HAL: ‘these are a few of my favourite things…’

"The two of them were always together..."
“The two of them were always together…”

In a future where technology has advance far beyond todays, robots can be designed and programmed to look and behave exactly like humans. When Kurumi falls into depression after an accident claims the life of her lover, Hal, a robot is asked to become him in order to help her move on. As “Hal” struggles to understand the real Hal’s past and Kurumi’s feelings, he gradually learns what it means to live…

Hal_07 Hal_08
There was a fight…and then…

At its core, HAL is probably best described as a movie about life, and learning how to live on after loss. The lives of Kurumi and Hal before the accident were of a troubled boy and a bright girl who didn’t quite understand each other. To be honest, it was full of cliches, such as the angry parting after a serious fight that was arguably the primary factor in the depression that followed. And the fantastical scenes had me rolling my eyes a little…

Hal_04 Hal_05
You can really see the care that went into all of the backgrounds…

However, there were still quite a few things to like. The visuals were absolutely amazing, with detail that rendered not only design and patterns but also texture. I also liked how they animated it to suggest consistent small depth of field, which is easy to do in live-action video (with the appropriate camera) but not so often done well in anime. Most of the time, I’ve seen depth of field employed purposefully to switch the viewer’s focus from one character to another, or unevenly in the sense that there are only two settings—in-focus and out-of-focus. Here, however, there seems to be a gradient in some of the scenes, giving a softer look that helps emphasise the warmth and intimacy “Hal” hoped to reintroduce Kurumi to. Of course, it didn’t extend to the characters here, as it might when filming real actors…but whilst I still have to figure out how I feel about the disjunct in artistry that arises from that, that’s not what I was watching the show for, so it was a nice little bonus for me.

Bonus 1: my favourite kind of fireworks
Bonus 1: my favourite kind of fireworks

The last thing I liked about HAL, and the reason I watched it in the first place…was the seiyuu. I know I’ve never written about it here yet, but Hosoya Yoshimasa is currently the 3rd seiyuu I look out for when choosing stuff to watch each season. After being slightly impressed by something I noticed him doing in Katanagatari (probably at the prompting of the director, but nonetheless), I’ve been keeping an ear out for Hosoyan, following him through No.6, Chihayafuru and Sakamichi no Apollon in particular. Here too, it was nice to see two different characters with a nice range of emotions, even if it did become a little melodramatic in the end. At any rate, I’d really want to see Hosoyan take on a role that I will never ever forgot, just as my other two favs have. And for him to further develop his MC and ad-libbing skills so he can similarly steal the show at the events he appears in. But he’s still quite ‘young’ in his career compared to those two, so I’ll give it a bit more time.

Bonus 2: That's goya in the top left corner! Yum!!
Bonus 2: That’s goya in the top left corner! Yum!!

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

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