Feb 15, 2021
Excuse me, I'm Spanish and I don't usually write in English. If you want you can read my review in Spanish.
Kenji Miyazawa is one of the best known Japanese authors internationally. One of the reasons for his "relatively" recent prestige has to do with the adaptation of part of his works to anime. The first of them was Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985) thanks to the Group TAC study. But the period of greatest abundance was the 90s. This interest in the author materialized in animation with the medium-length film Spring and Chaos (1996), but also with the work reviewed: The Restaurant of Many
Orders (1991). There is a later version in the same decade, but it lacks the benefits of the Tadanari Okamoto version. He is sorry that the independent animator died before completing it because of liver cancer. His place would be taken by Kihachiro Kawamoto, another relevant animator, who managed to finish his work.
The short film presents the story of two British hunters who were walking through a forest in order to shoot some animal and take the trophy home. However, the hunt ends abruptly after the death of their hunting dogs in unknown circumstances. Faced with such a setback they try to get out of the forest, but on their way they find a peculiar restaurant called "Wild Cat". Exhaustion and hunger push them to enter the establishment, but they soon realize that various strange events are happening around them ...
Unlike Disney films, the early versions of many children's stories tend to be dark. The Restaurant of Many Orders would fall into this category, so it is not appropriate for a child audience. Despite this, the adaptation of this story still has a lesson to offer. What is it about? Well, the issue is related to recreational hunting and the behavior of those hunters who kill for mere entertainment, with no need other than to have fun and show off their expertise with firearms. Such frivolity would deserve punishment. Through an exchange of roles, in which men become the object of the hunt and the animals become the hunters, the former will be made to savor the fear their prey experienced.
Now, how do you punish this pair of heartless? Well, inviting them to satisfy their hunger in a restaurant. Although I clarify that more than an establishment we are facing a haunted house. And not because there are ghosts but because it contains traps and horrors unfit for this world. With all this it is not the first thing or what attracts the most attention. In fact, it's the most harmless and least supernatural aspect of all: your guide signs. These signs inform visitors that they must comply with a series of “requests” before sitting at the table. They guide them through the restaurant, preparing a few chilling surprises. Among them, the stained glass room and the peculiar feline dance stand out.
The first event is triggered by a spider that scares armed hunters. However, instead of keeping calm, the man decides to use his shotgun. Big mistake because dozens of insects were contained in the windows: butterflies, flies, spiders, etc. Consequently, the situation becomes chaotic with the males unloading their ammunition and the critters emerging uncontrollably from the destroyed crystals. The second event, instead, was planned. The hunters finally arrive at the indicated place, but before savoring the food some dancers entertain them with a unique show. As they gaze in amazement at the strange dance, these beautiful women turn into monsters with sparkling eyes and sharp claws. Although they don't make them their dinner, the scare is so tremendous that they will never be the same again. It should be said that their penance is well connected with their actions because it is the animals who make them go crazy and flee in terror. I just miss a greater initial exemplification of these acts.
As is customary in short films originating in non-commercial environments, the short dispenses with dialogue to tell its story. The fundamental pillar is the image. Of it, by the way, it should be noted her pictorial appearance. The level of detail is palpable when we pay attention to elements like the grass and trees in the forest. There are many strokes in the drawing that denote enormous care and dedication. The choice of colors, mostly brown tones, and the use of shadows and lights are in accordance with the mood you intend to convey.
But let's not limit ourselves to the realm of the visual, since the story excels in the sound with the intention of obtaining a greater immersion. To explain myself, I felt like I was able to transport myself to his world in the blink of an eye. Without realizing it, go. The reason? The sound effects were extremely realistic, corresponding to the locations both hunters were exploring. If I had to divide them, they would be on one side, those sounds caused by the hunters themselves with their footsteps in the grass, the firing of their shotguns, etc; and on the other hand, those that emanate from the forest like the trees shaking by the wind and the squawking of the birds or the restaurant like the creaking of wood. No wonder I remembered those days of my childhood when I was walking in the mountains near dusk.
You can read my review here: https://elarmarioanimados.blogspot.com/2020/09/resena-restaurant-of-many-orders-1991.html
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