- Alt. Name
- Release Date
- June 21, 2019
- Twilight Studio
Hakubo is a 2019 Drama anime film from the makeshift Japanese animation studio, Twilight Studio. Though much is unknown about this studio, this film was their first and presumptively their last since the owner, who was also the director and writer of this film, said that this would be his final animated work. In contrast, some studios tend to play it safe and go for a smaller approach, like making a smaller original video animated series. However, sometimes if it’s going to be the last time someone will do something, then there might as well be no limit to what could happen. Can a studio randomly produce something genuinely entertaining or even worthy of the viewers’ time? Some believe they may have a great idea on paper, but it’s a different outcome when that story is being made into a film.
Music is one of the most influential parts of the human experience, especially when it’s part of daily life. The love for music is so essential that it’s been part of Sachi Koyama’s life since she was a little child. Although Sachi is content with her school life and retains friends within the music club, she seems to be becoming a bit distracted from something that has unintentionally halted her promising talents while playing the violin. Her new favorite pastime is appreciating the scenery around her neighborhood in Iwaki, Furushima, while walking to her bus stop, alone.
However, during Sachi’s after-school walks, she has an unexpected meeting with Yusuke Kijinami, a boy she often notices on her bus ride home. After offering to help him find a perfect view of the evening landscape – the subject of his next painting for his art clubs exhibition – the two forged a bond over their mutual admiration of the beautiful scenery bathed in the sunset. This chance encounter brings tother these two souls who yearn to cherish the present, knowing full well how easy it can slip away. Can the arts’ love continue this beautiful picture that these two have created, or will it be ripped out of life’s notebook and thrown away?
Whenever an anime series or film is directed and written by the same person, some red flags immediately start to appear – especially when it comes from a studio made solely for this project. Throughout this film, the viewer will potentially be surprised by how well the pacing is, albeit the film is just shy of an hour, but the length of any story is irrelevant; good is still good. For instance, many Hollywood films have done much worse with countless two and a half hour movies when it comes to pacing, yet Hakubo seems to have nailed the pacing pretty solid.
Another aspect that this film has potentially done adequately was the general ideas of this film were realistic. Meaning it’s a stereotypical school love story, where the viewer can easily guess what’ll happen next. While this positive may be negative to some viewers, this is potentially great due to the viewer’s lack of participation in figuring out what’s going on in front of them. Their main job is to sit and enjoy the narrative in front of them, as simple as that. Usually, having a significantly predictive story is always negative, but there is an outlier every once in a while. On paper, this concept is a great story to sit and relax after a long hard day of work where one wants to unwind.
Unfortunately, Hakubo also had plenty of negatives throughout its short runtime. For instance, as implied, this film is rather generic. If you’ve seen more than three drama series or movies with subtle romantic elements, then that’ll be a straightforward narrative to calculate. If one happened to remove the musical elements within this film, viewers would not only witness the most boring story they’ve ever heard. They’d also realize how unoriginal this film certainly can be, down to every event. While not everything needs to be original, but when college students have better use the romantic and the drama elements within a narrative, that’s when there’s a problem. This story is downright bare-bones basic, and don’t expect anything outside of the most common themes within these vast genres.
While the narrative was rather abysmal, the film’s art style will be much more pleasing. The beautiful array of colors used for the painting scenes and the vibrant colors for the backgrounds were a real gift for any viewer. Which genuinely makes one wish that it wasn’t wasted on such a terrible story. The character designs were rather bland and nothing out of the ordinary from what one may expect. The blandness in the character designs could be that since Yutaka Yamamoto had such a heavy hand in this film being the writer, director, and producing this film and probably other areas, it could hinder Sunao Chikaoka’s work on the character design.
Though when it comes to the production side of this film, it’s a bittersweet pill. When someone has so much creative control over one project, it sometimes gets too bogged down in their ideas, whether it be good or bad. This film’s production wasn’t the worst, but it’s nowhere near decent, and the only saving grace within itself would be Souhei Kano’s music. The classical music choices were entertaining and also added an extra layer of depth within Hakubo, albeit a thin layer but a layer nonetheless. Perhaps this film would’ve had more creativity if Yamamoto had less creativeness and let go of the reigns, but that would only solve a few of the many problems within this faulty movie.
Suppose one is hoping for a story with many characters; this isn’t the right choice. Throughout this film, viewers will only get to know two characters, and while there are a few more characters, they aren’t crucial towards the overall story. Yusuke Kijinami is an ordinary high school boy who loves the simple life of painting. While he knows nothing about music, he makes up for it in appreciation of life’s artistic areas. Sachi Koyama is a very gifted violinist, though she’s only gifted through her hard work since middle school practicing daily. Though everyone enjoys her musical ability, she somewhat gets tired of her uneventful life. While she isn’t the most fleshed-out character, somebody can state the same for her counterpart.
As the film progressed, the level of enjoyment changed as well. The pleasure level started as enjoyable within the fifty-two-minute film but quickly faded into indifferent and somewhat stayed there. While some viewers may find this film rather enjoyable and promptly fall in love with the simplicity of the overall theme, I feel most will not make it through the entirety of this film. As with most entertainment pieces, there will always be some who like things that others don’t, but I’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who truly enjoys this when it comes to this particular 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.