September 30, 2010

Eight Clouds Rising (Yakumo Tatsu)

I really don't know where to begin with this one. Eight Clouds Rising follows a group of film students from Tokyo who travel to Izumo in order to find out some history about the area from the locals. The main character in the film ends up discovering he has the ability to see spirit after watching a Miko perform a dance. The Miko turns out to be the son of the family that the film students are staying with. As the story progresses the main character, Nanachi, and his friends are being encouraged to leave because they are disrupting the Ki of the area. Kuraki, the shaman has his own battles to fight internally, as he constantly finds himself combating the evil within himself. By the end of the movie, Kuraki realizes that he and Nanachi are one in the same, since Nanachi is from a lineage of legendary sword makers, while Kuraki is from a lineage of shamans. The sword smith and the shaman have to work together according to legend.

So my description is a little patchy, the truth is, so was the story. Although this film managed to touch on a number of great ideas and elements, it was difficult to follow. The story went very quickly and with little supporting explanation. I had a hard enough time getting the character names straight going through this one. There was potential, but it was rushed for two 30 minute OVAs. This film could have stretched out another hour by adding 2 more episodes to the set. This would have helped to slow the pace down and make the film flow better. One example of a story element that was not developed to the end was the constant referral to 6 ancient swords. By the end of the film, only two swords were shown and used. The other 4 never appeared, not even in namesake. The story also managed to contradict itself with respect to this. The 6 swords were said to be needed to sublime the evil spirits, however, they were able to be suppressed using 1 ancient sword.

The writers also threw in a scene where the shaman and the sword smith of ancient times are having a small conversation about the importance of the ancient twin swords. This part did not fit well into the story. It was very clear that the writers were trying to wrap up the series as quickly as possible.

The music in the film was average. Nothing really stood out as captivating. It fit for the most part, but again, I don't think I will be looking for the soundtrack. The animation was also average. It is exactly what you would expect from and early to mid-90s anime. The colours were dark and there was no CG. The character design was also a little mismatched. Some characters had the more lighthearted look with large eyes and nerdy displacement, while others were drawn very serious. The contrast was not the strongest.

Although I wouldn't run out to add this one to my collection, it isn't completely terrible. There are some positive elements present. The biggest being the concept of the story. The idea was there, the execution was not 100% though. I would recommend this one if you are looking for some background filler. The hour that it runs feels a little drawn out if you are trying to watch this one exclusively.

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