Yonna and Stan, brother and sister, live in isolation because of their special powers. There are enigmatic people who plot to use their power, in conflict with the king`s government, which is also planning to draw them onto their side. Intrigue surrounds Yonna, and now a new agent comes to see her.
Over the years animation has progressed from the basic "onion skin" technique through to cel shaded CG, so it's only natural that the next step would be full 3D animation. It's thanks to companies like Square-Enix, Pixar, Dreamworks, Blue Sky, Toei, and a whole heap of other studios, that 3D animation has evolved rapidly since the turn of the millenium, and while the presence of such movies may still be a rarity in anime, there are some that appear from time to time.
It's just unfortunate that most of them aren't really all that good.
Hanare Toride no Yonna is one of those rare, fully 3D animated movies that, like CENCOROLL and Hoshi no Koe, is almost completely the work of one man (aside from the music andthe voice acting). Conceived, written, directed and animated by Takeuchi Kengo, the movie received mixed reviews upon it's release in April 2006.
The movie is about two siblings who live in a remote castle - Stan and Yonna. Both possesses certain abilities that have caused them to be driven from their original home, and because of the unjust cruelty they have both faced, Stan has become fiercely protective of his younger sister. However, the government believe that Yonna in particular would be a useful asset to them, and send two agents to "liberate" her.
One of the problems I've found with "one man shows" (i.e. made by one person), is that the plot is often lacking in certain areas, and it's in this area that Yonna really fails to deliver. The main problem is that the story never really covers anything about the powers that Stan and Yonna possess, nor does it explain how they may be useful to the government. In addition to that, the plot has an aimless quality, as if the writer couldn't make up his mind where he wanted the story to go.
Another problem with the plot is the pacing of the story. Yonna is very slow at times, but can switch gears in an instant, and it's this "stopping and starting" of the plot that can really throw the viewer off, especially given the lack of detail in the story.
That said, Yonna does look good - on paper anyway. The art and animation has a very Final Fantasy feel to it, especially the character designs. The characters are expressive enough, but have a decidedly odd look about them which makes them look not quite human. While this is acceptable because of the fantasy setting, the pixie-like quality of the characters makes some scenes difficult to take seriously. Character animation is good for the most part, however there are quite a few occasions where the movements look strange, especially during action sequences, while other bits of animation can appear jerky or unreal.
Yonna's biggest plus is the artwork. The castle and surrounding countryside is very well rendered and detailed, with great use of colours, tones and shades, which is more than can be said about the interior of the castle. Visually, Yonna's biggest problem is lighting, and this is especially noticeable in the confines of the castle.
Pretty much the only part of the movie not made directly by Takeuchi is sound. The voice acting isn't bad, however the seiyuu are decidedly wooden in their delivery, something which is especially noticeable during the more emotional moments. The music used throughout the movie is actually rather good. Okazawa Toshio, who also worked on the music for 5cm Per Second and The Place Promised in our Early Days, has done a fine job with the score for Yonna. The only problem is that the music is sometimes at odds with the on-screen action, something which is mainly due to poor choreography rather than Okazawa's musical ability.
The single biggest problem with the movie though, is the characters. As this is only a 33 minute "movie", there is understandably going to be a lack of development, however this could have been offset by making the characters more interesting, more real, more approachable. Unfortunately the movie suffers from poor characterisation, and because of this the characters are one dimensional and uninteresting.
To be completely honest, this is a show that can only really be recommended to fans of 3D animation, as there's very little else to it aside from that. A lot can be forgiven given that this is the work of one man, however even this fact can't lift Yonna out of the realms of mediocrity. The audience has no reason to sympathise with either Yonna or Stan, especially as there's very little history given about them, and this plays a major part in whether one likes the movie or not.
This isn't a bad effort though, and the biggest positive about Hanare Toride no Yonna is that it's another example of one man animation at work, and no matter how mediocre the movie may be, it gets a lot of kudos for that reason.
And now I'm off to watch a fifty foot woman fight aliens :)read more
Half an hour I've never regretted wasting more in my life.
Spoilers included, because seriously? Don't waste your time.
Kid and older brother are ostracized because they apparently have magic powers. A span of time passes, and some other kid comes to free the sister. Why? No freakin clue. That's what he was told to do, and by god, this kid takes his role as lacky seriously.
We know this kid is sent to free the girl from the tower (and why was a kid sent to free the princess in the tower, so to speak?), but aside from a vaguely worded throwaway comment from a throwaway character, there's no indication of their intentions whatsoever. Somewhere near the end, the boy quips that this monarchy, or whoever's employ he's under will have his head for what he'd done, but given that we know he was told to "Get her out of the tower," which he DID, the viewer is left wondering why he'd be wanted for capture after fulfilling his mission.
I also question using the older brother as the villain. I got more of a protective vibe from him in the beginning, which contrasted sharply with his presentation later. Shared none of the same traits, and for that, they might as well have used some ogre or something with no personality at all.
We got the bare bones, I guess. Pretty cookie-cutter.
They recycled what felt like the same five tracks over and over again which would have been fine had the score held any merit of worth to begin with. In particular, one of the tracks sounded like it was ripped straight from a Final Fantasy battle sequence, which would have worked fine had it been in a video game to begin with, but it just felt out of place.
Music seemed design to annoy or elicit as many eye-rolling melodramatic moments as possible.
Character designs weren't endearing, and the quality of the CG itself was low. The girl chooses one point in the story to summon a particularly demonic creature while she's moping around in her room, which struck me as odd, not to mention out of place considering the otherwise almost childish setting and characters.
Yeah, I'm sure it took a long time but dayum. Well.. The hair looked nice. And the characters did too, as long as they weren't talking.
If you keep looking at the timer every thirty seconds, you're not enjoying yourself.
Score: Make it END, GOD
In the end, maybe it would have done fine as a video game, but otherwise I highly reccomend steering clear. I didn't enjoy it in the least.