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Colorful (2010)

October 22, 2013


A dejected spirit awakens to find that he is in the afterlife shuffling along a host of othe passing spirits. Unwilling to return to the physical realm of existence, the spirit meets Purapuro, a “guide,” who assures him he has recieved a second chance to redeem his past life’s deed of committing murder. However, this spirit must do so in the body of a 14-year-old boy, Makoto, who is near death from a suicide attempt. Despite having no memory of his past life, the spirit must use Mokoto’s resurgence to life in order to learn from the sins he’s committed before, while also understanding what drove Mokoto to his own death.

As a concept, Colorful is fascinating. As a film, director Keiichi Hara’s beautifully constructed tale falls short into convoluted chaos. The first hour– give or take– focuses on the story at hand. The spirit is living day-to-day responding and acting the way he assumes Mokoto would only to be caught off guard by other’s reactions, making not knowing what happened to Mokoto and what he was like an anxious burden. Yet, despite its heavy theme, Colorful manages to find a balance of humor but like mentioned before, that’s only the first hour or so. About halfway in Colorful takes a strange trippy nose dive into a drawn out side story that dilutes the film’s spiritual meaning and intrigue.


I understand what Colorful intended to do halfway into it’s over two-hour running time when it shifts to the growing friendship between Makoto and Saotome. A classmate of Makoto, Saotome is a goofy but kind student whose recent affinity for trains leads to an unnecessarily montage of his fact spewing. The change in pace acknowledges the simple pleasures Makoto receives from the slighest nod of friendship, and I’m pretty sure Hara was ecstatic to further showcase his astonishing visual skills by way of spectacle during the montage which allows him to converge real life photography with animation. However, the film’s different route proves itself to be a poor decision that takes away any interest that is gained while watching the first half of the film.

The tedious train sequence isn’t the only fault of Colorful. Miho Mauro’s bland screenplay results in limited character development and at times baffling character decisions and reactions. The spirit in Makoto has displaced anger with Makoto’s family and his peers at school. However, even when the spirit’s past life is revealed, his attempts to hurt those who cared for Makoto and accept those who didn’t makes even less sense because Colorful forgets to delve into these issues. Most of the characters are shown through the very limited, shallow eye of the screenplay, making them either dull or just unlikable.


Luckily, Hara’s visual eye is exquisite enough to make the boring journey we must take somewhat tolerable. The detail of background materials is jaw dropping with the foreground receiving just as much of a delicate touch. A close-up of a painting in one particular scene meticulously outlines the paint strokes and textures that painting in acrylics has on canvas. Hara also utilizes incredible cinematic techniques of revolving perspective and multi-angled edits to add depth to a scene.

Colorful’s theme of redemption is admirable, but alas, its weak screenplay is the most crippling reason why Colorful is mediocre at best. Although visually stunning, it lacks depth and focus. It’s vapid, which is disheartening considering the deep route it chose to take for its story. Nevertheless, if you choose to check out Colorful, make sure to watch it in its original language with English subtitles. The tone of the film is much more confusing and odd when dubbed in English.

AVOID IT. Yes, it’s beautiful, but it’s not the first of its kind.

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