The following movie is going to be a tough one to review but I will do my best to do so without spoiling too much. I wonder if people who will or have seen the movie can/will figure out what makes it unique? This is Harmony.
Genres: Science-Fiction, Psychological, Drama, Dark, Yuri
Themes: Utopia, Future, Philosophy, Human Mind, Human Will
Running Time: 115 Minutes
G-Rating: 8/10 (Personal) N/A (Overall)
Plot Summary: In a future ruled by an unwavering dedication to good health, three high school girls led by the defiant Miach Mihie attempt suicide as the ultimate act of rebellion. Tuan Kirie survives, but can’t shake the hatred she has for the “perfect world” she lives in.
Years later a simultaneous mass suicide sends the world into chaos and it is up to Tuan to find the cause of the crisis but her real motivation runs deeper than merely “saving humanity”.
Let us get the following out of the way. Harmony is a dialogue heavy movie. In fact, throughout its nearly two hour running time there are a total of two action scenes. Keep this in mind. On to the dialogue. There are many conversations revolving around the concept of a utopia, especially what it means to label a society or life as utopian. The biggest one asked (Not literally but it is brought up in a sense) is whether it is worth living a peaceful, long life free of pain, disease, and suffering at the cost of having higher ops (The government or other high ranking establishments) having full control of people’s lives outside of casual or mundane activities? Is it worth sacrificing one’s personal lifestyle? Other topics brought up revolve around human emotions, culture, some history and some philosophical topics. Basically this movie can be considered a catalyst for many in-depth conversations revolving around existence and the human will, which can either be seen as intriguing or pretentious depending on the viewers’ worldviews. It is also worth keeping in mind that the author of the original Harmony novel, Satoshi Itoh, wrote most of the story while hospitalized. It can help give viewers perspective on the topics and ideas brought up throughout the movie and the book. Whether the movie is fairly accurate to the novel is unknown by my person but since this is movie I am certain some things were cut.
Alongside the philosophical and societal topics there are also very touchy and dark subjects such as the aforementioned suicide. This movie contains both graphically and emotionally disturbing scenes that are not suited for general audiences. While there are few action scenes that does not mean the movie is devoid of uncomfortable moments. There were a few times that while I did not show it on the outside I cringed on the outside. Freaky stuff. Viewer discretion is advised when viewing Harmony.
The animation quality is a mixed bag. On one hand the 2D art style for the cast is really good fitting the serious environment while also not relegating the color scheme to only black, grey and brown. For the most part the movie is visually appealing. This being a science-fiction flick some high tech gadgetry is expected and Harmony has that covered with the CPU like system installed inside everyone’s brains among other things. Trust me, the “sciency” stuff is there. Good stuff. However, the CGI is not always up to par for an animated theatrical release. It is not horrible but it can be cumbersome to animeniacs who consider CGI usage controversial to the point of it being seen as make or break without taking into considering the rest of the product. The biggest example of this for me was during the “mental meetings”. Now while it did not bother because it is to be expected for sci-fi flicks to have odd imagery but this one can be seen as lame. There are other examples but I leave those to viewer interpretation.
The reason I am only showing images of Tuan and Miach throughout is that while there are other characters, who do a good job overall as side-characters and the mass suicide mystery and conversations are all interesting, it can be said that the main attraction of the story is the relationship between the two leading ladies, Tuan Kirie and Miach Mihie. On one hand Tuan perfectly represents a person who does not fit in with a utopian society. She is also a person whose character progression admirably represents what it would be like if someone were to find “that one itsy bitsy teenie tiny little flaw” that could instantly shatter a utopia and how someone would react to that while still trying their hardest to keep a level head without losing their sanity. Oh and she is smart, sexy and powerful. Miach on the other hand is a very complex individual who, while clearly despising the “higher ups controlling our lives” type of “pain free” world, as shown during flashbacks, there was clearly more to her during her time among the living than a “screw the system” cultist mentality yet also smart, sexy and powerful.
Miach can be best described using one of the late great Rowdy Roddy Piper’s most famous quotes: “Just when you think you have all the answers, I change the questions.”
Now for the big one. Is this movie yuri? Is it?
Yes. How yurirific? That I will leave readers to find out themselves whether it is worthwhile or not. I say yes it was.
Overall Harmony is a most intriguing movie with an interesting plot and conversational topics, cool action scenes (as few as there are), is visually appealing despite some iffy CGI, has decent side-characters and great protagonists…plus worthwhile yuri. However, it is not for everyone as the subject matter can be rough and the graphic (and emotional) content can be disturbing for some. I say it is worth checking out whenever possible but be aware that this movie may not please the general public.