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Colorful: The Motion Picture Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Given a chance to live, a soul finds itself in the body of a fourteen year old boy.

What They Say:
There is a train station on the other side of death, yet not all who arrive on the platform will be judged ready for passage onwards. For one unready soul, there will be both a test and a second chance. Rather than be reborn, this soul will awake in the body of 14-year-old suicide Makoto Kobayashi, where it must not only find a way to fit into Makoto’s existence, but also unravel two mysteries. What is the secret of the great sin it committed in its own previous life, and what were the reasons that led to Makoto’s suicide?

While some may believe the truth to be as plain to see as black and white, “Makoto” soon finds that the real world is overlaid with so many shades of grey and rainbows of colors that even the most obvious of “facts” are not what they seem. With the soul’s time in Makoto’s body quickly running out, the answers to all life’s mysteries await discovery.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is pretty solid as we get the original Japanese language and the new English language dub in 5.1 using the DTS-HD MA codec. The film isn’t one that uses a lot of material in the rear channels, but it has a few scenes where things pick up a bit and the use of music throughout all the channels definitely helps to heighten the mood. The film is primarily dialogue based and that’s where it shines as there’s some good placement and depth throughout the presentation and the film as a whole. The characters vary a lot in how they talk to others and that brings a good level of life to the film as it progresses. Some of the incidental sounds are quite good too, especially when the rain hits, and it all adds up to a good and immersive mix. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playbacl.

Originally in theaters in 2010, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Sunrise, the film has a really strong look to it in terms of its visuals and the amount of detail to it. With it being largely a real world piece, the backgrounds are expansive and engaging with what they offer and the character designs have a good bit to them as well, even as they have a certain simplicity. The fluidity of the character animation is what works well as they move throughout their lives and some of the background bits from trains to more gives a great flow to it. It’s all very lived in and the transfer captures it well with strong colors, a vibrant feel to it where needed and clean details to it.

The packaging for this release uses a familiar but striking piece of artwork with the main character in the center surrounded by a lust array of flowers in a very soothing and calming style. The cover is very simple with what it does, a basic logo and an array of its awards and nominations along the top, but it’s just so captivating with how it portrays itself that I can’t help but to be drawn into it no matter how many times I see it. The back cover goes for a similar simplicity with an off white background that allows for the extended premise to be laid out along the top while the middle has a look at several shots from the show that aren’t as tiny as we usually get. The production credits are laid out clearly and the technical grid covers the makeup of the disc in a clean and clear manner making for an easy determination of how it’s put together. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for Colorful is one that works really well even if it is, again, simple, as it uses the core piece of artwork from the front cover. With the logo off to the side and the navigation along the bottom, it’s full of color and detail that takes the great looking artwork and provides even more vibrancy and detail to it. The navigation strip along the bottom is simple and clean with a small dose of color to it give it a bit of life. With little on the disc outside of the show itself and the language navigation, it’s easy to move around in and the menu doubles well as the pop-up menu without any issues.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the novel of the same name by Eto Mori, Colorful is a full length two hour movie produced by Sunrise and animation studio Ascension. The film provide to be an interesting departure for director Keiichi Hara as prior to this he’d spent over the previous twenty years or so working primarily on Doraemon or Crayon Shin-chan features. Colorful goes in a whole other direction compared to those works and while I certainly wouldn’t diminish any of those features as they provide quiet a lot of entertainment, there’s just a feeling that Colorful is the kind of work that certainly has more meaning and possibly some real personal aspects as well for Hara. Luckily, he got to work with a fantastic production team and the feature is just beautiful through and through.

Colorful is a difficult film to watch for a number of reasons, as its the kind of work that really does want to focus on the truth of people and what they are. What makes it particularly difficult, at least for some like myself, is that it opens with a purgatory where the souls of the dead are moving on to their next journey. The one we get tied to doesn’t know who he was or what happened to him, but he’s just moving through inertia to getting his ticket and moving on to it. What alters his course is the arrival of a young boy named Purapura who informs him that he’s won a lottery of sorts that allows him to return to the mortal world once again. For this person, he’s going back into the body of fourteen year old Makoto Kobayashi, a boy who recently committed suicide but is getting a brief second chance in order for this soul to go through a reformation. He’ll have just six months or so to do it before everything comes to a close.

With no memories of what he was before, Makoto has a difficult time adjusting to this new life, though Purapura does help out on occasion early on with a few nods towards who Makoto was, where he went to school and a few other little quirks. But mostly it’s all about letting Makoto discover the boys life, which leads him on a discovery of the problems that exist in his own family, from an adulterous mother to a problematic older brother and a father who was always away, making for a a very disconnected group. More difficult for Makoto was the girl that he was interested in it being involved in compensated dating with older men. All of this combined with the way that Makoto himself was mostly a quiet introvert that had no real friends, it just built up into a powerful and oppressive feeling in his life that the new soul is trying to grapple with.

Colorful explores some good themes here that as a parent myself of someone close to that age can definitely understand. Never mind my own past and youth, which colors things here a good deal as well. As we get to know who Makoto was before his suicide attempt, we get a look at a confused teenager whose life was just a mess, one that he had a hard time grappling with when it comes to what others are doing and going through. With so many confusing emotions of his own that comes with the age, there’s also seeing his mother involved with a flamenco dancer that made no sense, a brother that he had issues with and the serious confusion over a girl he idolized who sells herself for goods that she wants right now. With his age and inability to process this, it certainly doesn’t excuse suicide, but you can see how it and so many other factors pushed him in this direction and lead him to this. As we see more and more, it’s easier and easier to sympathize and empathize with Makoto and what happened to him, and therefor this other soul that is trying to figure out how to resolve it all before his time runs out.

What really helps this film a lot is that it does treat the material seriously with what it wants to do and it does shy from some of the more difficult issues that it does cover. While there’s the supernatural aspect of things here with the souls coming back and Purapura himself, it really does want to confront the world through the eyes of a fourteen year old and the disconnect from it through the third party that happens here. That disconnect is a bit hard to work with early on because of how the soul gets thrust into Makoto’s body with a sense of awareness but lack of understanding, but it also works to show something of the age as well with the way fourteen year olds have such a hard time really grappling with so many varied situations.

In Summary:
Colorful is the kind of film that definitely steps out of the norm for many anime films since it’s not a big action piece or connected to some ongoing franchise. While it has some larger aspects to it and a not altogether unexpected twist along the way, the film focuses strongly on the life of a fourteen year old and the complications that come from it with all the external sources and the difficulty in working through it all. With some really beautiful animation and the right kind of pacing to bring it all together, there’s a lot of emotion tied to this work and it flows through beautifully from start to finish. I had no idea what to expect going into the film, but coming out of it you can feel very different about life and what you want to do with it and those that you’re connected to.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 14th, 2013
MSRP: $39.98
Running Time: 126 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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