December 23, 2010

A Chinese Ghost Story: The Tsui Hark Animation

Its been a number of years now since I last watched A Chinese Ghost Story. I actually got a copy of this movie when I started getting into heavily collecting anime. After watching Spirited Away, I was looking for a film that was somewhat similar. Although I wasn't overly impressed when I first started watching this, it began growing on me as I let go of my expectations of a Spirited Away like film and started watching this film on its own.
The story follows Ning, a man who travels with his pet dog Solid Gold grieving over Siu Lan after being dumped by her. On his travels he runs into two monks, White Cloud and Ten Miles, who are on a quest to purify unholy spirits. The two monks are in competition with Red Beard, who is also a purifier of spirits. While on his journey, Ning also meets a ghost named Shine, who Red Beard tries to purify. Shine admits her love for Ning and the two travel through the portal of rebirth. Shine and Ning manage to pass through without losing their memories, while Red Beard, Ten Miles, and White Cloud are all reborn as infants. The film ends off with Ning being reunited with Shine.

Now my synopsis of the story here is heavily abridged. For a full plot overview check out the link HERE. The film is an hour and a half and touches on a number of themes. The story is also fairly full in that there is not a whole lot of filler in it. This is definitely an anime that you would have to watch a couple of times to get everything out of it.

The film is not overly complicated in its story. The animation style used suggests that the film is designed for a younger kid audience. The characters look very lighthearted and there is a lot of bright color used. The expressions for the most part on characters faces are fairly comical and easy going. There isn't a great deal of seriousness or heavy emotion as you might find in many Studio Ghibli films such as Spirited Away.

With all that being said, A Chinese Ghost Story is worth taking the time to watch. Its not a top ranking anime film but still above average. I probably wouldn't pick this one up more than twice myself, but I also went into this movie with some high expectations. My only advice when watching this is don't compare apples and oranges. This film is designed for a younger audience, and  don't make the mistake I did by expecting it to be a Studio Ghibli style film when it clearly isn't.

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