The unique feature of this film is that it uses a technique called “gekimation”. It’s sort of like a paper puppet show filmed in real time. Everything is already hand drawn, painted and cut to shape beforehand. Everything is placed for each scene and some limited movement is made while filming. It often reminded me of old 16-bit JRPGs with the limited animation and cut scenes that told the story. Even some of the music sounded like it came from the battle themes of old school JRPGs.
The art style is quite ugly and grotesque. The colour scheme is a bizarre mix of seemingly incompatible colours, orange, green, brown and red. Even the humans look ass-ugly and then become even more so when they are merged with Buddha statues. The story if you care to know is about a girl whose parents go missing along with their Buddha statue. In fact, Buddha statues have been stolen from temples for a while now and nobody knows why. The girl seeks out her parents and along the way unravels the mystery of the missing statues. The story is actually not really interesting and watching this film was more an exercise in waiting for the next messed up looking creature to appear. That’s not to say there’s no entertainment to be had. Because of the limited animation and unchanging facial expressions in scenes, there are some laugh out moments to be had just by the absurd combination of the two. Sometimes actual sticky goop will spew out of someone’s mouth or some sexual looking orifice.
It was a bold move by the festival programmers to have such a film at their festival but that’s what makes Fantasia special. This film is definitely weird and unique but this it is not something that you watch out of enjoyment but morbid curiosity. There’s certainly academic value in this too but I do hope someone attempts gekimation with some nicer looking paintings in the future.