6 of 17 people found this review helpful
1 of 1 episodes seen
The story had a lot of potential. I enjoyed the mythology and schools of thought employed in the narrative, specifically the Mesoamerican inspired guardians. With the overarching theme of life and death and dealing with loss, it fit very well. The journey itself, however, was lost in a montage of sparkly landscape and sun flares.
The character's motivations were vague. Asuna was not likable as the main character, as she was there mostly to cook, clean, and be in danger. Why she went on this adventure was unknown; did she want to have closure with her father's death, to figure out if he was from Agartha (as is subtly implied), or perhaps was she looking to revive Shun? Her reasoning at the end was weak. She also did not seem to mature, gain, or learn anything when she returned, so it makes me wonder what the point of her journey was.
Shun was a complete mystery, unsolved and left hanging. His role was simply to act as the catalyst for the narrative. He was possibly brought up again near the end via the quetzalcoatl with a missing arm, but that was also unclear.
Shin was too reminiscent of Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke for me to emotionally invest in him, although his sense of morality was well placed and he had his own internal conflicts. He was a good, albeit predictable, hero.
Morisaki was the most developed character. He had a past and an obvious motivation for entering Agartha, and the viewer felt sympathy for him even though he is slightly sinister. However, I could not place the war he was a soldier in, which made me question the entire time frame of the film and whether or not it was supposed to be taking place in contemporary Japan. Additionally, the organization he was a part of, the Arch Angels, was completely superfluous and convenient. It would have been far more interesting if his research had led him to Asuna's town without the aid of a government faction, and the organization is completely forgotten as soon as Agartha is reached. Also his reasoning at the end of the film was unexplained and his sudden complacency with the failed goal of his efforts was not believable.
Overall, the animation was very good. The story had it's redeeming elements, but the characters are what dragged it down and frustrated me. The scenery additionally irritated me and seemed to take center stage for the bulk of the quest. It was very beautiful at first, but after being beat over the head, I wanted more substance and less superficiality.
This film had a lot of potential, but it was unsatisfying in the end.