9 May 2021 | latinmelkor
A deep film that demands more patience than it should
As another reviewer wrote earlier, I have little doubt that the film's mediocre rating is due to its slowness in developing the thesis that Mamoru Oshii hides behind the plot. It is a film that demands patience, so much in fact, that I find it directly to blame for the negative reviews. It is not a viewer's fault to lose interest when they have already seen more than half of a film and the fog that shrouds the plot remains as dense as it was at the beginning.
Nevertheless, with proper time, the doubts and issues that may have seemed incoherent are explained with efficiency and appeal. What initially looks inconsistent, once the viewer is given the background information, makes complete sense. The characters' erratic behavior, the anachronistic war machines, the nonsensical dialogues: it all makes sense in just a few minutes through an almost epiphany.
The film, very much in Oshii's style, raises philosophical questions revolving around existentialism and the ontology of human beings: what is the role of war in society, are our memories what make us what we are, what is the point of continuing to live day by day? All these questions are treated by the director in a plot that is unnecessarily slow, but still fascinating.
The Sky Crawlers forced me to reexamine the mindset I have when I watch an anime film. When I sit down to watch these types of works, I expect clichéd characters, fantastically absurd plots and flat thoughts that pretend to have depth. While there are plenty of exceptions, it is undeniable that many anime productions use characters and formulas as predictable as Hollywood blockbusters. The Sky Crawlers, to a prejudiced viewer like me, may at first seem like just another film in the long line of those Japanese animated features that rely more on the beauty of their art than their content. This is not the case. This is a deep and thoughtful work that, sadly, moves at a slower pace than what contemporary moviegoers are used to. I insist: the plot is spectacular and not overly complex, it is just slow.