Friday, July 09, 2010

Fantasia Daily for 8 July 2010: Higanjima

The lesson of the first day, as always, is to get stuff done early.

If I get my lodging for Fantasia settled early, I'm not running around at the last minute trying to get a draft in Canadian funds on Friday, which will be ready in "one business day" (Tuesday, because of the holiday). If I stop into the bank before work on Tuesday or Wednesday (which also involves being smart and checking the bank's hours), rather than after, I don't get there after the bank closes its doors at four o'freakin'clock and have to get in there first thing yesterday, which means I catch the 7:45am bus instead of the 10:00am one. Aside from the $15 they charged me to change my ticket, I'll bet that the 7:45am bus didn't spend an hour in White River Junction, VT, waiting for either other buses with people trying to make a connection or a driver for the one I was on (on top of the usual 30 minute layover there), and seeing the schedule slip further between there and Burlington... Well, it allowed me to finish my book, I guess, but it put seeing two movies yesterday out of reach, and likely annoyed and inconvenienced the guy I'm subletting the condo from.

Ah, well, the end result is that I missed Sorcerer's Apprentice (which I was never getting into) or Mandrill, and Mandrill plays again on Saturday. All that displaces from the schedule for me is Evangelion 2.0, and as one of the (apparently rare) folks who didn't much like Evangelion 1.0, I can deal with that.

Well, that and I had no time to get any supper, or even Canadian currency so I could buy some candy at the concession stand. I'm making sure I put plenty of time between working in the Montreal office and getting to Phobia 2 this afternoon so that that doesn't happen again!


* * * (out of four)
Seen 8 July 2010 in Salle J.A. de Seve (Fantasia 2010)

It's tough not to get just a little excited during the opening sequence of Higanjima, because it makes a thoroughly enjoyable statement: That putting a stake through a vampire's heart is for people who aren't truly committed to getting the job done. No, if you truly want to be rid of a vampire, you do what Atsushi (Dai Watanabe) does after chasing a couple down: Back them against a wall and drive a battering ram into their face until their head explodes like... Well, a head that's just had a battering ram smashed into it. That's a badass opening, although it's also a set-up for the inverse ninja rule: Fighting two vampires turns out to be cooler than fighting an island full of vampires.

Before heading back to the island, though, we meet Akira (Hideo Ishiguro). He's Atsushi's younger and less-respected brother, and initially he and his friend Pon are just running from conventional high-school bullies. As he runs, we meet his other buddies: Chemistry whiz Nishiyama, archery-club member Yuki (Miori Takimoto), hefty Kato, and friendly delinquent Ken (Tomohisa Yuge). He's pulled aside by Rei (Asami Mizukawa), who tells him that Atsushi, missing for two years, is alive! Akira and his friends find out about the vampires when they follow her, and agree to come to her island - but does she mean to have them help Atsushi defeat master vampire Miyabi (Koji Yamamoto), or is she just helping him replenish the island's food supply?

I'm not sure how long the manga that Higanjima is based upon ran, but the movie bears some of the marks of being adapted from one that ran a while: It's simultaneously too big and too small, filled with more characters and backstory than it has a chance to really elaborate on, managing to cause a bit of fatigue while also seeming a bit shallow at points. You can tell which characters have giant targets on their backs by how much development they're given, and even the major characters' subplots are elaborated sketchily enough that something apparently mean to be important seems a bit like a non-sequitur in the end. Those long serials can also tolerate a little repetition over years; having two of Akira's friends get taken an need rescuing at different times sticks out in a movie just over two hours long.

Full review at EFC

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