The plot of Open Your Mind follows the extraterrestrial origin of life, coming from outerspace as six deities (Intermission act), evolving into water (Sho-ho) then emerging to the air (Hyakkin) and to the ground (Ku-nu). Each one of these creatures rules one of the six elements of the godai philosophy, i.e. Earth, Water, Fire, Wind (referred to as kaze in the Hyakkin chant), Sky and Consciousness (referred to as "Awakening" in the movie's title).
If i would have to describe Mezame no Hakobune with one word, i'ts gonna be "INHUMAN". There’s no story, no dialogues, and at first glance, the anime doesn't make any sense. While watching the OAV, we’re slowly being pulled into an extraterrestial universe, where various dimensions are overlaping themselves. Not knowing anything about the reality surrounding us, we travel through these weird worlds, trying to understand what’s going on. It’s a voyage of consciousness, mind, and soul.
The animation is quite nice; it’s mostly made of 3d graphics, though there are some live-action scenes as well. Some stunning colors
are used (mostly blue/white/gold), but the true beauty of Mezame no Hakobune is definitly the OST. The soundtrack, composed from new age songs, really fits the scenery of the OAV, and creates unique atmosphere.
Mezame no Hakabune has only one weakness- some of it moments are boring as hell, and it’s an unforgivable mistake for a 42 minutes long show. Also, I wouldn’t recommend this anime to people who don’t like to think pointlessly. There are no given questions and answers, so it might be quite difficult to expect anything from the plot.
Still, it’s one of the best experimental anime out there, so be sure to watch it if you like these kind of things.
Firstly if you went in expecting anything storylike you'll be weirded out. This is an audio/visual experience that's bound to be presented on multi panel display. For those of us watching it on our home theater the effect is hugely diminished.
"Open Your Mind" takes you on a thrill ride to Oshii's mindscape. It can be interpreted as Oshii throwing abrupt imagery at the viewer and it closely resembles a shroom trip. Whatever it is, the strongest emotion present is oneness with the universe. Qatsi Trilogy, especially the latest instalment Naqoyqatsi probably left an impression on Oshii.
Kawai's soundtrack is as sweet and uplifting as ever and
saves this otherwise dismissable episode of Oshii.
3D cgi work with lots of composites works well to great %50 of the time, rest of'em comes around as cheesy.
Oshii once again stepped on my nerves with the extraterrestrial Dog-God and human offspring morphing into puppies. Off with the bullsh.t man, 20 years and you are taking this dog metaphore nowhere, it's ruining your work.
Like Sky crawlers it left a sour taste in my mouth. I can not reccomend it freely, but it is good enough for a single view, especially for the crosslinks between Oshii's body of work.
An ancient anime artefact, this is, probably, the only way I can find to describe this relic.
You simply cannot ignore “Mezame no Hakobune”, its power is almost unreal. This CGI animation will pull you from within the depths of the ocean (SHO-HO), as you swam with whales and sharks and rays, lifting you then, leading through a surreal stream of consciousness. Transpiring widely across the skies (HYAKKIN), will acknowledge you as you watch, through the eyes of the seagulls, the land from above. In a more somewhat melancholic, yet enlightened finale (KU-UN), you might question, and wisely doing so, the very origin of life; the
genetic roots from humans to dogs.
Oshii Mamoru-san is the director, do I guess that’s everything needed to be said. The soundtrack might surprise you, because this is a well-known and superb collaboration, being Kawai Kenji-san classical suspect behind the score; you Ghost in the Shell aficionados are in for a pleasant surprise, it is honestly perfect.
Lastly, I have to say that “Mezame no Hakobune” is ultimately a triumphal piece of art; to tell a story with simply images and music is overwhelmingly beautiful, and this one in particular speaks directly to our hearts.
This movie is certainly among the least known fruits of cooperation between director Mamoru Oshii and composer Kenji Kawai. Just like most Oshii's works, the movie has a rather complex thematic background. However, the topics and the message aren't clearly stated, as the anime is very abstract and open for interpretations - there isn't a story in a typical sense, although the story can be inferred.
First, the seeds of life are brought to the Earth with meteorites crashing into water, and we see several creatures similar to pagan gods standing silently in the forest. Then 3 acts go, each with its own musical theme: they
represent Water, Air, Earth and the life forms there. At last, a figure appears: it looks like an android with multiple hands & faces, and then we see the empty forest that the "gods" left.
The whole thing may be described as an abstract and slow-paced Discovery movie with sci-fi elements that shows the process of evolution exemplified by the planet's nature. The nature in the movie is quite similar to the real one, although the giant bird that appears in the Air act looks different from any existing species. As for the "gods" & the robotic "god", I interpret it as an allegory of human evolution and how we pass from biosphere to noosphere, abandoning our natural roots and developing a new form of consciousness influenced by technological progress (which is somewhat similar to the themes explored in Oshii's Ghost in the Shell).
Overall, I enjoyed those visual sequences as a relaxing and thought-provoking work, yet they aren't really something I would be eager to rewatch.
ANIMATION & SOUND
The animation is a combination of CGI & live footage, and it leaves a somewhat controversial impression:
1) the quality is a mixed bag. Some parts of the movie are good-looking and full of captivating symbolism; on the other hand, some visual effects look really cheap (for example, those lightning bolts at the beginning);
2) some artistic decisions are questionable. For instance, those "gods" and android are fairly creepy and not very pleasant to look at, and even more so is a certain part of the Earth act showing the evolution of mammals. Or, there's a long segment of the Water act, where whales and sharks rotate smoothly in a round dance... with sky and clouds as a background. It obviously looks relaxing, but how does it make any sense at all?
3) finally, the show uses lots of repetitive sequences, like a school of fish swimming in the ocean or clouds flying in the sky. While I guess the repetition was done on purpose to create a certain relaxing effect on the viewer, I'm also sure the movie would look more interesting if the imagery was more diverse and didn't repeat itself all the time.
Overall, the visuals are fine yet they can't be compared with a real Discovery movie, which leads me to believe the creators either needed higher budget or should've used some different animation techniques and approach in general.
As for the sound, it's simply fantastic: Kenji Kawai does it again. Imagine his soundtracks from Ghost in the Shell movies with drums, symphonic orchestra and polyphonic chants, add some sounds of nature and zen music, and you'll get the picture. Even if not as impressive as GITS OST, it's sure very close to that level. Obviously, this surprised me the most about the movie.
Well, the anime is very abstract, very slow-paced and has no plot & characters in the normal sense of those words, so it's definitely not for everyone.
On the other hand, if you want something relaxing and thought-provoking, and you like Kenji Kawai's music as much as I do, you might still enjoy it as a fine one-time watch.