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Inu-Oh review: A visually inventive anime rock opera

Rock musicals admittedly arent among the items that fans of the genre typically watch anime for. However, despite the fact that director Masaaki Yuasas (The Tatami Galaxy,TABLE TENNIS the Animation)Inu-Ohwont be taking the spotlight off other traditional movies developing this season, like Dragon BallSuper: Super HeroorOne Piece Film: Red, its certainly one which deserves the eye of anime enthusiasts.

Inu-Ohcan be an artistic, creative, and stylized tale of alternate history, even though its story isnt heavily dialogue-driven in an average sense, the mixture of the rock opera musical genre, the 14th-century setting, and animation studio Science SARUs mesmerizing art direction get together wonderfully to provide some resonating themes and emotional resolutions.

Saying more with less

Tomana playing the biwa with Inu-Oh sitting next to him.

Inu-Ohcan be an adaptation of author Hideo Furukawas novel Tales of the Heike: INU-OH, and its own mix of revisionist history and rock operas end up being probably the most ingenious premises in an anime release this season. It follows the story of Tomona, a man and biwa player blinded as a kid who loses both of his parents. He continues on to meet up the titular Inu-Oh, another son born of severe deformities because of a cruel curse. Together, both continue to countrywide stardom because they combine their musical talents and penchant for theatrics.

The movie isnt heavy on dialogue, however the story speaks volumes without having to be too overt or melodramatic a thing that anime is occasionally guilty of. And, as you would expect, most of the story and world-building is presented through rock musical numbers. However, the cast along does excellent work of conveying charged emotions in the type interactions.

Its sort of story inside a story, because the vehicle for the plot focuses on speaking the reality through storytelling when confronted with authoritative suppression. Its socially conscious themes of giving a voice to the marginalized, embracing change while rebelling against rigid tradition, and how history is compiled by the winners are impressively poignant.

Watching Tomana and Inu-Oh perform with such passion makes the movie all together feel just like a thunderous anthem and rallying cry, drawing meta parallels with the planet today. And also with those larger societal topics touched on throughout Inu-Oh, in addition, it doesnt lose sight of the non-public journeys of its two heartfelt protagonists wearing down social norms.

Hypnotic art direction and animation

Inu-Oh with Tomona and their troupe performing.

As well as the writing and directing being narratively efficient, studio Science SARUs (whom Yuasa in addition has caused extensively before) focus on Inu-Ohwas another crucial 1 / 2 of telling a tale that heavily emphasizes visual presentation. The studios animation and overall art direction is something comparable to what fans of these focus on TABLE TENNIS the Animationwill be used to.

The style is hypnotically surreal and unique in comparison with other anime TV series or movies, specifically for how it balances that surrealism with a somewhat grounded setting. Both these artistic styles were vital that you mesh together effectively, since this revisionist history story/rock opera comes with an essential component of fantasy and magical realism embedded involved with it.

The cruel world that Tomona and Inu-Oh need to wade through and the unfair circumstances of the lives they lead are what produce the films more colorfully vibrant aspects. From their perspectives, that vibrancy is in perfect contrast to the comparatively dreary and gray world stuck set up externally. Its overall an extraordinary feat of visual harmony.

Likewise, how well the animation of facial expressions is performed cant be stressed enough. Especially through the musical segments, the animation perfectly conveys a spectral range of emotions in excruciating detail, from anger to passion to apathy and sorrow, that is incredibly fitting in a tale thats ultimately about rebellion, truth, and emotional expression through music.

Refreshing originality

Tomona and Inu-Oh performing in full wardrobe in anime key art.

Anime like Dragon Ball,One Piece, Jujutsu Kaisen, along with other similarly action-focused shnen anime understandably take the lions share of the limelight in this genre. Some of these are admittedly beloved for flipping certain demographic tropes and/or immersive storytelling and world-building, but anime like Inu-Ohare excellent palette cleansers for how conceptually inventive and down-to-earth they feel.

Using its strangely seamless mix of anime, historical fiction, fantasy, and rock opera genres, Inu-Oh injects a thrilling and refreshing dose of originality right into a segment of the entertainment industry that, much like several others, sometimes feels as though its too saturated and spreading itself thin creatively.

It isnt an enormous franchise/IP endeavor designed for mass-market appeal, but everything right down to the direction, cast performances, and otherworldly animation looks lovingly made.

And, being an anime movie specifically, it can an excellent job of sitting on its as a whole story that’s uncompromising in presenting its vision. Though it may have afforded to pad out its runtime slightly to expand on the primary and supporting characters lives more, the brisk pace and colorful depiction of history work enough to overlook this flaw.

Inu-Oh also succeeds in being among those select anime that audiences otherwise uninitiated in the genre could watch and appreciate alone artistic merits. All of the movies moving pieces interact to visualize a global thats creative, immersive, thematically rich, and aesthetically unique. It isnt your typical anime fanfare, but thats to find the best in cases like this, as Inu-Ohdoes well to stand apart in a densely packed genre.

Director Masaaki Yuasa and animation studio Science SARUsInu-Ohis playing in theaters starting August 12.

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