King of Thorn
Directed by: Kazuyoshi Katayama
For my birthday, my brother gave me a usb stick and filled it up with movies off his computer. Not just a few of the latest hollywood blockbusters but also a number of amazing anime movies.
The best way to describe King of Thorn is an alternative Sleeping Beauty story. Set in the 2015 a new epidemic has swept the world, called Medusa the symptoms include petrification and eventually turning to stone. There is no cure, but a pharma company (Venus Wing) developed a save haven where 160 people can be kept in cold sleep until a cure is found. Of course the american government believes the Medusa and the Venus corporation has a tie (and they are right) and places an agent inside.
I love the premise and set up of this movie, with the fear in the world of this incurable disease and the one slim hope only a few can obtain. Over the entire course of the movie the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty is told, though I will admit it’s a version I am unfamiliar with.
We are then introduced to our main cast of characters, who really we don’t learn all of their names until the very end, which is pretty cool how they were able to get buy for so long and still have you hanging on to your chair.
Basically the story is centered around a set of twins from Japan, Kasumi and Shizuku. Both are infected, i think by now almost everyone is, but only Kasumi was given a spot, Shizuku accompanies her twin sister to the centre. As the movie continues the relationship between the two sisters are revealed, their parents had died from the disease already, Kasumi is the submissive, fearful one with Shizuku is the more positive and upbeat one.
So back to the plot…
Kasumi is placed in the sleep capsule and falls asleep (or really that is how it is perceived), and falls alseep only to be awoken again, though everything is different, long thorny vines have penetrated the underground centre, including a number of mutated beasts! We are then to assume at this point that the world has ended and 100 years had passed. With everyone waking up, a panic is started as they crowd the elevator, only to push everyone off when it opens into the empty shaft where a monster eats them all. (yeah very gory).
Only seven remain alive, Marco, Kasumi, Tim, Katherine, Peter, Ron and the Italian Senator that dies next so he really doesn’t count. The group then bands together to try and make their escape. As they travel up and defeat the different monsters they realize that in reality only a couple of days has passed. They also learn that that the disease is alien, and that a girl who was first contracted by the virus was able to survive by her imagination and the ability to make dreams reality and . The Venus group tried to experiment on her until there was nothing left.
Until a new specimen who fit the right criteria came. It was this new specimen who created the thorns, the creatures in the castle/centre, wanting to continue living a dream.
I don’t want to give away the ending, as it’s really amazing and mind blowing (most anime movies for me are which I love!). But I love the way that they were able to incorporate the Sleeping Beauty tale poetically into the telling of this story, allowing the two to blend into the other.
There is one conversation between Marco and Kathryn that I love, about what if the princess from the tale never wanted to be woken up, and the thorn maze that captured and killed all the previous princes with their attempt to free the princess was there to give the princess peace. After all, as they discussed, the prince could break the curse, but there was no guaranteed that their lives would be any happier.
This is a beautifully told story and the animation is truly fantastic. I also just found out that it was first released as a manga before the movie, by Yuji Iwahara.
Now… now i have to find the series….