The Journey (2021) by Shizuno Kobun

The Journey (2021) by Shizuno Kobun

“Why did you choose to fight?”

“The Journey” is quite a unique title in anime. Co-produced by TOEI Animation and Saudi Arabian Manga Productions, the film had a production team of more than 330 individuals from Saudi talent and professionals in the field from Japan, where Saudi talent was trained and worked side by side with experts to improve their skills. be put forward. Kobun Shizuno of “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle” fame directed a story that is distinctly Arabic, as it is inspired by a local folklore that tells the story of Aws, a potter in Mecca who takes up arms to protect his city against ruthless invaders who threaten to destroy the Kaaba. The film was originally scheduled to premiere in Southeast Asia in 2021, but was delayed due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The particular story is a retelling of an event in Arab history generally known as the “Year of the Elephant”, when Abraha, a Christian Abyssinian king, threatened to enslave their people and destroy the Kaaba, a holy shrine, while bringing elephants to battle, ​​an event so surprising, which ended up giving the whole “bow” its name. It is just before the first battle that the story of the film begins, when we meet Aws, a seemingly simple potter who has joined the volunteer army to protect his family and the people who have adopted him in the area. However, as the film progresses, extended flashbacks shed much more light on his and a number of the rest of the main characters’ pasts, until the second part, which is almost entirely focused on the fight.

See also  Blue Reflection Ray Episode 1-24 - Review

The approach Kobun Shizuno implements here is as unusual as the film’s main premise, and indeed extends to the art form. In that way, the story begins to ask a series of questions regarding the main characters and motives, as much as Abraha’s attack, but gradually reveals the background through extended flashbacks, which are mostly shown in the first part. Furthermore, these journeys into the past have an intense religious element that seems to encompass all Abrahamic religions, thus giving the story a more universal approach, even within that particular prism. The propagandist elements are also here, but considering the epic nature of the film, it is to be expected, as the same happens with similar productions from the USA, Korea, China, etc.

In terms of art form, these flashbacks unfold in a different way than the main story, as the movement is minimal, focusing instead on the drawing and coloring, with the result occasionally being visually stunning. At the same time, their extensive duration and frequency becomes a bit tiresome after a point, especially since they delay the actual fight, which is definitely the main component of the film. Their artistry compensates somewhat, but not fully.

Where the title really picks up is as soon as the battle begins, with the combination of one-on-one, the attack of the elephants and the clash between the two armies being equally epic, while also highlighting the excellent animation here. The slight gore included in the fights adds even more to the entertainment they offer, while the parallel to the despicable tactics Abraha implements, as much as his ruthless mentality, works nicely, adding some depth to the action. Tatsuro Iwamoto’s character designs are mostly convincing, especially for the main characters and central villains, but occasionally look a bit dull and repetitive, definitely below what Japanese anime films have gotten us used to, especially in the secondary characters. On the other hand, Kaoru Wada’s epic score fits the overall aesthetic to perfection, adding a lot to the entertainment this installment offers.

See also  10 Times Love Saved the Day in Mecha Anime

Despite some issues here and there, mostly due to a focus on religion that occasionally looks propagandistic, the quality of action here is enough to satisfy most fans of epic/shonen anime, while the film definitely deserves a viewing for that unique with the production.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *