Rating: 3.5

First person visual, our point of view / protagonist is in what looks like a train station: souls of the dead collect their ticket and shuffle toward their transport, for the afterlife, or reincarnation. Our point of view is intercepted by a boy, clearly not one of the souls; he says that the protagonist has been selected for another chance at life, and they can't really refuse: take it, or never again be reincarnated. He'll be the guide, not quite a guardian angel, not exactly a judge. The protagonist takes it, grudgingly, and falls toward the world, toward the body of a just-deceased boy who's committed suicide, Makoto Kobayashi. The not-dead boy opens his eyes, and his crying mother and father are overwhelmed by joy.

Our protagonist then has to settle down into the life of Makoto, trying to turn it for the better (he killed himself, he clearly didn't think his life was that good), and also figure out what they did in the previous life, what their sin was.

Thus starts "colorful", directed by HARA Keiichi (原 恵一) from a novel by MORI Eto (森 絵都). The premise is interesting, but the story feels weak: the protagonist seems a bit of an idiot, at times considering Makoto's family and schoolmates as strangers, at times taking what they do very personally, holding Makoto's grudges without having actually experienced the slights. Yes, you can argue, knowing how the story ends, that there are reasons, but I still wanted to throttle the protagonist for not doing something to connect with the family, to make friends, instead of isolating themselves. Then again, I have that problem with quite a lot of characters from many anime and manga…

The rest of the characters get just as much depth as needed for them to support the protagonist's discovery of Makoto's and their own lives: the bullied girl, the girl who can't settle into a simple persona, the boy who's friend with everyone, the distant father, the doting mother, the introverted brother. There's flashes of interesting personalities, but they're not developed enough for us to get attached to them.

Not having read the novel, I don't know how much of these issues come from it, and how much are a result of the adaptation. Hara said, in the Q&A after the first showing at the ICA in London, that he had to cut something out to fit the story in 130 minutes, but he also said that the whole part about the trains (easily 15 minutes long) was his own addition, so I can't discount the possibility that the parts that didn't make it to the screen could have improved the film.

The animation is quite good, and although the character design is very simple, it's functional to the story: Makoto has intentionally a very generic face, for example (Hara confirmed this).

Overall I found the message to be quite bland ("have a life, forgive others, make friends") and bluntly delivered. It reminded me of "It's a wonderful life", but with all due respect to Hara (I really like his "Summer days with Coo"), he's no Frank Capra.

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DatesCreated: 2015-03-08 16:15:30 Last modification: 2023-02-10 12:45:24