Animation Production: Studio 4°C ( Beyond OAV, Amazing Nuts! OAV, Baby Blue [from Genius Party Collection], Berserk: The Golden Age Arc Films, Deathtic 4, Detective Story [from the Animatrix Collection], Eikyuu Kazoku, Higan OAV, Kid’s Story OAV, Mahou Shoujotai, Moondrive, Shanghai Dragon, Spriggan, Tekkonkinkreet, Thundercats 2011, Transformers: Animated U.S. Version, Urarochi Diamond, Tojin Kit [from the Genius Party Collection])
- Michael Arias ( CGI Supervisor for title and newsreel sequences on American film The Hudsucker Proxy / Motion Control Camera Work on The Abyss and Total Recall / Episode Director on Ani-Kuri episode 13 / Producer on The Animatrix / Associate Producer on Mind Game / Translator for the English Diary and notes sequence on Patema Inverted / Director, Storyboard, CGI Animator and Story Editor on Tekkonkinkreet)
- Takashi Nakamura ( Character Designer and Animation Director on Akira / Director, Screenplay, Original Story, Character Designer and Animation Director on Catnapped! The Movie / Director, Script, Storyboard, Original Creator on Fantastic Children / Character Designer, Animation Director on Manga Nihon Emaki / Key Animator on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind / Director, Script, Character Designer on segment “Nightmare” from Robot Carnival / Storyboard on Thundercats 2011 / Original Character Designer on Tears to Tiara)
Sceenplay: Koji Yamamoto ( Fuji TV Producer and help establish Noitamina / Chief Producer on every Noitamina series and film / Producer for programming block NOISE–ultimately becoming Chief Producer for the three works in that time block before Noitamina took over it’s timeslot– Michiko e Hatchin, Aoi Hana, Ristorante Paradiso)
- Project Itoh ( Original Creator on Genocidal Organ / Original Creator on Empire of Corpses)
Original Character Designer: redjuice ( Ending Illustration on Shingeki no Kyojin episode 19 / Original Character Designer on Genocidal Organ / Original Character Designer, Designer of the Steiner A9 from episodes 21 and 22, Ending card Illustration and Illustration on Guilty Crown‘s Ending Sequence / Conceptual Design on Vividred Operation / Ending Card Illustration on Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life / Ending Card Illustration on Haganai episode 6)
Character Designer: Takahiro Tanaka ( Storyboard, Unit Director, Character Designer, Animation Director on Doorbell film / Assistant Animation Director on Excel Saga Episode 3 / Storyboard and Key Animator on GANTZ episode 23 / CG Modeling Designer on Kantai Collection / Key Animator on Momo e no Tegami [A Letter to Momo] / Key Animator on Kare Kano episode 16 / Key Animator on Mezzo Forte OAV / Key Animator on Paranoia Agent Episode 5 / Opening Animation on The Prince of Tennis TV / Key Animator on Shojo Kakumei Utena‘s Opening Sequence / Character Designer on Thundercats 2011 / Animation Director on Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil)
Music: Yoshihiro Ike ( Music Composer on Armored Trooper Votoms Case;Irvine OAV, Asura film, Blood: The Last Vampire, Cobra: The Animation, Dead Leaves OAV, Shisha no Teikoku [Empire of Corpses], Ergo Proxy, Flag, Freedom OAV, Genocidal Organ, Karas OAV, Kuroko’s Basketball Seasons 2 and 3, Noblesse: Awakening / Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis, Reideen, Tiger & Bunny series and compilation films)
In future period called “Maelstrom”, nuclear war and disease have plagued and destroyed even the United States. To prevent new horrors, the state was divided into smaller states, with a deeper ethic and solidary society through social pressure and health is controlled by “admedicstration”, facilities where nanotechnology is used for medical purposes, to allow better living. But in Japan, the young Tuan Kirie and her friends Miach Mihie and Cian Reikado give life to an incredible protest against this kind of company and control over their lives, refusing food and medication and get up to suicide but Tuan and Cian fail to protest.
Thirteen years later, Tuan works for the World Health Organization in international medical police forces, still faithful to her ideas: the meeting after years with Cian gives the start to an investigation in which discover the truths and threats behind the “perfect” world.
This was supposed to be the final film in the Project Itoh trilogy. When Manglobe went under the theatrical release of these films in Japan got shuffled around. With Shisha no Teikoku being released first then Harmony. I guess we will have to wait and see how Genocidal Organ is handled and if anything was changed from the initial previews of it.
Shisha was quite a train wreck of a film–containing an overly abundant use of European references and nods to classic literature that was gradually losing my interest in the film after thirty minutes. While its initial idea of using zombies to channel the grief humans carry and how that speaks about the human soul was engrossing, Harmony chooses a different path.
After Toh Enjoe took over the writing of the original novel and its animated adaptation we get a chance to see a novel that was fully written by Itoh. A fascinating perspective on free will, with Harmony we’ve got an entirely different story, set in a different timeframe, and a completely new cast of characters. Studio 4C handles production of this film and have been known to be an arthouse animation studio–developing projects from Masaaki Yuasa’s Mind Game and Tekkonkinkreet to one of the coolest cyberpunk OVAs I have ever seen–Eikyuu Kazoku, which translates to Eternal Family in English. Check that out if you like unique animation! While the animation is visually stunning in the background panning scenes, and subdued monologue parts, the action segments are messy and choppy.
Harmony‘s main lead is Tuan Kirie, an inspector for the World Health Organization. After a nuclear war, (we get to see some of the conflict throughout this film) the WHO has taken charge of running a perfect society via a system called Watch Me, a program that monitors and controls people’s health and happiness to ensure a peaceful co-existence. PSYCHO-PASS had a similar system where health was monitored and people were divided into categories–humans and latent criminals.
With Harmony the conceptual design place a large emphasis on Watch Me’s impact on the world and the government that controls it–bright cityscapes and rich green gardens are softly blurred with a blend of 2D and 3D art. Looking spectacularly pleasing to the eye! The background visuals and diminished melancholic music score create an eerie feeling in the film’s first half. Illustrating that there is no warmth to the humans that live in this world–especially Tuan. There isn’t a single lively character in this film and for good reason. The long monologues Tuan has about Watch Me being a system that robs others of their own individuality and freedom couldn’t have been spared as it reminds us that individuality is crucial to the human spirit or human soul. To be reminded is to rekindle what makes us human and I felt that the series composition focusing on that sparks the journey Tuan takes in finding Miach and discovering her own “self”. This idea caters to the sluggish pacing of the film exploring a hellacious vision of a utopian society as we see people getting killed in extreme brutal ways. The film’s most engaging scenes were the quick cuts to Tuan’s high-school days. Beautifully animated we are gradually introduced to the trio (Tuan, Cian and Miach) delivering the most humanistic emotions ever to appear in the film. Tuan’s high-school friend, Miach represents the inevitable breakdown of the ideal system Watch Me. She’s a charismatic girl that rejected the view that the body and soul belonged to anyone else. Through a pact the girls decide that suicide would be the only way to cleanse them and give them the freedom that they yearned for. For them (mostly Miach’s point of view) suicide was the only way to attain a spirit full of individuality. Spelling out a lot of the film’s deaths in this as Tuan is discovering mass suicides throughout the city.
Something to note is how she is the only character (aside from WHO Agents) that wear red. In a city filled with calm colors and a calm demeanor she is the only one warranting fear in a perfect utopian society. This was to highlight her connection to Miach and the end result is amazing.
Harmony proposes that the ego is unnecessary because in a “perfect” society like this one, ensures that individuality is a hindrance in society’s progress towards a harmonic evolution. That to attain perfect harmony “I” could not exist.
At the end of it all Harmony made me realize what a frightening concept that would be.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 76/100