I didn't expect to like this movie, because it seemed so childish, but the absurd 4.29/5 average user rating in Yahoo! Japan prompted me to give it a try.
I was disgusted after the first 30 minutes. I thought "Oh, here's another kiddie movie that some adults like, but I hate." However, it suddenly got serious after the main character meets Paco, and I was starting to gain interest in the story. I now find it funny that my reception to this film's story is exactly same as a character in the movie who was listening to the story in "present day". Were the first 30 minutes horrible on purpose?
Perhaps it simply took 30 minutes to get used to the wackiness or it was the director's intention to gradually change the feel of the film. In any case, I found the story to have a really nice flow, mesmerized by the beautiful visual effects. In fact, tears started streaming down my cheeks in a scene with Tsumabuki Satoshi and Tsuchiya Anna. Something unimaginable to me after watching the first few minutes of the movie.
Tsuchiya Anna was completely out of place in Sakuran, but now that she's playing a 'punk' character again, she was flawless. I didn't even recognize Yakusho Kouji until the ending credit, but I guess he was just that good. Cast is incredibly star-studded. They all performed exceptionally well and fit the roles.
I did not know Japan was capable of such high level and artistic CG/SFX. Okay, the characters in the picture book were incredibly stupid-looking by design, but the effects and direction somehow made it funny and cool at the same time. Transition between CG and real-life figure was smooth, and it was a really pleasurable viewing experience.
This film truly has the magic. I laughed and cried, completely connected with all the characters. The story was unbelievably touching. Direction and every step of the production was top-notch. A masterpiece that will set the standards for "Crazy Wonderland"-style films for years to come.
12 out of 13 found this helpful