REVIEWED BY-STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY-TOSHIAKI TOYODA CAST-KOJI CHIHARA, YOSHI HARADA, ITSUJI ITAO, KEE, RYUHEI MATSUDA, ONIMARU and MAME YAMADA. SOURCE-ARTSMAGIC REG 1 NTSC DVD (2004)
9 SOULS is an odd little tale that director Toshiaki Toyoda can only spin. Picking up the same strength he showed in his storytelling abilities in BLUE SPRING. A story that has us follow nine prison escapees, who travel in search of their dreams, along with a mysterious key to the universe that a fellow inmate swore would bring them riches. As the story unfolds Toyoda clearly intended this to be a character driven tale, for as time goes, you the viewer develops different feeling for each of the nine characters. This is mainly due to the unfolding of their dreams , their pasts and of course their individual endings. Everything is so clear, but yet so vivid, almost as if he Toyoda was retelling a strange dream he had one night.
Like BLUE SPRING, the colors are washed and dulled but yet they are all very sharp. Giving you that grey day feeling, before a storm is about to hit, something that can be related to the story as well. Right from the get go, his opening montage flying over an endless city skyline and slowly one by one, objects begin to disappear, pretty much fore shadowing the story ahead. The major obstacles each of the inmates have to overcome when they confront their personal demons, as they are not excepted back and are shunned by their surrounds. Yet there are moments when he introduces bright colors, symbolizing the moments in which each of the inmates dreams unfold in their thoughts, or when a moment of brief happiness is about to play out. This ride your are apart of when you view 9 SOULS is like a visual drug being introduced into your body. You are drawn along on this path of hope and happiness, but your are only to find the truth. Like the inmates, you are let down by what lies in front of them, and it’s not a dream, but reality. Toyoda is a master of pulling those emotional strings, yet you are never aware of this until the very end.
Of course the visuals tantalize and stimulate your thoughts, but so does the score and acting of 9 SOULS. Both elements showcase Toyoda’s true skills as a director, His ability to direct each actors path with extreme precision. Of course this isn’t all of his doing either, each actor themselves bring perfect moldings to their respective characters as well. All of them being easy to relate to, some being very lovable where others you simple detest, yet still developing a hope for them. These character developments are the central core of making 9 SOULS really convey a message of hope beyond the despair. All of these important elements are capped off with a very eerie score that bring the absolute perfect feel to this overall. Guitar driven in many areas, being very intense when need be. Basically showing or shall I say making you hear exactly what is being showed. Even closing your eyes to this film, you will still get the whole picture, for on both plains there is a simple but effective tale being told!
The Artsmagic DVD is yet another testament to just how dedicated they are to getting the best possible product out there. Here in North America as well as the UK, in terms of Japanese cinema that is. Anyhow, the 9 SOULS DVD is presented anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Both of which are very clean and clearly well treated in the re-mastering department. In it’s original Japanese language audio with removable English subtitles, all of which are quite easy and clear to read. Once again the extras are quite good as well, beginning with two very indepth interviews with 9 SOULS’ director Toshiaki Toyoda, Who pretty much discusses how he has used the same actors in both BLUE SPRING and 9 SOULS. He seems to be a hard person to interview or the interviewer just isn’t asking questions that stimulate his thinking. All in all both interviews are quite different and very interesting. Along with the interviews, the is also an original trailer with English subtitles, some promotional material and bios. The most important part of this DVD release though, like many others Artsmagic has released is the ever so informative commentary provided by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes. If you already have Toyoda’s BLUE SPRING, then this is a great follow-up to for the collection.
STORY-4 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE-4 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO-4 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS-3 BITCH SLAPS OVERALL DVD-3.5 BITCH SLAPS
For more info on this DVD or other Artsmagic.
Discuss this DVD or film in our forum.