As the 17th emperor of Sokan draws his last breath, his son prepares to inherit the throne. However, the empress has other plans for the line of ascension, and political turmoil sweeps across the palace. To secure his throne, the 18th emperor will have to find himself a bride, and the call goes out across the land to bring in any girls ready for royal matrimony. Will Ginga, a simple young farm girl, be able to win the emperor's favor over many other women from around the realm?
This is a tv-special which tries to show too much, in too little time. It also has some really heavy themes but otherwise it’s supposed to be family material. So it ain’t hard to figure out how it was not successful at what it set out to do.The premise is somewhat interesting; it is about the new emperor of an empire that “looks” like ancient China, looking for a proper wife and for that reason candidates poor from all over the land, training in the castle in order for the most appropriate to get the position. The funny thing here is that ANY WOMAN can participate, regardless of class, something of which never really happened in China… or in any other nation for the same manner… Heck, not even in fairy tales. The premise is still interesting though.So the heroine of the movie is Ginga, an energetic peasant girl who dreams of an easy life. Her manners are rude but otherwise manages to stand out in the crowd and even makes the emperor (who looks like a girl) to take notice of her for speaking her mind instead of just trying to impress him with good manners. This is again an interesting topic, as it shows how sincerity and boldness are sometimes more important than etiquette and ass-kissing. Other than that, we just have to accept they would allow a woman in ancient times to be so rude to royalty without being executed on the spot. Heck, women weren’t even allowed to speak in most ancient kingdoms. But anyways, it is a story for kids and parents, so it’s not like you need to expect historical accuracy. I guess they wanted to make a point about gender roles, since even the emperor is very feminine and hardly acts as he should. A side story also regards the campaign of a pair of bandits, who after making a joke about becoming rich and powerful, literally proceed to gather around their own army and see how far they can go. A rebellion is formed out of anyone who wants to take down the unjust emperor. This is again interesting to see how it all started as a joke and escalated to something beyond their own reach. It’s not like we see exactly how they are being so successful in their campaign; they just win out of screen and reach outside the imperial palace just like that. And in a similar way there was a coup of sorts forming in the palace to usurp the throne but they barely deal with it before it is all over.As interesting as the above themes are, the story barely lasts enough to fully make use of them. Everything moves very fast and even has weird mood swings from comedy to serious drama. This is what eventually ruins all the mood, as you are constantly bombarded with different themes and emotions that hardly last enough for you to care about. Not even the ending is doing a good job to wrap everything up properly, as they rush through the events, the tv-special ends, and then a narration tells you of things that happened later on. That was simply lame. The production values are ok for the little tale they made here. It kinda feels like Ghibli in the simplicity of the faces (actually the character designer was from Ghibli) but it hardly has their high budget to offer variety to colours and exceptionally smooth animation. The soundtrack is quite unremarkable and I can even say it hardly fits the mood of the story or that each tune was not always properly following what was going on with the plot. Voice acting… well, nothing much. So in all, it’s as if the makers of this weren’t trying much to create something great. They went too light and humorous and then just switched to drama for the lulz. You hardly get to appreciate Ginga’s escapades in the castle, since they last too little and the rebellion leaders are acting like they are going on a picnic instead of trying to accomplish a lot. Nobody besides the heroine is fleshed out properly and there was enough material to fill a full-season series here. They even have a sex scene of sorts towards the end but everything happens out of screen and you are just wondering WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? It will disappoint most viewers since it hardly makes use of its own setting.
In short: A surprisingly heartwarming adventure of a fantastic asian kingdom where the clouds of conspiracy gather and the winds of rebelion unexpectedly blow. Funny and dramatic, hilarious and emotional, the plot walks through innocence and ambition. Unfortunately too many meanings for too little time and some plot holes prevent the anime from being top rated but its still enjoyable. Bad animation, bad movement, childish character design with some funny expressions that make it tolerable and somehow cute. Recommended for those who like bittersweet adventure stories with some interesting meanings.
I thought this was a really good watch. It's not a flashy movie by any means and it's not the best thing I've ever watched but I do think it has heart. I found the main character overall to be a bit of a stereotype of "the girl who doesn't care to be girly" but I think that makes sense given her age/upbringing in the countryside belonging to the peasant class as well as her being raised for most of her life by her father. I think all of the main characters have their own niche within the story and while there isn't really a lot of character development, they all serve their purpose within the story without stepping on each other's toes. The animation is old but it's not unattractive. There are a few scenes that don't look as well drawn but it's not comically bad. The music is orchestral/traditional japanese and isn't a focal point but it aids the overall feel/setting of the movie which is a pseudo-feudal Japan. I didn't realize until the end of the movie that it was actually set in a fantasy/alternate reality setting because it really does seem almost historical in its references. I can't say much bad about it really but I can't see myself rewatching it either. Objectively, I would give this movie closer to a 6/10 but there was nothing that I hated about it.
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