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Munto

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Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Kyoto Animation
Format: 1 OVA
Dates: 3/18/2003

Yumemi has seen islands in the sky all throughout her life. She was always afraid that she was abnormal until she meets Munto, the Magic King of the Heavenly World. He requires Yumemi’s unknown powers to save his world from destruction, but Yumemi has problems in her own world that she must deal with first.

summary by Eek

 

Reviewed: 11/25/2003 by
Grade: 70% av-Eek

Highs: Lavish character designs; creative concept; good camera direction

Lows: Too divided; style favored over substance

The creators of Munto put a fair amount of time into creating character designs. While Yumemi and her friends look rather plain, the denizens of the Heavenly World are quite extravagant. They are comprised of a multitude of designs that have a wide range of physical shapes, colors, clothing styles and even hair styles. The strong use of pastels makes character designs pleasing to the eye. However, the concept itself is quite creative, and although it seems like a mix between Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure, it still manages to separate itself from them by going a bit beyond with the help of a few perks. What helps us explore this creative concept to a great extent is the use of angles and zooming to get the right shot. Undoubtedly, camera direction made a lot of the action and more dramatic scenes that much better because of the way that the camera was focused on characters or events.

Some people will say that this OVA is much too short, and I have to disagree to an extent; had this been a ninety-minute movie and not a fifty-minute OVA, it could have fit more character and plot development in, but it did a passable job with the time allotted. However, the story is simply split. On Yumemi’s side, she attempts to deal with a problem involving two friends, while on the other side, Munto repeatedly asks Yumemi for her assistance; most of the episode is spent on Yumemi’s side trying to solve her problem. Consequently, Munto is just there; he comes and goes but really has no elaborate part that is explored to any great length. As if that was not bad enough, it becomes fairly obvious that style was the focal point. Actual substance comes at infrequent moments and is ill-placed. I stand firm on the idea that character development is never a bad thing, but when Yumemi’s friends receive far more background than Yumemi herself does, you know something is terribly flawed.

Munto packs a nice punch in the eye candy department, but the heart of this OVA leaves much to be desired. If you want something that is pretty on the outside, this is it; if you want beauty on the inside, I suggest something else.

 

 

Reviewed: 11/29/2014 by

Grade: 50% av-Gendo

Highs: Interesting concept, decent music, no gratuitous fan service

Lows: Slipshod, uninspired artwork, inadequate backstory and exposition

Now don’t get me wrong. I can enjoy the type of story that plops you down into the middle of a chaos of events with no explanation, inexplicable phenomena, and a whirlwind of characters without explanation. I find that kind of opening can be quite gripping and exhilarating. However, I DO expect that the writer will get us all up to speed, eventually.

Here, though . . .

Well, what can I say? I have intentionally not reviewed the existing review here so as not to prejudice my own assessment. Post-facto, I find that this is not derived from an extensive manga or extended series, although I can see that this could have been cut down from a longer and better story. (Come to think of it, that story is Escaflowne.)

Evidently in this parallel world, which seems to be invisible floating islands in the sky (but may be in the past, or future, or another dimension, who can tell?!), one faction has attacked another. Or are the attackers from another place completely? Either way, Munto (“Call me LORD Munto!”) rules the attacked kingdom, and one by one, the seven pillars which somehow support the whole place are falling (literally) one by one. One Earthly girl, Yumemi, is somehow the key to saving Munto’s (“LORD Munto!”) world, and something called “akuto” energy. Lord Munto’s repeated contact with her – again, the nature of which is inexplicable – leave her baffled and frightened. Perhaps if he made some attempt to explain who he is, what her importance is, and what he means by her giving him her “power,” she might be more sympathetic to him. Not to mention the viewer. As it is, the whole mystery is explained in one minute, I think, two minutes before the ending.

One of the few clues we receive to the mystery is that ever since childhood, Yumemi has been able to see floating islands in the sky, which no-one else can, of course. Whether they are “really” there, or Yumemi sees into other universes or eras, as I say above, who can tell? Munto (“LORD Munto!”) appears to jump over the edge of the islands and plummet straight down to visit Earth and be bossy to Yumemi, but at the climax, as she finally gives her power to him, the boss of the attackers announces, astounded, that she is breaking the barriers of time and space.

Baffling and disturbing is the side story – which DID finally connect up to the main story, much to my surprise, albeit most tangentially – of young couple Suzume and Kazuya. Kazuya had tried to drown himself the year before, and Suzume, laughing, dragged him out of the water. Now he wishes to marry her. He is perhaps 16. Suzume’s age is stated as 13, however, she looks and acts more like a 9 or 10 year old. Seeing the young couple struggle their way across the water – evidently their nuptial ceremony – Yumemi is inspired to speak the momentous words: “It’s my responsibility to go protect everyone’s future!”

Perhaps part of the weakness here is in translation and American seiyuu. Ordinarily I prefer subtitles, but couldn’t find this as anything but a dub. That though does not excuse the fact that much of the artwork looks half-finished, not rough-draft maybe, but certainly not finished. I’m thinking mainly of the human characters, and especially the girls in outdoor shots. Other art and design is a mixed bag. Backdrops are decent, probably off the rack at Arts “Я” Us. Drawing of the magical-world characters is good, design nothing particularly special. There is one akuto energy powered monster which looks quite good, good enough to have just come out of NERV’s test labs, if you take my meaning. Speaking of which, Yumemi looks rather like a crossup of Asuka Langley Sohryu and Sailor Moon, with none of the personality of either.

It’s rather speaking that the two most intriguing parts I found of these entire 55 minutes were the moments devoted to a “show-within-a-show”, as Yumemi’s little brother watches a kiddie show “Montaro” on TV, and the post-credits visuals as we see a bit of the world beyond.

Bottom line, this strikes me more as a promotional piece for a proposed larger and more ambitious work, a rough pilot to show a studio producer and hope for a contract and funding, not even the pilot which would air on broadcast TV. One word? “Uninspired.” And that IS a shame, as there seems to be the potential for quite a good show here. This just ain’t it.

 

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 2: Beyond The Walls Of Time

 

 

 

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