Sorry to quote Neo, but whoa.
Yuasa is a famous director amongst anime fans, but I have yet to see many of his works. Prior to going into Mind Game, the only thing I’ve seen of his was The Tatami Galaxy, which I had an adverse reaction to due
to the jarring clash between the presentation and the actual content because I was an idiot who didn’t prepare himself properly. However, I was fully aware that he controlled his animation quirks better in his other works, so I went into this with high expectations. And man did this movie meet them. I haven’t seen an anime I could give a perfect “10” to on my MAL since Perfect Blue.
First of all, there was no constant narration, so I could actually enjoy all of the animation quirks that were going on this time (ain’t “show don’t tell” great?) Second, whilst a bunch of the animation quirks were unnecessary and were mostly weird to just be weird, similar to FLCL (only much better), Mind Game creates this universe where all of this crazy stuff can happen, you roll with it, and you can still understand the plot even without the symbolism. Third, the crazy stuff that was happening was extremely fun and gave me a huge amount of rush, equivalent to how I felt when I watched Redline. All in all, this is what I wanted from Yuasa when I watched The Tatami Galaxy.
Okay, so what’s the plot? It’s about this guy named Nishi who is such a shy loser that he can’t get anything done, leading him to never pursue a real relationship with his childhood friend, Myon, who is about to become married to another guy. However, after an encounter with the yakuza and getting shot in the ass (I’m not kidding about that), Nishi dies and gets into an encounter with God. I didn’t fully understand what happened in the scene, but from what I got, Nishi realized he needed to live life the way he wanted to, he comes back to life at the moment before he dies in order to turn his life around, and God is a massive dick (ohohoho). However, his newfound confidence causes Myon and her sister, Yan, to end up in the belly of Monstro’s brother and the rest of the movie is about the three of them going through character development, along with the old man who lives in the belly of the whale (whose name I can’t remember).
The entire movie is a brilliant character study, focusing on the four characters (Nishi, Myon, Yan, and the old man) and developing them brilliantly as they go through both “likable” and “unlikable” phases. Whatever happened to these characters, I never stopped liking them, even at their weakest. But what I like the most about this kind of character study is that it’s reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop’s own method of studying its main characters. It never told you everything. It showed you the important stuff that happened, like Nishi’s lack of self-confidence, Myon giving up swimming, and the old man’s connection with certain characters we’ve seen before, but nothing really beyond that. I prefer anime to just leave things to our mind rather than try to close every single plot point at once (*cough* Monster *cough*) and believe me, a lot of things are left up to our minds.
For example, we don’t really get an explanation for how Nishi came back to life, how the yakuza can run so fast after falling out of a car, and the ending of the movie…let’s just stay it stops pretty suddenly. But unlike something like Paranoia Agent, Mind Game always kept to its own rules. It never broke them, even at its craziest, so I’m willing to forgive this stuff. Also, it has the most epic “running up water” scene EVAR! The whole scene lasted around five to ten minutes, but it never felt padded or boring. It was just excitement after excitement, giving me a huge rush that’s sure to end up in my top 12 Days of Christmas posts. In fact, most of the scenes that gave me a rush made no sense in the grand scheme of things. It was all about the animation, how it was used, and whatnot, and I freaking loved it for that.
All in all, I can’t recommend Mind Game enough. Not only was it a great movie, it’s a fucking awesome one. How this bombed critically and financially is beyond me. This stuff is gold. I came into this expecting to like it and I ended up giving this a ten out of ten. That’s how much I loved the movie. If you haven’t seen this move, why are you reading this? Go watch it now!
- Keep in mind, I do actually like Monster.
- If only I could get a DVD copy of this movie.