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.

Typical dinner scene; drinking Soju, sizzling Korean BBQ with rice and free side dishes

Typical dinner scene; drinking Soju, sizzling Korean BBQ with rice and free side dishes

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).

Mari and her fantasy world

Mari and her fantasy world

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.

Salvador Dali-lite?

Salvador Dali-lite?

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.

Mari IyagiMari IyagiMari Iyagisnapshot20081214225115Mari IyagiMari Iyagi

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6 Responses to “Introducing an obscure Korean animation, My Beautiful Girl Mari (마리 이야기)”

  1. Shadowmage Says:

    Interesting, it seems that the movie is using Disney’s style of no external lines accompanied with the depth and coloring style of the East. The creativity of the imagrey and the way the colors seem to bleed into each other remind me more of single still-shots than anything else, and if you were to tell me that these images were simply pages to an art book, I would believe you.

    I’ll probably check this out for curiosity’s sake, but due to the slow pacing, I may be better off just enjoying the screen-shots.

  2. gaguri Says:

    Yea I don’t think this is exactly up your alley, but you could always download it anyway and skip to the “fantasy land” sequences 😀 (I think there are about five, although the impact of climax wouldn’t be there)

  3. Kim Says:

    I see snow falling from your blog (so pretty)

    I have heard of this before but in the long line of things to watch I kind of overlooked it. But your post has definitely got me interested again. And thank you for those screencaps, I love the very unique art direction.

    On a side note will I be able to find this fansubbed?

  4. gaguri Says:

    Trying to find Mari Iyagi subbed made me realise just how obscure it is in the community. There is a nice medium-quality subbed version uploaded in Veoh that you might want to check out.

    And the snow effect is indeed pretty! (thanks WordPress.com, for this special holiday event) Feel free to comment anytime on the blog’s layout, I’m just playing around with various features and have no clue how readers feel about them.

    *off-topic thoughts – hmm, the avatars look ok for now…not sure if it’s worth it in my minimalist layout.


  5. […] But at least they had something to follow. Another point might be that those titles (including Mari Iyagi), although lacking in over-kill meticulous details of background art, are much better at evoking […]


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