Behind the colorful curtains and extravagant performances, there lies the dark side of a circus life, hidden away from the smiles and praises of the audience. Set in early 20th century Japan, Midori: Shoujo Tsubaki highlights the misdeeds that occur in circus camps.
Midori was an innocent young girl who enjoyed her life as an elementary student to the fullest. However, everything changed after her mother fell ill. Eventually, Midori is forced to stop going to school and, instead, sells flowers in the city. When her mother dies tragically, Midori meets a stranger who leads her towards the circus. What awaits her will change her life forever...
In a life where nothing seems to go right, will Midori lose faith and give up? Or will she manage to stay strong in hopes of a better future?
This is surely one of the most bizarre and mystery-shrouded anime features of the last decade: Midori. The name will probably not be familiar, but the comic on which the film was based has been released here under the title Mr. Arashi`s Amazing Freak Show. Yes, this film is an adaptation of a comic by the uncontested king of ero-guro, Maruo Suehiro. It`s remarkable enough that a Maruo Suehiro anime exists in the first place, but no less remarkable are the circumstances surrounding the film`s origin and presentation to the public.
Where to begin? First of all, Midori is a rather hard film to classify. It`s anime, but it`s not. Anime is known for being rather limited, but this film takes limited to a whole new level. It`s closer to a kami shibai or paper play, a type of one-man entertainment that was popular in pre-WWII Japan. Maruo`s original comic is in fact an adaptation of a kami shibai, so it`s an appropriate analogy. And the remarkable thing is that this anime version really is a one-man entertainment: every drawing you see in the 52 minute film was drawn by one person, thereby making it true to the spirit of the original - a modern kami shibai. Attempting such a thing is pretty much pure insanity. It wound up taking this person five years to make the film. The madman in question is one Hiroshi Harada 原田浩. (Source: AniPages)
The movie was really great. Some people might be a little disturbed by some scenes and how the story plot goes or might not feel comfortable with the artwork, but it is to know that the director, Hiroshi Harada, drew the entire movie by himself and he wanted to make it look like a sort of japanese paper play. At first I was being dissapointed about the animation, but later it gets better and really breath takes you for some scenes. The story is wonderful , the characters are wee thought. After seing some drawings from the graphic novel it was based on , I believe it stayed true to it's spirit. I recommend that people that are really sensitive or can't stand cruelty and violence think twice before watching this because it can really get intense , but people who don't mind that and who want to watch something original with an interesting style and art work should definetly go for it.read more
The world is not beautiful, therefore it is; a thought-provoking proverb popularized by Kino's Journey that nonetheless leaves its trail in lots of anime. Midori is in this sense the ultimate combo breaker in its determination to depict a cruel world whilst rejecting the vaguest of indications that beauty may lie around the corner. Its unpleasant worldview manifests itself perfectly in young Midori who is taken in by a group of deformed circus artists after the death of her beloved mother.
Her various experiences with these individuals are as far from beneficial as they are from being mutual and the movie is eager to explore its grotesque combination of childhood innocence and sexual perversion in the most surreal ways imaginable. The titular character is not only physically, sexually and mentally abused by her colleagues but also finds herself in a frightening relationship with a dwarf magician whose affection mixed with terrifying abuse creates the foundation for a story that thrives on using jealousy as the ultimate plot device towards tragedy.
From the first two paragraphs you may have anticipated a disturbingly thought-provoking tale that borders on nihilistic in its repulsive take on a classic Cinderella story? Unfortunately, Midori is far too preoccupied in featuring as much twisted imagery as possible, whether or not it has any relevance. As the disturbing content escalates into an intense inferno of immensely haunting images of absolute terror, the narration loses its initially morbid flare to incomprehensive, yet interesting slideshows that make it painfully clear that Hiroshi Harada's true passion lines in twisted artwork rather than storytelling.
I'll be seeing more of Midori's imaginative and repulsive imagery in my nightmares. The director who animated the movie single-handedly does not hide the fact that he treasures grotesque visual expression over beauty but by no means does it change the fact that his work is memorable and disturbing.
Movement is limited due to financial reasons and nobody would ever mistake Midori for anything but an independent feature, but the stills are skillfully animated to repulse and chock, questionable tasks that they nonetheless succeed in.
Despite suiting the material relatively well, Midori's soundtrack is surprisingly forgettable. Furthermore, given the controversial content it's no surprise that Harada had to rely on voice actors whose experiences must be close or equivalent to none as the performances throughout the movie are passable at most.
Contrary to Tod Browning's Freaks which portrayed deformed circus artists in a fairly humane and positive light, the characters in Midori are mostly repulsive enough to really warrant the derogatory term "freak". As they disregard any form of mutuality or decency in their sexual activities they work surprisingly fine as the semi-antagonists who abuse the poor and innocent Midori to the borders of madness.
She herself leads a tragic existence. There are some optimistic parts of her life, but they all end up inevitably defiled by those around her and without anything worth enduring seemingly perpetual misery for, she ends up in a pedophilic relationship with a magician whose strange magic sends the story into a surreal and twisted world. The characterization in Midori remains unambitious but can also be described as simplistically sufficient.
The word "pretentious" is constantly misused to describe anything intelligent or artistic regardless of its execution. This is one of the cases where it actually fits as Midori seems to regard itself as a visually distinguished journey determined to expose the cruelty of mankind and the darker territories of love, whilst only managing to deserve the first description. Viewers looking for something disturbing and morbidly fascinating would be wise to give this infamous sleazefest a chance while any other form of audience should avoid it at all cost.read more
Welcome back, my friends, to horror anime month. This week I'll be looking at Midori: Shoujo Tsubaki. Yes, I know that it was supposed to be Blue Gender. My apologies, but I lost Internet service for several days and wasn't able to quite finish it. So it'll have to wait for next week. In the meantime, let's take a look at this film that was banned in Japan when it came out on account of its imagery. The film was crafted by a single man, Harada Hiroshi. Supposedly he found it impossible to gain sponsors for it and spent his life savings on the project. Is it a Magnum Opus or were there very good reasons that Harada couldn't find anyone to take up the project? Let's delve into this obscure piece and find out.
The story follows young Midori. She loses both of her parents and has no one to take care of her. She finds her way to a traveling circus where she is physically and sexually abused. I wonder why Harada couldn't find sponsors? To be fair, it's not shown in great detail. You see just enough to know what's going on. Then a magician with dwarfism enters the scene and things start to change. The story is very simple to the point of being one-dimensional. It follows the simplest structure it can. Where it tries to draw you in is with shocking and grotesque imagery. The problem with that s that there's nothing even remotely substantive behind that imagery. This is another anime that lacks horror. It's conceptually disturbing and some of the images do have shock value but the execution lacks impact. You'll get a scene in which things start out normally enough, there's a twist and some shock images and then it'll hurriedly wrap up and shift to the next scene. There's no good build up or payoff. They don't extend things or build on them enough to give it actual horror.
The characters in this are fully one-dimensional. Most of them get one or two scenes where they're allowed to do something. Even, Midori, the major character that you're supposed to gain some measure of investment in, is more of a passive object than any kind of proactive character. They never really delve into the actual impact the events shes going through are having on her. Except in one brief nightmare scene that comes, goes and leaves no impact. I literally just finished watching the film and I couldn't recount what happened in that scene in any kind of detail.
The art is kind of impressive when you consider that the bulk of it was done by one guy. It's still not really decent, though. It's very sloppy and the animation is jerky. But you have to give Harada credit for getting it done and making it passable.
The voice acting is very amateurish and the sound quality isn't very good. I'm sure that Harada did the best he could without studio support or sponsors. It still sounds terrible
The ho-yay factor is a 3/10. There is a very brief scene between a grown man and a younger teenage boy. Why you would want to see that, I have no idea. Dude should find a boyfriend his own age.
This film reminds me of an independent exploitation film. It's lacking in budget, the technical aspects are amateurish, the execution is pants and the story is beyond weak. The major focus is on being shocking but without anything substantial to back it up it ends up being largely forgettable and stupid. While it is pretty impressive that the bulk of the work was done by a single man, that doesn't excuse the terrible story, complete lack of even semi-developed characters or rubbish execution when attempting horror. It's nothing but shock value and spectacle for the sake of shock value and spectacle. Final rating: 2/10. I would only check it out if you're very curious about it as an independent piece or as a previously banned piece. Otherwise I'd leave it in obscurity where it belongs. Next week will actually be Blue Gender. read more
being a huge fan of the dark genius of mangaka suehiro maruo, i decided to check out the anime version of his masterpiece of guro/psychosis shoujo tsubaki. the story takes place in the ramshackle underbelly of early showa period japan. it's the story of a young girl named midori who loses her family and is tricked into traveling with a truly gruesome freakshow circus a la tod browning's 1932 movie freaks (armless man, mummy, sword swallower, strongman, human worm, etc.) and her journey through misery to love and back to misery again. it's definitely not a story for people who don't revel in the dark side of human nature. this anime version captures maruo's original work somewhat well, with an aura of silent film era horror, japanese woodcut paintings of yokai and oni, and a certain dark beauty. the only downside of the film was in it's soundtrack, which was comprised of mostly low-budget synthesizer sounds, although they did use some traditional japanese instruments at the beginning (which would have definitely added to the film if used throughout). if you like psychotic guro stuff (and if you can actually track this down), i would rocommend it to you...read more