What makes a monster? Are some men born monstrous or are they simply a product of their time? This film forces the viewer to struggle with these kinds of questions. What would we be willing to do in order to survive? Can we even fathom what people had to do so long ago and how can we possibly judge them? Asura has shocked and touched me in a way an anime film has not since Grave of the Fireflies. The title character is designed to look very much like an oni of folklore, but the viewer is reminded very quickly first and foremost he is
just a child. This makes witnessing his gruesome and primal attempts at survival all the more disturbing.
Perhaps what struck me most about this film was a clever sequence in which Asura struggles to crawl out from a pit of corpses. His clawed gnarled hands reach up to the light in the cracks of the rock and the animation breaks to see Wakasa in the river shortly before she discovers the wounded Asura. This scene clearly paralleled a certain journey for Asura. He crawled from the depths of Hell to catch a glimpse of Heaven and that's when he truly learns about human kindness from Wakasa. This scene was so poetic that it made the rest of the film all the more tragic.
This film was beautifully done. At times it is difficult to watch, but that is the point. I will not soon forget this film and I do not think anyone else who sees it will either.
Asura kicks off with a pregnant woman giving a quite graphic birth to a boy, before she beats a wild dog to death with a nearby axe. As we can see, things are looking pretty grim in this world. Everyone is dying and the only way to survive sometimes is to resort to cannibalism. This baby eventually leaves his mother (after she throws him onto a fire with the intent of eating him) and becomes a wild child who runs across the countryside, eating other dying people.
To be fair to the producers of Asura, there probably was a time in history when the outlook for
society really was this grim. There probably was a time when a child would stumble while pushing a log and a guard would order his father to throw his feeble son into the ravine. There indeed probably was a time when haggard housewives would stumble along a road, gossiping about how their next door neighbour ate her baby. Maybe it’s just my fault that I can’t take such a bleak world at face value. But it would really help if the show didn’t keep undermining itself.
For one, there’s no context given for how the world ended up in this state. People are poor and there’s no food, that’s just how life is. It never gives any idea that an alternative would ever exist. It’s just grim decay from start to finish, and it really likes to beat us over the head with this, to the point that it flips around and becomes unintentional comedy. The spurts of blood that would shoot out of someone the cannibal kid attacked looked completely ridiculous. It also has real issues with continuity sometimes. The cannibal kid suddenly jumped from having a vocabulary of about 10 words to being able to philosophise the pain of existence.
Then there was the CG, which had the usual problems CG has. Characters do that thing where they sway in motion for a few seconds before coming to a standstill, like a video game character returning to their neutral stance. Hair seems to be made out of flat pieces of paper glued onto the top of their head like a wig. I know the movie is supposed to look ugly, but I don’t think these were the kinds of ugly it was going for. Sometimes I wonder whether my dislike of fully CG anime comes from me being used to 2D animation and having a gut dislike of anime designs in 3D, but then I see a shot where someone’s standing still but their feet are mysteriously hovering a few centimetres above the ground and dismiss that thought.
It’s has some incredibly dumb scenes too. I’m going to spoil a big plot twist here, but you shouldn’t watch the movie anyway so who cares. The kid occasionally meets this monk who tries to teach him not to become a killer. During one of his attempts to teach the kid, the monk pulls out a sword and then swings at his own arm. I thought this about making the kid realise he cared for someone and would stop the monk from swinging the sword. But I was under the mistaken assumption that the movie was leading to some sort of hopeful narrative conclusion. Instead the monk chops his arm clean off and tells the kid to eat it. The kid runs away, so the monk just stands there are cries for a bit, probably at the realisation of how bloody thick he was for chopping off his own arm. I suppose it seemed like a good idea at the time.
And you know what this was all leading up to (spoiler warning for the end, but again who cares because it’s a rubbish film)? The kid has an entire village chase after him to kill him, only to fall into a ravine. The kid doesn’t die, which might at least give some narrative finality to his actions where we learn the damning life of being a monster that is beyond saving. Instead he becomes a monk with his life lesson being that people die because I don’t know, life sucks I guess. It’s such a frustratingly pointless end to a movie that would have been unpleasant even if it wasn’t so badly made. With that end though, it makes me wonder what the point of the whole thing was. Even if you like unrelenting grimness, which makes for a bad story anyway the same way unrelenting calm and peacefulness would, there’s anime far better made than this crap.
Asura starts off with a very graphic backstory as to how the main character came to be, showing his gruesome birth and exactly what he had to go through pretty much immediately after being born. Lets just say Asura didn't have a great start in life, and because of that he basically became a wild animal who can't speak. The movie is fairly short so I'm going to do my best not to spoil anything, that is why I'm not going to go into too much detail about specific events.
Story(6): While this is probably the movies saving grace, it doesn't exactly "save" it. The
story is about a boy who is left for dead by his mother in medieval Japan where starvation is the norm, and people often have to resort to cannibalism to survive. Having to survive on his own, he basically becomes a wild beast. Who will kill and eat anything, including humans. Early on he meets a monk, who for the first time in his life shows him compassion. The rest of the movie is basically him trying to survive in a small village where everyone sees him as a monster, while he's tries to become more human. Overall there where some distracting plot holes, like how did he survive as a newborn left for dead, but it was a fairly well told story with an ending that I think saved the film from being completely mediocre.
Art(6): The art is similar to the new Berzerk movies, in that it's a mix of digital 3D animation and hand drawn. Much like the new Berzerk I didn't even notice it was done in this style when seeing the trailers. It can look really nice during certain scenes, but scenes with subtle movement can tend to look awkward in my opinion. Maybe some people like this style, but I personally am not a fan. The movie might have actually benefited from being in a more traditional hand drawn style, cause I actually found it distracting at times.
Sound(6): Everything about the sound was just ok, the voice acting was ok, the score was ok, just ok. Nothing memorable. If anything the voice actor for the main character I thought over did it with the whole "wild beast" thing. I don't think that was his fault though, I'm sure he was directed to do it that way. I just think they could have been more subtle/realistic, about that.
Character(6): This was one of the things about the movie that was a bit disappointing. It is a character driven story, but the characters are just not that likeable. The monk was probably my favorite character, and he didn't get much screen time. The story relies very much on your feelings for the characters, and I just wasn't attached to them.
Enjoyment(6): I really can't say I enjoyed the movie that much, but it kept me entertained enough that I kept watching. There are some pretty climatic moments that keep you interested, so you never feel bored. At least I didn't
Overall(6): Overall, the film is watchable. I don't feel like my time was wasted watching it or anything, so if you are interested in it I say give it a shot. The ending really helped make it a 6 and not a 5 though, I just thought it had a good message however somewhat cheesy. I'd like to mention that I have never rated anything on MAL a 10, so my 6 is pretty much most peoples 7.
can you find the light in such a darkened dying world?
can you keep that light shining?
i never thought that 'asura' would bring me down to my knees.. in a brief winking moment my eyes witnessed all the blood and gore, the crescent carnage and madness surrounding. but in a subtle and suspended animation you can feel the beauty embracing you. a big round of applause for this timeless masterpiece..
and in the end if you can't feel any kind of compassion towards asura, i say you're the beast!
The film addresses a theme hunger, drought and scene of devastation
In times of conflict and war always think in the conditions of life. What happened to get us the right situation? What could happen to a child in a horror scenario? .
With a well tied script and a production well made, it is in this scenario of pain, hunger and misery that we are surprised by the plot which holds us from beginning to end. The graphic quality of the film is also excellent and can create some exciting, dramatic and fun times. Despite being a film with a strong theme and using a child
as a primary weapon for the deaths, Asura is a great option for something different than we are accustomed. No superpowers, giant robots and magic, just a kid, an ax and a civil war. Focusing intensely on the protagonist's soul pain and his thirst for human flesh, the film manages to follow a very realistic line, presenting the facts that occur due to hunger and separation / difference between the rich and the poor, something we see very well in our day to day
Asura tells the story of a boy who lives in Japan during a period of famine, around the 15th century. It’s a movie with many philosophical morals and strong character development. Why makes humans different from animals? Why do humans need love? Many questions about our existence are explained through an indirect way in this show.
In the beginning we are presented with a horrific situation where people go insane due to their hunger. I such circumstances a boy is born. Years pass and the boy doesn’t behave any different from a wild predator, literally. It isn’t until his meeting with a Buddhist monk
that he experiences feelings of kindness. The monk names him Asura and from that day his whole life changes. However, the one that plays the most important role is not the priest but a young woman who happens to interact with him. Asura will experience the warmness of belonging somewhere and the pain of being abandoned... but in the end will he choose the right way?
The story portrays intense feelings and disturbing themes as well as being very dramatic. In the end I believe it's worth watching though.
The art I saw in Asura is not something I come across often (but not rarely either). The landscapes were outstanding and the way they presented the scenes of famine were really impressive. The character design was not very realistic in most cases but it was still more realistic than in most anime. On the other side I found that the way Asura was depicted is related to his nature and was a way show it more intensely. I noted that in the end he did not have fangs as in the beginning of the story which I considered very symbolic.
I don't remember anything exception from the soundtrack... I thought it was normal. I kind of took a liking to the ending song though.
There are many characters in the story such as Wakasa (the girl), a worker and the ruler of the area. Each one was represented a different type of person. The only character development was in Asura because the other characters didn't need any as it would have ruined the story. He represented the viewers in some way, who are confused about all the questions that arise in the story. We are invited to (partially) put ourselves in his shoes and wonder... On the other hand Wakasa represent the the right ideology but I believe the show makes sure we see her imperfections. Her father and the villagers represent people that are not very thoughtful of their actions and I think the fact that they are many is quite important... Moreover, the lord represents corruption and selfishness and as the story goes on we can see why he is so different form Asura in end. Finally, the monk seems like some type of holy person that is there to guide Asura to the correct path (the one we think is correct). We might resort to very intense action which if I had to analyze I would be a bit troubled but I think that's necessary to make the story flow.
The story while being set in a realistic environment is not very realistic itself, especially due to the fact that Asura has almost supernatural powers. In the end it doesn't matter though as it is a story of morals and that makes it more beautiful. In order to show us that, it must leave away the realism, be fast and intense and show us the message it wants to transmit.
Asura claims to take us within the depths of human nature, but does it really? Asura tries to explore multiple concepts about human nature such as nature vs. nurture, human greed, despair, what people do backed in a corner, but unfortunatley falls VERY short of delivering a moral lesson. There's too much ambiguity involved to ever create a meaningful message, as everyone Asura kills is NOT justified. Even in the end it is very hard to sympathize or forgive Asura for his candid killing since I could relate to the opposing characters and the actions. There's no real life message to this story, which you
kind of expect for shows/movies with this type of dark theme.
There are many plot holes that are present in Asura such as why did the monk leave Asura to himself when he was clearly not rehabillitated, how did he survive as a baby, etc.
That being said, the atmosphere that Asura creates with its amazing art style keeps it afloat to make it enjoyable. Death and decay is displayed very well with the 3D artwork highlighting corpses, disembodied limbs, blood, crows, and the like. Not only that, but the pleasant backdrop of green rice fields contrasts the overall dark feeling of the whole movie which creates a forboding feeling of tragedy.
The supporting characters are memorable enough, such as the badass monk that makes the scene twice as intense or the kind yet steadfast Wasaka willing to stand tall to her morales.
The movie was entertaining enough to keep me watching, and I was glad that I watched it in the end.
I don't usually write reviews so please bare with me here about the lack of... well anything that u might expect of a proper review.
To start, the story was about child who was abandoned as an infant. Struggling to survive, it did what it could and what it needed to and hence became something like a wild beast child if you will. The child, Asura, goes through a series of events which then leads him to learn about humans and slowly regain some of his humanity. But then again, happiness never lasts long and well the rest you'll have to watch for. :)
Mind you, beware
of spoilers o.o, I'll try to refrain from them though.
In terms of story, personally I loved the plot. Some may dislike the drama and the darkness of the story, but thing is, life back in the day for poor people could really be that harsh. For the poor, their lives' work could be ruined by one disaster and one disaster can kill entire cities. As well, the story has so many interesting themes such as the nature of humans, the difference between humans and beasts, survival ...etc. It brings up the idea that humans are rational creature but when it comes to survival, we can also do crazy shi- I mean beasts. Ahem. (SPOILER, SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF U DON'T WANT TO READ IT........I want to say another thing about the story before I move on and that's about how the story ends. If you like happy endings, well then, just watch it for the action because a happy ending is not what's waiting for you at the end of this tunnel. Ok, maybe that was an exaggeration, but surely even if this was to classify as a happy ending it's not your generic one. The bittersweet ending of this story, in my opinion, was very suitable. It once again reinforces another idea that's repeated throughout and that's the fact that no matter what horrible things happen, humans can cope and continue to live. Not everyone copes, but we can cope.)
Rating for story is 10/10
Next is art. Art was also something special in Asura. Unlike the traditional stuff, this anime movie uses a blend of cg and 2D art. Course, when I first saw it, my first thought was "Oh no..." and I fully prepared myself to sit through the whole thing solely for the sake of the story. Fortunately, this seemingly awkward blend grew on me, and now that I look back on it, I feel that it was done quite well. The beginning scene was a little effie, but the whole cg thing really brought the story to life (haha, get it? To life? ...... I'm so lame). Especially for the Asura character, he actually looked like a demon which makes his beast to human transition that much more compelling. In terms of animation, cg can get pretty, well choppy? Uh, yeah. Anyways, the cg for this anime was relatively smooth and none of that physics defying hair going on. Things followed the laws of physics and to me, that was more than enough. :) Lastly, I just wanted to say that the general use of color was great in the sense that it help to portray the mood and emotions at different stages of the story.
Rating for art is 10/10
Third is sound. Ok to sound. To be frank, I didn't really pay much attention to the sound/music. But perhaps that could be a good thing too in the sense that the sound and music were realistic enough and matched the story so much that I didn't even realize it until the end. One thing I did notice is the manipulation of the volume, louder as the story became more intense and gentle (or even silence) as the violence ceased. One memorable moment was the volume manipulation at the end, and I'll leave it at that. :D
The rating for sound is 8/10
Next is character. First I like to say: I LOVE ASURA O.O in an omg-his-character-was-so-awesome-I'm-bawling-my-eyeballs-out-and-it's-so-sad-but-I-can't-stop-watch-OMG-I JUST-WANT-TO-GIVE-HIM-A-HUG sort of way..... o.o...... ahem. As much as Asura looks and acts like a demon/beast, there are moments where you realize that:
A. He's just a child
B. He doesn't know better than to act like he does given his history and
C. YOU JUST WANNA GIVE HIM A BIG FLUFFY HUG :(
As for the other characters, there's Wakasa, a young female in the village who (SPOILER) Asura becomes attached to. Romantic or not, that's up to you to decide (SPOILER END). Wakasa's character design is the equivalent of a desert rose or a female version of Moses except not religious.... and Japanese... which ever works for you. She portrayed in a very pure manner but also a very human manner as well. In a sense, if Asura is the wild and beastly side of humans, then Wakasa is the kind, and rational side of humans.
I also want to mention character development. As the story was focused on the humanization of Asura, all the development was centered on Asura while the rest of the characters took a guiding role that interacted to shape Asura's change. And I think, given the length of the movie, worked out nicely.
My rating for character is 10/10
Finally over all enjoyment. I think it's pretty apparent what my opinion on the movie is from my previous out bursts, but I really think this is a fantastic movie. I mean it was relatively realistic and meaningful and really exciting to watch. Then again, upon reading some of the other reviews it seems this is the type of movie that people either hate or love. So if you love drama, tragedy or action themed stories with a good plot, take a stab at this movie. And if you don't, well then that's up to you, but I'd try it :3
"what is a human? A miserable pile of little secrets!"
-quote not relevant
haha, that was just a gag, now here's my review for this movie:
when i watched the trailer, I knew I was going to be hooked in to this movie, and after I watched it, I was never disappointed and quickly became one of my most favorite anime movie of all time.
Asura takes us to a medieval era in japan where famine is widespread and everyone struggles to eat and survive, and among those people, there was a child who was human in appearance but has primal instincts like that of a wild animal. Through
his journey, however, he was able to witness how human beings interact and began to waver from his animalistic path towards the path of being a human.
After finishing the movie itself, I was dumbstruck at how well written the whole story was. The concept was very dark, genius and intriguing at times. The movie itself questions us of what really makes us humans or are we willing to give up our own humanity in order to survive in this cruel world.
Awesome, brilliant and dark, I highly recommend this movie to those who love dark stories and those concerning human virtues.
Asura is a dark and twisted anime movie based on a controversial 1970 Japanese film of the same title. At first glance, it would look like a movie full of mindless violence catering for people who enjoy watching those horrific stuff. It would put off some people because of the gore and violence (these scenes would appear immediately right off the start of the movie). I managed though because these kinds of movie are right up my alley and I consider the scenes in this movie as somewhat "mild violence". Anyway, behind the killings and the blood fountains portrayed in this movie lies a message
that was strongly delivered.
The setting is 15th century Kyoto. Kyoto at that time was almost like a wasteland due to floods, drought and famine. Enter Asura. Yep, you guessed it, Asura is the main character of this movie called Asura. He is a savage, a monster, a cannibal, a murderer and a beast. You would think he's evil from watching the first parts of the movie. The reality is he is just a child who was forced to learned by himself the hard-way on how to survive and to protect oneself. He is completely devoid of any morals since he grew up in the wilds. You'll see at the beginning of the movie how tragic his birth is.
Along his journey into the world of humans, he will meet a mysterious Monk (who frickin kicks butt) and a kind girl known as Wakasa. He and the monk will meet multiple times by chance and the monk will teach him how to fight the beast inside his heart. Wakasa is kinda like his mother who will provide him the warm love and affection that he never received since being born. She will teach him how to be a normal boy. These two will be his guiding light towards the path of change. Of course, before reaching that goal he will have to come through a lot of tragedies, deaths and painful stuff. (T_T)
The art of this 3D animation movie (which looks like it's a cross between 2D and 3D) is okay, though a think a lot will hate it because it's not exactly the beautiful 3D art the most are accustomed to. But if you acknowledged that this is Asura's unique style just like I did then you will enjoy the movie a lot more. Movements are fine and fluid though sometimes the characters look weird but that's because they purposely created Anime-ish characters that has unreal body proportions. But it's OK. One thing about this 3D style though, I honestly believe that if Asura had a 2D version (real anime) instead of this then it'll be a lot more gory. The Sound is okay too. Nothing outstanding but nothing bad either.
Overall, this movie was good. Indeed it can be hard to watch at times but the character development of someone like Asura is very unique. You don't see any characters like this which is realistically portrayed. He kills people, even innocent children and has this murderous wild instincts (you don't usually see any MC like this in any anime). The driving forces for watching this film is Asura's harsh and cruel journey into the human world and his dramatic development into being someone more human. The movie is has actions and a lot of drama (real drama!) If you can handle watching gore, violence, dramatic/tragic stuff, and you don't mind the art style then I have to recommend this to you. If your'e a happy person who don't want to feel sad or horrified then don't. (but seriously i recommend this for everyone!)
Asura is not the typical kind of anime in that it's more grotesque in delivering a philosophical idea: what does it mean to be human? Are we a product of our environment? These types of themes can be seen in other anime, but this film uses the subject of cannibalism to drive this thought process, which is something I haven't seen done in anime before. During the entire movie, Asura has to face three powerful influences on his character: a monk, who stirs up Asura's fight against his beastly nature; Wakasa, who shows him love that he hadn't known since his mother
abandoned him, and a lord, who villainizes Asura and confuses his chances on becoming accepted as a human being. All three play a very large role with Asura, but you won't connect with any of these characters. I feel as though you're not supposed to. You're an outsider looking in. Your job is to analyze the situation, and hopefully arrive to a meaningful conclusion. Plus, there's so many conflicts that are thrown at the viewer, I don't see how anyone could consider liking any of the characters. One in particular, the monk, is very interesting, but he only comes in when needed to push the story forward.
This story makes a big deal out of encouraging the viewer to think on whether Asura might just be a young boy trying to survive. Maybe he already is human? Maybe people are inherently good and want to be that way, if their environment will let them? But for me, the film was more of the shortcomings of human nature. Manipulation, lying, hatred, double standards and selfishness. There are plenty of instances where I questioned, why would Wakasa, someone who is literally teaching Asura to love, show the opposite? Or why would the lord be selfish to his own starving people, but instead of the people villainizing the lord, they turn on Asura? There was a lot of foolishness based on human behavior. Seeing Asura's mother abandon him due to starvation twisting her mind, showed me how the environment can sway a person to do things they wouldn't think was morally acceptable, as opposed to how some of the characters purposefully treated Asura and each other. When the credits rolled, I was mostly left feeling frustrated with human decisions.
In terms of the quality of the artwork and sound, it was overall good. I was pretty surprised by the CGI. Usually in anime, it's clunky or ill-fitting, almost as if it's pointless. This CGI seemed more of a mix of 3D and 2D, so there was a bit more fluidity to character movement that made this enjoyable to watch. Great care was put into Asura's facial expressions. There's a scene where Asura has to fight or die, and his facial expressions really helped me to sympathize with him at that time. The sound effects fit the theme, they were odd and jarring. I think they wanted the sounds to be alarming since the nature of the film includes cannibalism. And let's be honest, Asura looks creepy af! Masako Nozawa's voice acting for the character Asura was amazing. She was definitely the most notable out of the cast. Everyone did a good job, but I enjoyed Masako Nozawa the most. Lastly, the background music was very suspenseful. Even though this is supposed to be a philosophical movie, it's still lightweight horror/thriller. So the repetitive bass during one of the fight scenes made me pretty tense.
This is definitely not a film I could recommend to everyone. If you like the macabre with some pretty dark philosophical undertones, then this would be for you. It's not a spectacular anime, especially since it immediately throws the nature vs nurture argument at the viewer. Also, in my opinion, the film tried too hard to encourage the viewer to think about that argument and in doing so, dropped the ball a few times with character influences. Luckily the CGI was pretty interesting and the story moved quickly.