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Legend of the Millennium Dragon - Anime Movie Review

Updated on January 9, 2012

Legend of The Millennium Dragon

Studio Pierrot is somewhat prolific in the industry. The crown jewels in their history are probably Yu Yu Hakusho, Bleach, and Naruto. In terms of feature length films, most of their portfolio has been built out of the Naruto movies. I actually wasn't aware that this was the studio behind The Millennium Dragon when I decided to watch it. I only learned that after finishing the movie; and I have to say, it's probably for the best, because I would have set myself up with some expectations that would not have been met. It's not that Millennium Dragon is a bad movie, but it is clearly lacking in production values, and in any over all style. Quite frankly, it looks kind of lame. And say that you will about the quality of the Naruto films, one thing they cannot be described as, is looking "kind of lame."

Characters, especially their facial expressions, are drawn very simplistically. Although backgrounds do look quite good.
Characters, especially their facial expressions, are drawn very simplistically. Although backgrounds do look quite good.

Legend of the Millennium Dragon is a fairly cliched movie at its core, taking a fistful of pages out of the "stranger in a strange land" trope. It's about a fifteen year old boy in modern Japan, who gets sent back in time, to the middle of a war between humans and the Oni, where he finds out he's apparently a savior. For whatever reason, he's the only one capable of resurrecting and controlling the eight-headed water dragon, Orochi. It's nothing that we haven't seen before, and the movie doesn't make its explanation a major focus. Still, it's not too hard to accept for what it is. I get the feeling that the film was aimed at a younger audience -- and I can see myself eating this up if I had the chance to watch it as the eight-year-old that I once was. After all, I actually enjoyed Warriors of Virtue when I was a kid, and I can guarantee that this is a lot better than that. Truth be told, as recycled as the plot was, I was able to sit back and get into it. It's not new, but it works reasonably well.

Occasionally the film contains scenes of impressive action, even if the art and animation leave something to be desired.
Occasionally the film contains scenes of impressive action, even if the art and animation leave something to be desired.

If there's a reason to watch the movie, it's probably the action. It seems really low on key frames at times, and as mentioned, the characters are nothing special to look at, but I can sense that a lot of care was put into whatever the animated version of choreography is. There's a few melee fights between characters which are pretty exciting, if short. Then there's the fights with the Oni which contain a lot of magic. Those were the scenes that made me ask "Was eighty percent of the budget used to make the fire look really good?" Because yeah. The fire looks good. Although if my theory is correct, there was some very poor planning going on with this movie. The way characters are drawn really push boundaries of what might be considered a "stylization," and instead border on "ugly."

Magic is used frequently throughout the film, though it is never explained how or why. No biggie.
Magic is used frequently throughout the film, though it is never explained how or why. No biggie.

Acknowledging that I was probably not the intended audience, I feel this movie might deserve some slack. It's a kids' movie. I concede that. But another part of me feels that a "kids movie," done right, can appeal to everyone. Studio Ghibli and Pixar are proof of that. This movie did enough right to keep me watching. I was interested in seeing how it would end -- and then it ended pretty much exactly how I anticipated it would after the first thirty minutes. To add to that, I never really cared about the characters. The main character comes off as kind of annoying due to his whining. And though the other characters aren't dislikable, this is largely due to the fact that only one of them is given any development in the first place. To book end though: the movie is not bad.There's just not a whole lot of substance to it.

Rating: 6.75 out of 10

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