In the future, Utopia has finally been achieved thanks to medical nanotechnology and a powerful ethic of social welfare and mutual consideration. This perfect world isn't that perfect though, and three young girls stand up to totalitarian kindness and super-medicine by attempting suicide via starvation. It doesn't work, but one of the girls—Tuan Kirie—grows up to be a member of the World Health Organization. As a crisis threatens the harmony of the new world, Tuan rediscovers another member of her suicide pact, and together they must help save the planet...from itself.
Quickly said Harmony is a pretty boring movie about a person traveling around the world, being infodumped by every character she meets while trying to solve a case she's working on.
There's lots of philosophical themes in the movie, many of which go nowhere and aren't really explored beyond talking about them.
It's great material if you're an over thinker and actual like sitting on your ass for two hours while boring characters read textbooks to you.
Note that the rest of the review can contain spoilers.
-Presentation (Visuals & Sound).
I was actually kind of surprised at how they seamlessly connect the CGI and the hand drawn characters at
It was good to see some CGI that didn't just appear awkward.
Of course the CGI still sticks out at points, but at other times I found myself questioning if the character in front of me was hand drawn or a model.
It can look a bit cheap the way they just spin the camera around the characters when nothing other visually interesting is happening on screen, but when it want's to look good it looks really good.
I heard that EGOIST is the theme song performer, which makes sense because there is only one memorable song in the entire movie, the others would fit into any generic Science fiction story, or any generic action scene.
I didn't actually notice that much music in the Movie.
-Story & Characters.
Harmony is a movie that tries way too hard too seem deep and meaningful by essentially quoting philosophy textbooks and telling some of the story through flashbacks and heavy internal monologues.
Every character in the movie exist either to infodump the MC and the viewer or to be infodumped to by other characters, which immediately after they either disappear from the movie and aren't brought back again or die.
The story itself is nothing new, a "utopian future", in which everyone is in strict control of the government, this seems to be a rising trend in current settings.
And you're supposed to question if it is right to control people if they're happy and such.
The plot is almost exclusively told through dull infodumps in dialogue scenes, flashbacks and internal monologues.
There is a little attempted symbolism but it's mostly so blatant that I question why its even there.
Despite the constant infodumping and terminology, very little actually happens on screen in this movie, and everything is resolved quite hastily at the very end.
The movie tried very hard to be deep, but was scared that if they didn't tell the viewer absolutely everything they might not understand the movie.
If you have seen a movie in forever you already know all the possible "twists" it could throw your way already.
There were no interesting characters in the entire movie, the closest we get to that is our main character's friend Miach, appears throughout the movie in flashbacks, her character is that she is 15, very edgy and has a lesbian relationship with Tuan, the main character.
Speaking of Tuan, she has very little personality and mostly works as the eyes, or rather the ears for the viewer.
The most interesting thing about her character is that she's kind of good at fighting with guns.
She almost seems to be stuck in some kind of a video game dialogue tree, where if a character presents a plot point or an unconnected philosophical theme she can only say
"tell me more" "tell me more".
Every single other character exists to either infodump or die.
Forget character development, even establishing basic quirks was too much for this movie.
And I wouldn't complain so much about the characters if the story was halfway decent, or even interestingly told, but it's not.
I don't hate the movie despite the way this review might sound like, it was just extremely boring and told almost only though exposition.
Especially the characters were dull.
The visuals were actually pretty good and there's one song that I actually liked, but that isn't even close to redeeming this movie.
I can't really even recommend Harmony as a popcorn flick, it has far too few action scenes for that.
You honestly miss nothing by skipping this one.
Update: Post-review thoughts.
After making this review I noticed it was directed by Michael Arias, a non-Japanese person working in the anime industry.
This made me interested the other movie he directed, Tekkon Kinkreet which is a much better movie and I would recommend it over this one.
I do like this Arias as a director, but he was clearly held back by the source material here.
Speaking of the source material, something I forgot to mention is that some things in this movie can actually be explained by just saying "because it looks cool".
Why is everything pink?
Why is there a random sunflower farm in the middle of the desert?
why do people dress weirdly in the future?
It's not a bad thing to include cool stuff in your movie of course, but here it also doesn't really add to the themes or the story either.
Okay, here we go. Hmm, there will be minor spoilers, but I think it won't hurt anyone who haven't watched it (most of it are already in the synopsis).
I have to admit that Harmony give us an interesting concept of a futuristic world. In Harmony, humans has advanced to the level that they have defeated disease and aging. A system called 'Watch Me' also guide humans to have a perfect healthy life and follow the social ethics (well, you'll see more feature of this system by watching the movie). The only minus of this 'Watch Me' is your life can be watched by the
Life with no disease and death is amazing right? It's heaven. Well, for most peole that is. Being watched and trapped by system made Miach, a friend of Tuan Kirie(our protagnist), felt that she lost her identity and freedom. Finally, Miach along with Kirie and one of her friend decided to commit suicide. Tuan was saved, but Miach was reported dead.
13 years later, Tuan becomes Inspector of Spiral (watched from Indonesian subtitle, don't really know the name in English, well, some kind of top world organization that manage world order or something). While being off duty and once again back in Japan, a sudden mass suicide incident that robbed thousands of humans life happened. How could this incident happen in a supposedly perfect society? Is there a connection between this incident and Miach's suicide incident? Once again, Tuan will have to face her buried past and put an end to it.
I have to remind the watcher that this movie has many complex dialogues and the pace is rather slow. That aside, this movie brings us an interesting world and questions what does it mean to be human and explores a complex mind of a human in an interesting way. The movie also managed to serve a mysterious atmosphere that might please people who loves a mystery sci-fi films.
Harmony mostly explore the character of Tuan Kirie, our main protagonist. The movie is seen from Tuan's perspective, and there are a lot of monologues. We rarely get a clear picture of other characters except for one. Tuan's way of thinking and mental conflict is presented well as we can see from her monologues and flashback.
Something that could be praised from Harmony is that the movie managed to give a complex and interesting characterization of Miach from Tuan's flashback and monologues. We see how complex Miach's logic is from her old conversation with Tuan. The movie also built the background of Miach rather well and we can see why Miach developed that strange logic.
Art & Sound (8/10 & 7/10)
I usually don't pay much attention to the animation/art and sound so I'll keep this short. I like the characters design and the shape of the futuristic world. Eventhough sometimes the people on the anime sometimes replaced with CG animation, the movie still looks very good. The BGM managed to build a mysterious atmosphere along the film, but unfortunately there are almost no music that builds an intense situation. Oh, and if you're a fan of Sawashiro Miyuki you're very welcome to watch this show.
Seeing the score of Harmony movie is 6.96 on MAL made me doubt the quality of the movie. Even so I tried to watch it and before I knew it I was glued in front of the screen. I'd say my enjoyment is 7.5/10. Could be higher but I'm not really fond of the ending haha.
Overall, 8/10. This movie has flaws and people have different opinions. Still, I hope my review would be helpful to you.
"Day by day the world becomes a healthier, safer, more beautiful and wholesome place"
I honestly don’t know how to even start this. Harmony is the second in a series of [unrelated] films based on the works of Japanese science-fiction writer, Satoshi Itoh (Also known as Project Itoh). This particular piece hones in on the life of Tuan Kirie several years after she attempts suicide alongside two of her friends, Miach and Cian. Harmony is set in a world ruled by technology — where nanomachines are implanted in children at birth in order to “preserve” their lives under the pretenses of health and safety. Miach is
one of the very few who detests this world. So much so that she manages to coerce Tuan and Cian into taking their lives alongside her in an effort to demonstrate true free-will. However, Tuan and Cian ultimately fail the attempt and time continues to tick forward without Miach.
But not for long.
After being dismissed from active duty as a peacekeeper/investigator for the new government, Tuan returns home to Japan — a nation she has grown to despise since the passing of her best friend. Upon her arrival back at home, she meets up with Cian, who seems to have made a pretty decent life for herself. She has a job, does volunteer work, and she’s staying happy (Though that last part is a given considering the new, augmented world basically forces you into happiness). This is where things take off. Tuan and Cian go out to dinner at a restaurant near Cian’s place, where she brutally stabs herself to death in front of Tuan and the rest of the restaurant. It is then revealed that Cian is not the only civilian to abruptly commit suicide, but that the death toll has climbed high into the thousands. Now, keep in mind, this is all set in a world taking every possible precaution to limit death. In fact, death is so seldom in this utopia that most people go their entire lives without witnessing it. After investigating the issue further, Tuan starts to uncover a trail of shadows that all wind up tying back to Miach. Eventually, Tuan begins to question whether or not her old friend is actually dead.
I’m going to cut myself off from detailing any more of the plot here. Harmony is able to pack so much into it that I would probably be able to write a twenty-page thesis paper on the damn thing. But, the thing is, that is exactly what makes the film so alluring. Even though so much expository information is constantly being thrown at you, the pacing of the film is somehow able to take that and wind it down, never moving too fast for the audience to comprehend. The exposition (Which is extremely prevalent in a series of flashbacks and monologues that slowly zoom in on Tuan’s face) goes on to take up the vast majority of the film. There is not one point in Harmony where you stop learning about the characters or the world they live in. It’s a sort of snowball effect. Initially, all of the background information is simply just character-detailing of Miach and how she was the sole, beautiful mind in a sea of robotized humans. Miach becomes a sort of a philosopher and figurehead for revolution to Tuan and Cian. Each and every flashback illustrates this almost flawlessly.
There is not a single moment of joy in Harmony. Each and every scene is packed to the brim with an encroaching darkness that consumes the tone of the film and directly opposes the idea of the displayed “Utopia”. This new world, which is supposed to be the complete vision of perfection, never seems even relatively close to that.
On a thematic level, Harmony surpasses almost everything else I’ve seen. This is one of the most philosophic movies of the last several decades. Flashback after flashback — Harmony literally bombards you with ideas that make you question the progression of society, science, the human subconscious, sexuality, and everything else from every side of every spectrum. In fact, Harmony makes you question so much that even the idea of happiness becomes clouded. Halfway through, I found myself asking, “What does it even mean to actually be happy?” Almost all of this stems from the mind of Miach, who goes on to be a tragic symbol of diminishing free-will in a world that has forgotten what it means to be alive.
Another interesting thing about harmony is that even though the story is one of the most descriptive, developed ones in animated film, it remains entirely composed and organized the whole time. The plot moves in a straight line and never even thinks about deviating from its path. The EVEN MORE interesting part is how the art of the film directly contradicts the linearity of the story and moves in an unpredictable, sporadic pattern. Bouncing back and forth between 2D and 3D, Harmony’s spontaneity keeps our minds active and focused on how truly twisted the world we’re seeing is. It’s less of a visual experience and more of an aid to storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, the animation is absolutely stunning, but that isn’t what’s important. We’re supposed to be questioning reality in this film. The art just serves as another means of making us do that.
While the visuals remain enchanting, the true allure of Harmony lies in the relationship between Tuan and Miach. Starting off as just friends to the viewer, it quickly becomes apparent that the two are so much more than that. And that isn’t me just saying, “Oh, they’re totally in love and stuff too” It’s me saying that these two characters only exist because of one another. For Tuan, Miach is the rock that keeps her grounded and questioning the world around her. She is a symbol of freedom and beauty that can’t be paralleled by anything else. For Miach, Tuan is a sort of “saving grace” in a world that has forsaken her. She is the first person to listen to her innermost thoughts and actually understand them. The two work off of each other to the point where, without their connection, there wouldn’t be any movie in the first place. The great thing is, this is all enforced through phenomenal chemistry between Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi (Yes, I watched the dub. Bite me.)
I’m going to be frank here — this is the best performance of Monica Rial’s career. And considering she’s been in a good six million different shows by now, that’s saying a lot. To put it in Hollywood terms, this would be her Oscar role. I’ve loved Rial as an actress for a long time, but her performance as Miach literally brought the character to life. Miach felt real. She wasn’t just some cute, overly-intellectual girl dancing across the screen anymore — she was human. Rial wasn’t the only one showing off her acting chops, though. Both Marchi and Brittney Karbowski got a chance to shine in this as well. I haven’t [yet] heard the Japanese-dubbed version of this film, but Jamie Marchi fit the image of Tuan perfectly. I honestly couldn’t imagine the character being voiced by anyone else after having watched the film. Karbowski, on the other hand…well I just have a crush on her so I’m going to rave about her performance no matter what she does. No, but really, Cian’s voice was spot-on as well. Her suicide scene contained some of the most immersive, jaw-dropping acting I’ve heard in quite a while. That being said, all three main actors combined to form a cast that was nothing short of phenomenal. I have to give props to Christopher Bevins as well for his excellent ADR direction of the film. Bevins was really able to bring out the best of each actress.
Harmony isn’t like other animated movies. It’s sporadic, terrifying, and filled with a burning sense of dread. At the same time, though, it’s thought-provoking, meticulous, and important. There is just so much that can be taken from this film. It’s a textbook example of Shakespeare’s image of tragedy. Miach and Tuan’s relationship is one of the most endearing ones I have ever encountered. The only thing that could distract viewers from the near perfection of Harmony is the film’s tendency to become overly-wordy at parts. But even that can be overlooked when you take into account just how much of an impact the film makes as a whole.
Immensely philosophical and beautifully animated, Harmony dives into a plethora of societal themes that deeply parallel and satirize every day human life. Focusing just as much on setting the stage of its thought-provoking utopia as exploring the story of a young girl’s twisted image of the world, Harmony raises many questions on the ideas of free will, morality, and much more. The film’s pitch darkness is laced with a silence that goes on to create a truly unsettling, yet overall astonishing experience backed by powerful acting from Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi.
I'll be honest: The things which drew me straight away to this show were the Music (Egoist), the crystal-clear Art, and the outstanding Characters.
|Some shallow spoilers, not for the light-of-light-hearted|
As a spiritual person, I delighted in the fact that the story revolved around consciousness. On one end was the vigorous yet timid Tuan Kirie, and on the other was the beautiful, smart Miach Mihie. It wasn't clear who the bad guys were, and who the good guys were until the very end. The only plot that we could hang onto, was the time when both Tuan and Miach were together. Miach would sing and dance,
without the slightest trace of imperfection, while Kirie would watch, fascinated, by the 15-year-old who seemed to transcend the very essence of being human.
The setting takes place in a utopian society, where everyone is mutually co-operative with one another. No one is left out; everyone cares for each other even when there is no logical reason to do so. The color of the architecture - pink - resembles and mirrors this. However, not everyone can comfortably agree with the relinquishment of their individuality. Especially Miach.
When Tuan and Miach were still together, she would often jokingly mention that she could with the slightest of intention, kill over 50,000 people with the tampering of the WatchMe lifesystem. Miach would continually express ideas of solitude and isolation as though it was ideal and perfect. But because of her innocence while doing so, Tuan simply would listen without reacting. Miach at one point decided to reveal her plan, the one way she believed could change and wake up society - suicide.
As you can probably figure out, Tuan is centered as the protoganist, with no sight of Miach around. With so much of Miach's idealism and friendship influencing her from her past, and the hardships of modern-day Japan overwhelming her in the present, Kirie escapes from her 'duties' to figure out who she is and where she stands. Eventually, she is discovered not doing her job, and is recalled back to her home, Japan. As she steps back into the utopian, pleasing society she tried to escape, events take a downward turn into not just a possibly unfavourable scenario, but way into her past as well.
The plot is unmasked, bit by bit, in a well-timed manner; always keeping you on your toes. You never find yourself bored. Sound is executed almost flawlessly in every scene. But probably the most inspiritational point of the movie is the personalities of each character, which are just oozing with atmosphere and rich stories. Cons do exist however, such as the ending, which lets just say wasn't what I expected. Also, even though the music was absolutely amazing, it wasn't perectly timed to fit the scene.
All in all, I would say, watch it. If you have even the slightest interest in it, Project Itoh would probably be worth your time.
Anime is a form of entertainment usually marketed towards an otaku fanbase, making it difficult for people unfamiliar with that culture to step in. The noitaminA programming block was created to serve as a gateway to that audience. But how well have they kept their promise throughout the years?