Colorful (2010)

  • Year: 2010
  • Released: 21 Aug 2010
  • Country: Japan
  • Adwords: 3 wins & 4 nominations
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: Japanese
  • MPA Rating: TV-14
  • Genre: Animation, Drama, Fantasy
  • Runtime: 126 min
  • Writer: Eto Mori, Miho Maruo
  • Director: Keiichi Hara
  • Cast: Kumiko Asô, Chris Ayres, Greg Ayres
  • Keywords: suicide, based on novel or book, slice of life, adult animation, school life, rebirth,

Colorful Storyline

Upon reaching the train station to death, a dejected soul is informed that he is ‘lucky’ and will have another chance at life though he does not want it. He is placed in the body of a 14-year-old boy named Makoto Kobayashi, who has just committed suicide by an overdose of pills. Watched over by a neutral spirit named Purapura in the form of a little boy, the soul must figure out what his greatest sin and mistake in his former life was before his six-month time limit in Makoto’s body runs out. He also has a number of other lesser duties he must complete, such as understanding what led Makoto to commit suicide in the first place and learning how to enjoy his second chance at life. He finds Makoto did not like his family and he greatly dislikes them for the same reasons. He is contemptuous of his father who is an underdog at work, forced to work lots of unpaid overtime. Despite her efforts, he hates his mother who had an affair with a dance instructor, something his father seems to be oblivious of. His older brother Mitsuru has given up on him because he is too moody and has no friends at school or anywhere else. He discovers that a girl (Hiroka) he fancies sells sex to older men so she can have the clothes and things she wants. Shoko is a weird girl from Makoto’s class who becomes suspicious of his unusual behavior so he tries to stay away from her. After he gets mugged and beaten up by some delinquents, Shoko comes to visit Makoto at his house, but he scares her off. In one of their subsequent encounters Purapura explains that Makoto will really die this time after his six months expire. However, when he befriends Saotome, a boy in his class who accepts outcasts such as him and treats them as equals, Makoto sees the joy in life for the first time. They spend some time together and they even begin studying for their high school entrance exam, something for which neither of them had any ambition before. Knowing that his brother will never get accepted to a public high school due to his failing grades and lack of interest, Mitsuru announces that he will postpone his college entrance exams in order to allow his parents to save some money so they can send Makoto to a private school. Makoto refuses and tells his parents and brother that he has already chosen Tamegawa High (a public school he and Saotome agreed on earlier). An aggravated Mitsuru is unable to comprehend his unwillingness to accept his family’s help and asks him if he enjoys tormenting his own family. Makoto breaks in tears and says that he just wanted to go to the same school his only friend is going to apply which leads to his parents accepting his wish. With his deadline reaching its end, Makoto meets with Purapura for one last time. He announces that he has found out what his former life’s mistake was. He reveals that the soul was Makoto to begin with and that the mistake was his suicide. Purapura tells him that he will keep on living, but that he will also erase his memories of Purapura and the spirit world in order to make Makoto not think that he has any more chances. Before wiping his memories, Purapura advises him to live a colorful life.

Colorful Photos

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Colorful Movie Reviews

An unsentimental and imaginative look at youth issues

Considering their target audience, youth issues tend to be a major theme in manga and anime. The animated format moreover tends to give creators rather more freedom to experiment with fantasy elements that can explore deeper underlying issues. Directed by veteran animator, Keiichi Hara, COLORFUL for example manages to touch on an important subject with a message that is perhaps rather more difficult to reach a younger audience through conventional live-action drama. That subject is teenage suicide.

Passing through the transit between life and rebirth, a dead soul in danger of obliteration is given another chance to reform and regain the right to rebirth. Brought back into the realm of the living, the soul is reborn into the person of Makoto Kobayashi, an artistically-inclined 14 year-old boy who has just attempted suicide. With the assistance of Purapura, a guide in the afterlife, the ‘new’ Makoto considers why someone from a seemingly happy family attempted to kill himself and tries to pull the young boy’s life back together. COLORFUL is literally a ‘finding yourself’ film that considers the challenges facing young people who are finding it difficult to cope socially, to fit into the world and deal with the problems of friends, family and relationships.

The fantasy element of the film isn’t the most convincing, but it does have a powerful pay-off at the end and it undeniably finds a unique way to tap into the mind of a young alienated individual and how he might respond to the world, particularly one who has been driven to attempt suicide. Keiichi Hara uses an animation style that is reminiscent of GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES in how it touches obliquely but incisively on the challenges facing youth. One seemingly irrelevant sequence based around the disused ‘Tamada’ trolley car, for example, is just beautiful and transformative. Using such techniques COLORFUL manages to cover a wide range of difficult issues and personality types in a realistic fashion and offer some measure of sympathy and understanding for its characters. It manages to do so moreover without ever becoming sentimental or talking down to its audience.

Outstanding production

Based on the novel, by Eto Mori, Colorful is made by the veteran animation director Keiichi Hara. The movie was a project suggested by Sunrise’s president Kenji Uchida to director Hara, and took five years in the making, beginning from their first meeting.

The movie is absolutely stunning in its production. I give lot of credit to director Hara for all the attention to details he’s put in. His experience shows, and his clout in collecting the best talent is also evident in the people he’s gathered to make this movie.

You really need to see this movie to appreciate the story, and the artistry. Never since the days of original Disney’s animation, have an old school animation movie made with such high level of artistry.

This is a modern day classic, and worth every minute of your time to see it.

Those Japanese again… and their greatness in animation.

By now, I guess we’ve all accepted Japan as a No.1 driving force in animation. And just when You start thinking that someone with so much recognition would get lazy and spoiled, that’s where the Japanese prove you wrong. “Colorful” is yet another fine example of that greatness.

I’ve always wondered how could an animated film, which by western standards is designed for babies, could get so much dept and touch as many crucial life’s questions. Well, the reason lies in the fact that Japanese do not make just baby cartoons like Pokemon, but also have a very fine and distinguished selection of animated films which could easily fit a 50 year old person, just like a teenager at the same time.

“Colorful” is an anime drama which deals with a very painful and yet very present phenomenon in modern society – suicide. Many people feel they reached the end of the road, and more and more of them are getting younger over the years. A young man decided to take his life away, but against all odds, he gets a second chance – to relive a life of another young man who took his own life. During this period of reincarnation, the main character tries to discover his new persona, surrounding, people around him and the reasons why Makoto, the boy in whose body the spirit has reincarnated, has taken his life. Like this, he also started do discover and understand himself. Until the end, he will succeed. Beside the theme of life and death, “Colorful” illustrates several other important issues in the Japanese society – social relations, traumas, family issues and the value of friendship.

The story is tough, often dark and grim, yet it has such a profound depth which will keep you watching “Colorful” until the end. And boy is the end unexpected. Watching this brilliant anime made me feel like reading a novel, and that’s pretty much the best thing a motion picture can do.

“Colorful” is a substance dedicated to the Japanese 14-16 youth, but it can easily be understood and liked by an adult. And when you compare this brilliance to the teenage shows in the US, like Hannah Montana or Jackass, you realize the major difference between cultures. In Japan, cartoons can also be educational, while in the US and the west, it’s a form of cheap shallow entertainment for kids, who seem to mature later and later.