It happened quite suddenly, with no warning - all the memories of all the people on Earth, swept away as if by a sudden wind. In a post-catastrophic Earth populated mostly by savages without memories of their past civilisation, one man travels on a journey of enlightenment and hope, across a devastated America.
Don't you absolutely HATE it when you find a movie online with an absolutely irresistible plot that's almost too amazing to be bad, and then see it only to realize the person who made it had no artistic talent whatsoever? I don't know about you, but it happens to me a lot, and all I can think when finished is how much better I could have made it.
A Wind Named Amnesia is one of those kinds of movies. Set in 1999, six years after the movies original release, humanity has been completely devastated by a mysterious wind which blows across the world, wiping clean the
memories of every person on the planet. In an instant every bit of knowledge we as a species have gained over the course of millions of years is gone, even our language and family ties are severed in the chaos that follows. Planes fall from the sky as pilots forget how to operate their aircraft, cars crash, the world burns. In an instant the thriving civilization we've created is reduced to rubble and its creators to bloody savages who poses nothing but their most basic and unexplainable instincts.
Wataru is just another helpless victim to this terrifying disaster; alone and starving he stumbles upon an old military facility where he meets the one person left alive that retains some memories. His name is Johnny, a genetically enhanced boy whose brain acts as a super computer which allows him to function like a normal human. Johnny teaches Wataru as much as he can and sends him on a journey across a deserted world to observe the human being in its most basic state and find what it is that drives us. Is it pleasure? Life? Power? With the protection of civilization stripped from us what is it that will motivate us to act?
A Wind Named Amnesia is has a lot in common with Kino's Journey - The Complete Collection. The main character, Wataru, travels across America in a jeep with a strange women he meets in Los Angles. There are about three different mini stories within the film giving it the feel of a much longer show. It was have been a lot more interesting had it been an actual show, or at least an OVA. There is simply too much potential for this story to be packed into a two hour movie and it often felt rushed and jumped around far too much. One second their sitting at the Lincoln Memorial discussing life the next their in New Your City running from a killer robot. It was just too fast and way too ill conceived to make a satisfying film. The entire journey through the Midwest and from Washington to NYC is skipped completely leaving the viewer wondering just what happened. Weren't they just in Las Vegas? What are they doing in DC? Very, very annoying.
When I first saw this plot line my first thought was "I have GOT to see this movie" and can you blame me? I mean really, is this not one of the best ideas for a sci fi film ever? If this film had been made by someone with even an ounce of creativity then it would have been great, but NOOOO! Whoever did this film is, quite frankly, a moron and I mean that in the most literal sense of the word.
The beginning of the film was pretty good when the Amnesia Wind blew in and the world collapsed in chaos and confusion. I'll admit it was more then a little bit bone chilling, but that's about the only good thing I can say about the film. So for pros we have amazing idea, and a good beginning. So now lets get to the cons.
First off, the main characters. I've seen my share of bad anime characters, and while this lifeless bunch may not be the worst I've ever seen, their far worst then average. If the film had been plot driven I may have been able to forgive this flaw to an extent, but as good as the plot is they decided instead to make the film character driven. Wataru himself is your stereotypical male lead from any old anime film. I you've been watching anime for a while you'll know his type; young, handsome, impulsive, moralistic, and extremely stupid. In his defense he's still smarter then the mindless cannibals running around, but by our standards he's dumb as a brick. Oh I'm not talking about his lack of knowledge, I can certainly understand why he doesn't know a lot of things, I'm talking about his lack of common sense. Really, who gives a gun to a cannibalistic savage? You guessed it, Wataru does. Yeah stupid, nets just wait until he decides to turn it on his little tribe.
Sophie, his companion, isn't much better, and neither are any of the supporting casts, such as they were made up of mostly crazies. More stereotypes.
The biggest disappointment though was that the plot was barely fleshed out. The film got bogged down in these silly mini stories that it lost focus on the overall theme of the film. What is humanity? What drives us to do what we do? How would a world such as this look like? Wataru starts out on a journey to discover answers philosophers have been arguing about for centuries but gives up quickly saying "it's too complicated for me." You have got to be kidding me. A film with so much promise to dig deep into the human mind and really examine what it is to be human and they decide to make it about car chases and scantly clad women. Give. Me. A. Brake. Like I said, no imagination.
And don't even get me started on the end. It wasn't that big of a shocker to figure out aliens were responsible for the amnesia and that Sophie was one of them, but when she tells him (Wataru) that her people destroyed the world and might not give them back their memories he just sat there. Didn't get mad, didn't want to kill her or rip her head off, just asked why and when she told him they don't even know he just sat there. *sigh* how unrealistic. And then the, uhh, love scene at the end was completely unnecessary, not to mention random and unexpected. I'm telling you it came out of absolutely nowhere as if the creators just wanted to "spice it up" a little bit. It was stupid, didn't add anything at all to the film, and was out of place. Bad idea.
I'm a sucker for apocalyptic films such as this; unfortunately though most turn out to be pretty awful, this one included. Two stars for an interesting idea and a good beginning and nothing else. Beginning good, middle bad, ending HORRIBLE!
This is a movie I’ve wanted to review for a very long time now. But I wanted to take my time with it and get everything down right, because I wanted to do it some justice. Anyway this movie is called "A Wind Named Amnesia" and it’s easily one of my all time favorites. I first saw this movie on Comcast’s Anime Selects on Demand Channel. CPM used to put tons of titles from their catalog up on Anime Selects, but I still think I was lucky to find this movie and watch it. I just randomly watched this movie, because the title seemed interesting,
that’s all. I didn’t really read the little plot synopsis or anything. I was bored, and there was an anime movie, seemed like a good idea. And I’m lucky that I choice to watch this, because I am still impressed by this movie all these years later. I later bought it on DVD (the version in the “Kawajiri Brick Pack” collection).
The movie was created by Madhouse studios in 1990, and directed by Kazuo Yamazaki (not the wrestler), who is known for directing "Urusei Yatsura", "Please Save My Earth" and" Maison Ikkoku". Titles which seem nothing like this anime. But what’s really interesting about this movie is it was based off of a novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi. Kikuchi is famous for writing the original "Vampire Hunter D" novels, along with several other novels turned anime like "Demon City Shinjuku", and "Wicked City". Kikuchi’s novels are pretty dark, bloody and violent, as are the anime series adapted from them, but "Amnesia" is the odd one out here. It is a mature movie, but it is not as violent, bloody, or graphic as any of the other titles I’ve mentioned. And it’s a very smart film, not at all an action type movie. And what’s even more surprising still is the screenplay was written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who used to have quite a fan base back in the day (in the US at least). He is well known for directing titles like" Ninja Scroll", "Biohunter", "Running Man", "Cyber City Oedo 808", "Highlander: The Search for Vengeance" (the anime movie), and most of the Kikuchi anime adoptions ("Vampire Hunter D", "Wicked City", "Demon City Shinjuku"). Although he has directed titles that aren’t dark, graphic, and violent (i.e. the original "Birdy the Mighty OVA’s", a future review no doubt), we all know what he is best at. And he’s damn good at directing the violent stuff too. But again "Amnesia" is nothing like these series, which are all horror or action type shows. The tone the film takes is just so different from all these other titles it just stands out. I’ve called this film “…philosophy ridden and feels like a traditional sci-fi story. Directed and written by people who you'd never dream of being involved in those things.” And I stand by that.
Well after all my rambling, I should at least explain the basic plot. One day, seemingly out of nowhere, a wind blows all around the earth, and this wind (you guessed it) caused everyone to forget everything. And the people did not just forget who they are, and what they did last night, but they also forget that they were people. They forget how to drive cars, talk, use technology, etc. Basically this wind set mankind back to the Stone Age. The film follows two people, Wataru and Sophia, who for their own reasons (which I won’t spoil) are normal, as they travel all around the United States looking at was has become of it. They can talk, they can think, they can use the tools of mankind. In essence they are regular people. And as they travel through the wasteland that was once the US, many different themes keep popping up. The film constantly asks us what is mankind without all this technology? Other themes the film deals with heavily are religion, society, the use of power, and the government (watch out for slight nods to Plato's Republic). All in all the things this film has to say about these topics are, while opened ended, are still very clever. In fact this is more of a “thinker’s anime” then anything else. If you want endless robot fights, don’t bother with this movie. As it’s a very slow movie, where fight scenes are sparse, the dialogue is heavy, and there are moments where seemingly nothing important happens on screen. There are however some action scenes thrown in at the perfect time, but best not to think of it as a fast paced anime. Think Oshii’s newest film "The Sky Crawlers," for pacing and timing of fight scenes if you need an example. And just like "The Sky Crawlers", this movie is much, much more then throw away entertainment. It is a very deep, well thought out film. With great direction and brilliant writing. The only problem with this film is a completely ludicrous and unneeded sex scene at the very end of the movie. On my first viewing of this movie (on Anime Selects VOD) this was cut out, and I am firm in my belief that it is a better film without this. But the ending is still very good, when you look past this terrible, terrible scene. I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen, as I think it was thrown in there to get some more money from the producers or something. It’s so out of place this has to have some sort of rational explanation for it’s odd placement at the end.
Anyway…the general concept is brilliant in and of it’s self. It’s so simple one would think it was already a staple in western science fiction, but I can’t find anything similar in books, movies, or TV shows (although if you know of something similar please make a comment and tell me about it). Although some titles in the sci-fi genre may touch on these ideas very lightly, nothing else really seems to be out quite like this. In fact this movie plays out like a very traditional sci-fi live action movie. And the philosophy in the film is really something else. None of it feels tacked on, or out of place. It’s well worked into the plot, although ultimately it’s so powerful and profound the plot doesn’t really matter anymore. Like Justin Sevakis points out about "The Sky Crawlers", “what's happening on the surface has little to do with what the film is actually about.” And that works for this film as well. What I mean here is that what happens in the movie in regards to the characters and progression of the plot, has very little to do with the main point of it all. Although the plot isn’t terrible or anything, and one could easily enjoy the film without picking up on any of the philosophy in it, it should not be the main focus of the viewers. We must look deeper then the surface plot to really get everything out of this film. And the brilliance of the movie is that every time you watch it, you may pick up some more things you missed last time, and change your mind on what certain things mean. All in all the movie is very original, very smart, and very enjoyable to watch. And it’s not at all hard to follow or grasp. Which is a sign of great writing.
As far as animation and artwork goes, this film was some high budget stuff back in the day. Backgrounds are highly detailed, and look like beautiful watercolor paintings. Feel free to pause the DVD to take a look at the works of art Madhouse used for the backgrounds. From the Rocky Mountains, to some valleys, and lakes and streams all of it looks amazing. Character designs are also not disappointing. They are very detailed for their time, and flow very well. The characters’ hair seems to be drawn with less detail then the rest of their bodies, but it still looks great when everything is all together. This movie is a treat for the eyes. Even almost 20 years later, everything looks great. And one little tidbit that I can’t help but throw out there. I really think this anime looks a lot like the music video for Pearl Jam’s “Do the Evolution”. Some scenes in that video even seem to be drawn to reflect certain scenes in the movie (Cavemen around the fire, skeleton in a cockpit, city in the middle of a field, girl running in field as wind blows, etc). It’s even drawn in the same style, with the same color palette. It helps that that song and music video also deals with many similar themes as the film. It’s very possible that the animators or the band were inspired by this anime, since that song came out years after this was originally released on VHS (song in 1998, VHS in 1995/1996). But it’s just such a random title I think the odds are really against that being what happened. Still it’s a great coincidence, well worth looking into.
The dub for this was produced at Manga UK, with an all-British cast (at least to my knowledge). Dubs from this era range in quality greatly, but this is possibly the best dub from that studio. Michael Bakewell directed the dub, and he does a wonderful job. I liked what he and Manga UK did for the dub on Dominion Tank Police as well. He seemed to have some skill and it’s a shame they weren’t used more back in the day. Since this is a film with very few people in it who can talk (most just grunt like caveman), it would need actors who could sound believable with little else to compare them to. It’s a bit different and a little difficult (in my opinion) for a film to have a very small cast of talking roles, and many other grunting roles to contrast them. And the actors are up to that challenge. This was very well cast, and overall the acting is of great quality. Adam Henderson plays Wataru, and he gives everyline a very innocent and naïve feeling to it. And do to certain events that occurred in the past and are revealed early on in the film, this is very appropriate. But I always felt he made Wataru sound a little too naïve, and a bit too spaced out. But he has a great voice quality, and he is very capable of acting. Sophia is played by Denica Fairman, who gives the character a warm, yet still very mysterious vibe, which is very necessary to make that character work. The way she says things like “Well to start with I’m called Sophia…but I don’t want to say anymore about myself. Tell me your story” (while dodging the question to why she is still normal) really help display this. Lee Tyler plays Johnny, a character from Wataru’s past whose shown in flashbacks. While I feel his overall acting quality is decent, some lines from him seem a little off. But he’s usually quite good. The other speaking characters are played by Peter Marinker and Susie Baker, who do a very good job of establishing their characters for the short amount of time they are on screen. You really feel for both of their characters, and that is, in part, an accomplishment of the actors. The other people in the film are basically caveman, who do nothing more then grunt, moan, cry, or make other caveman-like noises. And all the actors playing these characters do a good job. No eye rolling grunts in this one guys. And as far as other sound goes, the background music is all very low key, but very well done. Certain themes enhance the action sequences, or quiet moments, but the one theme that stood out to me the most usually plays with Sophia around. It’s a very simple piano piece, but it adds to the mystery of not only who she is, but of what happened to the planet. It’s just a little sad, but not at all depressing. It’s quite amazing how something so simple, can display so much, but it does.
Raphael See of THEM anime reviews called the film “ a sleeper classic”. And it truly is. He also stated “A Wind Named Amnesia is probably one of the best titles I've never heard of.” and there really is no better way of describing it. This is easily one of the best movies out there that no one ever heard of. I highly recommend this. There’s very little information about the movie out there, and there seems to be no one who saw the film either. It’s almost never talked about on anime forums too. But it should be more well known, as it’s an all around great anime. This is only for mature viewers however, who want to watch something that's much deeper then some throwaway entertainment. The movie touches on things like religion, love, society, and many other themes, and the philosophy is great. It's very much like Kino's Journey although less preachy. Many different places separated by great distances, traveler observing the land, and studying the human condition. Both are dark, slow, mature, and refined. But both are excellent.
(Sorry the review is so long, but I wanted to do this movie some justice)
- Review copied from my personal blog
- Original review posted at: http://predeanimereview.blogspot.com/2009/09/dvd-look-wind-named-amnesia.html
The title caught my attention, but sadly the story did not. I did quite enjoy Wataru and Sophia’s short travels together through the wastelands of the American West and the characters they meet along the way in the first half the movie, but there’s not much else here. A Wind Named Amnesia portrays the outcome of humanity losing their memories with society reverting towards a primitive and barbaric state. It’s a pretty jumbled mess in the latter half, and I all I came away with is that humanity got screwed. Don’t bother watching this one.
While watching this movie, I could easily see it being adapted into a TV series on Sci-Fi or CBS. The premise is so good that you'd wonder why nobody thought of it: the whole world is overtaken by a wind that gives them amnesia so severe, that they have forgotten everything that makes them human. Language, science, art, all of it, gone. Mankind in its entirety is no more advanced than a neanderthal. At one point, the main character describes how he was frightened by his own reflection, because he had forgotten the very concept. It has the makings of something like Jericho or Lost,
without the polar bears.
Sadly, the cool premise isn't really brought out to its full potential because of time constraints. But the writers deserve some credit for putting in some interesting scenarios. it's the kind of "What if?" science fiction that makes for great short stories. Wataru and Sophia's little journey to New York could have been stretched into a 26 episode-long season, and very well should have. That's the only real gripe I have. Nothing about it is too memorable. The animation is good, traditional 80s fare- but not amazing. There aren't any outstanding songs, or anything like that. The English localization is really good, by the way, and worth a listen. The script writers did a good job, and managed to make a lot of the dialog sound meaty and substantial, where it could have easily fallen flat. Oh well. It's worth a downl-er, rental.
The Doomsday Clock - a metaphor designed to represent how close humanity is to destruction - is at 3 minutes to midnight. To help you prepare for our rapidly approaching destruction, we've got you covered with some top-notch post-apocalyptic anime.