in the The Bride of the Ancient Magus and Ranking of Kingsthe animators Wit Studio have proven particularly adept at adapting fantasy manga based on classic fairy tales. Wit’s latest fairy tale manga adaptation, The girl on the other sidehas elements of both series in its character archetypes – Teacher is an elegant and caring semi-humanoid monster à la Elias from Magus Bride and Shiva’s adorable child as Ranking of Kings‘ Bojji – while offering a truly unique experience.
Joke adjusted first Nagabe‘s manga into a 10-minute short film in 2019. This feature film OVAwhich was screened at the 2022 Fantasia Film Festival and will continue to stream crispy roll later this year, with a running time of just 70 minutes, five of which are credits, is still fairly short by feature standards. With its slow pace and emphasis on atmosphere over simple storytelling, this short film nonetheless seems to be the right length for what it is trying to achieve. a longer version would require a different narrative approach.
The best thing about this film is its art and animation. Even in silent moments, there are never obvious animation shortcuts; The line drawings are always in some form of expressive movement. The closest comparison I can make is to The Story of Princess Kaguya, but with more Western influences in design. The way they animate shadows and lighting effects is particularly impressive – the watercolor shading makes the images appear three-dimensional without looking like CGI. It can be OVAbut crispy roll should seriously consider bringing this to theaters as the images would look incredible on the big screen.
The excellent animation contributes to the fact that the characters can be easily connected emotionally. Shiva’s design tends toward minimalism: you can probably count on one hand the number of shots she has a nose in, and in wide-angle shots her eyes become mere dots. That’s all you really need to convey their joy, their excitement, their loneliness, and their fear. The teacher, with his demonic face with no discernible mouth, is his own challenge to animate, but his eyes and body language prove the key to showing his feelings.
At its most basic level, this is the story of a dark, sad man who finds joy and light in his life by protecting a young girl from the depressing world around her. Jun Fukuyama‘s vocal performance as a teacher and Rie Takahashi‘s high pitched Shiva suits the dark-light dynamic, although at times Takahashi seems to exaggerate the cute child’s voice (if this is dubbed I’d be curious to hear a real child actor portray Shiva). Although some of the darker fantasy elements (spooky flashbacks, a few scenes of violent knights, a twist to a more action-heavy climax) make it questionable whether or not this really counts as Iyashikei, this film’s atmospheric and thematic strengths fit in solidly with those of the “healing” genre.
The emphasis on vibes, rather than attempting to take the entire storyline from the 11-volume manga, leaves the world-building intriguingly abstract. Some things about the teacher’s curse are obvious (it spreads through touch, it wiped his human memories, humans hunt him and others with the curse), while other aspects remain a little more vague (it mostly turns humans into animals, but sometimes turns them into them). explode into trees? The corrupted have no souls?). The film’s climax, which involves some border-crossings between worlds, makes just enough sense to pull in, but it’s still hard to follow exactly what’s going on from moment to moment.
Even if I didn’t quite understand it The girl on the other side film, it still made an emotional impression on me. With the simple yet strong archetypes of its characters and the amazing beauty of its animation, this anime is a compelling work of art. It’s really shocking that these are directors Satomi Maiya and Yutaro Kubodirecting a feature-length film for the first time – all anime fans should pay attention to what these two do next.