Origin: Spirits Of The Past is another film which deals with humanity’s obsession with technology, and our even more recent obsession with trying to save the world from environmental collapse. Fewer, if any films have dealt with this theme in such a beautiful manner- the art alone is enough to make you recycle your car and plant a few trees in the hope that you are doing something good. The main problem here is that while the film is gorgeous too watch, and frequently will leave you in awe at the scale and beauty of the animation- the story doesn’t back up the sights as well as it should.
Countless films, even in anime, deal with Mother Nature striking back at the human race. Origins is no different- set in a distant future where humans live in the shells of forgotten cities, surrounded by miles of forests which they cannot enter as the trees are genetically engineered freaks full of strange beasts. Of course, our hero- a boy Agito enters one of these forbidden zones and awakens the spirits of the past. He meets Toola, a girl who has been asleep for 300 years and whose mission it is to restore earth to a place of harmony between man and nature. Also awoken is Shunack, a soldier who also wants to restore Earth, but his view of Earth is monstrous, and he will use extreme force to get what he wants. The trees fear the end of both species, and Agito is stuck in the middle.
There are some excellent scenes here- particularly the opening sequence and some other action pieces. Aside from the visuals, the music is haunting and toucing, adding greatly to the emotion of the film- doing the job that the script should. The story may be too muddled for those not used to anime, but for veterans it is standard fare. The voice acting is ok, though the fact that there are no big Western names may let down fans. Overall, one of the best looking animated films ever with a story that is perfectly watchable, but doesn’t live up to the breathtaking artwork.