When is a movie not a movie? When is a series not a series? Why can’t you ever get a good answer to questions? How often will I reuse this introduction?
I bring this up, for when I saw this, it was billed as a movie, but it isn’t even seven minutes long. It’s not an OVA or a short or a segment, so I am confused. You’ll probably spend more time reading this review than seeing the film. “Dareka No Manazashi” (“Someone’s Gaze”) is the name of this little offering.
We are in the ‘slight future’, potentially 2016 or thereabouts. We are telling the story of Aya Okamure. She is the young one in the snapshot up there, but we are a few years beyond that point. She is living on her own and trying for a job. This is a typical Japanese family, in that mom is overseas working somewhere. As a doctor, her abilities are in high demand, but she has been overseas for about 10 years or so. Dad lives alone with the family cat, Mii-san.
Aya is badly depressed. She lives in a tiny, crappy apartment and things are not going well for her. As she comes home from another rotten day, she lies on the bed and thinks about the past, when things were better, when they were a family, when they were happy, when she got Mii-san after her mother left.
Now, this is done by the same person who did “5 Centimeters per Second”, “The Garden of Words” and “Children Who Hear Distant Voices”. Right off the bat, this is a gorgeous-looking show. The images of the past are painted with a rosy, nostalgic glow and the scenes of nature seem photo-realistic. But it has the same problem as the other films, in that things are not fully explained, events are set up and not converted and there is an emotional hand-wringing that displaces the genuine emotions that could come from this.
If you wanted this to be a short of some ilk, there would not have been a problem to take out a few more moments to explain things better; otherwise, it’s just “Ob-La-Di”, by the Beatles (“Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra”.) and we get a small snippet out of this person’s existence. You can tell an effective soryt in a short format; Pixar does that all the time. But this comes off as not much more than a scenario. It’s like an ermine picture frame. It looks nice, but what real use is it?
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 9 (Marvelous backgrounds)
Plot 6 (Rather standard)
Pacing 5 (Barely gets started)
Effectiveness 6 (Handcuffed by the brevity)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler’, but doesn’t really end)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 6 (Too brief for me)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Where’s the cat?