Anime Review: Colorful Movie

Anime Review:
Colorful Movie

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! While I have already finished off my year-end review of 2010 anime shows, there are a handful of shows that have become available in the past few months. For more information about me and my reviews, click here.

Movie Premise: Colorful: The Movie (completely unrelated to the Colorful anime series and manga) was a feature-length theatrical film that debuted in October, 2010. Upon death, a wayward soul is given a second chance to “get it right” by returning into the body of a 14-year-old Japanese boy who tried to commit suicide, and must discover the reason for the attempt to avoid disappearing again.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

ep. tl;dr review: Heaven Can Wait Part 2 in Japanese anime form; Well-done and emotional, but very slow and overly-long.

Spoiler-Free Set-Up: After death, a lost soul without memories is forced to have a second chance at life. With the celestial guide Purapura, he finds himself awakening in the body of a 14-year-old Japanese boy that had attempted suicide. Makoto must now settle into his “new” life, and soon learns that his happy family is not as stable as it first seems. After learning that “he” had tried suicide shortly after learning that his mother was having an affair, Makoto finds himself unable to forgive her as father puts on a happy face and his older brother appears completely indifferent. Things are not any better at school, where he is last in his class, without a single friend, pining after the prettiest girl in class while avoiding the attention of the nerdiest girl in class. But Makoto soon discovers his time is limited — he must figure out the true reason for his suicide before his second chance at life runs out for good.

My Reaction: There aren’t any big fighting scenes, huge samurai battles, giant flying warships or transforming magical girls in Colorful. Nope, the movie is fully grounded in the real world, dealing with some of the darker, grittier topics of life that we often try to avoid. Teen suicide, ostracization, infidelity, teenage prostitution…and yet it also deals with redemption and forgiveness. It truly would be a wonderful, emotional ride, except the fact that it clocks in at well over two hours long, and just seems to plot along inexorably to a rather predictable (but still uplifting) ending.

You really want to feel sorry for Makoto…if he wasn’t such a total dick. With everyone on tenterhooks around him avoiding even mentioning his suicide, we soon learn that he was shunned by nearly everyone in school, with abysmal grades and not a single friend, his only solace found in art class. He does try to make some furtive moves towards improving his condition, which don’t end well. But then Makoto turns so viciously on his mother after learning of her wandering habits, almost taking sadistic glee at twisting the knife into her in such a indifferent way that only a teenager can do, pointedly avoiding her lovingly-cooked meals at every opportunity until she is dragged to her wit’s end. And the longer he is unable to forgive her, the deeper the hole he finds himself in.

Turns out the most interesting character in the lot is Makoto’s classmate Shoko. She is the geekiest girl in the school displaying all the quirks of a full-blown Aspie, similarly ostracized by everyone else including Makoto who treats her like dogshit and avoids her at every opportunity. Yet she is most in-tune with Makoto, able to see right through his shell, the only person to really understand how he feels.

In the end, the big ‘reveal” and final plot twist is not as surprising or climactic as one would hope, although it does nicely wrap up the movie. If you’re going to watch the movie, just don’t expect any rollercoaster ride. Settle in for a long, slow, two-hour-plus plod through Makoto’s slow slide into depression (almost like Haibane Renmei’s “circle of sin”), and then trying to climb to redemption. Oh, and just a quick word on the quality of the artwork and animation — it was nothing special but decent enough (as far as I’m concerned the animation and art comes a distant second to story and plot unless it is either exceptionally good…or exceptionally bad).

The verdict:

FINAL GRADE: B – Every feature-length movie that I review gets a “letter grade”, and this falls into the middle of the scale. No need to re-cap what I wrote above, Colorful is decent enough but just simply long.


  • Videos and Previews:
  • Additional Info Resources:
  • Official United States Licensing Information:
    • Nope, not available in the U.S.
  • The Blog-Roll of Reviews:
    • “It’s perhaps not the best, but the character development is definitely worth it. It doesn’t follow the formula of “first half slice of life second half drama”, but instead it blends in both parts very nicely, taking the time to slowly show his character in his every day life, along with the problems he has and how he develops…It’s the build-up that leaves things to be desired and feels incomplete at times, which prevents the drama from really reaching great heights. Grade: 82.5/100.” – Star Crossed Anime Blog
    • “The first half of the movie was a little slow and I felt a little annoyed watching the self-centered behavior of Makoto. However, as the movie progressed, Makoto also progressed and became more likable. It also became clearer where the story was heading towards and I felt very touched and satisfied after watching the movie. Grade: 8/10.” – Chan-Chan’s Anime Blog
    • “Even with the fantasy theme of reincarnation it didn’t fail to portray reality, its harshness, and the beauty of living life despite the former. Definitely something you can’t miss especially if you love drama like me. Grade: 9/10.” – My Anime List Reviews
    • “Colorful is not an easy film to digest. In many respects this is what makes it most appealing. Dealing with difficult subjects such as death, suicide and the afterlife are often met with much difficulty within the realm of animation, but Colorful maturely handles these subjects with ease and believability.” – Isugoi
    • “It’s a beautiful film that is a must-see for teenagers in particular because it opens the door to discussions about how to overcome depression and feelings of loneliness and despair.” – Nishikata Film Review
    • “I highly recommend this anime. It’s a bit melodramatic (I might be using the word wrong here) and definitely not your typical action/battle anime. However, don’t let this scare you away as there were many emotional moments and several intense moments I was clenching my fist.” – Krunk4Ever
    • “really want this movie to get as much attention as possible. I admit it, this one is personal – I love the film and I want to promote it any way I can. I’ll say up front that I know this isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes. It’s definitely a character-piece, without a lot of action or breakneck pacing. Some will find it depressing, and even the director admitted that it’s more like a live-action drama than a traditional animated film in some ways.” – Random Curiosity
    • “I don’t want to give the wrong impression here – in the end, I still find Colorful to be an excellent film with a competent – but not mind-blowing- execution of its premise. But perhaps it’s because the director had so many good ideas, that I find myself wishing he could have inserted that additional level of care that elevates films to classics. Grade: 4/5.” – Omohide
    • “This 2-hour long, slow-paced film won’t be for everyone, but I personally found it to be a great pleasure to watch and hope that you guys enjoy it too! Grade: 9/10.” – Meeping Anime Blog

Odds ‘n’ Ends to Review Left Over from 2010: Pokemon Zoroark: Master of Illusions Movie, Gunpla Builders, Naruto: The Lost Tower Movie, The Borrowers Movie, Votoms: Case Irvine, Votoms: Finder, Heartcatch Precure Movie, You Are Umasou Movie

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8 Responses to Anime Review: Colorful Movie

  1. Theowne says:

    More than his mother, it was the glasses wearing schoolmate that got the brunt of his more jerk-like behavior, particularly when she visits him when he’s sick (an especially “messed up” scene on his part…). I can’t say I really liked the main character, but the premise and ending (though predictable, as you said) stuck in my head.

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