This year’s Japan Foundation UK annual touring film programme used a variety of enlightening movies as an introduction to Japanese cinema through the framework of ‘youth’. Showcasing one anime in the mix showing how the adults of tomorrow have been portrayed in Japanese cinema
Colorful was released originally in Japan 2010, this animated feature film is directed by Keiichi Hara. Hara-san was famous for directing hit anime from our childhood such as Doraemon and was the longest running director for Shin-Chan, the anime are important as they were the first to hit the West in Japanese and English dub and make a bridge for more to become recognised worldwide.
This anime is based on a novel of the same title by Eto Mori. Hara-San tells us (in the Q&A) that he saw the script and liked the story and decided to make it into the anime alongside animation studio Ascension. For the beautiful soundtrack he tells us he commissioned a few music producers to come up with a soundtrack that was simple but not boring and chose Kow Otan. Otan was famous for working on lot of big titles in the anime and game world such as Gundam Wing (1995), Outlaw Star (1998), Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz Cross Fire (1998), Cross Fire (2000), The SoulTaker (2001) to9 name a few.
The story revolves around a newly dead soul reaching a train station representing limbo, an Angel named Purapura approaches the soul and explains that he is ‘lucky’ and will have another chance at life. He is placed in the body of a 14-year-old boy, Makoto Kobayashi, who recently committed suicide. Purapura watches ‘Makoto’ and advises him with hints to figure out the big sin ‘Makoto’ did. The soul must figure out what his greatest sin in his former life within a time limit or else the soul will be ejected from the body and Makoto will die forever. Whilst trying to complete this task he is faced with making friends, understanding his family and their dark secrets. His crush at school isn’t the cheery and happy go lucky person she makes out to be while creepy a classmate stalks him and he can’t figure out why. Will this journey motivate him to want to live again?
This anime is not a typical slice of life, it holds deeper meaning, searching for ones identity and place in life. Also dealing with challenging situations and reacting within ones restraints. A movie with lot a of social behaviors explored, the nice and the grim.
Watch this interview with Hara-San and his take on Colourful, how he felt about the reception it received, how it felt to make popular anime that entered the West. Special thanks to the Japan Foundation for Showing this amazing animation and bringing Hara-San to answer the audiences questions.