Since we just celebrated Earth Day I thought it would be a good time to review Origin Spirits of the Past due to its theme of environmental harmony and balance. Released earlier this year, Origin is a visually breathtaking piece that does an absolutely masterful job of blending CGI and traditional anime art. Add to that a wonderfully orchestrated cinematic score and you have a piece that rivals the production value of anything I've seen. Truthfully, the only real downside to Origin is that its storyline is somewhat predictable, and extremely astute anime fans will definitely notice a resemblance to Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
Origin's plot centers around the conflict between two tribes of humans, one that wants to live in harmony with nature and another that wants to control nature. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world, resulting from a lunar-based reforestation project that goes awry and somehow manages to shatter the moon. Against this backdrop our story begins with a candid introduction to Agito, our male protagonist, and provides a cursory view of how the inhabitants of Neutral City have been impacted by this disaster (a disaster which resulted in the removal of any sort of complex technology, and the birth of a living and sentient forest). From this introductory view the story then quickly progresses, with the key moment being when Toola, a young girl, is accidentally awakened by Agito after 300 years in a stasis pod. This awakening sets in motion a whole set of events as Toola's links to the pre-shattered-moon human society pose an immediate, albeit unknowing, threat to the tenuous balance that the living forest and Neutral City have established. Add in a bit of mysticism and what you're left with is an enjoyable cinematic experience that I would recommend for anime fans who enjoy high production value and gaia-related themes.
As far as additional recommendations for this type of story, go check out Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and to a lesser extent My Neighbor Totoro. All are predecessors of Origin, and the later two were produced in the '80s, so they are a bit dated, but all are definitely worth watching and a must-see for any eco-friendly audience.
The Smug Dude
Recently Reinstated Anime Otaku & Closet Geek
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