards the ending with nonsense reveals and plot twists and a lot of vapid generic monologues about the meaning of life that held no substance.
I'm sure most fans of it would say "the movie makes you think" and I would agree with it. Because you really have to think about it yourself to get something out of it, the movie sure doesn't provide anything other than a subject to talk about.
While the production values are solid, I would honestly recommend grabbing a beer and a friend to chat about the weather. That conversation will inevitably turn out more meaningful than this show.
Disclaimer: Harmony is rated based on my own opinion and analyses.
Harmony is an anime adaptation of the story written by Project Itoh.
Harmony takes place in a not-so-distant future, a world in where human life is a precious global resource that must be protected at all costs. Everything about a person -- choices, emotions, biochemistry, cell metabolism, even age -- is monitored and assessed by computer systems. A variety of complex feedback loops are in place to ensure optimum conservation of that resource, including everything from good old-fashioned peer pressure to mandatory inpatient psychiatric treatment.
Within this utopian world, the current society conditions people to focus on the social welfare of everyone around them, to the extent of utilizing nanotechnology to trigger internal warnings when your emotions are reaching socially inappropriate levels.
The story focuses around Tuan Kirie, a helix inspector belonging to a branch of the WHO organization meant to keep borders and ensure stability within the utopian sociecty. With the emergence of a flaw in the WHO medicare system and a global catastrophe on hand, Tuan must dive into her past in order to help her unravel the perpetrator.
Tuan, troubled by her past and discontent with the present is searching for what it means to be alive in the world, and what her place in it is. What makes a person an individual, how people can be 'happy' when they never experience the sad. There are a few plot points that irritated me, mostly in the way of unnecessary scientific black boxes. I personally feel that in order to understand the true gravity, complexity, and beauty of the movie one must first have an understanding of sociopathic disorders. There are a few scenes that stand out and don't quite meld neatly with the movie. However, the story and the significance of the characters pull together beautifully.
Story- 7.5/10 for overall impact and weight of message. Fluidity and progression of the story arch were smooth for the most part with a few cut and dry scenes. I felt the gravity of the situations and impacts were portrayed well and really played on the human emotions.
Animation- 7.5/10 for transition styles and CGI sticking out a slight bit. Perhaps better blending methods could have been used, but I rather enjoyed the colaration of the different environments and the stress lines used for accents.
Sound- 6/10 for okay audio. Movie OSTs were orginized and used at proper intervals. Some sounds stuck out or felt over-bearing. In all the audio was nothing to be amazed at.
Characters- 10/10 for stellar character personality portrayal. While there are many characters shown within Harmony, the focus is between Tuan Kirie and Miach Mihie. The lesbianesque relationship between Tuan and Miach is tense yet blissful. In all I loved the dilemmas that the characters were put through.
Overall rating- 8/10 for superb characters and decent story and animation. The end was quite a wonderful surprise for me, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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: The art was very CGI heavy and while I normally dislike it I must admid that it generally looks pretty good. When it goes full CG it still goes into Uncanny Valley territory. It just looks off.
SOUND: Again no complaints from me. The music did what it had to do but nothing stood out for me. Voice acting is good but I expect nothing less from anime.
CHARACTERS: Main character is Tuan. She is very unhappy with her life and tries to make the best of it.
Miach is old friend from Tuan who committed suicide in school.
Cian is an old friend of Tuan who tried to end her life along with Miach and Tuan. She chickened out and spilled the beans, leading to Tuan being saved
STORY: Tuan is a high level government official who has a habit of breakingt the rules. Japan is by this time an Utopian society and Tuan hates it. She hated it from the time she met Miach in school 13 years before. She hated the stiffling kindness that Japanese society has become as it was slowly killing her. In revolt she decided to plan her death and talked her friends into it as well. At the time Miach was the only one who died and Tuan always regretted this. 13 years later a mass suicide shocks the world and Tuan is convinced that Miach is involved. She sets out on a search across the world to find her old friend and figure out what is going on.
RANT: I was sort of enjoying the anime and some point I started thinking: Man this thing is really pretentious. I don't say this lightly and I can't explain very well but this this is so far its own ass at times that it is amazing it doesn't fold in on itself.
Anyway the main issue I had was with the art. This anime is extremely CGI heavy and the only reason I'm hesitent to call it 100% CGI is because it is so damn good. When you can make me doubt if the animation is real or CG than this is the greatest compliment you can get.
I still don't like it though. While overall quality is great it can also look extremely bad. I can completely understand why CGI is used do much in animation today. It is very cheap to make compared to traditional animation. Every second created through CGI saves money that can be used elsewhere in production.
The other issue I have with this anime is the pacing. It can move very slow and I feel that they could have sliced a few minutes from the run time.