a.k.a. Gin-iro no Kami no Agito
300 years after a cataclysmic event that shattered the moon, the forests on Earth have become intelligent lifeforms, and the last human survivors are at a constant struggle for survival. The people from Neutral City live in an uneasy coexistence with the plants while the people of Laguna, led by the soldier Shunak, are trying to re-conquer the world from the forests. During a raid for water, Agito, a boy from Neutral City, discovers a girl sleeping inside a strange machine. Her name is Tula, and she has been in suspended animation ever since the day of the cataclysm. How will her awakening influence the delicate balance between forest and humanity?
summary by Taleweaver
Highs: Absolutely stunning art and choreography; engrossing soundtrack; entertaining plot…
Lows: … borrowed shamelessly from Nausicaä; “superheroics” don’t fit the setting
Eye candy, anyone? The first noticeable thing about Origin ~Spirits of the Past~ is its visual excellence. From the first look at the exploding moon over the lush greens of the great forest to the magnificent views of the broken cities of Earth, the production values for this movie are nothing short of stunning. Studio Gonzo sure knew how to make the best of its budget, seamlessly mixing CGI and more traditional art. A wonderfully engrossing, orchestral soundtrack by Iwasaki Taku tops this all off, making this movie a memorable experience, especially when viewed on the big screen
High production values alone do not make a good movie, but fortunately, Origin ~Spirits of the Past~ also has an entertaining, if maybe a little stereotypical, action plot. There are those that wish to coexist with nature and those who want to destroy it; guess who’s good and who’s bad? Still, the addition of Tula and, to a lesser extent, Shunak brings a bit of depth into the conflict. After all, both sides have reasonable motives for their actions and are equally fanatic. All in all, the plot could even be called interesting…
… were it not borrowed shamelessly from Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind. Humanity struggling with a dangerous environment? Check. Conflict between peaceful and militaristic people? Check. An ancient, technological relic that could turn the tide in the conflict? Check. The hero making a sacrifice in the end to achieve victory? Check. Even the structure of this movie’s Japanese name (Gin-iro no Kami no Agito) reminds us of Miyazaki‘s early masterpiece. The name “Shunak” sounds suspiciously as though someone rearranged the syllables in the name of Nausicaä’s opponent, Kushana. There’s hardly an original element in the story, except for one, and that doesn’t really fit into the setting; around the middle of the movie, Agito gains superpowers. The way these powers are bestowed upon him is a little… anticlimactic, so to speak, but the bigger problem is that the entire plot would have been much more exciting without this little addition. A virtually undefeatable hero doesn’t make for good drama, does he?
I won’t deny that Origin ~Spirits of the Past~ is an enjoyable movie. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a decent action movie. Essentially, it’s a remake of Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind with modern production methods and more explosions. However, it lacks both in spirit and in depth when compared to the classic. This movie is a nice distraction if you’re a fan of good visuals, but it is hardly a must-see.