Pretentious Anime

Sep 01 2006

[Jin-Roh]

I finally watched Jin-Roh a couple nights ago. It’s been out for quite a few years, but I never got around to it. It looked a bit too heavy-handed and dark for my tastes.

And sure enough, it was very heavy-handed and dark. It was created and directed by Mamoru Oshii, who can consistently create jaw-dropping visuals, but frankly little else. His plots are so laden with metaphor that they become hard to follow, and his characters are usually so withdrawn that they’re not interesting to watch.

Jin-Roh has the advantage of its setting: 70′s-era Japan, with all the political and social turmoil of that time. The opening of the film serves as an alternate history retelling of post-war Japan, followed by a gripping student protest. Perfectly animated. But, other than jump-starting the rest of the plot, it has nothing to do with anything else. It’s mostly visual flair.

And certainly, there’s a place for movies that are mostly visual. But it seems to me that Oshii would do better with a strong plot to which his visuals would add even more interest. The first Ghost in the Shell movie is the closest he’s ever come, that I’ve seen (I’ve also seen Ghost in the Shell 2 and Avalon); even though he makes the main characters seem like they’re very, very baked compared to the original manga versions, there’s enough plot to push things along and keep the audience from getting bored.

Ah well.

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