Director: Tetsurō Araki
Writers: Gen Urobuchi, Naoko Sato, Renji Ōki
Starring: Zach Aguilar, Emi Lo, Erica Lindbeck, Keith Silverstein, Robbie Daymond
Bubble is a new anime that’s available on Netflix, after premiering at Berlin International Film Festival. The film is a twist on The Little Mermaid, following in the footsteps of last year’s Belle, which was an anime twist on Beauty and the Beast. This time around, though, the film is not an instant classic.
Five years ago bubbles started to appear throughout the world, converging in Tokyo and covering the city in a bubble dome that floods the city turning it into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Groups of teenagers who lost people in the bubble incident have created a capture the flag game in the new environment of Tokyo. When Hibiki tries to climb Tokyo Tower, which is the centre of the strangeness in the bubble, he falls and nearly dies, only to be saved by a strange girl.
Visually, Bubble is stunning. The flooded city of Tokyo looks vibrant and dangerous, and everything pops off the screen. There’s a blend of more traditional animation and more obvious CGI that blends well to make the fast-paced action scenes of the game look smooth and exciting as the various players jump around the flooded city. Later on, when the film starts to get strange, the animation stays gorgeous to watch, even as the story gets messier and messier.
When it starts, beyond not knowing what the bubbles are, the film does a good job at catching you up with what’s going on. The game is introduced and so are the main characters and everything seems straight forward enough. When the strange girl first appears, who Hibiki names Uta, you start to feel that this is a straightforward love story. Then the final act comes in and everything becomes a convoluted mess. What makes it worse is that the characters, apart from Uta, just aren’t that interesting, so when things get strange, it’s really hard to keep engaged. To top it off there’s some really bad dialogue, that’s unintentionally funny.
The best moments of this film are when Uta first appears. She doesn’t understand the world around her, so it’s interesting to watch her learn. She seems almost like a cat at first, jumping about and not able to communicate with the others, but slowly she settles into the group and becomes friends with them. That section of the film is the highlight and when it really shines.
Bubble is not great. If it wasn’t for the slick animation, it wouldn’t even be worth watching. It’s a real chore to get through the final half hour, which is a shame as it was decent enough up to that point.
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