At times like these you have to consider exactly what anime is. Animation made in Japan is one answer, and the easiest. But what happens when other countries, for example Korea, produce material of a clearly kindred nature? Well, speaking personally I pull up the popcorn and watch it. Like this one...
The story is not unfamiliar being set in a future where mankind has inflicted pollution and ecological disaster upon the world. On the positive side some visionaries managed to create a city built around a system that would survive. And not only survive, this city would draw it's power from the very pollution itself, becoming a utopia as it shelters its people and cleanses the battered world.
But what happens after the original vision is dead? The world has split into two clear factions, those within and those without, and the division between the two is deep. Those of the city are hardly willing to give up their priviledged lifestyle or the power they possess. Meanwhile the city itself is becoming a victim of it's own success actually running out of the pollution that fuels its process. It is a time where transition is inevitable, and most paths offer danger. And amidst it all the human heart will still have its say on the outcome.
The first thing that hits you is that this is a serious, big budget, production with a cinematic presentation on its mind. I daresay this would look lovely on the big screen and lost an awful lot on my little one. So it looks good, but at the same time it's also obvious that it wants to impress. Which means it tends to revel in some of the cinematics more than the story truly justifies. It's sort of like a proud parent showing off their baby.
Continuing on the positive it also has a lot of style, clearly and directly influenced by Japanese anime. The design work, the character design and the animation all come together really well. They've successfully avoided the "look at all the pretty computer stuff!" (all though there is lots of it) so that the human characters are the focus and fit well into the environment. And they move well, emote clearly and have clear visual styles that lets us get a feel for the characters. And the style is consistent enough that it works and strong enough that it can exist both at rest and in action scenes. Really very competent work.
But there is a negative. The first thing that really hits you is that the plot is pretty intensely stupid. By definition pollution is waste product which means it has been used. Useage tends to imply that whatever energy exists in the material has been expended. So the idea that you can take "pollution" and use it as an energy source is incredibly bogus, it just doesn't make sense. Furthermore if you did have a technologically advanced city you'd be able to make a move to more sensible energy resources, something commented on by one character in the actual movie. It's also made clear that they do have access to other energy sources readily available. This is amplified by the rather ridiculous "diabolical plan" that underpins part of the story, which manages to take the silly premise to the next level.
So before you can enjoy it you have to ignore the basic plot, which is not a great foundation for a movie. There's also some other weakneses in the writing, some unlikely co-incidences need to occur to make it work and characters tend to "pop-up" when needed even though it seems unlikely they'd be there. The reason for this is that the real core of the story is the interaction between 3 characters and a shared past. It somewhat needs the story to be bent to allow it to happen. I, personally, still enjoyed it because it gave a human face and interest to some of the factions involved. And there was enough sense of character that I was interested in how it would end up. However the "block-buster" action crowd might find the interaction pointless and under-developed rather than subtle and reflective. Certainly the character expressions are more "anime silence" rather than "blockbuster bluster" so those not familiar with anime, or expecting a pure action film, might be less than pleased at all this character work.
For all that i've said before I rather enjoyed it. It's a well paced and competent production with some weaknesses I found I could overlook. Exploring the characters and world was enough to keep me entertained, even though neither of them are massively original. There was some glorification of the computer graphics (enough with those cycles already) but they looked good and did not run too long. The conclusion was more than a little over the top, and left some questions unanswered, but it made some sense from a character point of view. The visual effect at the end, though once again somewhat illogical, was quite impressive and made you realize how they'd been conditioning your vision for the entire run of the movie.
I've already covered the production values in the body of the review, and they're very solid. Lots of computer graphics, but well done and it doesn't overwhelm the character work. Nice design work, lovely atmospheric shots, consistent style... it's certainly a pleasant visual experience. The music and ambient sounds work well although it's still a shock to see something that looks like anime but where it definitely isn't Japanese they're speaking. I was surprised to find how comfortable i'd got with spoken Japanese, though I don't understand a word of either tongue.
I haven't really looked for reviews of this title yet. Got lots of page house-keeping to do first, but I will be interested to see what is said. Also be interested to know if this was a success.