Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Aoi Bunkagu - anime review

Aoi Bungaku is an anime adaptation of six classics of modern Japanese literature. They were all written in the second quarter of 20th century and they remind me of the books I had to read in school for assignments. Except these are a bit weirder...

As I said, there are six of them. There is a nice list on AniDB where there is a short description of each one. Although I believe that list was made before the anime was screened and that it describes literature sources, because there are slight differences between them.

Each adaption differs in style and story. But, they all share some qualities: supreme quality of animation and analysis of human psychology. Also, at the beginning of each there is an introduction where live narrator gives us short biography of the author of the story and prepares us with some questions. If you believe him, stories are based on real experiences of the authors.

First story lasts four episodes and it is the longest one. It follows few phases of life of the son of a congressman, who is a shame to his father and tries to find his own way in life as an artist, a manga-ka. It is a very dark story, including suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, ect. Nevertheless, I felt sorry for the main character, because it was obvious he suffers from some mental problems (manifesting in hallucinations). But mostly, it is because he believes himself not to be a human, so that he doesn't deserve things like friendship, family and happiness.

Second story, two episodes long, was a great surprise, especially first few minutes. It includes a forest bandit wielding sword, chewing bubble gum and listening to music-player, a talking pig and a harem. It was somewhat bizarre and looked like a slap-stick comedy, but again I found myself sympathizing with the main character (the mentioned bandit). I especially remembered his description of living in a city.

Third story was my favorite. It tells the story of two young students who both fell in love with the daughter of their house-owner. One is a spoiled son with rich background while other is poor ascetic dedicated to finding his Way. I found it most impressive that the first episode is from POV of rich-boy and the second one is from poor-boys POV.

Fourth story was also good; it lasts two episodes and it is a modern adaptation of a Greek myth. It simultaneously retells two stories: the myth about a man who is to be executed but has to go to his sister's wedding so he offers his best friend to be killed if he doesn't come back after the wedding; and the story of two best friends who got separated fifteen years ago, but one of them still can't get over that.

Fifth and sixth story takes place in the same, imagined kingdom. First one follows a cruel criminal who get executed for his crimes and then suffers in Hell. And last one is about a painter who, to be able to paint human suffering, get his life destroyed.

I'm not sure how to summarize this or to recommend it. From one side I did enjoy it, but I don't think it is for everybody. If you like classics and psychology, then maybe this is for you. Expect a serious anime about human mind and habits that will make you question yourself.

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