Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lament of the Lamb – review

dvd

Directed by: Gisaburo Sugii

Release date: 2003

Contains spoilers

Wow… sometimes that will do.

Regular readers will be aware that I do like anime. This particular one is a 4 part OVA based on a manga of the same name (Hitsuji no Uta, in Japanese). The thing is, when you sit down to watch an anime you expect you may see some explosive cartoon action, you might have some boring sections amongst the film (to be honest), you may even get a bit of dubious fan service.

What you don’t expect is a character driven drama. Lament of the Lamb does not have anything really resembling action but what it does have is story and characterisation in spades. I must warn however that it is very downbeat – to say the least – and thus might not appeal to all.

Kazuna Takashiro (Tomokazu Seki) is a student in Tokyo. As the series begins we discover that his father walked out on him when he was a child, leaving him in the care of his aunt and uncle – actually not biologically related to him. They seek to adopt him but he has been having problems lately staying awake in class and does not know why.

Yaegashi and KazumaHe is a member of the art club in the school and visits it, finding Yaegashi (Satsuki Yukino) there. She wonders why he joined as he does not seem to do much there but it become clear that he joined because she was a member. He notes the still life she is painting and just how red it seems – her favourite colour she admits.

bleeding fingersAs she paints he notices that her fingers are bandaged – it is nothing she confides, she had an accident. He seems to see blood seeping from her hand and it becomes too much for him. He passes out. Whilst passed out he dreams of the house he shared with his mother and father and remembers being told about having a sister, whom his father took away when he left.

Meguni Hayashibara voices ChizunaKazuna visits the house, wondering if it will still be there. He meets a girl living there and then realises it is his sister Chizuna (Meguni Hayashibara). She informs him that their father has died – she had told his Uncle but the message was not passed on – and then explains that the father did not abandon him – he wanted Kazuna to have a normal life.

Kazuna suffers an attackShe explains that there is a family curse – the Takashiros are vampires. She explains that the word is metaphoric. They have a hereditary disease that causes them to crave blood, to the point of violently attacking others. She dismisses him as she is a vampire and she doesn’t want to hurt him but, after he has another attack, he returns for more information.

Chizuna offers her bloodAll the Takashiros who inherit the disease eventually go mad and die – often committing suicide. Their mom developed the disease at the age of 22 but it is unusual for a boy to develop it and if they do it is normally at a much younger age. She gives Kazuna a medicine (I assume that same as hers, in which case it is a strong sedative) but later, when he can’t take it through fear, she feeds him her own blood.

Mr Minase was wounded by ChizunaKazuna ends up moving back to his old house and trying to distance himself from Yaegashi – to protect her. The other person who knows about the family’s condition is Dr Minase, a student of their father who bears a scar from where Chizuna attacked him when she was a child. He seems obsessively fixated on her.

traditional feedingAs the story develops the two fledgling vampires discover that their past has several skeletons that are due to be forcibly expelled from the closet. The show does give a hint of an incestual attraction between the siblings and hints further that there was more to the relationship between Chizuna and her father. However these are very subtle, I believe the hints are stronger in the manga but hints still.

images, simple but beautifulThe pace is slow but skilfully crafted and the soundtrack is wonderfully ambient bursting into atmospheric industrial at key times. What the anime also does is build very deep characters, warring often with their inner needs and desires. I understand that the manga has also been filmed as a live action film, which I have reviewed here.

A stunning animation that shows that overt sexuality and/or action and violence are not necessary to make a fine anime. 8 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

2 comments:

Margaret said...

This is unfortunately another one that is unavailable to me here at the moment. It's really too bad, as it sounds quite interesting from your review of it.

I am not a huge fan of anime, in general, but I have seen some good vampire anime stories that I enjoyed. One series that I liked seems to be surprisingly missing from your reviews, too. I didn't see a review of Hellsing, either the original TV series or the Ultimate series that was later made for video. Any reason for this?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

unfortunately this, and the live action version, seem to have vanished off yes-asia at the moment.

As for Hellsing... iro Hellsing ultimate, I am waiting for it all to be released. Re Hellsing... I haven't got around to digging it out and reviewing yet *hangs head in shame* (the same goes for the series of vampire princes miyu and nightwalker midnight detective)