Wonderful Days

by Susan Shu-Mei Hsu

The year is 2142 AD. People are divided into essentially 2 groups: the people who live in ECOBAN, a beautiful city in which people live safely, richly and happily, and people who live in Marr, the slums. Needless to say, Marrians are anything but fortunate. Not only do these habitants live in fear of each other, but they are constantly afraid of the repressive police patrol of ECOBAN. Furthermore, for generations, the government of ECOBAN has abused the Marrian workers by forcing them to work in harsh conditions in order to produce pollution (fancy that!) that will be converted into a form of energy that ECOBAN feeds off of.

The Marrians are unhappy and want to revolt, and rightfully so. That's when Shua, the cover model for the movie, manages to sneak into ECOBAN and steal information from the DELOS system. Jay, a police officer, comes face to face with the culprit and realizes that he is a childhood friend whom she thought was dead. Then enters Simon, another police officer who grew up with them. A whole lot of trouble ensues, and a revolution occurs.

At first, having read the DVD's back cover, I thought Wonderful Days would be a typical shoujo movie, involving a beautiful girl and two guys who are in love with her. Well, it sort of is, and then again, it isn't. The love-triangle theme is only part of the story, as half of the film focuses on the differences between the two cities, and how harshly people treat each other. During these conflicts, buildings are bombed and people are killed; the amount of violence is depicted in graphic detail. Jay, the main female character, resembles a bishounen at times due to her short red hair. Therefore, Wonderful Days is definitely not a typical shoujo movie, although it is clear that Simon is consumed by jealousy every time Shua shows up.

However, Simon is unlike the typical amorous third party that tries harder and harder to please the girl. He's more of the "I'll-get-rid-of-my-rival-behind-your-back" type. Sure, Simon's approach is annoying, but without him, Wonderful Days would resemble a war movie, and Shua would have no competition.

Then I thought that perhaps this is a shounen movie in disguise, due to the amount of violence depicted in the film. But that's not true, as there is a lack of fanservice, as compared to the usual amount found in the shounen genre. True, we get to see Jay in a shower scene, but only her upper shoulders and face are shown, and that only for a few seconds! Viewers also get to see a voluptuous, neon dancer named Helen dancing away in a strip bar in Marr, as a group of Marrians try to convince Shua to accompany them in a surprise raid on ECOBAN. But that's basically all of the fanservice.

What we end up with is a movie that is a combination of everything. I guess Wonderful Days is anything from science fiction to shounen to shoujo to some sort of commentary on alternative energy sources. The film also addresses politics, mainly corruption due to the abuse of political power, and the rebellious nature of underprivileged people. Perhaps these are what make Wonderul Days a great movie, beside the seamless fusion of 2D and 3D animation and music. The opera music near the end of the movie, the grand ensemble that Tin House uses during the Scene Selection DVD menu, and the occasional mixture of Celtic bagpipe with techno music during battle/slaughter scenes are nothing short of amazing. Even the simple piano cords and grand violins work quite well as background music while Jay motorbikes through clouds of dust.

The only drawbacks to the movie are, in my opinion, the extravagant use of blood and scenes of violence. Also, the existence of the beautiful neon people and strange creatures in Marr are never explained. Otherwise, this DVD is excellent. I especially like the interactive menus for the Language Selections and the Scene Selections, as even the Chapter Index is grouped according to themes and metaphors (i.e. Day of Rain, Day of Fog, Day of Thunder & Lightning, Day of Wind, Day of Wonderful Days).

Throughout the movie, the visuals contain beautiful, realistic backgrounds, from detailed carvings on the walls to the flies hovering over an old light bulb. The superb graphics in Wonderful Days are certainly something worth admiring. However, it is also worth noting that while this film is not packed with philosophical ideas, it does focus on and empathize with the suppression and the maltreatment of the Marrians. That is to say that Wonderful Days is definitely not purely entertainment. It's more of an anime for the deep-thinking otaku.

About This Item

  • Wonderful Days

  • Format:
    Bilingual DVD / 87 min.
  • Production:
    Tin House / Aura Entertainment / Moon-Saeng Kim
  • Rating:

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