Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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I love that Masaaki Yuasa is such an oddball director. It’s part of the reason his films are so fascinating to watch. He can put out a cute comedy, a weird coming of age story (Lu Over the Wall), a wildly crazy action series (Devilman: Crybaby) and then a bizarre rock opera like Inu-Oh. His ability to genre jump is what makes him so appealing, as you never know what you’re going to get from project to project. In the case of Inu-oh we get a rock opera that speaks to the power of music midst feudal Japan, in a story that is almost art house in its execution.
Young Tomona and his father are hired by the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu to dive to the bottom of the ocean and retrieve one of the legendary 7 treasures that were lost ages ago. However the duo are never exactly told what treasure they are diving after, and end up rising with the Grasscutter sword, a blade that has the power of the sun at it’s core. Tomona’s father ends up killing himself with the power of the blade and leaving power Tomona blinded by his mistake. The agents of the Shogun take the blade while Tomona is blind, leaving the poor child in a rut. However, he’s not about to forgo the payment that the agents skipped out on, and ends up on a journey to hunt them down. In his travels he meets an aging Biwa player (a biwa being an ancient Japanese guitar like instrument) and teams up with the old man as his eyes. Along the way he ends up learning the biwa and finding out that there is more to life than simple pursuit of revenge.
Inu-Oh is a fascinating film that is pretty much pure rock opera like the tag line on the case states. Tomona’s heavy metal style Biwa playing adds an otherworldly air to the their stories, and the blind kid’s ability to see the dead warriors of the past adds even more supernatural flavors to the story. The tale is incredibly fun to watch unfold, even though it takes about 30 minutes to really get going. Combine the weirdness of Masaaki Yuasa and his trademark watercolor and stop motion style animation (depending on the scene) and you get a bizarre watch that really starts to unfold with repeat viewings. Personally I always watch a Yuasa film at least twice before commenting on it, because the first viewing is reserved for getting used to the bizarre nature of the story, and the second viewing is where I start to see the nuance and meaning of the narrative. Inu-Oh is no different, as the second viewing is where I started to really get into the groove of it all, and enjoy more than just the music and the odd visuals.
Rated PG-13 for some strong violence and bloody images, and suggestive material.
• Interview with Masaaki Yuasa
• Yuasa Draw Inu-oh
• Scene Breakdown
• Trailers and Teasers
I really really REALLY wanted to enjoy Inu-Oh, and luckily came away mostly impressed. The film is different than any other Yuasa film to date, and I count that as a good thing. It’s not a masterpiece in my humble opinion, but the ability to blend dance and music together with ancient mysticism and feudal warlords is a feat in and of itself, and is done nearly seamlessly. As usual, the story is more style over substance, but there is more than enough substance to keep fans entertained. Solidly recommended for those of you who enjoy a different style of Anime than you’re probably used to, and definitely something to check out if you’re a Masaaki Yuasa fan. Recommended.
Starring: Avu-Chan, Mirai Moriyama, Kenjiro Tsuda, Tasuku Emoto, Yutaka Matsushige
Directed by: Masaakie Yuasa
Written by: Hideo Furukawa (Novel), Akiko Nogi (Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DVS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Studio: Shout Factory
Runtime: 98 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: January 24th, 2023