"...Wonderful Days could have been the Akira of the 2000's."
Wonderful Days (2003)
Director: Kim Moon-saeng
Writer: Kim Moon-saeng, Park Jun-Young
Cast: 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, Kim Myeong-Guk, Maeng Se-Chang, Kim Hee-Jeong, Kim Su-Jung, Eun Seo-Wu, Yeo Min-Jeong
Running Time: 87 min.
Plot: Civilization has been destroyed by war and pollution, but the survivors have built the last city of Ecoban. As most natural resources have been exhausted, Ecoban is powered by pollution. The citizens of Ecoban need to continue creating this pollution leading them into conflict with the inhabitants of Marr while one man just wants to clear away the clouds and see the sky.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: Two words describe Wonderful Daysá too short. Clocking in at 87 minutes, you really miss out on important character development and background. You get a taste of the background of 3 of the main characters and their connection with each other, but the rest of the characters are just there, and you're never given a reason to care about them. This Korean animated feature really could have used an extra 30-45 minutes of character establishment. Had I felt some sort of real attachment to the characters on the screen, I believe that Wonderful Days could have been the Akira of the 2000's.
It is the year 2142 and the world is all but destroyed. A city, Ecoban, has been established that utilizes the massive amounts of pollution in the air to build and grow; however, they are also dependant on a lower class group of people called the Marr, who do all the grunt work but have none of the power or money. Even though the Marr outnumber the Ecoban citizens, they are forced to live in slums outside the city and are treated as an expendable workforce (i.e., they're sacrificed by the hundreds in order to keep the machinery they work on from being damaged). The story follows Jay, an Ecoban security officer, who is conflicted about her loyalties after she runs into Shua, her childhood friend who, years ago, was forced out of Ecoban after breaking the rules. It turns out that the world is running out of the pollution needed for Ecoban to continue growing, and it is decided that they will destroy all Marr areas so as to create more pollution and allow the city to expand. Shua, now working with Marr outlaws, attempts to break in to Ecoban's computer system and bring it down in order to disable the city and clear the skies once and for all. The story was not bad, but it felt like the last hour and a half of what could have been a very interesting and engaging story. It felt like it was missing a lot and really needed more development for the viewers to really care for the characters.
Wonderful Days could have been simply amazing with a more fleshed out story, but as it is it's a must see for the music and the animation alone. Both of these elements were absolutely astounding. One series of shots (of rain falling and water dripping off some metal) looked absolutely photorealistic. Had I not known that this was an animated movie, I never would have been able to tell that those shots were CGI. The rest of the CGI throughout the movie was amazing, if not perfect. As for the music, you get a good taste of what it's like from the trailers, but there's more of it and it's expanded in the feature. It was dramatic and beautiful, and I really need to pick up the OST as soon as possible. It's easily one of the strongest elements of the film. In addition, Wonderful Days has probably the best animated fist fight I've ever seen (between Shua and Simon, Jay's superior who has also been in love with her [and jealous of Shua] since childhood). It was animated in such a way that it was fast enough to show the strength and skill of the combatants, but clear enough that you could see every move they made, as opposed to being jerky and unclear as many animated fights seem to be.
I'd highly recommend Wonderful Days to any Anime fan. It's the first Korean animation I've seen (if you don't count The Simpsons), and I must say that I was blown away by the mix of cell and computer animation. It would have easily been an instant classic had the characters been more developed.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 8/10