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AKA: Ihatov no Kenso: Kenji no Haru; The Vision of Ihatov: Kenji's Spring
Genre: Animated biography
Length: Movie, 60 minutes
Distributor: VHS and R1 DVD from TokyoPop
Content Rating: 10+ (mature themes)
Related Series: Night on the Galactic Railroad
Also Recommended:
Notes: A biography of the life of Japanese writer Miyazawa Kenji, in the anthropomorphic art style of his story "Night on the Galactic Railroad".

Ihatov is Esperanto for Iwate, which is Miyazawa's home prefecture in northern Japan.
Rating:
 

Spring and Chaos

Synopsis

Anthropomorphic cats and dogs replace people in this short retelling of the life of Miyazawa Kenji, one of Japan's most beloved modern poets and story writers. It details key events in his life, retold though director Kawamori Shoji's (Escalflowne, Macross) eyes and highlights in particular Miyazawa's vivid imagination through excellent use of various contrasting animation styles, including computer generated graphics.

Review

"...The single illumination/Of karma's alternating current lamp/Remains alight without fail/Flickering unceasingly, restlessly/Together with the sights of the land and all else/(The light is preserved...the lamp itself is lost)..." - Miyazawa Kenji, "Spring and Ashura", as translated by Roger Pulvers

This is definately not your "mainstream" (I hate that term) anime. There are no exploding ninjas, no transforming robots, no uber-cute anime heroines with magical pets or goofy sidekicks. In fact it doesn't even have much of a linear plot, skipping from place to place, image to image, like a dream you might have while only half awake. And yet, somehow, it all makes a weird kind of sense, achieves a sense of closure when there was no definate begining.

I will not attempt to bluff the dedicated T.H.E.M. review reader by trying to say that everyone who watches this movie will enjoy it, or even understand it for that matter. It's an art film, pure and simple, dedicated to one of Japan's most imaginative and prolific modern writers, and it's a treat for the eyes, even if the words are lost in obscurity.

From the very beginning, with neko-Kenji chasing a train carrying his sister into an underworld of rotating clockwork gears while a japanese rendition of Ave Maria plays mornfully in the background, director Kawamori draws the viewer into Miyazawa's mind and keeps you there, captivated. The animation styles throughout the film vary widely. Much of the imagery is inspired by the contrast of nature and civilzation, much like Kenji's poetry and fiction (an example of which is at the beginning of this review). The CG effects are beautifully done and flawlessly integrated into the story and lend themselves perfectly to the atmosphere of whatever fantasy Kenji has found himself in at the moment.

Especially touching are the encounters Kenji has with the people around him. From his best-friend's disillusionment as a soldier, to his conflicts with his father over his choice of vocation, to his fondness for his students and the unconditional love he had for his sickly younger sister, every character in the story serves as window into Miyazawa's soul. And while this may all be biased by the views of the director, it feels right, and sounds right and looks right. And in the end, that's all that really matters.

Meow

I would have offered five stars, but the limited audience appreciation holds it back.Jason Bustard

Recommended Audience: Younger viewers would probably be bored (or maybe frightened by some of the ghosts in Kenji's more lucid fantasies) and some older viewers might also find it dull. This is a show intended for artsy types and people who love animation for animation's sake.



Version(s) Viewed:
Review Status: Partial (0/1)
Spring and Chaos © 1998 TV Iwate / Group TAC