Twilight Was Not What I Expected

twilight movie

 

  • Genre : Romance; Slice Of Life; Coming of Age; Music
  • Length: not sure – sorry. Went by quickly…
  • Studio: Twilight Studio

 

There is a magical age we all go through. A time between childhood and adulthood when we start to figure out who we are but could still become just about anyone. An age where everything matters soo much yet we don’t really have the full burden of responsibility yet. It’s in those days of wonder that Sachi has an epic adventure. choosing a school an hour and a half away because of the great uniform, mastering Beethoven’s 14th with the girls from the music club and meeting a sweet boy on the bus who is searching for the perfect sunset to draw. These little quests, with their victories and setbacks, are what make life the beautiful adventure it is. And for a few weeks, we get to ride along!

Twilight is another movie I saw at fantasia mostly because I got to go with a sweet friend I quite like but never get to see despite us living about a 10-minute drive from each other. Outside of rush hour. Otherwise, it takes about a week. Montreal is a big city. So I went into this one completely blind. Hadn’t even seen promotional art or a single screengrab. It’s safe to say I had no preconceived notions or expectations at all. Except maybe a tiny little corner of my brain fearing/hoping it was an anime adaptation of the vampire book.

It wasn’t!

Hakubo-800x445

this anime was crowdfunded – cool right?

After seeing two fully CG animations in a row I was happy to get back to more traditional cell animation. Not that I have anything against CG but there’s a particular charm to hand-drawn pictures that has always been dear to me.

Admittedly the art wasn’t exceptional. It wasn’t bad. Classic anime designs with calm animation. Honestly, on just about every technical level, the production was fine. You know, well done and efficient. Every aspect was exactly as it should. Except for 3 that is. Namely, the lighting, the backgrounds and the score.

Let’s talk about those, starting from the top of the list. The light in Twilight was unfortunately rather flat. By that I mean the shadows and highlights in the images weren’t detailed enough to give the visuals proper depth which made characters look a bit 2 dimensional. By extension, it also made movement less impressive to watch, kind like paper Mario. Not that there was a lot of action so it won’t affect your viewing experience much.

 

Twilight 1

there was some crazy violin action

Twilight is one of those quiet atmospheric stories. A lot of it hinges on the blissful and beautiful vistas of rural japan. We spend most of our time quietly walking to the bus stop with Sachi or accompanying her and Yusuke as they make trivial awkward small talk while trying to find the perfect view. Those scenes are as much about the characters as the setting in which they exist. Backgrounds are especially important in Twilight so it’s a good thing they happen to be breathtaking. Lush and lovingly rendered. We see them mostly during sunset and dusk scenes and the artists gleefully used every crayon in the box. I was particularly keen on the green light in the sky which is an unusual effect but looked beautiful.

Moreover, Twilight is a story about music. Sachi loves music and practicing for the violin recital she is about to give takes up most of her free time. In practice, the movie is essentially broken up in tree loose categories. Sachi going to or from school by herself, Sachi and Yusuke getting to know each other and Sachi practicing with the music club. As such it makes sense that the score would be full of classical violin pieces. But it goes beyond that. The pieces are carefully curated. A few solos make me think they actually did get a violinist to come into the studio and record them. There’s this intimate quality to the sound you usually only get out of live performances.

In my head, I compared this movie to Sound! Euphonium a lot. (For the record I lived Sound). It’s about an unassuming but kind and relatable young girl trying to figure things out and having music to fall back on. There is an episode of Sound! where the entire band is playing at the competition and 3/4 of the episode is just that. An animation of a bunch of kids playing various instruments over an entire piece of classical music. I was always impressed by the directorial choice not to cut the piece short or weave in so action or comedic scenes to break it up. You have to have a huge amount of confidence in both your anime and your audience to trust that they will sit and watch a high school classical music performance for that length of time. And that episode was mesmerizing.

hakubo-twilight-2vGBPb5Aqz

there aren’t many screenshots available

Although not quite on that level. Twilight does something similar with the recital. I say not on the level, but it’s just different. They also have the guts to leave most of Beethoven’s 14th in however it’s a quartet. 3 violins and a cello, so it’s a lot easier to pick in on individual instruments and match them to the animation. Which was amazing. Second, it’s just a small recital for the school festival. She even mentions that their school band is very popular so most people go to see that and the small music club is just a little side attraction. There’s no competition aspect no dive to win. Basically, Sachi just wants to play well for herself. She’s looking for something through her music but she doesn’t really know what. She likes it though. These more ambivalent and unambitious feelings towards her violin also made listening to her play feel more like a conversation. Not so much a one-sided act of radiating passion, more like an exploration and interaction.

In short, Twilight (also known as Hakubo) is a generally good production with bad lighting but great backgrounds and score.

It’s also a fairly short movie. I think that by explaining certain elements to give context to the technical aspects, I pretty much told you the entire story. Sachi just started highschool an hour and a half from her house so she has a long commute. She is practicing the violin with a quarter for a recital during the school’s cultural BB festival and she just met a cute boy. That is pretty much it. And it’s just lovely.

 

Hakubo-Twilight-movie-anime-1

trust me on that

As some of you know I am not a huge fan of romance animes, which Twilight definitely is. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it to bits. The characters are fleshed out, with diverse and layered personalities. We get to know their mindsets a lot more than their backgrounds or histories but that’s just fine. In fact, it was perfect in this context. The pacing is great and it ends at the exact perfect moment.

There were a few scenes of dramatic tension thrown in that came off as rather convoluted and made me roll my eyes a little. But although Sachi’s initial reaction and emotions were, to me, silly and completely overblown, how she deals with the pain and disappointment of these emotions was great and I’m happy to have seen it.

If I had to summarize Twilight in one word, it would be charming. I was charmed by these goofy but good kids. I was nostalgic for the days where tiny setbacks were tragedies and a good recital could make you feel like everything was right with the world. I have no clue where you can see Twilight (Hakubo in Japanese), however, if you can, I think you might like it. As long as you’re in the mood for a mildly romantic movie where nothing happens and you like being charmed…

 

 

hakubo 3

who doesn’t?

Favourite character: Hii-chan

What this anime taught me: music can be therapeutic

It’s useless to hold a person to anything they say while in love or drunk

Suggested drink: Twilight cocktail

  • Every time we see a sunset – take a sip
  • Every time Sach mentions Delius – take a sip
  • Every time  Sachi thinks she’s weird – grin
  • Every time anyone plays the violin – listen
  • Every time we Sachi rides the bus – take a sip
  • Every time Hitomi overreacts – roll your eyes
  • Every time someone worries about Sachi – take a sip

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Irina

I'm much nicer than I seem, we should be friends!

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9 Responses

  1. LitaKino says:

    It sounds like a nice musical time 🙂 Glad you got to go with your friend and hang out.

  2. Dawnstorm says:

    I’ve never heard of this film, but it sounds sweet. I’d probably enjoy it if I ever get the chance to see it. I like the way the story seems to be about music outside of a competition context. That’s way too rare.

    Final screenshot: “Yutaka Yamamoto”. So it’s a Yamakan anime? I don’t much like Fractale or Wake Up Girls, but I do like Kannagi and, especially, Senyuu (which is a fantasy spoof short anime). And this sounds like the stuff I’d enjoy from him.

    I’m optimistic about this.

    • Irina says:

      I don’t know much about the pedigree of the movie but it was an entirely crowdfunded anime which I find interesting

  3. raistlin0903 says:

    Sometimes we just need a charming movie in our lives 😊 It honestly doesn’t sound half bad, but in all likelyhood I don’t think I will ever see it, seeing as I have no idea where I would able to watch it. If I run across it on next year’s animecon, it’s definitely one I will remember so who knows? Great review Irina!😊

  4. ospreyshire says:

    It is bizarre how the title is all too similar to that vampire franchise, but in all seriousness, I might check out that movie. Music is certainly a passion of mine and I would like to see how it plays out.

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