The Deer King Movie Review: The Melancholic Hero

The Deer King Movie

Under the direction of Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji, with Production I.G. at the helm, the inaugural film adaptation of Nahoko Uehashi's novel series, The Deer King, has graced the big screen. Uehashi's narrative is firmly rooted in the fantasy genre, and while it likely draws inspiration from the opera "Shika no O" by German composer Hans Werner Henze, the film transports us to an entirely fantastical realm crafted by the author. This prompts the question: Does the movie do justice to the original material, and does it carve its own niche as a cinematic production? We will endeavor to address these queries below.


The Collaboration of a Superband

Much like the formation of supergroups where members from other highly acclaimed bands unite (Antemasque, Prophets of Rage, The Good, the Bad & the Queen), The Deer King has orchestrated a collaboration between two of the most seasoned artists in the anime industry: Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji. The former, a distinguished animator, has frequently collaborated with prominent figures such as Hayao Miyazaki, Satoshi Kon, and Makoto Shinkai. Meanwhile, Miyaji, the latter, has served as a designer and supervisor on various anime and video game projects.

In terms of visual aesthetics, the outcome is a perfect artistic direction, featuring a constant showcase of affection for detail, meticulous and fluid animation, and landscapes that would leave anyone breathless. Every frame in The Deer King deserves appreciation, as they could easily pass as scenes from contemplative nature or everyday chronicles when viewed independently.

The Deer King movie trailer

The Hero's Journey

The Deer King narrates the story of Van, a sturdy and solitary former soldier who, after losing his family, becomes enslaved by the Empire of Zol. In his dreary daily existence, our protagonist is suddenly compelled to rescue a little girl from the clutches of a wolf, a supernatural being that, in a pack, has virtually wiped out all of Van's companions. In the midst of this situation, the hero decides to adopt the little girl, and having regained his freedom, he seeks the best way to survive.

This marks only the beginning of the narrative. While it essentially adheres to the archetypal hero's journey formulated by Campbell, the anime manages to be original enough in other aspects to distinguish itself from similar stories.

The first comparison that came to my mind was Princess Mononoke, but I soon realized that The Deer King managed to shine in its own right. This film doesn't just superficially immerse us in an environmental tale, as Ghibli did; its mission is to highlight the peculiarities of the individual who takes the lead, stoically demonstrating how melancholy, when combined with hope, can be the necessary spark to drive us to take control of our own destiny.

In addition to this, Yuma's presence serves as a sometimes comical counterbalance, reminding us of the strength of innocence. Even in the darkest paths, the ability to be surprised and the overall sense of wonder can be the only weapons against the violence of the world.

It's crucial to acknowledge that, although the supporting characters may not be highlighted for the profound development of their stories, they are nevertheless plausible and play a crucial role in the overall progression of the narrative. Certain characters leave a more enduring impression than others, largely owing to the skillful performances of the voice actors (I must note that I watched the movie in Japanese with English subtitles).

In Conclusion

In many aspects, The Deer King evokes the spirit of Ghibli films, and this is intended as a sincere compliment to Production I.G.'s creation. It's a work crafted with love, and that sentiment is palpable. The story, while entertaining for those seeking such enjoyment, also holds a deeper layer. Every frame and nuanced detail, whether in the depiction of nature or the intricacies of the characters' personalities, pulls us into an immersive experience, prompting reflection on our own lives.

Questions about our role in the vast cosmos and how, on a smaller scale, we can coexist harmoniously without causing harm to others linger. The film explores the origins of courage and how we can translate our will into meaningful actions. The Deer King aims to plant a seed in the viewer's imagination, a seed that, when nurtured, has the potential to grow into a tree of profound and marvelous thoughts.

The Good

  • Impeccable artistic direction
  • Well-developed characters immersed in an interesting story
  • Convincing and memorable voice acting

The Bad

  • No news of a possible sequel at the moment

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Si quieres conocer otros artículos parecidos a The Deer King Movie Review: The Melancholic Hero puedes visitar la categoría Movies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go up