Film review: Poupelle of Chimney Town (2020) by Yusuke Hirota

This evaluate could comprise spoilers. 

Yusuke Hirota makes his directorial debut with STUDIO4 ºC on “Poupelle of Chimney City” (2020). The director is just not new to the movie scene, nonetheless. Hirota beforehand labored with the studio as a CGI artist on initiatives like “Berserk” (2012) and “Thoughts Recreation” (2004). Likewise, “Poupelle” is just not information, both. Comic-turned-author Akihiro Nishino labored intently with Hirota to make “Poupelle” an extension of his beforehand printed storybook. Whereas the e book covers round “three to 4 chapters” of Nishino’s concepts, the movie intends to cowl round “ten” – making it successfully an extension of the world that the e book started.

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In consequence, “Poupelle of Chimney City” (the film) seems like a hodgepodge of storylines that mix into one. Right here, below the walled, smog-covered skies of Chimneytown, Lubicchi (Mana Ashida) is a lonely chimney sweep. His father disappeared mysteriously some time in the past; his asthma-stricken mom stays at residence, wheelchair-bound; his friends scorn him due to his seek for the celebs. Issues begin to change, nonetheless, when Poupelle (Masataka Kubota) – a mystical human-shaped automata fabricated from trash – believes him in earnest. The 2 escape from incinerators, skeptics, and authorities officers as they desperately search for a world past their very own.

In fact, “Poupelle” is loads just like the homonymous’ character design itself: a clunky amalgam of concepts that awkwardly match collectively. For instance, Hirota plunks an explosive Halloween-themed musical sequence at first. Its robust melody, pop-up-esque 3D animations and aggressive camerawork makes one marvel – and excited – for the remainder of the movie’s numbers. The musical sequence serves extra to set the tone for the animation than it does its tunes, nonetheless. Hirota dedicates the remainder of the movie to extra bland dialogue and devoted variations of Nishino’s illustrators’ designs. Although Hirota’s interpretations will not be fairly “Arcane” (2021) ranges of stylization, he efficiently avoids the sleek textures of “Earwig and the Witch” (2020). The intricate 2D steampunk metropolis is efficiently translated into the pc

Hirota’s shut eye on the unique youngsters’s story is a double-edged sword, nonetheless. The script follows the cadence of a youngsters’s storybook, however far too late into the film. The dialogue feels annoyingly redundant in consequence, and even tacky. The repeated phrases forgo any magical impact; the little wordplay that exists is just not even remotely intelligent. In consequence, “Poupelle” feels nearly infantilizing regardless of its darker allusions. 

In any case, “Poupelle” hints at a extra mature, nearly Communist dystopia snuck below the guise of friendship. The anime insinuates that Chimneytown is the results of a utopian dream the place forex is successfully abolished. The smog and the partitions had been initially perceived as options to guard the townspeople from the free market, outdoors world. Poupelle and Lubicchi’s harmless search (and their due censorship) is, as such, is extra political than they may appear. Utopia, they argue, is just not one reigned in by isolation or complete management. As a substitute, it’s one marked by freedom. 

This twist is paying homage to one other ongoing animated sequence, “Assault on Titan” (2013-present). Right here, one other protagonist fights to interrupt out from his walled metropolis, solely to seek out that it was extra of a sanctuary than it was a jail. The edgy temper additionally resonates with STUDIO4 ºC’s older work,  together with “Tekkonkinkreet” (2006) and “Mutafukaz” (2017). Not like all of those works, nonetheless, “Poupelle” has bother discovering its footing. It struggles to seek out itself within the political versus the childlike. Consequently, “Poupelle” doesn’t flesh out both story as a lot because it might have – leading to its potpourri of unfinished plotlines. 

All in all, “Poupelle in Chimneytown” marks an formidable try on Hirota’s half to adapt Nishino’s bigger imaginative and prescient. The film presents an intriguing steampunk world that holds quite a lot of promise, however sadly doesn’t have the time to discover it completely. Its total temper  feels patchy, and generally even frustratingly confused. Looking back, then, maybe the movie ought to have adopted an identical strategy to the books. As a substitute of throwing all of its concepts collectively without delay, it could have completed higher to separate up the world into bits for viewers to correctly digest. 

“Poupelle of Chimney City” will play in choose US theaters ranging from 30 December. 



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