Friday, September 23, 2011

You are Umasou

I was hesitant at first to watch this movie. Firstly, it's a foreign film. It's a Japanese animated movie, which falls under the anime category, and it's directed at children. I enjoy anime but there are certain aspects of it that can be viewed as negative. I.E., Choopy animation, reused animation, excessive amount of ridiculous action scenes. But in the end I think it turned out to be fine in this movie and I didn't see much of any of that.

Firstly, the title of this movie is "You are Umasou." What does that mean? Well, it means "You are Tasty-looking." The movie is about a Dinasaur named Heart, a T-rex to be specific, who was raised by a plant-eater. As a young little dino he finds out that he should not be eating plants so he runs away from home to become the meat-eater that he is. He grows up and trains to be the strongest and best big-jaw on the plains. One day he finds an abandoned egg on the ground. It cracks open to reveal a tiny stegosaurus, to which Heart promptly says "You look tasty." Unexpectedly, the stego suddenly says "Dad! Dad! Did you just name me?" and the story really kicks off from there.

It can be safely said that this movie is directed towards kids. There is hardly any blood or gore, despite the main subject being about dinosaurs eating meat. Most of the time the meat sort of looks like pink bubble gum. The only time we ever witness any blood is in the final battle between Heart and one-eyed Baku. The fight scenes in this film are generally well done. They become a little overzealous at times. A Dinosaur performing traditional kung fu or judo-chopping his fellow lizards was probably meant to be cool, but in retrospect it was kind of cliche and silly to think about. Specifically, looking at this scene:

In the above scene, Heart is defending his precious "son" from some of the other big-jaws on the plain. He manages to defeat all of the other big-jaws without ever opening his mouth, simply using kicks and punches and tail-slaps to achieve his goal of defending Umasou. In the background we can hear the old nursery rhyme Heart heard as a young child about the big jaw coming to steal the little children. This sort od dissonance is not a new idea, but it worked for the scene well enough. The rhyme goes like this:

Beware Beware, pay attention
Big jaw comes to steal crying children
a rugged body, jagged fangs
big jaw comes to steal crying children

Tied throughout the movie are a few symbols that sort of show up frequently. One is the old nursery rhyme mentioned above. It shows up frequently. One as Heart is a young dinosaur, another as he has grown up and is just singing it to himself before he goes to get his dinner, and during this fight scene in particular. Another thing that shows up are these tiny red berries. As a young dino, Heart could not eat leaves like his adopted family and was forced to eat red berries. As a child they were delicious to him, and even though he grew up to eat meat we still see him occasionally popping one or two in his mouth. In particular, Umasou wanted so badly to eat dinner with his father that he went out searching for the red berries so that the two of them could eat together. And at the end of the film when Heart finally decides to revisit his family, he little sister hands him a red berry to symbolize their acceptance of him.

Over all I think this is a very cute film filled with a lot of good qualities. There are some cliches, but they are not in bad taste or overly done. It was a very unique film idea and I think it did a good job of dealing with the sensitive subject at hand. If a meat-eat must eat meat, does that mean he can't still be apart of his plant-eting family? The resolution was that he can still care about his family and he ultimately decides what he eats and does not eat. The animation was well-done, albeit a bit choppy as typical anime is in some places. The fight scenes are probably the most memorable animated scenes, which is not a bad thing. In my opinion, this movie rivals The Land Before Time with its wonderful story and should be viewed by all, even if you're not a kid.

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