Harmony (2015) [Fantasia International Film Festival 2016]

harmonyHealth and happiness conscious people have found a way to live forever and without despair.  In this utopian future, Tuan Kirie is an investigator for the health agency.  As she breaks the rules at her outpost position, she is brought back to Japan where a sudden wave of suicides happens as she arrives.  Tuan Kirie is dispatched to investigate these and she takes advantage of this to investigate her past as well.

Harmony is an anime film in the bubbly style of many TV series this reviewer grew up on, reminiscent of Space Pirate Yamato.  The big eyes, the colorful characters and background seem like an odd choice for such a subject, but it works, mostly.  The film is based on a novel by Project Itoh and adapted into a screenplay by Koji Yamamoto with Deborah Crane doing the English script.  This is brought to the screen by directors Michael Arias and Takashi Nakamura with their team of animators.  The film looks great, the settings and characters are lush and beautiful.

The vocal cast in Japanese is led by Miyuki Sawashiro and Jamie Marchi as Tuan Kirie, Junpei Morita as her father Nuaza Kirie, Reina Ueda as Miach Mihie, and Shin’ichiro Miki as Elliya Vashirof.  This experienced group of voice actors imbues their characters with as much personality as they voice work allows them to.  Their acting skills come through well and they add a layer of emotions to what is happening on screen.

Anime such has Harmony can be hard to review, especially by someone with minimal knowledge of anime such as this reviewer.  When your preferred genres are super violent action and super bloody horror, bubbly, happy looking anime is not usually something one goes for.  That being said, Harmony is enjoyable and fun to watch.  Its style brings back childhood memories of watching Japanese cartoons dubbed into French on TV on weekend mornings.  The subject here is however definitely more adult and the themes of survival, death, health, and what type of life is worth staying alive for are something anyone can relate to.

Although the film is bubbly and full of happy colors, the subject is much darker and approached in a successful manner. It’s Anime for the adult brain.

Fantasia International Film Festival ran from July 14th until August 3rd, 2016 and will be back in the summer of 2017.