The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Millennium Actress

Title: Millennium Actress aka Sennen Joyu
Genre: Drama
Company: Madhouse Studios
Format: Movie; 87 minutes.
Dates: 14 Sep 2001

Synopsis: Genya Tachibana is a man on a mission: to film a documentary profiling one of Japan’s most famous and intriguing actresses, Chiyoko Fujiwara. For over a decade, she graced Japanese screens, but for the past 30 years, she has been a recluse. Not only does Tachibana want to interview the actress, but he also wants to give her something; something vital that will unlock her memories and, most importantly, something that is very dear to her.

The Highlights
Visuals: Stunning; crisp.
Plot: Intriguing; non-linear characteristic is confusing at times.
Characters: Great; play off each other well.

Strangely enough I fell in love with this film long before I actually saw it. When I finally watched it, I was not disappointed. Millennium Actress is a gorgeous film that is pleasing to the senses and with very good reason.

Millennium Actress, directed by Kon Satoshi, is a cinematographic masterpiece and a collage of visual mastery. The artwork is stunning and crisp. The way the film is executed is wonderful. The transitions are fluid and the animation is great.

While the visuals are splendid, it is the premise that really makes the film. The film’s emotional qualities integrate nicely with its dramatic nature to create a truly poignant experience. This is a truism that is proved when viewers are moved by the beautiful conclusion.

A story without characters to back it can be considered something of an empty-shell. Millennium Actress, however, has great characters. These characters also play off each other well. Tachibana’s enthusiastic (maybe even fanboy-ish) nature is a nice contrast to Chiyoko’s serene, quiet character. Also, the cameraman, Ida, is a nice medium to the two extremes. Together, the three create a harmonious chord that drives this film.

While all of this is true, the piece has one flaw: the non-linear plot. Although the plot is touching, its non-linear narration can be confusing. In theory, there are about three different types of flashbacks: flashbacks of the past, film career past (seen through the perspective of the films), and even, to some extent, the past’s past (as odd as that may sound). The constant shifting between past and present can create confusion for first time viewers. For example, I personally experienced this during a scene when she is confronting some policemen about the mysterious man, for I was not sure whether it was a past film or part of her past. However, after a few more viewings, one may be able to dissect the flashbacks and when they occur. Fortunately, the transitions between scenes are so fluid that they seem to disguise some of the flashback changes.

For those craving a touching, poignant and moving anime, Millennium Actress is sure to satisfy that wish. With powerful emotion and genuine drama, Millennium Actress will take your breath away.

The Rating: 10

Reviewed by: Genkisakura

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