Review: Oblivion Island – Haruka and the Magic Mirror / Cert: 12 / Director: Shinsuke Sato / Screenplay: Shinsuke Sato, Hirotaka Adachi / Starring: Christine Marie Cabanos, Cassandra Lee, Patrick Seitz / Release Date: Out Now
It’s rare that, at a time when we are inundated with CGI films, a surprise can still come along. So dominated are CGI films by Pixar, DreamWorks and Sony, it’s seems unlikely that something may rival these animation behemoths. Production I.G. have done just that with Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror.
The island of the title is a place where forgotten things go. Haruka, a teenage girl, visits it in search of a hand mirror which is a memento of her long-dead mother, only to discover that retrieving it will be far from easy as, in this land, it is an item of priceless value. If she wants the mirror back, she will have to battle subterranean bandits and the evil dictator who rules over the island from his airship.
It’s the visual style that immediately draws the attention, with its colourful images and detailed backdrops, as well as the combination of 2D and 3D art. While it may seem strange to mix these two styles, here it’s handled with a subtlety rarely seen. Never is it used to show off, as it only enhances the movie. Refreshingly, Haruka herself is modelled in a realistic manner, while the characters she encounters are by and large rendered in a cute, 'chibi' style. As for the environments Haruka finds herself in, these are wonderfully varied and brimming with originality.
What is also impressive is the voice acting, a talent that goes unappreciated far too often. Here the characters are voiced earnestly and with sincerity – as befits a story which mixes scenes of considerable emotional impact with frenetic action set-pieces, usually triggered by the Baron: an interesting villain to say the least who seems like a cross between a pantomime dame and Frollo from Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
This film is recommended for fans of anime, CGI and a well told story. With a variety of characters, an enchanting soundtrack and a unique look, Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror is a breath of fresh air from another world.
Extras: 4 features / Trailers / TV commercials