Reviews: Shinobi and Honey and Clover (movie)

And now to go further back into my backlog: I saw Shinobi: Heart Under Blade absolutely ages ago, perhaps around October. For those who are interested, the story originates from The Kouga Ninja Scrolls (甲賀忍法帖), a novel written in the late 1950s by Yamada Fuutarou. Related works include Ninja Scroll as well as the Basilisk manga and anime. Briefly – two ninja clans existing under a truce are forced into conflict with each other in order to determine the successor to the Tokugawa clan, thus presenting the two successors with the dilemma of choosing between their love and the survival of their clans.

The movie format is really quite insufficient to convey a story of this magnitude – the ten members from each clan were reduced to five, and we were never really allowed to identify with more than three or four of them. Whilst I understand the manga to be very violent and rather explicit, at least it (and its anime adaptation) should be able to cover enough of the plot and characterisation to give the show more gravity, rather than just being an action fest (which was kinda anticlimatic as well, since the best of the fights occurred in the beginning). The CGI was a little bit…dodgy occassionally – although I’ve never seen effective SFX when filmmakers try to represent skills as outrageous as the ones depicted here

Other than that, there’s probably only one thing I really wanted to comment on. Nakama Yukie (Oboro of the Iga clan) is a pretty famous Japanese actress, especially for her drama roles (Gokusen, Trick etc). I wonder what her English ability is…because I think she could have been effective in the role of Sayuri in Memoirs of a Geisha. But I guess we’ll never know…

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The Honey and Clover movie is much more recent for me – I think I saw it around 10 days ago. Before I say anything about the movie, I should reiterate that the Honey and Clover anime is one of my favourite shows ever.  As fans would know, it’s a ‘slice-of-life’ story that follows 5 students of an arts college as they try to make their way through life.

The Honey and Clover movie isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. After seeing the anime, I must admit that I was particularly shocked by…er…Mayama and Morita (a shock escabated by the fact that they are voiced in the anime by Sugita Tomokazu and Ueda Yuuji respectively). I also missed the insanity of some of the characters. However, that is a change I recognise that the filmmakers had to take, as it might have descended into slapstick comedy otherwise. Something that works in anime and manga doesn’t necessarily work when we turn to live-action.

Nevertheless, I had other issues with the movie. It condenses what happened in the 24 episode anime into 2-hours (or thereabouts). Unfortunately, that leaves little room to fully explore the issues that face each of the characters. For example, why in the world did Takemoto decide to take off? Only those who’ve taken to another form of Honey and Clover would actually know the answer – everyone else would probably be scratching their heads.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this film unless you have followed Honey and Clover and would like to see how it might translate to real life (or if you like one/more of the actors in the film). That Kanno Youko composed the music will be another draw for some, but I wasn’t paying attention to it at the time.

About karice
MAG fan, translator, and localization project manager. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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