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A series of unrelated stories about people reaching turning points in their lives, using the animated medium to tell tales that often seem more suited to live-action drama. A privileged youth, nursing a long-term grudge against his mother, strives to become a championship boxer in a reversal of the rags-to-riches tradition of Tomorrow's Joe. An idealistic young lawyer, helping a woman regain custody of her baby from its grandparents, rediscovers the true meaning of justice. A father tries to make up for his workaholic ways by giving his disinterested son an expensive bike. An academic who has left his working-class roots behind comes to terms with his orgins when his brother asks for a favor. A star and his manager, who have been lifelong friends, suffer strains in their relationship as the luster of fame begins to wear off. An adult brother and sister must cope with their old father, a man neither of them has much liked, whose house they have sold but whose care they are still obliged to maintain. A snooty reporter is forced to reconsider his attitude toward the news, and seek it through human contact when he is demoted to a regional newspaper. A rookie guard in a women's prison must confront an inmate who has lied to her. A married couple is torn between an impoverished life of creative fulfillment in Paris or commercial drudgery in Tokyo. A nuclear family find themelves inheriting an old "relative" who turns out to be their late father's mistress. A teenager endures bullying at school because his mother is a hostess in a bar. A male employee at a girls' reformatory agonizes about the 10% of girls that offend again upon release and frets over the best way to deal with a runaway.
It is a symptom of anime that they are so often unreal-when all one is paying for is paint, it is only logical for producers and creators to aim for the fantastic as often as possible in order to make virtues of their production's shortcomings. Anime rooted in reality are few and far between, but Human Crossing is one of them-every element of its production suggests that it began life as a live-action TV series, including resemblances to drama serials such as Tabloid (*DE), Unmarried Family (*DE), and particularly the prison drama Lipstick (*DE), since two of the HC tales revolve around female offenders. For some reason, perhaps budgetary issues, perhaps a change in the broadcast climate toward short stories, it appears to have been downgraded to anime status, in the manner of Perfect Blue. Its origin is a series of manga vignettes by Masao Yajima, the creator of Big Wing (*DE), and Kenshi Hirokane, the creator of Domain of Murder. Both are giants of the manga world who specialize in realistic stories of everyday folk, which has naturally led them to enjoy far greater success in the world of live-action TV drama than they could ever hope for in anime. Hirokane in particular is famed for Shooting Stars in the Twilight, a manga series written for aging readers, so it is perhaps no surprise that one story concentrates directly on the plight of the elderly in an uncaring modern society, while several others allude to it.
The honest and realistic storytelling demonstrates that anime doesn't have to rely on ninja battles and magic babe harems to create sympathetic, understandable characters. The animation is very limited, the storyboarding and camera work is pedestrian, and the use of live-action footage in the opening and ending sections only highlights its inadequacy. However, music is used very intelligently, that is, only when required to enhance a scene or move the story along, rather than being an inescapable irritation. Despite its deficiencies, this is an unusual and worthwhile addition to any anime collection.