Origin: Spirits of the Past is an anime movie with some notable animation studios backing it. Gonzo, Studio Bones, and Mad House are the major animation studios that are behind this film. I don’t know much about the history behind the movie, but what I do know though is that Origin is one heck of a film. If you like anime this is a movie to check out.
The music: I don’t usually get a chance to gush about great music these days as I haven’t run across it in games for a while. The only word I can think of to sum up the music is “beautiful”. Everything from the opening theme “With Reflection” to the ending “Ai no Melody” and all the background music throughout the movie is amazing. Composer Taku Iwasaki has done music for such things as the Rurouni Kenshin OVAs Trust & Betrayal and Reflection. He has also worked on Gurren Laggan, Black Butler, Soul Eater, and others. He did the music for the video game Onimusha as well. Every one of those has had great music so it is no surprise he continues the trend here. I would have no problem putting Iwasaki on the same level as great Japanese composers like Yoko Kano and Nobuo Uematsu. I’ve never bought a soundtrack to an anime before, but I am tempted to hunt this one down.
Animation: The word of today is “beautiful” and it works wonderfully in regard’s to the animation as well. If someone had told me that Origin was animated by Studio Ghibli I would have believed them. However, the pedigree of the studios involved in the creation of Origin is no less impressive. Studio Gonzo gets top billing for production and animation, but both Studio Bones and Madhouse are listed in the credits. Gonzo has a hit and miss history, but they have proven capable of creating absolutely stunning anime before. Studio Bones and Madhouse are some of the best animation studios in Japan right now, so the combination of these three great studios has made this movie stand as a testament to how good anime can look when given a budget. Origin was released in 2006 so there is a lot of CG work and it is used to a great effect. Unlike most of the CG you see in anime series, the CG here is not jarring and does not look cheesy or low budget.
Voice acting: I can not comment on the Japanese voice work as I only watched the dub and even if I had listened to it in Japanese I would not count myself qualified to comment on a language I do not understand. With that out of the way, Funimation’s dub is very good. They managed to avoid just tossing their biggest names at the lead roles and instead used Carrie Savage and Chris Patton for the main characters. Savage and Patton do an excellent job and they fit their characters well. Outside of the two leads all of the voice work is good and I did not spot any voice that sounded bad or out of place.
Story: The story in Origin is simple and predictable, but I do not consider that a bad thing. The simplicity to the story is similar to the way Pixar or Hayao Miyazaki do their stories. Origin doesn’t quite reach that level of quality, but it is done well and they tried. I can not call the story bad, but I can’t give it high marks either. Origin follows a boy named Agito and a girl named Toola. The world Agito lives in is the future in a time where genetically altered plants from the moon (It makes sense once its explained in the movie) have wiped out most of mankind and taken over most of the planet. Toola is from the past, from the time when the planet was being taken over. She was put in suspended animation and discovered by Agito. From there it turns into a “save the world” and “live in harmony with nature” type of story. I’m not doing a good job selling the plot, but I am trying to be vague about it to avoid too many spoilers.
The Ending: Origin is a hour and a half long, but the movie needed more time to wrap everything up and provide a more in depth explanation. The final battle with the antagonist was very brief and incredibly rushed. While the outcome of the battle felt appropriate it needed more of up build up to the ending conflict. Furthermore, the ending is cliche and predicable. It seems like they ran out of time.
Origin is a wonderful movie for anime fans and for fans of the Miyazaki style of film. Origin starts off slow, but the movie seems carefully paced to allow you to get to know and care about the characters before jumping into the action. When the third act roles around you’re ready for a lot of action and for things to be explained.
Origin: Spirits of the Past is currently on Netflix Instant Watch. Funimation re-released Origin on DVD (Viridian collection) and Blu-Ray. Amazon has them at $17.99 and $14.49 (both USD) respectively. Amazon also has it On-Demand to buy or rent. I recommend watching Origin whenever you get the chance. I will be recommending it often to people looking for anime to watch.
Origin: Spirits of the Past Review by Derangel