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The gorgeously animated Inu-Oh evokes a seventies rock opera and somehow successfully marries that to the traditional art of Japanese storytelling: it’s an awesome sight to behold.

I think I can safely say you'll never have seen an animated movie quite like Inu-Oh. The picture starts out as a traditional Japanese folk tale but gradually morphs into a musical extravaganza that fully immerses you in the same kind of atmosphere that a great stadium concert produces.

Along the way the movie also has meaningful - and often touching - things to say about the way every generation builds upon traditions to find its own voice, no matter how much push-back the old guard gives to keep those traditions unaltered.

This theme is also reflected in the animation style, which sometimes resembles your typical Japanese anime but regularly blossoms into impressionistic shapes and colours, as a wave of sounds and images you cannot resist washes over you.

There is a boldness in Uni-Oh that resembles Richard Williams' The Thief and The Cobbler: the movie is an entertaining crowdpleaser in its own right but strives to push the artform into new territories and often succeeds.

I'm sure not everyone will totally get what Inu-Oh tries to achieve - I'm not even certain if I do - but there is no mistaking the artful ambition that makes the film stand out among its peers.

release: 2021

director: Masaaki Yuasa

starring: Avu-chan, Mirai Moriyama, Tasuku Emoto, Kenjirô Tsuda


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