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Japan Cuts Review: Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha: The Great Departure

I don’t believe there are words to really say how satisfied I am with this movie. It is after all animation of Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha. If you read the manga, then you would enjoy this movie greatly. The Great Departure is the first movie in a trilogy, so there is going to be some time to wait before the rest of the movies come out.

It has been a must see movie of mine since I heard of it beginning production last year. It was also part of my Spring anime pick, since it aired in Japan at May. Then when I met Yoshiki, Buddha’s Theme was also played. So you can imagine how happy I was, when I heard that New York Asian Film Festival is going to be doing a North America premiere of it. As my friends told me, tickets were completely sold out and there was a waiting line. However good thing for some viewers, is that there is going to be an Encore presentation for it this Sunday, where there is likely to be a raffle from Vertical, as what the staff mentioned.

NYAFF is an annual film festival in New York City that showcases movies for various Asian countries, so Japan Society gets involved, and this is their fifth year with being a part of NYAFF with their own Japan Cuts. Cuts is where a selection of notable Japanese films are premiered or shown. This is my third year going to NYAFF, and as a fan for Japanese films. I end up writing/babbling about movies I experienced.

If you read the manga then rest assure that this movie follows the manga accurately with possibly a few minor changes and omissions. Of course reading the manga is infinity better, since there is details and nuances that were not even covered in this movie. This eight volume set is released in English by Vertical. The Great Departure covers volumes 1-2 of the manga series.

I watched the movie, and was pretty happy with hearing the voices of Masato Sakai as adult Chapra. Later my friend told me, there were also more notable voice actors in it. I heard the movie, with an ear thinking that I know these voices. So yes, Nana Mizuki, Mamiko Noto, Ikue Ohtani are voices that is in the movie.

The background is definitely going to be not as detailed as Satoshi Kon, but the sweeping visuals of this film is stunning. There is also what my friend notes as three major battle scenes, where the godliness of Buddha is flagged with rainbow colors. The themes of this movie is pretty much the life of how Buddha gains enlightenment to be a noted religious figure.

Music for this film is quite moving, lots of strings and movement. I was also waiting to hear Scarlet Love Song for the umpteenth time. (sighs) Toshi’s voice and Yoshiki’s composition is just superb. At this point, I count this as a movie theater experience that I haven’t done in over a year. So right now contemplating on going to see Ninja Rantarou, which is playing on Saturday, that is based off a manga and anime.

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