Spring and Chaos

Alt title: Ihatov Gensou: Kenji no Haru

Movie (1 ep x 60 min)
3.403 out of 5 from 352 votes
Rank #3,912

His father thinks he’s a failure, his students think he’s eccentric yet magnificent, and the impoverished farmers of his town think he’s an insufferably idealistic spoiled rich boy. Before renowned Showa-era poet and author Kenji Miyazawa became famous, he lived in a small town, struggling with personal philosophies that no one around him understands, and writing novels without resorting to selling out.

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The day Kenji Miyazawa died in 1933 he was far from famous; though some his literary works earned him at least some recognition, it was only after he passed away that his stories started to enthuse many Japanese children and adults alike. Spring and Chaos is a pretty compressed and loose biography of Miyazawa's life, celebrating the anniversary of the author's 100th birthday. Though you more or less understand what is happening on screen, I think it is a big help if you read a summary of Miyazawa's life before watching this movie. Otherwise not everything may become clear, since the movie doesn't really bother with explaining a lot to you. Miyazawa is portrayed as an unusual and rather eccentric person, with troubles to fit into society and family tradition, in a seemingly constant search for a meaning of life. Many scenes reference his writings and poems as well as his faith (he was a devout Buddhist) and where his ideas came from; meaning people who are familiar with his work will probably get a little more out of it. Compared to that, the rest of the cast is mainly in a supporting role. They are mostly there to illuminate the different sides of Miyazawa's personality, like his love for his ill sister or how strange his behaviour and viewpoints seem to them. In the end your enjoyment of the movie depends heavily on whether you feel sympathy for Miyazawa or not. The pacing tends to be quite fast; some things happen quite quickly and as mentioned sometimes there is too little exposition. Characters are potrayed as cats with human traits. There is not really a reason why they are cats, since they act exactly like humans for the most part (with the exception of occasional hissing), but I liked their design a lot; it made the movie stand out a little more from other titles and added well to the overall atmosphere. And its strangely beautiful/sad atmosphere and poetic writing is the movies' strongest point. Spring and Chaos can easily be considered a small hidden gem, though undoubtedly it may not be everybody's cup of tea. For some it may be a little too 'out-there' and it is one of those things that require a little research if you want to appreciate it fully. I recommend you try and see for yourself.

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