The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Origins ~Spirits of the Past~

Title: Origins ~Spirits of the Past~ aka Gin-iro no Kami no Agito
Genre: Action/Sci-fi
Company: Gonzo
Format: Movie; 94 minutes.
Dates: 7 Jan 2006

Synopsis: Set 300 years into the future, the world has become severely ravaged and dominated by the Forest, a genetically-manmade experiment gone terribly wrong. In this future civilization exists two cities: Neutral City, a peaceful society that aims to co-exist with the Forest, and Laguna, a military city that aims to defeat and take the Forest under its control. A young boy from Neutral City, Agito, stumbles upon a girl, Toola, who wakes up from a time capsule; unknown to the people of Neutral City, she holds the key that can change the world and revert it back to the way it used to be.

The Highlights
Presentation: Grand; epic opening and high production values.
Music: Iwasaki Taku simply doesn’t disappoint, albeit not his greatest work.
Characters: Forgettable; some voicework is also amateurish.
Plot: Unoriginal and simplistic.
Gonzo: Not its worst production, but hardly good either.

To be frank, I find it hard to motivate myself to watch an anime if I learn that it is produced by Gonzo. A production studio I commonly associate with strings of disappointing or downright terrible titles, it doesn’t always produce something decent, much less something exceptional. That is the mindset I had when I came across Origins ~Spirits of the Past~, an anime movie that flew under the radar of many viewers. To my relief, it isn’t terrible. It’s hardly great, and perhaps there are a number of flaws that prevent me from even calling it good, but at least there are a few things I could reap from it. I surely wouldn’t pool it together with some of the studio’s worst productions in the past.

Origins kicks off on the right foot with a surreal opening sequence that is aesthetically amazing. Right from the onset, viewers will already be able to tell that production values are very high, and with composer Iwasaki Taku behind the music, the musical score is in great hands. It is certainly not the best work he has ever done, but he has done enough for the movie to give a positive first impression and start things on a right note. Plus, it is coupled with the exotic opening song “Chouwa oto ~with reflection~” by KOKIA, whose vocal prowess is well illustrated.

Unfortunately, aesthetics are perhaps the only aspect of Origins that scores points on my review. The movie is pedestrian and it brings little new to the table, be it in concept, plot or characters. Conceptually, the story is anything but original: following the pro-environmentalist/anti-human theme, it entails how the world has transformed because of mankind’s intervention with Mother Nature and illustrates mankind’s continuous villainous attempts to play God. The plot is hardly novel, either: boy meets girl, becomes drawn to her, girl becomes estranged and boy eventually comes to rescue her and saves the day. It is a clichéd narrative that many previous works have done before, and this movie doesn’t  attempt to make the story different from others. And lastly, the characters are unimpressive: the cast is made up of entirely forgettable individuals, and worse, Katsuji Ryo‘s voicework for protagonist Agito is amateurish and renders the movie a less pleasurable experience.

Origins is like a lot of anime movies these days: they wow the viewers with the visuals and music, but are negligent with the storyline and character development. Viewers may make time to watch this if they want their visual fixes, but those like myself would appreciate more titles that make a worthy effort in crafting a good storyline and  molding a good cast. Shows like Origins only offer short-term enjoyment for viewers, and it’s quite a waste to see it not seize the opportunity to offer something groundbreaking or at least different for the audience.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: AC

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