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Colorful: The Motion Picture(2010)
No synopsis for Colorful: The Motion Picture.
For more about Colorful: The Motion Picture and the Colorful: The Motion Picture Blu-ray release, see Colorful: The Motion Picture Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on June 4, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kumiko Asô, Keiji Fujiwara, Aoi Miyazaki
Director: Keiichi Hara
» See full cast & crew
Colorful: The Motion Picture Blu-ray Review
Things aren't always black or white.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, June 4, 2013
Trust the Japanese to invent a new technology for transporting the dead. No longer are we hobbled by that cumbersome River Styx and boats rowed by Charon, or even in fact those creaky Pearly Gates overseen by St. Peter. No, the Japanese have realized the only sensible way to transport souls to their appointed destinations is with high speed rail—and so we find ourselves in a sort of heavenly (hopefully, anyway) terminal in the first scene of Colorful, a really interesting 2010 animated feature from Japan which plays kind of like an adolescent version of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, which was introduced to newer generations courtesy of the remakes Heaven Can Wait and Down to Earth. Though some of the specifics are obviously different, Colorful indulges in the same conceit of a soul being given a second chance to return to earth in a new body. In the case of this animated feature, a soul with no memory of its former existence suddenly finds itself in the astral train station and is greeted by a puckish sprite named Purapura, a perhaps angelic entity who informs the soul that its being given a second chance to redeem some undefined sins by returning to earth an inhabiting the body of a young boy who had attempted to commit suicide. The soul is not at all sure it wants to engage in this gambit of expiation, especially since it has no memory of whatever sins it's just been informed it evidently committed, but Purapura cajoles the soul and perhaps eases some of the discomfort by informing it that Purapura himself will accompany the soul as a guide in its new identity. That sets up the bulk of the film, where the still unidentified and amnesiac soul tries to adjust to its new self, an obviously troubled young man named Makoto Kabayashi. One of the tasks Purapura has given the now transmigrated soul is to not only remember the sin it committed in its previous life, but also to discern what would have made Makoto attempt to kill himself.
Colorful is a rather leisurely experience that reveals its secrets slowly and deliberately. Makoto (this review will refer to the soul within the body as Makoto from this point on) attempts to adjust to his new life, reacquainting (or perhaps more appropriately acquainting) himself with his family, which includes his mother, father and older brother Mitsuru. While things initially seem cheery enough, both through personal observation as well as some salient coaching from Purapura, Makoto becomes aware that there are roiling dysfunctions within his family. He discovers his mother has been having an affair, that his father is regularly taken advantage of at work, and his older brother evidently holds a grudge—against Makoto himself.
Makoto ultimately discovers at least a couple of reasons for "his" suicide—one relating to his mother's affair and the other dealing with Hiroka, a pretty girl in Makoto's class whom Makoto suspects may be selling herself to older men. Also playing into the developing drama is Sano, an awkward bespectacled girl who may have a bit of a crush on Makoto, and Saotome, a sweet but dunderheaded kid in Makoto's class whose class rank of 31st out of 32 is only nearly as bad as Makoto, who comes in dead last at 32. Makoto learns to traverse the world of middle school while preparing for high school, but he also has to deal with coming to terms with whatever his past life sin was and dealing with Purapura's revelation that if he doesn't solve the "mystery" in time, his soul will depart and Makoto will really die this time.
Colorful gets off to a nicely brisk start, but it tends to bog down, if only a little bit, in the middle section of the film, after Makoto has matriculated back into life and is attempting to come to terms with his simmering resentment against his mother. Playing into this is some really well done material surrounding Hiroka, as well as some sweet—if again, just slightly slow feeling—developments with Saotome, a boy who manages to give Makoto something he's never really had before, a true friend.
Most people will probably be able to guess the supposed "twist" which is revealed in Colorful's closing moments, but that really doesn't undercut this film's quiet yet forceful examination of family dynamics and sense of self. This film is full of wonderfully developed characters and it has the courage to explore some discomfiting aspects of growing up and realizing that all of us—even those we love dearly—are flawed, working through individual "baggage", and trying to discover who we are. Makoto's journey of self-discovery (in a very real sense) is hugely enjoyable, even if it's a sometimes slow and labored trek.
Colorful: The Motion Picture Blu-ray, Video Quality
Colorful is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Sentai Filmworks with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. There has been quite a bit of chatter on various internet boards (including here at Blu-ray.com) about perceived flaws in the image quality of Colorful that some are attributing to some precipitous drops in bitstream rates. Only here's the thing: this film exhibits some of the most wildly fluctuating rates I have ever experienced, and folks are singling out one sequence toward the end of the film, where the rates aren't even as low as they get at other points. While the bulk of the film tends to play out in the 20-30 Mbps range, quite often things get well north of 30 Mbps and more than once they get into the really healthy area well north of 40 Mbps, but then just as suddenly they'll drop to just a few hundred kbps. What this means is that watching streaming rates may indicate issues but isn't always cut and dried. If it were, that would obviously mean that each and every time the bitsream dropped to the admittedly paltry kbps area, the image should devolve accordingly—except it doesn't.
What this all boils down to is what I personally think is a tempest in a teapot. A film is meant to be seen in motion, and a bitstream is a moment by moment indication of how much information there is on screen. I frankly don't have any ready explanation for why there's such a disparity in the streaming rates on this release, I can only report what I see. With that said, I personally noticed no egregiously horrible looking moments here, and certainly no macroblocking as some have indicated. There is rather prevalent banding, and occasional very minor stair stepping on some line detail.
One thing about Colorful is that it only rarely lives up to its title. This is an intentionally pallid looking piece that only jumps into vivid hues at key moments—when we see Makoto's paintings, for example, or, later in the film, when Makoto and his father take a little excursion into the woods where Makoto sketches and his father fishes. Otherwise, though, this is a relatively restrained looking piece that seems deliberately tamped down from a stylistic perspective.
Colorful: The Motion Picture Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Colorful offers lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes in both English and Japanese. This is a rather subtle film from a sound design perspective. Much of the sonic activity is simple dialogue, but occasionally some very nice ambient environmental effects will flood the surrounds. There is one sequence in the rain that's especially well done, but several of the cityscape segments offer nice surround activity. Dynamic range is negligible here, but fidelity is excellent.
Colorful: The Motion Picture Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This is the odd Sentai Filmworks release with no real supplements, only trailers and disc credits.
Colorful: The Motion Picture Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Colorful is a very quiet film, one which wends its way slowly but surely to an inevitable conclusion. This is one of the more penetrating looks at adolescent angst that Japanese animation has offered. The style here is really rather reserved (though occasionally fascinating, as in some photographs of an abandoned trolley line that show up late in the film), which may confuse some people who are drawn to the name of the film. This is more than anything a character study of a family caught in a maelstrom of dysfunction, albeit a maelstrom that is weirdly tamped down, as if none of them really wants to admit there's anything wrong and similarly refuses to talk about what's really going on. But there's a great deal of truth in this film, beautifully revealed in a couple of lovely interchanges. There have been some vocal complaints on perceived flaws in the video quality here, flaws that frankly I'm just not seeing—or at least seeing to the degree others evidently are. Otherwise, though, this is a wonderful release and comes Highly recommended.
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Colorful: The Motion Picture Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Section23 Films: Four Anime Titles in May - January 25, 2013
Section23 Films, Houston-based distributor of Sentai Filmworks anime, has announced the Blu-ray releases of Kids on the Slope: Complete Collection, Colorful: The Motion Picture, K-On! The Movie and Phi-Brain: Season 1: Collection 2. Section23 is releasing one title ...
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