Review: Aura: Maryuuinkouga Saigo no TatakaiPosted: December 30, 2013
A few seasons ago, a show called Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! (or more affectionately called Chuu2) aired. It was mostly well-received, though there were still a few major complaints people had against the show.
Why mention this considering the title? Because Aura: Maryuuinkouga Saigo no Tatakai (which I’m just going to call Aura from here on out) is most often compared to it, and for pretty good reason: mainly the fact that they both have main characters that are absorbed in their adolescent fantasies. Though to be fair, they are different genres. Chuu2 being mostly a comedy (until the melodramatic ending), and Aura being a drama pretty much from the get-go.
However, if I had to choose one over the other, I’d choose Aura easily, despite a couple of faults that it has.
Aura has two themes/messages, one of acceptance, and another of growing up. Each one is reflected in the two main characters: the former for Ichirou, and the latter for Ryouko.
They’re both nice themes and all, and naturally they work nicely together. However the movie didn’t tie them together as neatly as it could have.
The beginning of the movie has Ichirou running around the school with Ryouko for a while before telling her that he wants to help her on her quest. The next day, she shows up in the classroom and he denies that he even knows her because he’s worried about how he’ll look to everyone else in the classroom and later on even says that he hates people like her who dress up.
Since it starts off this way, it makes it seem as though the main (and only) message the movie is going for is the one of acceptance where Ichirou learns to not care what other people think and can accept Ryouko and her manner of going through life. That then makes the message at the end of having to grow up even if you don’t want to seem to come a bit out of a left field.
I actually think they could have melded those themes together more efficiently if they made it obvious right from the start that Ichirou had been like Ryouko in the past. I get that the movie was trying to be subtle about it by sprinkling hints of his troubled past, but I think it would have benefited the themes if they had just been blunt about it.
If you know from the start that Ichirou was the same in his past, then it could have the acceptance theme be targeted not only towards Ryouko, but also himself and his past. Then along with that, it could have tied the theme of the necessity of growing up into Ichirou also, since his acceptance of Ryouko (and therefore his past self) would have been a major part of him maturing. Then at the end when he’s talking to her on the roof, he’d be able to share this perspective with her, and since he’s accepted his past self, she’d be willing to listen to him.
I mean, that already is the ending, but as I said, I think it would have been stronger if it had been straightforward about his past at the start.
I do think Ichirou is a great main character, though. If not for his growth then definitely for his dialogue. His taunting was the beacon of light in the otherwise painfully overdramatic scene where the popular group is ganging up on Ryouko and the others like her. And then his talk with Ryouko on the roof at the end? Damn that was good. It was probably one of my favorite scenes I’ve seen this year. That’s how you write dialogue.
Though the problem with complementing dialogue is that this is a translated foreign cartoon, so I don’t know whether the good dialogue is due to the script, or the translators. But to be fair, a good translation is usually indicative of a good script.
I only had one major complaint with the movie, and that was that the antagonists were insanely one-dimensional. They were practically comic-book villains seeing as they had no motivations for being assholes other than they just felt like it.
I was waiting for them to reveal that the main girl in the popular kids group had also been like Ryouko in her past and was bullied due to it, which then made her a bully herself as an escape from that. But that reveal never came. In fact she pretty much just disappears near the end of the movie and only gets shown for a couple seconds in a credits scene.
One-dimensional villains are fine in comic books because they typically have powers, which makes them egotistical and therefore exert themselves over others; but when you have a story already dealing with the psychology of the main characters, having a complete lack of psychology for your antagonists is extremely noticeable.
Actually I have one other complaint about the movie, but it’s really minor: where the hell did Ryouko get all those desks for the roof, and when did she have time to even do that? I get that they wanted the finale to feel epic and climactic, but they went a bit overboard. However, like I said, it’s not all that big of deal.
I actually really enjoyed this movie, and I’ve found myself liking it even more the more I think about it. Especially the ending, which is something Chuu2 would never do. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as I said, they’re different genres. I suppose a better way to word it would be that I’m glad Aura didn’t do what Chuu2 did. It was more serious about the subject, and therefore also dealt with it more seriously.
That and I actually thought the movie was paced extremely well, which is something I almost never say when it comes to anime movies. If there’s any sole reason (besides the ending) to give the movie a mark of approval, it’s that.