Friday, July 20, 2018

Today's Japan Cuts Pick: VIOLENCE VOYAGER

Easily one of the most cheerful transgressive films you’re apt to see, VIOLENCE VOYAGER works because you can’t tell the extent to which that cheerfulness is ironic: it mimics the earnestness of so much anime and manga—let’s be friends!, let’s go on an adventure!, let’s stop the bad guy before it’s too late!—that you find yourself riveted despite yourself. And that's long after any respectable moviegoer has reflected, with equal parts awe and dismay, “Wait, what exactly am I watching?”

Even when the movie is over, you may not be able to answer that question, not in any definitive way. Writer-director Ujicha has executed a near-perfect blend of form and function, with the deliberately primitive animation matching the deliberately naïve plot, characters, and settings. Ostensibly about kids who make the mistake of visiting a sketchy theme park, VIOLENCE VOYAGER recapitulates that premise on the macro level except now you’re the youngster looking for diversion who happens to wander into a world of depraved horror. Be warned.

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