A Musical Odyssey of Friendship and History
Inu-Oh is one of those films that will get your attention with its artistic style and keep you hooked with its killer soundtrack. Like so many, I was mesmerized by the trailer and couldn’t wait to see this work of art for myself. The film is a beautiful work that blends the elements of historical fantasy with a rock opera told through the art of anime.
It’s a film that perfectly encapsulates what it means to tell a historical fantasy with an upbeat soundtrack. But one should not expect anything less from Masaaki Yuasa. Once again he has created a masterpiece about the power of art and how it brings people together. While Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! told the same story with the medium of anime, Inu-Oh does so with music (via a rock opera).
A Thousand Biwa Players
Based on the novel Tales of the Heike and set during the Muromachi period. The story follows the journey of two artists who are burdened with a curse. Tomona biwa player who was blinded by the curse of a mythical sword. Inu-Oh was born a monster because his father made a deal with a demon in exchange for fame.
When Tomona and Inu-Oh paths cross, they set out to free themselves from the curse. To do this, they tell the story of the spirits that follow using the power of music. Tomona music along with Inu-Oh dance and storytelling brings in the crowds. Given that the songs are based on the Battle of Dan-no-ura, they also get the attention of the Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Furious that the songs don’t tell the Genji Clan version of the story, he uses his power to end the duo’s rise to fame.
Tomona and Inu-Oh must not only fight their curse but also those who want to stop them. Using nothing but the power of music.
Viewing the Cherry Blossoms
Inu-Oh attempts to tell historical fantasy through the power of traditional Japanese music and modern rock. It succeeds in finding the right balance to allow both styles of music to have a role in the overall film. While the traditional Japanese style act to set the emotional tone, modern rock tells the story.
It also makes no attempt to hide its muse, rock operas from the 80s, and the choreography of Michael Jackson. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a rock opera – checkout The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The style is one that tells a story through the medium of rock. It blends the artistic styles of iconic bands like Queen with Japanese-style music. Thus, you will know the tale and want to get up and dance along to the beat. When on stage and bringing the Heike clan’s story to life, Inu-Oh is embodying the choreographic style of Michael Jackson.
This is all made possible by the stellar performance of Avu-chan (the lead vocalist of Queen Bee) and Mirai Moriyama. Both have solid chemistry working together while also bringing this world to life.
Visually; the artistic style is one that requires you to get accustomed to. If you saw Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! then you have a good idea of the artistic style. I will admit that the style might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I encourage you to give it a chance. Even if it doesn’t appeal to you, the quality of the music will make up for it.
Ghosts of the Heike Clan
Inu-Oh only real problem is that you might not get part of the story at the beginning. This is due to how the narration is structured, by telling the historical background information and introducing the characters in pieces. Thus you might get a little lost until Tomona and Inu-Oh have their encounter.
Annoying? Yes, but it won’t really take away from the overall enjoyment you will have.
Burial Mound of Arms
Masaaki Yuasa has once again created a masterpiece about the power of art and how it brings people together. It successfully tells a historical fantasy through the power of traditional Japanese music and the modern rock opera. It truly hits all the right marks when it comes to a great anime and musical.
Inu-Oh is a beautiful work that blends the elements of historical fantasy with a rock opera told through the art of anime. It’s truly a testament to the power of song and dance told through the medium of anime. This is work that will grab your attention and make you dance along to the beat.
Disclaimer: 42 West provided a link to a screener of Inu-Oh.
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