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King of Thorn

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King of Thorn

(Ibara no O)
Sponsored by: Ztélé

Canadian Premiere

  • Japan 2009
  • 120 min
  • HD
  • Japanese with English subtitles


Sci-Fi / FantasyAnimationAction / Adventure

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Director: Kazuyoshi Katayama
Screenplay: Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Kazuyoshi Katayama, from Yuji Iwahara
Cast: Kana Hanazawa, Akiko Yajima, Ayako Kawasumi, Eri Sendai, Kenji Nomura
Producers: Sunrise
Print Source: Kadokawa



In the very near future, a mere half-decade from today, a devastating new epidemic is sweeping the planet. It’s called the Medusa virus. It has no known cause and no known cure. It’s 100 per cent fatal, its victims stricken by sudden and utter petrifaction. As the population around them turns to stone, a group of 160 carefully selected individuals are transported to a stately old castle on the Scottish coast. It has been developed as a cryogenic facility—flash-freezing its subjects into a state of deep suspended animation—by Ivan Vega, a former high-powered Russian government insider who’s now the head of one of the world’s most powerful bio-engineering corporations, and a man with mysterious ties to Venus Gate, an apocalyptic cult with visions of salvation for the world. The subjects—including Kasumi Ishiki, a young woman with intense ties to her twin sister Shizuku—are entrusted to the care of A.L.I.C.E., the castle’s supercomputer, and sealed away in their cryogenic chambers for a century. Upon awaking, the chosen 160 are instantly thrust into a terrifying nightmare only a handful will survive. As they battle to escape from the castle, Kasumi and her comrades will be confronted by confounding mysteries that will ultimately reveal the truth of Vega, Venus Gate, Medusa and the strange and frightening world in they now find themselves.

Based on Yuji Iwahara’s six-volume manga series, an international hit that was cited in 2008 by the United State’s Young Adult Library Services Association as among the 10 best graphic novels for teens, KING OF THORN is a striking and thoughtful addition to the canon of apocalyptic survival thrillers, balancing atmospheric tension and fantastic terror with nuanced psychology and pressure-cooker interpersonal dynamics. Director Kazuyoshi Katayama, a venerable anime talent whose credits reach back to ’80s classics like APPLESEED and Miyazaki’s NAUSICAÄ, and more recently the helming of the BIG O resurrection, brings a sharp and polished edge to this established gem of science-fiction manga.

—Rupert Bottenberg

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