Aphenomenon in its native Korea, Sky Blue combines 2D characters with 3D objects and backdrops—it’s not a seamless marriage, but the grungy mix of old-school and new-school is ripe with poetic textures and plays into the film’s mythical expression of humanity completely unhinged from the past and uncertain of its future. Its obligatory post-apocalyptic setting (the year is 2140 in the palatial city of Ecobar) and accompanying sci-fi lingo (the Delos computer system, a museum called Time Capsule) means that Sky Blue often bleeds into other films of its kind (in Appleseed, it was 2131 in the city of Olympia where the Gaea computer system figured prominently—but I digress), and while it isn’t exactly the jolt anime could use at the moment, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. The film envisions an eco-ravaged tomorrowland in which elitist goons force the masses to excavate the neo-fossil fuel that keeps their paradise going. Inside Ecobar, the redheaded Jay is bound by law to protect the city from invading rebels, including the foxy Shua, a childhood sweetheart she believed to be dead. Like the civilization it envisions (built from the creatures carried on Dr. Noah’s ark, a vessel that comes to haunt the film as a specter of wasted time), Sky Blue itself seems to be constructed almost entirely from spare pop-cultural parts, except directors Kim Moon-saeng and Park Sun-min aim higher than The Matrix: A creepy costume ball evokes The Masque of the Red Death and a fabulously overwrought fever dream channels the psycho-sexual urgency of Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm, but it’s a sequence inside the confines of Ecobar’s Time Capsule room that’s the real triumph. It’s in this Guggenheim-esque chamber that Jay and Shua meet for the first time since childhood, handcuffing each other and pointing guns at each other’s faces. The audience doesn’t know it yet but these characters have a past, a subtext powerfully and breathlessly illuminated by the art that haunts the walls, from a Gothic church’s stained glass to Gustav Klint’s The Kiss. This wordless convergence of art and spirituality speaks to our universal human struggle to love one another and worship life. Sure, the film relies entirely too much on pop-scored interludes, with the details surrounding a complicated love triangle somewhat undernourished, but it’s to Sky Blue‘s credit that it’s able to say more in one image than sub-par anime like Appleseed can convey in a thousand meaningless words.
- 86 min
- Kim Moon-saeng, Park Sun-min
- Park Jun-Young, Kim Moon-saeng, Park Young-jun
- Choi Ji-Hun, Oh In-Seong, Eun Yeong-Seon, Kim Seong-Min, Si Yeong-Jun, Park Ji-Hun, Ahn Yong-Wuk, Gi Ju-Bong, Tak Won-Je
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