First off, the animation and visuals in this film are quite stunning. The landscape shots are spectacular and breathtaking. The colours are vibrant and really bring the world of the film to life. The human characters, though are seemingly normal, is what Japanese anime is known for. To have average looking human characters that imply could be anyone. The other creatures in the film are appropriately strange as characteristic of Japanese anime.
The narrative is also equally strange. It has a very dark tone to it, and the topics of life and death add to the darkness. What I like about Japanese animation is that they aren't afraid to make the characters 'human' in the sense that each and everyone of them has flaws. You might think you have grasped a character, but then the film goes deeper and adds another element to them. Unlike Hollywood characters who are usually one dimensional (what you see is what you get), these characters show sides of themselves that are unpredictable and that come up at the end.
Additionally, a popular theme for Japanese anime films is that of the coming of age story - especially involving female protagonists. I don't think I actually know a coming of age anime that has a male protagonist...I'm not sure what this implies. Going off that, there is a lack of important female characters in this film (apart from the protagonist) which I dislike.
The soundtrack is, for the most part, soothing and complements the narrative well. With the fighting scenes, it sometimes felt like an action movie. Those scenes are well done in terms of animation, visual effects and music accompaniment.
Overall, an interesting film though it did at times make me wonder what in the world I was watching (Japanese cinema tends to make me think that). The animation is great and the characters likable. However, it can be quite slow at times and may be hard to get absorbed into the narrative.
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