Introducing an obscure Korean animation, My Beautiful Girl Mari (마리 이야기)
December 14, 2008
To get over my denial of Kim Yu-na’s demise at the hands (or feets) of her arch nemesis friendly rival yesterday, I thought I’d introduce an esoteric Korean animation directed by Lee Sung-Gang, My Beautiful Girl Mari. Here is my short summary of the film before we go on:
It has been years since Nam-woo and his childhood friend Jun-ho met together. During their conversation of good old times, Jun-ho gives Nam-woo a small marble, their childhood memento. Looking at it, Nam-woo is transported to the memories of his childhood, of his school, of his days with his mother and Nam-woo. And of that wonderful girl Mari and wonderful land of fantasy.
Fans of Dennou Coil will find something to like here thematic-wise. Like most children, characters have rough time in coping with painful events, such as one’s loss of father, getting rejected by a girl and facing the prospect of losing one’s best friend. It even has an imaginary landscape (a fantastic one at that!) where they seek comfort away from those issues. And like Dennou Coil, although painful and sad, Nam-woo and Jun-ho eventually learn to accept reality and move on. The characters return to the present time near the end and their growth as a result of this journey is all too evident. Stylistically speaking though, it is much slower and more subdued than Dennou Coil, hence more difficult to “get into”. Keep this in mind if you’re easily bored by slow movies with very little happening. To be honest, I was little bored in places myself (and voice actings weren’t anything stellar either).
But the movie’s highlight is the fantastically dreamy world Nam-woo is occasionally transported to. Simply amazing. You can search as long as you want in anime, you aren’t going to find anything remotely similar to such an imaginative and calmly surreal landscape. I’ve uploaded several screenshots at the bottom of this article, they’ll do the talking for me. Sense of that wonderfully alien tranquility is heightened further when these plants start to grow and when you feel the clouds hovering twenty feets above ground and thin strings of rain in-between; it’s as if the world is breathing. The climax, which also involves this fantastic landscape is just a sight to behold.
For more artsy-oriented viewers, you can not miss this. Definitely approach it with caution if you’re prone to a slow narrative. Still, if you’re looking for the best Korean animation have to offer, My Beautiful Girl Mari is the one. This is one special movie that deserves wider recognition among anime fans.