Well, it’s been some time since yours truly had the opportunity to post here, so I thought I’d take the time to write up a review on a nifty lil’ Korean Anime that came in the mail just this week and that I just finally managed to watch last evening.
Yep….that’s right….this lil’ Catgirl said honest to goodness KOREAN ANIME…… not the stuff from Japan, but a reasonably nice imitation from the land whose animation industry is primarily known for its mass produced TV shows like “The Simpsons”, “Family Guy”, and other such TV ilk. If you’ve been paying attention to Korean Cinema in the last few years, then you know that it’s really come along to the point where it rivals and even at times surpasses its rivals in the area of Production, Story, and general Innovation, so it’s nice to see that they are ready to step up to the plate in the area of animation as well.
Have Japan’s Anime Studios got anything to worry about from “Yobi, The Five Tailed Fox”? Well dear people, you’ll just have to read on and find out……….
“Yobi” is South Korean director Lee Sung-Gang’s follow-up to his first animated feature, 2002’s “Love Fantasy: My Beautiful Girl Mari”, a striking film done in an abstract “Flash Animation” style that surprised some viewers in its use in a big screen animation film. “Yobi” , on the otherhand is a traditional film done with old school anime style and a little bit of CG assisted gorgeous backgrounds rendered in a watercolor style that is well complemented by a stirring sound score from New Age pianist Yang Bang Ean. It’s a very attractive film to watch….perhaps its greatest nod to Studio Ghibli and the films that so obviously inspired it.
So…….as to the story itself. Well, it revolves around a magical fox spirit from Korean folklore called a “Goomiho”, a nine-tailed fox that can assume different forms including human. Fox-spirits are familiar figures in Asian folk tales from the Kitsune of Japan to the Huli Jing of China, and they are usually depicted as mystical spirits that take on a seductive female form to lure and prey on humans. This time, however, our heroine is a just a young child, an innocent kind-hearted foxgirl who has only five tails, instead of nine. The screenplay is written by director Lee Chang Dong (“Green Fish”), and voiced by Son Ye Jin (“April Snow”), Gong Hyung Jin (“Marrying the Mafia III”), and Ryu Deok Hwan (“Like a Virgin”).
After being orphaned by fox hunters, five-tailed Yobi (voiced by actress Son Ye Jin) happens upon a group of poor shipwrecked aliens, and they live together deep in the forest, high in the mountains safely far away from the humans with the other magical denizens of the forest. But….after a hundred years of peace, one of her alien friends gets captured by a young autistic girl from a school for troublesome youth, and Yobi has no choice but to venture into the dangerous human world to rescue him. There, Yobi meets many humans, including Geum Yee (Ryu Deok Hwan) who studies at the school. Interested in Geum Yee, Yobi joins the students and enjoys the fun and companionship of life at the school, but both a vengeful fox hunter and a mysterious shadowy spirit are on her trail.
Yobi comes to enjoy that life sooooo much that she can’t bear to let it end. Especially when her relationship with Geum Yee turns to a blossoming romance. Complicating matters is the problem of all Goomiho….if you want to become a human you must devour the soul of one who knows Love……what’s a poor lil’ Fox girl to do?
This is a very good film….I enjoyed it immensely and I can see why the director is viewed by many as “Korea’s Miyazaki”…..but before I make anybody run right out and plunk down their hard earned cash for a copy of “Yobi” there are some reservations to be heard……
I imagine you kinda went…..“What the heck?…Aliens?….And Fox spirits?…..???”….. Yep… the plot elements here are varied. Unfortunently practically NONE of them get resolved by then finish of the film. You don’t find out what happens to the aliens….do they get home? Do they get captured and put on TV? What happens to Geum Yee? Do he and Yobi have a future? How about the nasty Fox Hunter…… does he get his comeuppance?
I don’t know…..and unfortunately, neither will you. Still….despite its continuity problems and some biiiiig plot holes, I did enjoy this one, and it makes me want to keep my eyes peeled for more efforts from the Koreans…… Neko gives it 4 “Meows” out of 5, with many happy purrs for pretty, pretty animation…..
The two disc limited edition comes with the following features:
All in a beautifully holographed slipcover that is a work of art itself…..soooo pretty!
But don’t just take MY word for it…..Neko-chan has a Trailer just for you!!