14 CommentsFavourite and Forgotten / By Scamp /

2003 anime: Summer in Andalusia

vlcsnap-2013-08-08-21h36m23s38I got a kick out of seeing this dude. That’s actually a real life guy who follows cycling races in Europe, mostly the Tour de France. His name is Didi Senft, a crazy old French inventor who dresses up as a devil and drives around in a yellow van painting tridents on the course in front of the racers. The scene of this guy was only up for a second or so, but I loved that this obscure anime cycling movie put him in.

Summer in Andalusia is a Madhouse movie from 2003 based off a cycling manga called Nasu. It’s about a guy from Andalusia in southern Spain who is participating in the big cycling race that goes through his hometown. The story flits between following the main character cycling and his family watching his race on the big screen, giving us a very vague glimpse into how his family life is and what it’s like living in Andalusia.

vlcsnap-2013-08-08-22h14m26s97The movie has three main goals: Sell you on cycling as a sport, sell you on Andalusia as a place, and connect the two together into the main character’s story. On the first two points it does really well. Despite me dropping that Didi Senft information bomb on you, I know nothing about cycling nor any of the tactics that are involved. Like a lot of athletics, I tend to think that there are no tactics beyond just cycle faster than anyone else. Summer in Andalusia definitely sells me on the concept that there’s a lot more going on, between the importance of the following pack and the teamwork involved.

It does all the right tricks to make the concept interesting. Delivering the rules of the race in normal conversations between the characters that also serve as character and world building. Dropping a plot twist 15 minutes after you understand the importance of what just happens, so you get that “oh shit” moment where you realise how dramatic that twist is. By the end, when the characters enter the final straight, you understand the importance of everything so the final few minutes can just be all exhilaration and drama and random references to Didi Senft and you don’t need characters explaining to you what’s going on. It’s fantastically well paced and well told.

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Arguably one place the movie doesn’t do so well is characterising the key rivals in the race. The main character is the only one who seems to have a personality. This isn’t much of an issue because the battle is mostly within the main character’s own mind. It’s all part of this larger theme of the main character trying to escape his family life and Andalusia in general, but coming back and realising he is at home here and fighting that feeling. It’s not as well worked in as the rest of the story, since it leaves it a little too vague by the end and I’m not really sure what the main character achieved. He acknowledges his homeland of Andalusia as not being completely terrible I guess?

The movie does a really good job of selling Andalusia, but when I say that I don’t mean as a wonderful place all the time like Neo-Venezia or something. They actually paint it as a sweltering, barren, near-desert place, but one that the people who live there are really proud of regardless. There’s a lot of attention to detail with the backgrounds and setting the tone of the land. It’s really well directed in general and has the feel and look of a Ghibli movie. This is probably because Summer in Andalusia basically is a Ghibli movie. It’s directed by the animation director of stuff like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away and is animated almost entirely by Ghibli staff too. Clocking in at barely 45 minutes, it’s over pretty quickly and paced really well. Comes with my firm stamp of recommendation.

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14 Comments

  1. Posted August 8, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    I saw the movie when you brought it to my attention on Twitter. Thought it was okay. I got tired of the cycling after a while though.

    So I noticed that you picked Gungrave up, which I think suits your taste better than Air Master does (at least until it goes back to the events of the first episode, but that’s a way off). How’s that going for you?

    • Scamp
      Posted August 9, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Eh, hard to say early on. It’s got a similar set up to Berserk, albeit not nearly as well put together

  2. gedata
    Posted August 9, 2013 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    I kinda want to see it now, mission accomplished huh?

    anyway, looking forward to seeing writeups on titles like Gungrave and Wolf’s Rain, Wolf’s Rain especially since it’s impossible to tell if anyone will like it (except if you’re into bishies)

  3. TienesMilanesas
    Posted August 9, 2013 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    45 minutes? Sold.

  4. Lazy
    Posted August 9, 2013 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    I loved the character designs in this movie, a mix between Ghibli and Urasawa.
    The second movie “Nasu: A migratory bird with suitcase” does a much better job a creating a key antagonist in the race. Sadly it doesn’t take place in Andalusia.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 9, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      I’ll check out that one too eventually

  5. Anonymous
    Posted August 10, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    El Diablo’s actually German, Scamp. Never heard of him before, but I don’t follow cycling really. Not knowing that there’s more going on than just cycling faster than the other guy is a bit shameful though. A lot of tactics are painfully obvious if you’ve watched even a single race.

    Thanks for the suggestion though. Might watch it.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 10, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Durrr I just assumed he was French. As for cycling, I knew there was more tactics, but for the life of me I wouldn’t know what the tactics would be

  6. ANON
    Posted August 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    the local animax channel replayed this over and over again a few years ago, but I never was able to get around and catch it, even for a few minutes.

    just like the cat returns, once scamp recommends something I would normally pass up on, I’ll be sure to watch it. thanks for bringing this to my attention :D

    • ANON
      Posted August 10, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      hah, just after writing this I then read an article about that devil guy on another site, coincidence? I THINK NOT!

      I really should watch this ASAP.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 10, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      I just rewatched Cat Returns with my family yesterday! Still a great film, more people should watch it.

  7. Posted August 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    One of my favorite anime ever. My love for it come from not only how well executed the story is and how it gives fascinating insights into cycling as a sport, but also how the very human drama of its characters resonated with some parts of my life. It’s a personal love that I don’t expect a lot of people to understand, even other anime fans, but it’s an anime I always recommend given a chance.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      I recognised the anime from your twitter avatar. Actually I think that scene where their faces get all distorted doesn’t work as intended =P

  8. DarkEnergy
    Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    I read your review. It sounded like something I wouldn’t enjoy much, but you recommended it. So I watched it. I found it minimally entertaining, 5/10. The good bits were the cat fucking things up, the devil guy, the crazy animation in the last 100m, and the doping test.
    Also, Aria is a fucking great show. That’s one of the few things I disagree about with you. But, I still respect your opinions and look forward to more of your reviews.
    I won’t watch the sequel, Nasu: A Migratory Bird with Suitcase, unless you recommend it.

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