Company: Kyoto Animation
Format: 1 OVA
“Munto, thank you for saving the Heavenly Realm. But have you thought about what you want to do with it?”
A year after Yumemi helps save both the Heavenly Realm and Earth by surrendering her akuto energy to Lord Munto, King of the Magical Kingdom, there is war in Heaven. Again, Yumemi’s strange powers are needed to save Lord Munto, the Kingdom, and his allies . . . and Earth itself!
summary by Papa-san
Reviewed: 11/29/14 by
Highs: Outstanding visuals and music, good storyline, good characters
Lows: A few loose plot threads, a lot of good characters who just sort of vanish
Wow. Wowee-wow wow. What a difference between this and its lacklustre predecessor! As before, we start in the middle of a story. Kingdoms war upon another in some undefined realm. Although Munto (“LORD Munto!”) rules the “Magical Kingdom”, he and his enemies and allies command very mundane warships of space – and some fine looking ships they are too. The first half hour or so is some rollicking good space opera, with more worlds and kingdoms and commanders than I can list (or need to). As the crisis approaches, Lord Munto knows he needs to once again call on Yumemi and her strange command of the mysterious akuto energy.
Graphics and artwork in this are top-notch. CGI touches blend in well. The battle scenes which open the movie are stunning. We get a little bit more backstory, as well as a clearer understanding that this is all in some undefined time in Earth’s future, and that the fate of both the Heavenly Realm and Earth (“The Underworld”) are somehow inextricably linked. Oh, and just a bit cheesecake this time: evidently as a woman moves up the ranks of alien space navies, the scantier her uniform becomes. One modest shot of Yumemi in the bath.
The frenetic pace of the first segment crashes to a breath-catching halt as the story catches back up with Yumemi and her friends. On Earth, mysterious events are taking place, inexplicable earthquake-like disasters. Of course, these are somehow reflections of the war taking place in the higher realm, and Yumemi’s frequent “trances” worry her friends, little Suzume (now unattached to Kazuya) and tomboyish Ichiko. With Christmas approaching, the three have taken part-time jobs at a local shrine, a shrine which features a large stone, looking suspiciously like one of the seven pillars which figured so prominently in the first movie. There is even a legend that it fell to Earth from the sky . . .
There are many shades of meaning suggested here, as Yumemi’s friends recount their childhood with her, always wanting to see the floating islands which she does, suggestions of the importance of belief in things unseen. They, along with the rest of the world, did indeed see those islands during the previous crisis, but it seems that official sources have declared those all nothing but hallucinations.
As Yumemi puts herself into immediate physical danger trying to re-unite with Lord Munto and save everything again, there is a very touching scene: things have been crashing down about them cataclysmically, yet she turns to Ichiko and speaks of getting their first paychecks and going shopping, and just doing normal little things together as friends. Moments later, she and Munto (“LORD Munto!”) soar into the darkened skies to save the future, and a blazing star marks their success.
(Remember now, this is all happening just days before Christmas.) It is difficult to lip-read animation. Especially animation which has been rendered for a language other than ones own. However. As Ichiko gazes up in wonder at the star shining forth in the leaden sky, she speaks, silently, three syllables: it looks to me like she is mouthing the word “Bethlehem.”
Oh. The music. Outstanding. Often unobtrusive but atmospheric. Often soaring and powerful. This from someone who (despite being something of a musician himself) usually doesn’t notice music unless there is something either very wrong or very right with it. This gets it very right.
Voice acting is quite good, and the writing too. As with the first, I saw this as a dub.
Just a couple of quibbles, after all the previous. We still don’t get the backstory of the Heavenly Realm, or why there is war. We still don’t have an explanation of WHY Yumemi is this font of akuto energy, or precisely what it is or why it is so important. It remains little more than a necessary plot point. We get a bit of Lord Munto’s origins, but this raises more questions than it answers. The significance of an early-introduced character, a guardian of Time, “The Outsider” is a bit confusing, and he ends up pretty much a throwaway. For that matter, so do most of the vast cast we meet in the first segment, all the faction leaders and warship officers. That first half is pretty impressive, as noted, but in the end it seems rather extraneous. Suzume’s relationship with Kazuya, which occupied so much of the first movie, just vanishes.
Bottom line: this entirely redeems the first movie, and far more. Watch the first, just to get the setup (you may like it more than I did, in any case!) then watch this. This grabbed me far more than I expected it to.
Munto and Munto 2: Beyond The Walls Of Time can be downloaded legally in the United States as a single collection HERE.
See also: Munto
A Munto series based on these OVAs has been produced by Kyoto Animation. Sora o Miageru Shōjo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai is a nine OVA series incorporating and continuing these original two, and aired in Japan between January and March 2009. We expect to have a review for this up in the near future. Also, an animated film named Tenjōbito to Akutobito Saigo no Tatakai was released on April 18, 2009. I’m looking forward to watching it all!