A Sardonic Relative to ‘Spirited Away’

A Sardonic Relative to ‘Spirited Away’

Form and content align in the uniquely conceived and delightfully offbeat supernatural adventure “Ghost Cat Anzu.” For a movie about a reality where mortals and otherworldly spirits coexist on the same plane, the filmmakers decided to compound the flesh-and-bone realism of live action cinema and animation’s fantastical qualities. While the plot takes some jarring turns, its impish tone stays consistent throughout, making for a wildly enjoyable (if a bit perplexing) Japanese animated effort on its own wavelength.

Shot first with actors whose voices were also captured on location, this adaptation of Takashi Imashiro’s mid-2000s manga of the same name (written by screenwriter Shinji Imaoka) necessitated two directors. Nobuhiro Yamashita was in charge of staging the interactions between the cast to capture their subtle expressions. Then that footage served as the basis for the rotoscoped animation directed by Yôko Kuno with artists drawing over each frame to transform the images filmed into lively animation with striking painterly backgrounds — which are said to be inspired by neo-impressionist works and deliver on thar promise. The combination results in noticeably fluid movement and greater facial expressiveness in characters with a more cartoony or graphic aesthetic than most anime.

Running from loan sharks, widower Tetsuya (Munetaka Aoki) returns to his rural hometown of Ikeru, to ask his father for money after 20 years away. The elderly man,…

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The post “A Sardonic Relative to ‘Spirited Away'” by Peter Debruge was published on 06/22/2024 by variety.com