17 July 2011 | alisonc-1
An Anime for The Younger Set
Jun is an ordinary middle-school boy, except for his unusual birthmark which takes the form of a dragon on his chest. Because of that birthmark, he is abruptly whisked back in time, to the medieval Heian era. That era is remembered for being a peaceful time, but in fact humans, led by sorcerer Gen'un and warrior Raiko, are battling demons called the Oni, and Jun has been summoned back to awaken and control the legendary dragon, Orochi, in the fight. But the humans and the Oni are not quite what they seem, and both sides are desperate to enlist Jun, and Orochi, to their cause in this long-running conflict. Jun, however, is uncertain where the truth lies amid all the contradictory information he receives from each side, and he thinks maybe the best thing to do is simply to stop the fighting....
This anime film reminded me a good bit of YA fantasy novels, or perhaps novels for a slightly younger (say, 9-12) set, in that Jun is a typical Everyboy who must fight his insecurities and doubts to become the hero (indeed, Gen'un constantly calls him "Saviour") he is meant to be in a fantasy realm before he can return to his own time, having grown stronger and wiser in the process. Each frame of this film is hand-drawn, and some of the imagery is quite beautiful, while the supernatural battle scenes are quite epic in scope. Not a film to think about very hard after viewing, but an eye-pleasing spectacle to watch.