- Release Date
- May 22, 2014
- 1 hr. 18 min.
- Studio Animal
Ghost Messenger Movie is a 2014 Supernatural Action movie from South Korean animated studio, STUDIO ANIMAL. While this film may not be considered a Supernatural and Action film, the studio has officially made a statement that the film states its genre as ‘Oriental Sci-fi Fantasy’. Which makes it even more interesting to watch when the studio disagrees with what their industry is classifying their ow movie as. Another aspect of this movie is the themes, but in a “Sci-fi fantasy” anime where the creativity is vast and wide-open for new concepts and ideas. Can the film create something new? Or will the film just be a typical money grab for a series?
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Ghost Messenger Movie’s story is quite interesting, and arguably even a great setup for a wonderful franchise. Where Kang-lim is a Ghost Messenger who’s on a mission to capture a spirit when he makes a grave mistake and gets locked up in his own Soul Phone. Meanwhile, Little Kang-lim is an elementary school 5tn grader who lives with his grandfather and helps run an antique shop with him. Though he may seem like a typical child, he was born with the gift of seeing spirits. Through some strange chance, the phone ends up in his hands. Little Kang-lim starts using the powers of the Soul Phone and ends up making a mess of his town, causing him to have no choice but to let Kang-lim out when things get too serious.
When you have a plot based entirely on cell phones gives the impression that the viewer will be impressed with some intriguing plot points. Unfortunately, the viewer will receive a better story from reading the above paragraph than what the film had. The film itself didn’t even follow it’s own plot after thirty minutes, which is unfortunate given that on paper it sounded somewhat promising. Once you get one-third of the way through the movie the viewer will be questioning what’s going on, and more importantly, the film keeps this up through the entirety of the film. Perhaps the biggest problem with the story is not that it’s so hard to follow, but the entire story seemed like it was created the night before.
Though the film had no solid story, the very few and I mean very few solid moments were excellent and made the film a little more enjoyable. Perhaps it is due to the fact that this is coming from one of the main themes in the movie, that they had no part in creating or even changing. I have to congratulate STUDIO ANIMAL for their take on the covering of the Korean traditional aspects of death and how the living remembers and even mourns them. The story that follows it, unfortunately, doesn’t match the quality that they put into that specific theme. Which definitely brings the film down but doesn’t ruin it completely.
The art style of this film is outstanding, much like Studio Trigger’s art style which was a great surprise. The antagonist of the film is clearly defined by this art style, and luckily it works with the film. The art style did remind me of another Sci-Fi film Summer Wars at times but wouldn’t call it copying given that it could potentially drag down the latter. What the viewer may find irritating about this art style of with so much creativeness coming at you in such large doses then tail off. Given that the film is in the Sci-Fi genre means that it’ll clearly use a futuristic aspect in one form or another. This gives the viewers a certain standard of imagery that is most commonly used in the genre type, and it does meet that at some points. When it goes away from that it leaves the viewer with the standard.
While the art style in this movie is a mix between great and average at times, the production of this film is what shows half of its true colors. Like the genre itself doesn’t have a solid definition of what Science Fiction really is, and some even going as far as saying “Science Fiction is what we point to when we say it.” The best aspect of this production is the music, which is very symbolic and matches the film’s integrity. Now a film doesn’t need to have great music for it to be a wonderful piece of entertainment, but with a film like this anything that helps it must be used. While the music is a great aspect of this film, the unfortunate part is that it’s very limited and underused in potentially great areas of the film.
Now what is one of the worst aspects of the film and is, unfortunately, happening in so many low budgeted anime films is that the voice acting isn’t synched with the animation. Some portions of the film its clearly visible, while others are more hidden. If that wasn’t enough some heavy dialogue scenes throughout the film just stopped having subtitles. Which unfortunately makes the viewer miss out on so many emotional scenes due to lack of understanding of the language and considering that the lack of detail to that key aspect made the film constantly stop gaining traction. With an interesting premise on paper combined with a lack of production shows that this wasn’t a true try, or at least seemed like it.
After watching this film a few more times, the characters are the most confusing aspect of this movie. Our main character of the story is Little Kang-lim, a twelve-year-old child who at times can be a selfish brat but cares deeply for his grandfather. He is a bit of a loner, mainly due to his ability to see spirits. Throughout the film, you can clearly see that Little Kang-lim is exactly like what a child on the onset of puberty would act, selfish, uncaring and even randomly angry.
Kang-lim, a cold-blooded Ghost Messenger who has no interest in others. Outside of this there isn’t anything known or even hinted at. The same goes for the antagonist Sara, a Ghost Messenger whom we don’t know anything else about. This is the worst aspect any series or movie could have, but unfortunately, this isn’t the only time outside of these two characters every other character in the film has no background or information given about them. This not only turns off the viewer from enjoying the film but instead they’re questioning who this person is and are they good guys or bad ones.
Having said that the film does at times move at a pace that their characters either have no reason to be there or wondering who they are. Since the viewer is continuously just trying to piece together the entire film while also trying to enjoy it. Without any real guidance from the film means that the viewer can’t actually watch the film without questioning what is happening before their own eyes, which undoubtedly makes any piece of entertainment sink in the river of attention. This, unfortunately, isn’t even the worst aspect of the film and gives any viewer absolutely no hope for this film whatsoever.
With all the lack of action, and even when there was good action it still felt too slow-paced. Having the film finally get to an interesting part, it ends on a cliffhanger. Of course, it would, this film is probably in the top five of the worst animated films to ever be created. But what adds insult to injury is that it does it twice, after the very end of the credits. Nothing is added to the story from these or even alludes to anything. One may think that they’re setting up a “sequel” to film, which isn’t an uncommon concept in the anime world. Without a doubt, that’s not going to happen, given the studio is now defunct but with pieces like this is not surprising.
What is surprising about this film is not the unsettling terrible aspects of this film is that it’s so choppy and unfinished that it makes the viewer question how it could be made. With all the flaws and very little pros, other than the art style and very few solid moments in the film make this a very forgettable and unmissed film. This film in its entirety I can say without a doubt say that one should not only abandon this film but shun it from anyone’s memory due to its utter stench of mediocrity. It doesn’t have anything to offer the viewer anything outside of unanswered questions, this film at the end of the day is just a mistake and one that needs to be forgotten.
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.