Space Firebird

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Tesuka's animated vision of Earth in the future: babies are born in test tubes, evaluated at an early age, and raised by robots to be trained in requisite skills. There is a stringent social hierarchy, with dissenters sent to labour camps, and the planet is slowly being destroyed as its mineral resources are consumed. Not exactly the stuff of light-hearted children's science fantasy, yet that's what it's meant to be. There are some conventional kiddies' bits, like the odd nauseating musical interlude, and a Jiminy Cricket-like whingeing dice-bird (or something), but these are the weakest points in the film. The animation is uniformly excellent, with some very effective sequences, especially in outer space, where the occasional quite violent moment is assisted by a glorious splash of colour. The whole thing is a very odd mix of cataclysmic religious hysteria, the worst imaginable Orwellian vision, and a Weetabix commercial. Loopy. And interesting. But hardly for kids.

By: DPe

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