Mid-15th century Japan. Flood, drought and famine have transformed the landscape of the capital of Kyoto into a barren wasteland. More than 80,000 have perished in the three years between 1459 and 1461. This desolate state served as the backdrop to the beginning of the country’s greatest civil war. The victims of this dark period in Japan’s history were too great in number to include in the pages of history. Orphaned as an infant after his mother tries to eat him alive, Asura is forced to learn the means to survive in the wild.
Based on George Akiyama’s legendary banned manga (originally serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Young Magazine in 1970-1971), Asura is a brutal anti-Miyazaki movie about the depths we’ll sink to in the worst of times. Directed by anime veteran Keiichi Sato (Tiger & Bunny, Karas) and featuring two legendary Japanese voice actresses, Masako Nozawa (Dragon Ball, Galaxy Express 999) and Megumi Hayashibara (Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion), the film is harsh, uncompromising and relentless. But underneath the scars it has a battered, bleeding, burning human heart.
Asura was produced using a new technique Toei Animation has developed called Hybrid Animation. It mimics “watercolour in motion”, the next evolution in traditional animation. All of the characters are animated in CG while the backgrounds are painted in traditional fashion. This allows the camera to move freely in the environment and adds realism to animation.
‘“Asura is a deeply moving film reflecting the destructive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan just over a year ago,” explained the film’s producer, Yoshi Ikezawa. “It personifies the collective consciousness of a people heartbroken by unimaginable disaster, only to embrace humanity and find strength in each other.”’ (scifijapan.com)
Vivid and intense, Asura is a powerful opening to the return of the Fanomenon Anime Day. A pass for all five films in the Fanomenon Anime Day 2012 (Asura, Wolf Children, Tiger & Bunny, Berserk 1, Berserk 2) is available for only £15 / £12.50: http://www.leedsfilm.com/tickets-passes/
© George Akiyama / ASURA Film Partners
Recommended rating: Cert. 15.