Wednesday, February 16, 2005

review: "Sky Blue" quite promising and approaching sophistication, but could use much more originality

Recently I watched my first South Korean animation. There is a large room for improvement, but it seems to be worth keeping an eye on the creators--there appears to be a potential in future. (Here is the link to reviews on

"Sky Blue" is set in a post-apocalyptic world where incessant poisonous rain soaks the earth. The story arc is quite hackneyed. There is a ruling class and the oppressed. The former lives in an allegedly organic city (which looks nothing but mechanical) that protects the residents from the hostile environment, exploiting the latter in contaminated mines to extract from the thinning reservoir of carbonite necessary to maintain the huge city. There is a secret plot of rebellion against the ruling city among the oppressed people, and (of course) one of the most important member of the secret group is originally from the city, has been expelled from it after an incident, and has been in love with a girl from the city who is now a member of the city's merciless army. But (of course) she hasn't lost her humane side. She suffers at the suffering of the oppressed. Although she is emotionally involved with her commander (the rebellious young man's childhood rival, of course), she still keeps the image of her childhood love in her heart.

There is an easy solution to the soggy poisonous environment of the earth--the "energy release" from the city, whatever it means. It will not kill the people of the city. In fact, it will not even destroy the city. Hmm. Then why they haven't done that yet? But anyway, that is what the rebellion group plans and succeeds to do with the amazing contribution of the young man, flying into the heart of the city on his red old-fashioned airplane reminiscent of Porco Rosso's. It is so easily done despite a battalion of city's army that one cannot help wondering why it took so long for them to do it. The reunited childhood lovers get shot in the flower-looking glass dome, but seem to be resurrected from death by the mysterious side effect of the "energy release." The evil is defeated and the sun shines on the earth for the first time in God knows how long. Everybody's happy.

Bunch of predictable stock characters, a predictable and sweet-ever-after style plot, and bad English dabbing really hamper the occasional charm of the visual imagery. There are some memorable scenes, especially a scene in the museum when a bullet of the young man shatters a staind glass to reveal Krimt's "The Kiss" behind it, as he crouches on the floor with his childhood sweetherat now as enemies, a shot from underwater of the young man's red airplane being shot at by the army and a sequence close to the end where the sunshine pushes back the perpetual shadow from decaying buildings and rusting ships. The incorporation of traditional Korean culture is also stimulating to see: the intricate patterns on the floating cubes in the heart of the building, the curved mask the young man wears when sneaking in the city, and some traditional attire worn in a strangely blue-saturated festive procession. With (a lot) more originality and thoughts in plot and characters, the film could be much more enjoyable. I hope to see the creators' future works acquire distinct style and voice in the world of animation.


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