November 01, 2012
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Last night, I finally had the opportunity to go see a movie in Japan! It’s my first movie experience in Japan, and I gotta tell you, I chose right!! Fuse! When I first saw the previews for this movie, about a month back, I thought it was the new Studio Ghibli film coming out, and that it was about The Wolfman. … Far from both counts! Fuse is a Japanese anime film directed by Masayuki Miyaji. It’s a movie brought to us by TMS Entertainment, and it’s a fresh-take werewolf story, based on the Japanese novel: “Fuse Gansaku Satomi Hakkenden” by Kazuki Sakuraba.
So, I was in for a new kind of anime, and in for quite a treat! First of all, this movie is kinda raw, considering that it’s drawn in the cutesy Ghibli style. When we first meet our heroine “detective girl” Hamaji, she’s out in mountain country hunting a wolf. (She has this pretty cool, bigass, supergun just for pwning wolves…) And when we see her make the kill, it’s no holds barred. The majestic creature goes down with a clear bullethole to the neck. It bleeds profusely, and they even animate the wolf’s facial expressions deftly: first confusion, then finally surrender. The wolf even sheds a tear as it dies. It’s not a cutesy movie.
Hamaji receives a letter in the wilderness. (Letters are a theme, and are important in this movie…) The letter beckons her to visit the capital city (one is to assume it is Edo/Tokyo) where Tokugawa Iesada rules, and where her brother Dousetsu lives. It is here that Hamaji learns of a werewolf gang terrorizing the citizens, and Tokugawa’s campaign to murder every single one of the monsters. It is also here where Hamaji meets our hero, Shino, a werewolf who ends up caring for Hamaji… in a Twilightish “I-want-to-eat-your-heart-but-I’ll-stay-my-hand/claw-because-I’m-falling-for-you” kind of way. In turn, we all know that Hamaji has this big badass “Hey-werewolf-don’t-make-me-go-all-Pulp-Fiction-on-yo’-ass” gun, but doesn’t use it on Shino for similar reasons.
Anyway, Hamaji and Dousetsu end up becoming bounty hunters after these werewolves and they travel to a very colorful city: colorful in that the animation is very vibrant and beautiful (there’s some epic CG shots of bird’s eye views of the city, adorned with multi-color tile roofs and a giant cherry blossom tree planted at the center of town), but also colorful in that the city seems to be run by prostitutes. It is here that the bounty hunters set out to find their first werewolf kill together; who ends up being (Itezuru) the leader of the “working girls”. And things get interesting when she hands Hamaji a letter (to give to Shino!!) before she dies. Oh, yeah, she dies eating mud, then gets beheaded by Dousetsu’s mad katana skillz. Colorful.
We even get a shot from the dying Itezuru’s perspective, as her eyelids close across the screen, but not before blurring the scene a little bit with her tears. It was a pretty badass effect actually. And not the only one up director Masayuki Miyaji’s sleeve. There was a moment where we got to see the entrance to the colorful city, through the eyes of Hamaji, and when she walks under the archway of the entry gate, which blocks the sun from view, the colors of the city are lost, and when she steps out from underneath, the vibrant animation resumes.
Alas, that’s not even my favorite of Miyaji’s story-telling tricks. It turns out, that when Hamaji and Dousetsu return to Edo/Tokyo, and Shino is the only werewolf left… Miyaji throws us a pretty rad curve-ball Christopher-Nolan-style ending, where the true meanings of the previously mentioned letters are revealed, and some characters’ true motives are brought to light; the big picture is uncovered and some characters are revealed to have been “in-on-it” all along. Not to mention that the ending involves a fight to the finish between a fully-turned majestic white-fur werewolf (Shino of course!) against an enemy wielding a magic water-sword that was pulled out of a scabbard made of bone! It’s not a cutesy movie.
It’s definitely a must-see! It puts the BAZING in BAZINGA!
伏: 鉄砲娘の捕物帳 or “Fuse: teppô musume no torimonochô” (English version = “Fuse: A Gun Girl’s Detective Story”) was released in Japan on October 20th, 2012 and is now playing. The English language version is to be expected to be released in the U.S.A. soon.
by: Rubeus Grumpy