- Genre : Science Fiction; Action; Romance; CG
- Length: 1 hour, 35 mins
- Studio: Craftar
There are an infinite number of realities out there each existing on its own path a creating its own future. But what happens when two realities become intertwined? In The Relative Worlds, what happens is that people’s souls become linked, one unable to exist after the other has passed. And when an alternative Japan has become a dystopian wasteland, the other suffers the consequences. It’s a double-edged sword though. Now that the other world has found a way to travel back and forth, it becomes a lot easier to get to leaders that would otherwise be heavily protected when they’re just random office workers or students. The two worlds are about to violently collide and a young man who’s lost everything is the only one that can stop it.
Parallel universes are a close second to time travel in my geeky compendium of fiction elements I like. Honestly, if I was a token nerd character in a show, I would call myself way too cliché… I was going to see this movie anyway, but I got to see it not only with a festival crowd, that always makes things more fun but also with a great friend of mine that also always makes things more fun. Keep that in mind as you’re reading this review. Spoiler: I had fun!
This was the second movie I saw at Fantasia and just like Human Lost is was entirely CG. For a second I worried this was the new trend in anime. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike CG anime at all. It makes movement hyper fluid in action scenes and preserves art integrity regardless of distance or angle. Unlike Human Lost, I think there was also a layer of classic cell shading overlapped that gave a bit more depth and texture to the images. Also, small visual details like flyaway hairs and reactions in soft fabrics had been added in to make the universe seem much more vibrant and real.
Overall, I would call the production, competent. And I don’t mean that as damning with faint praise. I really just mean that everything was done well by a team that obviously knew what they were doing. No particular element jumped out at me but that’s not a bad thing.
Actually, one element did. There are repeated triangle motifs all over the images. In building structures, weapons, clothes… There was a real prevalence of repeated patterns of equilateral triangles and I have no clue why. I’m not even sure there as any particular significance at all but it was obvious enough that my viewing partner also noticed. OK, this really has nothing to do with the review or potential enjoyment of your movie. There’s a reason I do this as a hobby and not a career!
The story is the stuff of classic science fiction pulp with a distinctive anime edge. By that I mean it starred high school students and there are super cute killer robot girls! And a tiny mecha. I should have just put that in my summary, should I? Grrrr, missed opportunity!
And that more or less resumes the central experience of this movie.
There are really a lot of things to enjoy and some great sequences but it’s difficult to overlook the missed opportunities. The science element of the plot is pretty much overlooked. This is deftly explained by the narrative. The main characters are using technology that either comes from another universe so they know nothing about it or was left behind by people who are now gone and as such no one can explain the workings (as it should be). But there is really no attempt made. The moral dilemmas are also dumbed down and simplified and the characters, although decently developed, remain quite straightforward.
Let me give you an example – MIDPOINT SPOILERS AHEAD – I’M GOING TO PUT THE TEXT IN GREEN SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW, SKIP THE GREEN TEXT PLEASE!
One of the first potential conflicts introduced is that the dystopian version of Japan is ruled by a cruel princess who has executed both of Jin’s parents as they were responsible for some of the most powerful technological advancements and seemed to have issues with the totalitarian regime. They were therefore considered high threat. And left and orphaned Jin behind who is now armed with remnants of their inventions and a thirst for revenge and justice. A goal he hopes to attain by jumping over to our (?) universe and killing her counterpart. Who happens to be an innocent and very sweet high school girl, doing her best to comfort his counterpart who has been her friend since they were little and who has lost both his parents to mysterious and unexplained deaths.
This set up is great. On the one hand, countless people are suffering in the other universe and this coup could bring about real change and potentially an improvement, but there’s no guarantee. On the other, it would be the cold-blooded murder of an innocent girl and potential the emotional destruction of his other self. Prime conflict! A great no-win situation.
Bit instead, the narrative chickened out and revealed the princess was being controlled behind the scenes by an evil shadowy organization and was actually putting her life at risk to stage her own coup and liberate the people…Instead of layered complicated characters and a near-impossible question to answer that asks the audience to search themselves and face their own truths, we got a pure sacrificial lamb, a shonen hero and a mustache-twirling bad guy. It’s fine but what a missed opportunity!
THIS IS THE END OF THE SPOILER EXAMPLE _ I’M GOING TO TRY AND MAKE THE REST OF THE POST MAKE SENSE… NO PROMISES.
After discussing it a bit, my explanation is that The Relative Worlds was in fact meant for a much younger audience. Not only are the themes and characters obviously simplified and reduced to easily digestible tidbits and the little blood we saw onscreen (a lot more is implied) bright pink instead of red, but the plot points were also streamlined and the premise was directly explained to us about 5 times, once in actual voice-over narration! Someone really wanted to make sure we understood.
For me, the best parts were in the first half where at one point it turned into a high school slice of life comedy. Because the narrative didn’t feel the need to be too high concept and wasn’t so pressured to have the audience understand everything, those scenes were easygoing and lighthearted. The rest of the theatre was audibly enjoying them as well.
Like I said, I had fun watching the Relative Worlds. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but I don’t regret seeing it for one second. If you like somewhat immature sci fi, mini mechas, cute robot girls or CG, you can do worse than The Relative Worlds. Boy, I constantly sound like I’m actually trying to insult this movie, I promise I’m not. I Had Fun!
Favourite character: Jin
What this anime taught me: demographics matter!
Twinkle, twinkle little star, point me to the nearest bar
Suggested drink: Absolut Limelight
- Every time we switch worlds – take a sip
- Every time the music gets overbearing – take a sip
- Every time Shin and Kotori walk home – awwww
- Every time anyone suggests food – get a snack
- Every time we see bright pink blood – gasp
- Every time Kotori mentions her dad – take a sip
- Every time someone gets “found” – take a sip
- Every time someone wants to fix things – take a sip
- Every time the Princess gives a speech – listen