1 February 2009 | BrianDanaCamp
THE WEATHERING CONTINENT - Triumph of art and music over narrative
THE WEATHERING CONTINENT (1992) is a 55-minute animated feature that was shown in theaters in Japan on a triple bill with SILENT MOBIUS 2 and THE HEROIC LEGEND OF ARSLAN II. It has an odd mood for a sword-and-sorcery-style anime, being slow-moving and fairly quiet, with occasional bursts of activity, although little in the way of actual action. It's set in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape many centuries ago and involves a journey undertaken by three refugees: Lakshi, a young girl with a sword, who's disguised as a boy; Tieh, a pacifistic long-haired mystic with healing powers; and Boice, a muscular warrior. They spend their time dodging bandits while trying to find water, food and civilizationin that order. They stop at Azec Sistura, the underground "city of the dead," and get mixed up in a conflict started when pursuing bandits arouse the anger of the spirits lying dormant there.
I never quite understood what was going on or grasped any of the background of the main characters. Yet my interest was continually held by two things. First, the production design is quite spectacular throughout, particularly in the scenes taking place in the ornate city of the dead and its flashbacks to the era when the city teemed with life. Apparently, the people who lived there planned the underground city in order to keep their souls encased in a representation of the life they'd lived, complete with masks for all the corpses. It's an intriguing concept and it's beautifully presented by the artwork, although I never quite understood its significance to the main characters.
The other notable aspect of the film is the music score by female composer Michiru Oshima, a varied collection of melodies, ranging from the lyrical to the ominous, and musical styles, including some nice jazz riffs, which underscore every scene and give the film a flavor and feeling that help us glide over the lack of a compelling narrative. I have the CD of the score and it's among my favorite anime soundtracks. Oshima also scored "Legend of Crystania," "Fullmetal Alchemist," and "Boys Over Flowers," among others.
The character design is by Nobuteru Yuuki, who has dozens of prominent anime credits, including "Five Star Stories," "Record of Lodoss War," "X: The Movie," and "Escaflowne: The Movie." Director Koichi Mashimo also directed "Ai City," "Dirty Pair: Project Eden," "Dominion Tank Police," "The Irresponsible Captain Tylor," "Sorcerer Hunters," and "Noir," among other popular titles.