The only bright side of ever being sick is the fact that it allows one to sit under a blanket with juice and a stack of movies. On that note, I am going to provide a review of what I think is a must watch film called Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror. It’s a film that went rather under the radar in the states. I actually only heard of it due to amazon suggesting the title to me. So here we go!
Oblivion Island was released in 2009 from Production I.G. and licensed in the states by Funimation. First off the story has a very interesting plot/theme. The premise is, that there is a second hidden world which its inhabitants take neglected items in the human world back to their world. The main character, Haruka, sees one of these creatures (which look like a stylized fox) takes her keys that are sitting on a staircase. She decides to follow this creature and get her keys back. While in this world, she realizes that this must be where he childhood mirror she received from her mother as a gift must be. The quest for Haruka and the creature, Teo, begins in search for the mirror.
The settings of the film were very inventive. The portions that took place in the real world were all inspired by actual places. The creature world however had a cleverly built world out of borrowed items. For instance, there are several buildings that have surfboards for shingles. Many settings in this world have a feel as a cross over between a Ghibli film and a Pixar film. Lush ocean areas, islands and an underground are all scenes in Oblivion Island, even an underground moat made out of orange syrup. During certain shots of the film, it felt as if I was watching a video game due to the details in the environments crossed with camera angles.
One of my interests over the last year has been the use of CGI in Japanese animation, this film is almost exclusively 3D, which was one of the reasons I needed to see it. The film is very well animated and rendered. The characters skin does’t look plastic and the cloth and hair animate well. Nothing feels rigid or out of place that takes away from the film, Haruka moves around really well. As the other characters are as well. There was several shots that had a variety of dynamic systems in them, such as cloth, fireworks and more.
I thought the character designs were well done as well. They felt as if they were all from a video game which was really refreshing. Many of the characters wore masks, which were very unique and added to the mystic of some of the characters. The Baron character’s mask fits him very well, Haruka wears a mask at points that appears as its from a large baseball.
I highly suggest watching Oblivion Island. Especially if you are a fan of Ghibli and Pixar films. Overall the film has a very sweet story and well produced visuals. You can actually watch the movie for free online here in either subbed or dubbed.