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Harmony ("Hamoni")

Quebec Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2015
  • 120 mins
  • DCP
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)

“Fantastic… a grand example of how sci-fi can be used to explore the nature of humanity in a way no other type of fiction can” - Richard Eisenbeis, KOTAKU

Harmony from Festival Fantasia on Vimeo.

Tuan has fled to the ends of the Earth. She’s serving as a cease-fire observer in sub-Saharan Africa, the ragged margin of human civilization drastically reduced by cataclysm — and since supremely elevated by nanotech miracles. Here, rules can be bent, and firepower is still an accepted negotiating tool. Tuan can run — but she can’t hide. She’s hounded by shame and regret over a failed teenage suicide pact in her homeland Japan, and by gnawing doubts regarding the apparently perfect fusion of medicine, technology and governance now guiding every aspect of (almost) every human life. Unexpected events will exacerbate her apprehensions — and bring forth troubling memories.

A haunting meditation on the battle between liberty and security, HARMONY very quickly confirms itself as a new key work in Japanese animation. This is unsurprising, given its incredible pedigree. It’s directed, with an able assist from Michael Arias (TEKKON KINKREET), by Takashi Nakamura, whose impressive resume includes vital roles on important Otomo and Miyazaki films, and helming the excellent CATNAPPED! and A TREE OF PALME. The production company of choice was the forward-thinking Studio 4°C (MINDGAME). And with the very recent EMPIRE OF CORPSES, and GENOCIDAL ORGAN (still to come), HARMONY is part of a trilogy of anime features adapting works by the brilliant, and tragically short-lived, science fiction writer Project Itoh (Satoshi Ito). Anime aficionados, this one is vital.

— Rupert Bottenberg