So earlier tonight I had the pleasure of watching Shiki-Jitsu (or The Ritual for some people), a movie by none other than the fantastic Hideaki Anno…and damn, that movie is amazing, absolutely perfect in every possible way.
The film is about an anime director (played by indie Japanese filmmaker Shunji Iwai) returning to his hometown where he meets this freaky young girl (Ayako Fujitani, also writer of the script and novel) with whom he falls in love with. This may seem as a typical love story at first but believe me, it’s anything but that. As usual with Anno’s work, the movie takes the viewer for an emotional; somewhat mindfucking roller-coaster ride and the two characters are lovable and intriguing at the same time.
The film definitely has that special touch that only Anno can provide. It’s filled with weird (though more functional than those in Anno’s live-action debut Love & Pop) camera angles, there’s heavy focus on dialogue, the soundtrack mostly features beautiful piano tracks and the story is never really clear (in a good way). It’s also better than the aforementioned debut Love & Pop, though both films are fantastic; this one feels more complete in a way which I can’t really explain.
The actors also do a fantastic job in allowing us to relate to the characters. I’m not sure if Iwai has done any acting before, but he plays the cynic filmmaker quite well here, but the very best part of the film is Fujitani as the eccentric young girl…it doesn’t hurt that she’s incredibly gorgeous either. Oh and did I mention that it also features Megumi Hayashibara (you know…Rei) providing her amazing voice for some narrations?
So in conclusion: watch this movie; you won’t be disappointed, especially if you’re a Hideaki Anno fan.
Oh, on an unrelated note, I watched the two Death Note movies, and they’re awesome, I was never a fan of the manga but I loved them, the guy who plays L was amazing.