Beyond The Clouds – A moving masterpiece

This movie has incredible art. A great example of why I believe high definition video makes anime even better.

Beyond The Clouds was an extraordinary anime, but not so much in the story as the artistry. I call it “a moving masterpiece” because the art in the movie is like a moving painting. People have said that of just about all forms of anime, but this one very much is a piece of moving art. Pictures alone don’t really do justice to the quality of the art, as much of it is in the movement and small changing details like the flashing of lightning or the distorted view created by heat vapors. Parts of this movie actually managed to feel warm despite the video medium being technically incapable of projecting physical things such as temperature.

This is a movie for people that enjoy the art behind an anime as much as the anime itself. The story, though interesting and unique is actually quite slow. Despite that, I kept wanting to watch it because the characters were just so interesting and human feeling. The personalities were far more believable than most animated films I have seen in the past.

The movie takes place in an alternate timeline version of Japan several decades after an event refered to as The Separation has occured. The Seperation split Japan into two halves leaving the southern part occupied by the United States and the northern part occupied by something called the Union. Around the same time as The Seperation a scientist named Ekusun Tsukinoe began the construction of a strange tower for the Union in Ezo, a city we would know as Hokkaido. The tower was so massive that, on a clear day, it could be seen all the way from Tokyo

An underground group called the Uilta Liberation Front was formed in the South with the goal of reunifying Japan. Secretly supported by some Alliance government officials, it engages in terrorist activities on Union territory. At the time of the movie this organization is attempting to bomb the tower. This all sounds like an interesting plot–however; the main characters are more spectators in the whole event than anything really.

The story begins in Aomori on the northern end of southern Japan and follows the story of three friends. The characters are two boys; Hiroki Fujisawa and Takuya Shirakawa who both have exceptional abilities in physics and engineering, and the one girl; Sayuri Sawatari, a classmate who becomes friends with the boys.

Hiroki and Takuya have been working together to build an airplane out of a crashed drone plane they had found. They keep it hidden in a warehouse where they work on it regularly with parts they have scrounged from where they work at the Emishi Manufacturing factory. Sayuri mysteriously disappears during the summer while Hiroki and Takuya’s work on the plane fades.

The story then jumps 3 years ahead where Hiroki has become a physics engineer working for the Union, but secretly a member of the Uilta Liberation Front, while Takuya has basically sat around in Tokyo moping about Sayuri’s disappearance. Takuya eventually gets involved when he discovers that Sayuri has basically been asleep at a hospital because of alternate realities being fed into her mind in the form of dreams. If she were to awaken the world could basically come to an end.

I highly recommend this movie, despite the somewhat slow pace, if only for the extraordinary art. It really is something to see, it’s so beautifully done.

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