animated film "Mind Game"

A Cult Classic: ‘Mind Game’ Review

Your life is the result of your own decisions. With that in mind, would you live your life fearlessly or cautiously?

Directed by Masaaki Yuasa, Mind Game is a 104-minute cult classic film that gives you an insight to life possibilities that could ensue if you would just, live like you mean it. It was released in 2004 under Studio 4°C. The movie is based on a manga with the same name by Robin Nishi.

Summary

Nishi (Koji Imada) is an aspiring manga artist who has loved Myon (Sayaka Maeda) since junior high school, but nothing came of it due to his fear of rejection. Well, more precisely… it’s because he’s a coward, a wimp, a weakling—you get the gist. One day, they run into each other as adults and Nishi’s harbored feelings for Myon resurface, cute, but unfortunately it’s a bit too late. She tells him that she is soon to be married.

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Myon invites Nishi to her and her sister Yan’s (Seiko Takuma) yakitori (chicken pieces grilled on a skewer) shop for dinner to catch up, where trouble unfolds as they encounter 2 yakuzas (Japanese mafia). Upon this meeting, a disastrous yet seemingly fatalistic event occurs—Nishi gets shot and dies, but no worries, the real adventure now begins.

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Credit: Studio 4°C

After death, he ends up in a different dimension where he meets some sort of a higher being whom Nishi refers to as “God”. This being grants him a second chance in life, only under the condition that he must live life full throttle with no hesitations—an approach he’s unfamiliar with.

So he does just that, and trouble follows, of course.

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Credit: Studio 4°C

Commentary

Animation

If you’re a whore for visuals like I am, then you’re in for a pleasant time. This film is a patchwork of various animation methods and art styles such as rotoscoping, pencil sketch-like animation, watercolors, CGI, live-action, papercraft, etc.—making Mind Game a playground for your optics. This film most likely won’t fulfill your expectations of modern anime. It will either surpass or fail them.

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Initially, what drew my interest was the loud praise for the visuals (like I mentioned, I’m a sucker for beautiful visuals), and needless to say, it certainly exceeded whatever expectations I had. The boundless creativity exhibited is what makes this a special anime in my book.

Mind Game animation is ranged from extreme vagueness to clear-cut precision, and is both wacky and sensible. Overall, hella fun.

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Credit: Studio 4°C

There are scenes that make you question Yuasa’s sobriety in the duration of creating this film. “Was he on LSD? Wait..I am sober right? What the hell is going on?” are questions that most likely will cross your mind during those scenes and I advise you now to not focus too much on deciphering things, but rather just sit back, relax, and wallow in the dazzling animation.

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Credit: Studio 4°C

My favorite scene would be the visually eclectic love-making scene. Even though it’s animated, it still manages to portray such accurate human emotions through the explosion of colors and oh my God also the freaking MUSIC. The song chosen definitely helps build on more impact for this scene—the sweet melody and the sultry voice in combination with the alluring animation just puts this down as one of the best scenes I’ve seen. Not only my eyes are pleased, my tiny hair cells are also dancing. I want this scene tattooed on me.

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Theme and Plot

The plot shines light on a typical theme: live life to the fullest. Sounds bland? I agree, however, the unconventional approach taken to deliver this theme is what makes Mind Game the furthest thing from boring.

As for the plot, to be honest, I’m not too crazy for it—not to say that it was bad, it just didn’t wow me. I enjoyed it though.

Conclusion

I know I just said I’m not a big fan of the plot, however, I am the biggest fan of the execution. What makes this anime special isn’t fully in the story aspect, it’s the art. The different styles that were spectacularly put together and worked in ways that didn’t feel excessive is quite impressive. This film is the aftermath of a creativity eruption, and that’s solely the reason I appreciate it.

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Credit: Studio 4°C

This isn’t like your regular anime so it’ll either go down as one of your favorites or you’ll consider it as a waste of time. If substance is more important than style to you then I probably wouldn’t recommend, although there are some violence and sexual content. On the other hand, if you care for style more than substance, or care for them equally, I think you should check this out. The art will fill up voids that substance couldn’t. This one is for the art hoes out there.

If you do decide to give this a chance, let us know at @GeekGalsCo what you think of it.

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Featured image credit: Studio 4°C

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