Thursday, August 11, 2011

Movie Review: Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing: The Movie
Rated ????
3 Slimes
Copyright Toho & Nintendo 2006

THE CHARACTERS

Ai: A young little girl who moves into Animal Village for some undisclosed reason. Not much to say other than that sadly. I wonder why she even moved to this town to begin with?

Bouquet the Cat: A hyper and clueless cat who is friends with Ai. She’s possibly the most quirky and silliest of all its citizens.

Sally the Elephant: An elephant whose dream in life is to become a fashion designer and who is also best friends with Ai. She moves out of the village to persuade her career.

Yu: A costume wearing and hyper boy who spends most of this time with Halberd playing games, searching for random things, or causing trouble for its citizens. He’s kind of like Winston from Home Improvement in the fact that you never see his true face, well until the end of the movie at least.

Halberd the Crocodile: Yu’s friend who is constantly always around him and in on his plans. For some reason, he can’t swim that well.

Apollo the Eagle: A grumpy, serious looking citizen who was at once a past lover of Bianca. Wonder what that was about?

Bianca the Wolf: A wolf that strives on wanting to be very ladylike and other girls to be as well. Once dated Apollo at one point, but from her dialogue, it seems that it ended badly.

Tom Nook: Ai’s new landlord and supporter of child labor. Frankly, I’m disappointed that he didn’t have more of a role in the film.

Tortimer: The town mayor whom everyone seems to forget exists. He constantly worries about the upcoming election, even though he is the only one running for office.

Mr. Resetti: A mole that constantly works below the village and bothers people with his ramblings when they do something wrong.

LESSONS LEARNED
+ Cold weather will harden rock caverns.
+ Fishing in streams will result in finding boots, bicycles, and the occasional Moai.
+ Mole talk way too much.
+ Monkeys that exercise are not easy to trap.
+ Ninja garb is best worn when hunting bugs.
+ One suitcase is all you need when you move to a new place.
+ Pine trees will grow a story or two in just 6 months or less.
+ Rainbows lead to animal villages.
+ Tombstones are buried under the ground.

STUFF TO WATCH FOR
0 min – Self-reliant nothing. Where the heck are her parents?!
5 min – And there he is, the slave driver himself. Tom Nook.
8 min – That catnip high cat has a point. Why are you here?
12 min – Bug catching ninjas. What a world she lives in.
14 min – It’s that damn mole! Where’s my mallet?
22 min – Ah-ha! She does have a parent!
24 min – An eagle and a wolf? Now there’s legislation that’ll never pass.
27 min – No you fool! You dig in the crack area, and then you find fossils.
30 min – Ai: Hooray! K.K. Slider! Wait… who is he anyways; no one told me anything!
39 min – K.K. Slider scares me.
42 min – I don’t think the porcupines should be so close to the inflatable raft.
47 min – Yu: Yeah! Now let’s rob them while their stuck!
54 min – There’s nothing quite like the drama of a town full of talking animals.
56 min – He ate all of your word and left without a simple thank you! That jerk!
62 min – Now that’s a keeper!
66 min – *Insert X-Files Theme Song Here*
74 min – You can’t swim? Some crocodile you turned out to be.
77 min – *Insert Close Encounters of the Third Kind Music Here*
80 min – Isn’t it sort of cheating? I mean the aliens did all the work!

NOTABLE QUOTES
Ai: (To Apollo) I’m sorry! I’m the person who messed up your garden! I came to deliver the goods, but you were out. Then a ninja appeared and…

Bouquet the Cat: (As everyone is about to go over a waterfall) I’m sorry! It was left!

Bouquet the Cat: Suddenly yelling is quite surprising.

Halberd & Bouquet: (As Yu falls) We’ll catch you, don’t worry!
Bouquet: (At the last minute) I’m too scared!

THE PLOT

Why? Just why? Why is there a movie about Animal Crossing? All of the video games in the world, why is there a movie about this particular game? I’ve played this game before and during my experience, I have never seen any material to make a movie out of. There is really no story to this game. Maybe you could make a TV anime or something, but a movie? Really? Let’s just see what this is all about.

Our film begins with a little named Ai moving into a small animal village. Many questions races through my thoughts at this opening. Why is she moving there? Where are her parents? Doesn’t she go to school? Are large talking animals a common occurrence in this world? Why is a kappa running a taxi service? So many questions, so very little time to answer them.

Ai arrives in Animal Village and meets up with Tom Nook, her new landlord. However, just like I would suspect from the raccoon, he immediately puts her to work without even showing where she’ll live. He has her basically deliver packages to all the quirky individuals living in the town; like super spacey hyper Bouquet the cat, Halberd the Crocodile, Bianca the Wolf, and others. She also meets the Yu, the bug catching ninja kid that lives over in the next village over. He is sort of cross between the Pok√©mon trainers Bug Catcher and Ninja Kid as you can imagine.

We are then treated a little montage of Ai as she lives her life in the village; helping out the locals, fixing up her home, harassed by Mr. Resetti, and being a slave to Tom. Just like in the game! Anyhow, as the days go by, she meets Apollo, the eagle of the town, who she seems to tick off when she accidently crushes some of his blue roses he was growing. Of course, she pleads that the ninja caused her fall into his garden (which is true), but since when do people accept ninjas as a proper excuse for things? Also, in one scene, we discover that Ai does indeed have a parent, a mom, who she writes a letter to about her experience in the town so far. Why did her mom send her to live out there by herself? Sure, it probably is the safest village in the entire world, but still.

As movie slowly moves along, Ai discovers a mysterious message in a bottle one night on the beach. She reads the message that states that a miracle will happen at the Winter Festival in Pine Forest. Suddenly, she looks up after reading it and sees what could possibly be a UFO! Ah ha! A plot point finally! Something that movie can finally work towards for some sort of a climax near the end.

We are at least 20 minutes in and strangely nothing has really happened. It’s mostly about Ai’s life in Animal Village and her experience with the locals. Well the film definitely is true to the game, it feels like nothing is really happened or going until now. It could be said that the movie is a Slice of Life story (essentially the story of people’s life, sort of like The Peanuts, Clerks, or Rugrats) so it could be excusable.

Anyhow, the movie continues at its pace with more stories of the village. We see Ai making friends with Sally the Elephant, who inspires to design and make the best clothing the world has ever seen and shares her cherry pie philosophy. We see Yu and Halberd digging for fossils (Sadly not digging on the crack where something should be buried) and accidently caving in Mr. Resetti’s tunnel system. We also learn of Apollo’s past, where he at one dated Bianca the wolf. Fascinating stories of interspecies romance and all of that. Also, Ai discovers the next message bottle, which has map marked with spots where pine trees should be planted in order to make the miracle happen. So we got possibly aliens with a green agenda throwing bottles in the ocean?

As Ai hangs out with Sally and Bouquet, they run into Yu and Halberd’s fossil expedition. Bouquet merely remarks that she seen more fossils in a cave then what the boys found. So, the two of them drag the girls along to find this cave and to find a lot of fossils. Inside the flooded cave, a wrong decision by Bouquet (who barely even remembers the place) and sends the group in their boat over a waterfall. However, when they land, they discover the mother load of fossils. Hooray for landing at coincidentally the place they wanted to be. However, when Yu breaks off a rock from the wall to get a fossil, the whole place starts coming down. So the whole cave was still standing because of that one rock? Anyhow, they manage to find an exit and escape as the whole place comes crashing down.

No need to dwell on that sad moment of losing a huge archeological find, the movie quickly cuts to that night for the firework festival where K.K. Slider plays to a huge crowd of… less than 20. What I find amusing about his performance is that when he sings K.K. Rhythm, it is just the game music. Well that’s fun for fans; it comes off as silly when his anime voice so does not match up with the electronic singing from the game. Back to the movie, after listening to the music and thinking about how dedicated Sally is to her dream of becoming a fashion designer, she decides to discover/find her own dream. Also, as she writes to her mom about has been happening recently, she looks up to her counter and looks at the four bottle messages (2 brand new ones), which seem to indicate more than ever that they are from aliens. I haven’t played Animal Crossing in a while, but can aliens appear in the game? If not, make it happen Nintendo!

The movie then jumps a couple of months into the future to Autumn where Ai discovers that Sally is moving out of town to become a designer and she never got the message for the going-away party. However, sadly, she can reach her friend in time as she has already moved out. I’m surprised Sally never mentioned this to Ai about leaving. You think she would tell her friend about her plans, but I guess they weren’t really THAT close after all.

Obviously, Ai is down in the dumps by this and spends her time at coffee shop drinking her sadness away. However, a sort of pep talk from Bianca and some encouraging words from a gluttonous walrus named Wendell seem to cheer her up a bit. Also, she gets a letter from Sally herself, who apologizes for not saying good-bye because it was too hard and would make her cry. Well at least she apologizes. That’s more than I would get in real life.

The film then jumps to Winter where everyone is setting up for the Winter Festival. Bouquet is getting ready for light decoration contest, Mr. Resetti is decorating the trees, Tom Nook is getting supplies, but Ai is preparing for something bigger. She has officially planted all of those trees in the spots on the map she got earlier and now must prepare for this miracle. At night, she spends time at the local observatory and starts watching the sky for any signs of UFO.

Coincidentally, a UFO does appear and wouldn’t you know it, crash lands in the center of town. The entire town heads to the crash site but only to discover that inside of the ship is Gulliver, a seagull. He had dropped off the bottles earlier to make an entrance for when he landed in the town, but unfortunately it didn’t go right and some of the parts to the ship broke off when he was descending to the earth. He asks the town to help him find the parts that broke off so he can repair the ship and they do so. I wonder how they broke off, considering that he didn’t hit anything on the way down.

Yu & Halberd head back to the cave from earlier, because he remembered seeing part fall into the cave earlier, along with Ai & Bouquet. They have trouble pushing some of the rubble blocking the cave entrance, but suddenly Sally pops up and helps them out. Turns out she took some time off to come back to see the festival and her friends. Well is that plot convenient moment!

Anyhow, they recover the piece inside after some dangerous hijinks and the unmasking of what Yu really looks like when he isn’t wearing a costume. They return back to Gulliver and the townsfolk with their part, but discover that they brought back in extra piece. Guess what? Suddenly, tons of UFOs appear above them, attracted to the lights on the trees that Ai planted earlier; and the machine part turns into a living mini UFO! However, it’s been damaged when it crashed into Gulliver’s ship (Ah! So that explains the broken parts), but it turns out that motherships have blue healing tractor beam powers that fix the little guy up. The little ship takes off with the rest of saucers back to their home world, flying behind a constellation of Ai’s face as a thank you and reminder.

The film wraps up with Gulliver heading home in his own UFO. Once he is high above the clouds, he takes a look down on the place and sees that a giant glowing star made of lights from the village and the neighboring communities as well, which he planned along with messages in the bottles he sent out. Also, we hear some final words from Ai to mother, saying that after all the experiences she had and the events of the night, she finally feels like a true member of Animal Village.

Now, how was the film? Being based off a video game that really had no plot to begin with and being based of a game in general, I’m quite impressed and really happy with the final results. The movie really feels like Animal Crossing with how it gets to what its plot is. It’s the story of a single person moving to brand new home in a community with unique and interesting individuals and forming strong friendships with them. It’s a simple story, but the filmmakers took the right route with it. As for the rest, the animation is good and invokes the art style of the original games really well, the characters are fun (Not extremely developed or anything, but good enough for what purpose they hold in the film), the music is nice, the humor was decent, and the voice acting isn’t too bad. Of course it is all foreign language, so I’m not sure how good they really are.

Looking towards the negative, I have to admit, as good as the movie was, I feel that it would have been still better as an anime series. The movie has tons of subplots in it and there really isn’t a central story going on throughout the film, outside of the mystery of the bottles. All of these subplots, like the part with Apollo & Bianca or the mayor’s reelection campaign, could have worked better as a TV episode because I feel we could have gotten better resolution for that point if it was given more time. Just a personal opinion. Other than that, I think there was a plot point or two that didn’t work or could have been made better with a bit more tweaking. Also, I think Ai’s back story should have been given. I would have liked it if we knew a little bit more about why she moved into the town or why her parents let her.

Over all, I think this was a solid movie and very well made video game adaption. Probably the best there is, but really, what is its competition outside of Mortal Kombat or Silent Hill possibly?

2 comments:

  1. I have a question that is unrelated to this review, are you the Jordan R. Was Here from fanfiction.net? If so can I take over your story I'm Stuck In A House Full Of Girls? I really enjoyed it and it pains me to see you stopped. If you can contact me, contact me here or at fanfiction.net as Captnspdr or at jonahmaylego@gmail.com

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  2. I stumbled across this blog via Google and I just thought you should know I found it quite entertaining. ^^ I found out about the existence of this movie last night when I got bored and googled "video game movies" just for fun, and I couldn't resist from watching it after seeing the trailer, and of course after watching it I had to see what other people had to say about it. :P Personally I loved it; guess I'm just a sucker for any and all things cute and chibi-like but there was something that was just so precious about seeing the characters from one of my favorite childhood (*coughnotasifIplayitanymoreeventhoughI'mseventeenyearoldcough*) video games come to life. Plus the voice acting got me as well. Is there just something about Asians that makes them all have adorably high-pitched voices?! ...But I digress. Cute movie, enjoyable review. Keep doing whatchour doing. :)

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