In the future, Utopia has finally been achieved thanks to medical nanotechnology and a powerful ethic of social welfare and mutual consideration. This perfect world isn’t that perfect though, and three young girls stand up to totalitarian kindness and super-medicine by attempting suicide via starvation. It doesn’t work, but one of the girls—Tuan Kirie—grows up to be a member of the World Health Organization. As a crisis threatens the harmony of the new world, Tuan rediscovers another member of her suicide pact, and together they must help save the planet…from itself.
Following “Shisha no Teikoku (The Empire of Corpses)”, this is the second feature length anime adaptation of Itoh Keikaku’s three novels. Similar to that film, “Harmony” tackles an alternate universe (this time set in future), where the world has achieved a whole new different level of human life-style. And also similar to “Shisha no Teikoku”, its ideas have been over-cooked by pretentiousness.
It was always going to be a tall order to adapt a novel by Itoh Keikaku (SF writer who met premature death in 2009). The danger is that it is very easy to over-indulge and lose its audience. Or you could turn it into an action flick and fail to capture the novel’s message. With “Harmony”, it is the former case.
The film opens with an action sequence (something that might whet some viewers’ appetite but it’s the only action scene in the film on this scale) which triggers the main character’s return to her home country, Japan. There she meets with her childhood friend who proceeds on to stabbing herself in the neck in front of our protagonist during their lunch together. Here’s where the problems arise. The scene where it is supposed to be of a great shock to the viewers only achieves a “meh” response due to the fact that the film taking everything slow and calm. There’s no sense of urgency to this scene but just plain repugnance to the visual display of blood fountain.
Every location, every dialogue and every character interaction in this film feel like the viewers are meant to meditate upon them. Characters appear and look important to the plot but then he or she disappears and we never see them again (the smuggler, the step-mother of another major character, the doctor, the comrades, the other doctor etc). The enigmatic dialogue seems to never get to the point which leaves the audience wishing for subtitles and pause button to decipher what conversation took place.