Trees shattering the moon is quite a different idea. Origin takes place in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by genetically engineered plants. It is a rather novel idea, but the movie cuts the good and evil – technology verses environment too sharply.
Agito is a rash boy at home in the ruins of the past. After all, Neutral City is built on top of them. True to its name, the city serves as a neutral bridge between the Forest that inhabits most of the planet and the military nation of Ragna. One day his hijinks leads him to find a cryogenic pod with a mysterious girl inside. Well, I am sure you can see where this is going!
The girl’s thaw and return to the world of the living isn’t heralded as I expected. It turns out thawed people show up time to time from underneath the city as the remaining pods go offline. The last to come to the surface joined the Ragna, and its fight against the forest.
In typical anime fashion, the girl (Toola) hold the key to the destruction of the Forest and the return of the old world. Of course, not everything is what it appears.
Origin is nicely animated. The world comes to life and the characters have a similar feel to those of Studio Ghibli. However, the black and white, Forest versus Technology, storyline bothered me. The Forest is able to grant humans superhuman powers, but at the cost of turning them into a tree eventually. To be honest, I found myself siding more with Ragna and Toola’s desire to return to the old world of technology. The idea that nature is always good and technology is always evil is a tired trope. Origin adds to this. Origin reminded me of Princess Mononoke, but it lacked the ethical ambiguity that surrounded some of nature in that film. The lines were not as sharply drawn as in Origin. Of course, there is an element of redemption for some of the villains.
Origin: Spirits of the Past would have been stronger if it didn’t cut such a firm line between nature and technology. Also a walking volcano is quite silly. A volcano has to have a connection to the earth’s mantle in order to be a volcano. In Origin, a volcano is used to power the device that can counter the Forest…only the volcano is on a giant walking machine. I laughed and winced. This part of the movie ruined the suspense the writers attempted to build. It was too outlandish for me to suspend my disbelief. A single moment can make or break a film. The walking volcano broke this film. It was entertaining with its silliness at least!