Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.
Spirit of Wonder
Date 01 May 2006
The presentation of Spirit of Wonder really does make the package seem rather special. A beautiful fold out cardboard case featuring Kenji Tsuruta's wonderfully understated artwork lends an element of class, and the booklet featuring an interview with the Director, Anno Takashi, shows that Beez made a real effort here.
It's not hard to see why either. In the spirit of Miyazaki's Laputa, Spirit of Wonder sets itself in a retro and idyllic alternative reality, where a team of old men (the Scientific Boys Club) do their best to realise their dreams of visiting Mars by building an airship capable of making the journey.
The second disc features 3 short films set in a boarding house run by the feisty Miss China, who is unfortunate enough to have a mad scientist as a lodger. The 3 shorts on this disc chronicle her mishaps, and are a little more wacky and energetic than the 2 part story on the first disc.
Like Miyazaki, much of the charm lies in the characters, with some wonderful expressions and lots of energy, all with an old-world charm that really keeps your interest. The only other comparison I can make is to Last of the Summer Wine, with the elderly oddballs getting up to mischief at every turn, much to the bewilderment of the younger characters.
Now, I'm not naive enough to think that everyone likes Last of the Summer Wine, so that could be taken as a bit of a warning. Those of you who like teenage angst and flashy battles will find nothing to hold your attention here, so be warned - this is a mature, slow burning study of character and themes that will probably bore you rigid.
Extras are thin on the ground, but with this much anime across 2 discs, you're hardly being short changed.
Those of you with a more adventurous and wide ranging palette will find both the visuals and the stories themselves to be entertaining and whimsical, and easily on a par with some of Miyazaki's current run of releases.