After the death of his mother, ten-year-old Tianjin moves from the city of Xi'an to rural Tibet to live with his estranged father, LaGeBa. But becoming accustomed to the strange customs, relentless wilderness, and bullying neighbors of his new home on the steppe proves more difficult than expected. Worse yet, the boy's father is absolutely devoted to his job as a doctor, and hardly pays any attention to his struggling son, instead demanding that he spend his days herding the family's flock of sheep. One day, while being ignored as usual by the sheep he's attempting to herd, Tianjin is attacked by an enormous bear, which is chased off in the nick of time by a mysterious golden dog. Though cautious by nature, the Tibetan Mastiff warms to the lonely boy, and the two develop an intense friendship.
This movie isn't bad, but it's just a rehash of a story each of us has already seen (probably more than once) - with nothing new added and furthermore lacking the above average storytelling or the compelling characters that could have compensated for the clichèd storyline. The story is the classic overused theme about a boy whose mother has died and so gets delivered to his unapproachable and cold father living far away in Tibet. As easily predictable, once there he has difficulty adapting and making friends - as well as getting on with his father - until a dog comes into his life to make everything better. Bad things happen and the dog is mistaken for the culprit, but at the end everything is set right - even if to achieve this the boy and his dog will have to undergo some hardship and loss. The pacing of the story is quite slow for about half the movie; in the second half it does pick up speed, though. The characters are exacly what you would expect them to be. No more, no less, no surprises. The visuals, character design and animation are actually quite bad. Which isn't justifiable seeing that the movie was released not so long ago in 2011. I didn't like them at all. The dogs least of all, they weren't very expressive. In conclusion, it's a good movie to watch with small kids because it's absolutely family-friendly and I'm sure young children can easily relate to - and enjoy - a story about the friendship between a boy and his dog. There's some action, a bad guy that gets defeated at the end, a misunderstanding that gets cleared and an emotional ending that puts togther tears and hope for the future. But other than that, I wouldn't recommend this movie.
I think what really got me interested in the movie was the fact that Naoki Urasawa worked on the movie. He didn't do the story or characters specifically, but he did design the characters. Which I think helped advertise the movie since its mentioned in the trailer. But you're probably wondering if the movie was good. I think it is for the most part if you go in with the right level of expectations. Story -Our narrative opens with a youngster named Tianjin being moved up to the mountains of Tibet as his mother just passed and that's where his father is. He quickly forms a bond with a golden-furred Tibetan Mastiff that he calls Duoji Yongzhi. Things become complicated for the duo when Duoji is accused of being responsible for a string of attacks against villagers and animals. The biggest down side of the film is just that the climax gets a bit ridiculous, almost imbuing Douji with supernatural abilities. The arc is also going to be really obvious for adults. Which I'll mostly excuse because it is a family film. On the positive side, the whole emphasis on the bond between this young boy and his dog does work well. It leads to some strong, heart-warming moments. When the adult characters are arguing about what they should do, they do bring up some solid points that makes it feel like a legitimate discussion. The film also does take some risks and ends up involving a lot more death than you'd see in most family films. It may not be enough to make the narrative surprising, but it does make it a bit different and it's nice to see Madhouse execute something like that in a subdued fashion. Characters -For the most part, the main characters are a bit shallow but kind of endearing and the side characters are very much there for a function. There are some interesting character dynamics. Like the tension betwixt Tianjin and his dad or the rivalry between his dad and the old woman who sells snake oil. Which do serve to elevate some of the cast so they're above the regular archetypes. The biggest problem is that there's a particular character who loses all sense of reason and perspective at the climax of the film so that he can go full antagonist. His actions before that point all make sense even if they're misguided but at the climax he just says "I'm not going to pay any attention to what I'm seeing here because I stubbornly refuse to be redeemable." Art -The artwork is pretty great. The nature scenes look great. The animals are really detailed and look like what they're supposed to. Which means the dogs are super cute. The characters look good. About the one complaint I have is that the monster they're chasing down kind of just looks like a big, black blob with teeth and eyes. A stronger, more detailed design would have worked wonders, I think. Sound -The acting is well handled. It is in Mandarin, which is an odd choice on Madhouse's part. Maybe they were going for that sweet Chinese market that's so lucrative for media developers. The music is well done. There are some really nice scenes with flute playing. What could be improved on -1. Tone down the climax to fit better in with the rest of the film. Seriously, most of the film seems like it could take place in a real world setting. Then we get supernatural elements and absurdities in the climax. 2. Have the particular character I've already talked about actually believe his own senses. 3. Give your monster a stronger design. Tibet Inu Monogatari is a pretty solid, enjoyable film. It has a few issues, but they don't detract from it too much. Credit goes to ktulu007 in regards to the review. On a positive note I like the Tibetan culture that was shown in the movie since you don't see a lot of that in anime.
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