This is an introductory paragraph. This is the part where I start my review by writing some catchy sentence, a funny anecdote, an observation or some oddball remark to get your attention. This is where I expand on said anecdote/sentence/observation/remark, hopefully drawing a giggle or two from you and get you interested in finishing the rest of the review. And here is the part where I cleverly tie the anecdote/sentence/observation/remark to the anime I am reviewing today, which happens to be Origins: Spirits of the Past. This lets you know not only what you will be reading about, but it also lets you know just how darned creative and abstract I can be. After all this comes the part of the review you've probably already read: the synopsis. I will try to make it interesting by not copying and pasting the original synopsis, like I am tempted to do sometimes. Fans of An Inconvenient Truth would know that humanity has done some pretty nasty things to the Earth. In Origin: Spirits of the Past, the Earth gets its revenge when a science experiment gone terribly wrong \"awakens\" the forests. Nature soon reclaims the Earth, forcing humanity into small cities that either co-operate with Nature or try to fight against her. Legend says there is a buried technology that can return the planet to human control. When a girl named Toole is awakened from the pre-apocalyptic past by our hero, Agito, that technology is suddenly in the grasp of the militant city of Ragna, who will stop at nothing to see their goals fulfilled. Now, Origins isn't a bad film, but it's a few fries short of being a four star Happy Meal. I'll go through which fry it is missing one by one, but first I'll start with the big one: it's too dry. What I mean is it's so plot driven it never stops to smell the proverbial roses that are its the characters. Kinda like my introductory paragraph- all business, no flair. (See, I did have a method to my madness). I'll elaborate on this later, but for now let's count the fries this show does have. Some of them are actually quite tasty. The animation is, of course, great. It doesn't take us anywhere new, but it doesn't need to. The \"vine-dragons\" are especially well done CG- they look good without disrupting the rest of the movie with how good they look. I've come to expect this sort of thing from a feature length movie by GONZO, though, so let's move on to something more noteworthy. One of my favorite aspects of the movie is the protagonist, our hero Agito. Here is one of the few examples in anime of a hero who gets the job done in a manly, non-angsty way. He doesn't complain or whine, all he needed to know was that Toole was in trouble, and he gets straight to the action. And speaking of action, the fight scenes are pretty cool. They're smooth, well-animated, and absolutely ridiculous, like Agito single handedly taking out a tank. Just the kind of stuff I enjoy in shounen anime. Agito isn't the only interesting character in this movie. We also have his tagalong childhood pals, the cutesy next-door-neighbor who has a crush on him, and Colonel Shanuk, the deceitful leader of the movement to return Earth to its former owners. Oh yeah, and then there's Toole, but she's kinda bland. And since I personally didn't care for her, I won't mention her for the rest of the review. And with all those interesting characters, its frustrating that they take a back seat to the plot. I'm of the school of thinkers who believe that characters write the plot of a movie or novel, not the screenwriter or novelist. Origins gave me the feeling of dryly going from Plot Point A to Plot Point B to Plot Point C, which isn't very fun. I wish the screenwriter had stopped to take the time to explore some of the characters in the movie, and give them a little more room to grow. While there is character development in Origins, it's nothing unexpected and nothing special. I suppose that sums up Origins: \"nothing special.\" I didn't say it's not original, it's just not quite the four star it could be. And while not every anime needs to be great art, it does only need to be entertaining. A large part of that entertainment in movies is a film's rewatch value. I liked Origins the first time I saw it, but would I watch it again if given the chance Nope. See, that's another side effect of having a plot driven anime- it revolves around \"what happens next\" and once the viewer finds that out, it's not fun anymore. To sum it up, I suggest that if you're curious about Origins, or if the synopsis perked your interest, check it out. You won't regret it, but you probably won't watch it again either.
When I first started to seriously 'get into' anime (that is, when I started building a collection of DVD's), I started seeking out original anime feature films more often than television series: they were cheaper to own, quicker to watch, and usually of higher quality. But around this time (circa 2008), pickings were slim. Most of the classic films, like \"Akira,\" \"Ghost in the Shell,\" \"Ninja Scroll\" and others, were long out of print, further enhancing their legendary status with new fans (although most would slowly be available again in the decade that followed). Instead, I watched newer films that only came out a couple years prior. Like Studio Gonzo's 2006 film \"Origin - Spirits of the Past.\"\"Origin\" was Gonzo's first original feature film, after a series of hit television series defined them as one of the most ambitious studios in anime. They clearly had high hopes for this movie. So did Funimation, the American distributor: they would release both regular and special editions of the movie, on DVD, then Bluray, under different labels (like \"Viridian\" and \"S.A.V.E.\" when reduced in price), each with different covers. On the surface, the high-fantasy concept and pro-environment message makes \"Origin\" seem like it was attempting to mimic Studio Ghibli films. A Ghibli movie from the creators of \"Last Exile\" and \"Gankutsuou\" Yes, please! Although, in the end it would be more comparable to a \"Final Fantasy\" video game than anything Ghibli would produce.In the introduction, we see a montage of images that seem to show a dragon made of trees rising from the moon, and attacking the Earth, set against a haunting and memorable vocal theme. Hundreds of years later, the human race has nearly gone instinct, save for a few underground towns that have managed to adapt. This is a world where the forest is sentient, and no longer hospitable to humans, the creatures that nearly destroyed the planet in their excess. Through the forest druids, and two child-like twins, the forest controls the planet's clean water, only allowing the small groups of remaining humans a limited supply, barely enough for drinking, let alone food or bathing. Some human towns want to revolt: in particular, the town of Ragna wants to get back its dominance, led by a human, Shunack, who remembers the way things used to be. In between is Neutral City, a peaceful town that acts as a mediator and barrier between the forest and these outside towns: while their living conditions aren't ideal, they accept it as part of their current way of life, and aim to find a way for the forest and humans to co-exist.Things change when Agito, a spritely boy from Neutral City, comes across ruins containing humans in artificial deep sleep, and accidently wakes up Toola, a girl from... roughly 2010 Through Toola's eyes, we see her be welcomed by Agito and his town, but the culture shock of waking up in a different time, and seeing how everyone struggles to survive, was too much to bear. And the forest becomes suspicious of this new girl, as her arrival is similar to Shunack (who also woke up from the past), currently their greatest enemy. When Shunack arrives to convince Toola to join their cause to return things \"to normal,\" Toola agrees, and goes to Ragna. Knowning the consequences, Agito surrenders himself to the forest to gain its powers, turning into an 'enhanced' being, with the strength and agility of a plant (), in order to fight and take back Toola. In the first half of the movie, it shows promise. This new world is an interesting one, its characters with a good sense of humor (a fun opening scene shows Agito and his friend racing across the ruins), and pacing and direction solid. Even when Toola is found, things seem good. Toola is a strong and capable girl who seems to take well to the open arms of Agito and his friends, and any exposition dropped doesn't feel too overbearing. But issues come around when Shunack comes in: Toola seems to switch sides too quickly, and exposition to explain everything is relied on too often. The Ragna forces, in their generic red armor, seem much less interesting than the people of Neutral City. I can't help but wonder if the movie would have succeeded more without the action-packed second half, and instead relied on character drama entirely within Neutral City. But what we got has about the same neuance as a video game JRPG: an impressive world that's a little too fantastical, where things happen a little too quickly without proper build-up. It's not horrible by any measure, but a bit of a disappointment.As popular as Gonzo was in the mid-2000's, animation was usually not their strong point. In \"Origin,\" they clearly did their best, producing some of the best animation in the studio's history. Alternatively, character design and art, usually Gonzo's strong point, is a bit weaker in \"Origin,\" just a bit too generic, with only a few hints of unqiue and inspired visuals. Overall, the movie looks really good by standards set in the mid-2000's, but not up to the high points of anime films in previous or future decades. Funimation's English dub is solid, and the soundtrack is pretty great, both for that iconic vocal theme of the forest, and for the (again, video-game inspired) orchestra interludes. It's a shame that \"Origin - Spirits of the Past\" isn't fondly remembered. I think most fans t