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[Colorful (movie)]
AKA: カラフル (Japanese)
Genre: Drama
Length: Movie, 120 minutes
Distributor: Currently licensed by Sentai Filmworks.
Content Rating: PG-13 (Mature themes)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Spirited Away
Notes: This film is COMPLETELY unrelated to the ecchi TV series of the same name. I cannot over-emphasize that point. Please don't mix them up!

(Notes by Nicoletta Christina)

Colorful (movie)


A nameless soul belonging to a great sinner on the way to be eliminated from the cycle of reincarnation had been selected to return to the world of the living for another shot at life. He is to become a 15-year-old boy named Kobayashi Makoto, who had attempted suicide three days back by over-dosing on medication. Makoto is dying soon and once Makoto is dead, Makoto's soul will leave and he can then replace Makoto's soul. During this limited "homestay" period, while living as Makoto, he is to try to remember what was the great sin he had committed. If he succeeds in his programme, he will be allowed to be reborn.


I have to admit that I have been reviewing quite a few movie-length anime lately due to a packed schedule. For movie-length anime, I realised that what separates the classics from the run-of-the-mill is what I'd call rewatch value. Will you go back to re-visit it? Will it still bring about laughter and tears the second or third time? Will you rediscover something new every time you watch it? In my humble opinion, an anime is only worth revisiting if it has a solid plot, sound characters, good music and most importantly, fabulous eye-candy. Well, I can safely say that viewers can and will revisit Colorful for all of the reasons given above and more!

The eye-candy was the very first thing that captivated me. Colorful opens with a ghostly and gloomy bus station where nameless and faceless figures literally collect their one way ticket to oblivion. This scene pans out as if the audience were the nameless soul and everything is seen through his eyes. Words unfurling against a black screen convey his feelings as if he were unable to speak. The eye-candy continues when he hurtles through the skies to earth to take possession of Makoto. Still viewed through his eyes, we have a breath-taking birds-eye view of the town where Makoto lives. I can immediately separate the houses from shops; the small, colourful roofs neatly arranged along small streets, the large sprawling shops that are so distinctive in the residential suburbs of Japan. The animators pay wonderful attention to details, even going so far as to animate cars moving on the streets. To my amazement, I can see students having activities in their school track. And as we move closer to the hospital where Makoto is warded, we peep in through the opened windows to find individual patients in their wards all in various actions and moving! I really have to prevent myself from raving on about the level of detail that carries on for another 120 minutes!!! If the bus station were the place all sinners stopped by when they die... I swear I'll be good! I promise!!

The character design takes a little getting used to, especially when I have had an overdose of staring at perfectly formed characters from playing too much Final Fantasy 13. Makoto is not even close to what is the norm of bishounen in anime. He is short and he has hair that is flat and straight. However, in a way, the characters truly are flawless. The audience can take a look at them and say, "Ah-ha! These are Japanese!". In fact, the entire cast of Colorful are believably Japanese.

From here on, the anime takes a somewhat depressive spin as we are introduced to Makoto and his family of four. A boring, salaryman father and an elder brother who despise him. And it gets worse: we are given subtle hints that he is ostracized and bullied in school and have no one whom he can call a friend. The last straw was when he suspects his mother is having an extramarital affair and discovers the girl with whom he is infatuated leads a questionable double life by giving sexual favours in exchange for branded material goods. No wonder then Makoto wants to commit suicide. The plot and dramatization is very strong throughout. The creators never let you feel like bystanders and evokes very strong emotion.

For a two hour movie, it has a very decent pace and I never once felt that I was rushed through the whole drama and supporting cast were never glossed over. The later half of the movie concentrates on how Makoto brought himself out of his sorry state by accepting that some things cannot be changed but if an effort is made to improve existing parameters, then life can be so much more meaningful. A special mention must be made on how Makoto form a bosom friend with Saotome, a classmate who happens to be a train enthusiast. Not only does Colorful do a wonderful job detailing and sharing their journey with the audience through an artistic collection of old photographs but it manage to convince me that riding trains whole day long can be fun and interesting!

One of the many things that I love in Colorful is the treatment of Makoto's guidance spirit, PuraPura. We are introduced to PuraPura early in the beginning at the bus station when PuraPura greets Makoto and cheerfully announces that he has been "chosen".

If there is a reason I avoid harem genre like the plague, I absolutely cannot stand self-proclaimed "guardian angels" who coddle their charge. PuraPura is a refreshing change from the overwhelmingly female guardian angels sporting cat ears, tails and chains around their necks. He is sensibly and smartly dressed and very wickedly tells Makoto, "I never said I was an angel!" And that's exactly what PuraPura does; guide. Sometimes with gentle kindness and wise words and sometimes outright sarcasm and meanness, but always trying to enlighten Makoto.

Last but not least, Ootani Ko is the music composer for Colorful. For those who love the music of Haibane Renmei, I'm quite sure listening to the moving and beautiful melodies in Colorful would bring a tear or two.

I think Colorful is quite realistic and representative of problems that families sometimes face in the real world. We could really take home some lessons from Colorful on being more resilient.

It does get slightly draggy in the middle when Makoto reverts into an obnoxious boy and I felt like slapping him when he gets rude to his mother. But then the writers give a clear picture on how and why he felt and behave the way he did and you couldn't help but sympathize a little - but just a bit. Because I still think he has no reason to be rude. Just a pet peeve, I guess. — Diane Tiu

Recommended Audience: The main character in the movie is flawed, by and large. And some have dubious activities. They are a rude reminder of the problems faced in the real world.

Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Colorful (movie) © 2010 Sunrise
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