- August 21, 2010
- 2 hr. 7 min.
- Aniplex, Sony Music
- Sunrise, Ascension
Colorful is a 2010 drama anime movie that deals with more than the cheery everything-will-be-fixed-at-the-end-of-the-episode type of story. Instead, it deals with harsh topics that are sometimes too hard to talk about – even with your closest friend. This film does have extremely high points, but like everything in life, it’s not perfect. Although it may look like a typical slice of life drama on the outside, going in with that mindset, you will be sorely disappointed and perhaps even give up before getting into the heavy heart of the film.
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The story is interesting, but not too abnormal. When a spirit dies and is kicked out of the reincarnation cycle because of the sins they made during their life. An angel tells the spirit that they won a lottery and the “boss” gave the spirit a second chance to remember their sin, but there is a catch. If the spirit can’t remember – or figure out – the sin that they committed than they won’t be able to reincarnate into another vassal. The angel gives the spirit the body of a 14-year-old boy named Makoto, who tried to commit suicide, and while the spirit tries to navigate through Makoto’s life, he is also learning what it means to be alive all over again.
The art style of the film was pretty insipid and there weren’t any “wow” factors about the characters themselves. They are drawn fairly practical no moe (the quality in a fictional female character of being youthfully innocent and vulnerable in an idealized way), which builds to the story. The realism of the characters design is not necessarily a negative aspect of the film, but it doesn’t convey that amazing beauty that the movie poster implies you will see. Albeit, throughout the second viewing of the film I was unsure about whether I liked it or not, but after thinking about it, the realism is what gives this film its pop and fits perfectly with the film and its themes.
The symbolism is very interesting, and honestly I didn’t catch it until the second viewing. The beginning of the film the backgrounds are all dark and gloomy, and as the film continues it turns vibrant. It shows how stark life can really be, with its cool color tones. The only warm colors we really see are in the background of the second half of the film, which look like they’ve been pulled right out of a painting and are definitely worth the wait. It shows that although one’s view may be bleak or even grim, they can still be surrounded by the beauty in life.
The main characters in this movie are quite interesting at times, some are great, while others seem to do nothing but just fill in the family. The main character of the film, Makoto Kobayashi – the one that the spirit must use to navigate his twisted life – is a 14-year old boy who is small for his age, friendless, struggles badly in school, and to make things even worse, he’s ranked last in the class. The only thing that the spirit has to help him on his journey is his seldomly there guide named Purapura, a child-like entity that guides souls after their death. With Purpura’s guidance, the unnamed spirit must navigate the harsh realities of Makoto’s life and try to untangle the web of his own life’s sin.
Makoto’s mother has always been by her sons’ side, cooking homemade meals, making sure everything is perfect for her son. Yet she gets treated poorly for her actions. Makoto’s father, on the other hand, is never really at home due to work. Makoto’s brother is studying furiously for his entrance exams but has very few lines in the film.
There was one character in the film that I wish would have been more developed and that was Shouko Sano. She is the type of character that first appeared to be like a shy, stuttering girl who doesn’t know to act at times. For example, when the viewer is first introduced to Shouko she is very jittery and stammering. Throughout the film, we see her character grow from a boring comic relief to a character I wanted to know more about. At the end of the film we come to realize what her adolescence was like in a mere two or three minutes, which just adds more to the sustenance of the film.
It’s important to mention that the biggest defect I have against the film is that the spirit inside Makoto never listens gives thanks for anything that his mother does for him. Everyone makes mistakes, but he constantly punishes her for things he doesn’t understand. Having said that, I feel that this issue does make the movie more believable in regard to teenagers and their very “black or white” way of thinking.
This film has plenty of themes that might your heart, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good film. It focuses on topics like teen suicide, bullying, loneliness, and most importantly, accepting one’s inner self. During the whole film, I felt that Makoto was a huge jerk, but I do feel sorry for him at some points. Some examples are when you find out how lonely he was, and a few other aspects that I won’t go into detail due to spoilers. However, it doesn’t excuse the fact that he continuously lashes out at others because he doesn’t understand how to figure out what Makoto’s sin was.
Throughout this film, the biggest production issue that became abundantly problematic for me was the audio and the animation – when dealing with mouths – didn’t always sync with each other. Which, unfortunately, made it difficult to suspend my belief and get submerged into their world at times. Another issue I had with this film was that it tried to do a Gintama-Esque fourth wall break a few times. Considering that some of them felt like they were needed, like when the film begins it’s in first-person point of view but starting the film with one makes it look unpolished.
After watching the film a few times and thinking it over, I can understand the importance of this film to anime fans. This film, while flawed is able to pick itself up and dust itself off again and again. Considering that the messages of this film I feel like every viewer can relate to at some point in their life. I believe that this film is a great example of what life truly is, sometimes messy, but doesn’t make it terrible. So, given the down-to-earth art style, characters, and overall enjoyment I believe that the film is a great, but not wonderful, film.
Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.