Feb 29, 2016
Hex (All reviews)
Diving deep into the realm of Japanese obscurity, we have a Sanrio animated feature titled Fairy Florence. Sanrio is the company that makes Hello Kitty franchise works and merchandise. Sanrio is also famous for the films Unico and Chirin no Suzu. This fame is partially because, for children's movies, Unico and Chirin no Suzu are surprisingly thematically dense and deal with mature topics in an often somber and cynical manner. Can I say the same for Fairy Florence? Sadly I cannot.

Fairy Florence seems to be Japan's answer to Fantasia. While I don't particularly enjoy Fantasia nor Fantasia 2000, I fully grasp the purpose of these films as an expression of animators' influence taken from music and how that affects their works. Fairy Florence tries its' hardest to do something similar while adding in commentary on the creative process and the struggle to find inspiration.

Michael's story is one of a talented artist that cannot for the life of him find his place in the world. I think many artists can relate to Michael. He has a natural talent for music but is pushed by his superiors to take part in something he initially did not want any part of. He is forced to practice in a way he finds unconventional and because of this he does poorly and loses motivation. This lack of motivation leads to him seeking entertainment and happiness through outside sources. This scenario itself can be applied to anyone going through a creative struggle. The medium of music is not stringent here. Although not exact in scheme, Michael's story is relative to all artists.

This idea, to provide commentary on a young artist's struggle and to express the animators' own struggles while showing the influence of music on their works, is not a poor one by any means. The real issue here is the presentation and delivery of this idea...

Instead of taking the steady and thought provoking road Fairy Florence had initially tread down for the first twenty or so minutes, an intermittent hallucinogenic trip is what follows. From what i gather from the progression of the story, Michael has a nervous breakdown and relapses from his two months of sobriety to continually ingest ayahuasca for the next hour or so. Michael's hormones dictated his psychoactive romp will be filled with courtship of his new crush whom he just interacted with before his early life crisis. He plays out his wish fulfillment fantasies where the girl of his dreams falls for him and he can play his music the way he likes and it somehow has an impact on the world. His trip occasionally turns bad and he has to fight off marvin the martian's imp cousin and that big baddy from fern gully...

You can see why this doesn't sit right with me by now i hope. All the explanation in the world cannot save this symbolism and allegory. It no longer has importance because it is presented in a way that continually slaps you in the face. Michael trying to deflower his flower waifu holds no real significance. This plot device is there for convenience's sake so that romance can be had. She is shown as only a catalyst and then a distraction so she cannot be thought of as motivation for Michael nor true influence. With a stretch, the fight scenes could be thought of as Michael overcoming his inner demons and breaking out of his shell as a confident individual, but there is no real support within the movie.. it just would have made sense to direct these scenes in that way from a logical standpoint.

Fairy Florence, like MANY movies from the 80s is a mixed bag of wasted-potential-flavored-nuts. The setup for a dramatic slice of life about a boy and his struggles is destroyed by an attempt at a disney ripoff. Sadly the staff behind this had no idea how to do Disney formula nor what aspects make Disney so charming for most viewers.