Hurrah for more aniblogosphere Christmas blog posts! Narutaki and Hisui from Reverse Thieves set up a Secret Santa anime thingamabob. Much like the traditional secret santa, you get given a person’s name you know by sight but have never talked to them once in your life and told to get stuff for them. Generally with the more traditional Secret Santas in the past, I’ve either gotten my recipient chocolate or nothing at all and simply not gone into school and hopefully avoid said recipient for the rest of my life (sorry Caoimhe Mahon). This time though, all we needed to give were anime recommendations based on the scores on each persons respective MAL account. My Secret Santa fellow saw the anime I most enjoyed were plot-twisting epic-fests like Code Geass and Gankutsuou and somehow reached the conclusion that I would enjoy a highly obscure 80’s childrens movie ‘Legend of Sirius’.
Legend of Sirius is a Disney Movie. OK, it’s not by Disney or by any of the staff from Disney, but not a single aspect of it makes me feel like it originated from Japan, obviously helped by watching the dub. It’s a re imagining of the classic Romeo and Juliet tale except this time set in a mythical land between Fire People and Water People. Because if there’s ever two things that don’t get along, fire vs water is only beaten by light vs dark and moe fans vs mecha fans. So much of this is classic Disney. The main character has a wise-cracking smaller friend who helps him out when he is in a desperate state towards the end of the movie. He also has doofus rival who comes in and messes up his plans in a significant way where as earlier he was just a minor annoyance. There’s even the ever classic ‘forbidden zone’, that is actually called in-story the ‘forbidden zone, where the main character can’t go but does so anyway and makes his father angry. The more you look at it, the less it becomes Romeo and Juliet and the more it looks like The Lion King.
The animation style has come straight out of Fantasia. Again, none of this looks like anime in any way. The pencil lines to depict the roaring waves is very Night on Bald Mountain. The way the show sets it’s frames comes out of classic Disney as well with the way it draws the centre focus of the picture in a ethereal glow next to the hard pencil lined backgrounds they were set against. This was pretty understandable given the centre focus of a shot was often a Being of Fire and hence are meant to glow. It’s often been touted that Ghibli are a Japanese Disney, which is a pretty accurate description. However the fact remains that Ghibli still feels Japanesey and has it’s own unique style. Legend of Sirius is not Ghibli. It is Disney.
None of this is a bad thing, despite my description of it sounding like looking like the work of the most successful animation company of all time would be a bad thing. It’s just the easiest way to get you to picture what this movie is like. Because this movie, like much of classic Disney, is really damn good. There is the slight feeling that I’m in the wrong age bracket for this movie obviously, neither being below the age of 10 nor old enough to having 10 year olds call me dad. This is very much a family movie, despite the obvious tragedy that is the Romeo and Juliet story. The movie does work the story into a hopeful and beautiful ending, but I still found myself feeling pretty sad by the end of it all. I’d gotten myself really into the corny idealistic romance of Malta and Sirius. Well, See-ree-oos as Malta called him. No wonder the guy went batty for her when she had such a sexy accent, although wearing no clothes and having high heels naturally built into her physique probably helped.
Oh yes, I should probably add that you should watch this dubbed. Watching it in Japanese destroys the Disney feel of it and detracts from the beautiful artwork you should be ogling at. This is the type of movie corny line delivery adds to the experience. And since you’re watching it dubbed, you might as well watch it as it was intended. That is, stick it on one day when you’ve got to keep kids quiet for 2 hours but don’t want to stick on the bullcrap that passes for children’s television nowadays. They may try to hide behind the couch when the big villain makes his tentacley appearance (I certainly wanted to) and dry a few tears when the inevitable ending occurs, but it’s well worth the watch for the excellent storytelling and imaginative world building.