Munto

by Janet Crocker

Yumemi is a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl who simply wants to be like everyone else. The problem is that she has some weird psychic power where she can see islands floating in the sky when no one else can. Her two closest friends, the child-like Suzume and sensible Ichiko, believe in Yumemi, but everyone else thinks she's crazy.

The Magical Kingdom, ruled by King Munto, has 48 hours before it will sink and disappear, destroying the Earth beneath it. Apparently, Yumemi's islands in the sky are really the Heavenly Realm, and she has the power to save Munto's kingdom, and thus, the world. Munto, a cross between Magnus from Chrono Trigger and your typical Dragonball Z fighter character with a bat cape, descends to the human world in search of Yumemi. The problem is that there is a space/time barrier between said duo, and the King's powers are slowly fading.

I had to rewind a few times so I could catch exactly why the Elders of the Heavenly Realm were destroying the Magical Kingdom. From what I understand, they were using up too much Akuto (magical power). In order to save Akuto for everyone in the Heavenly Realm, the Magical Kingdom needed to be destroyed. (Think wars over oil.) And what can Yumemi do? Her true power restores magical power, so Munto wants to use her power and restock the Realm with Akuto. Munto fails to explain this not-so-minor fact and does not ask her nicely. Therefore, it takes about 40 minutes and the Magical Kingdom falling from above before Yumemi understands what she must do.

Tacked on the side is the story of Yumemi's friend Suzume and her boyfriend, Kazuya, an older boy who frequently gets into violent fights. When Suzume announces that they are to be married, Yumemi and Ichiko are immediately concerned. This begins a story on how everyone needs a hand to hold, and how Suzume saved him with her naive purity. To celebrate their new life together, they cross a deep and fast river, symbolizing the obstacles that they will face... together. This whole side-story turned my stomach. We have a young and not exceptionally bright thirteen year old girl romantically paired with a sixteen, possibly seventeen year old boy. It just gave me a weird vibe. I know intellectually that this story is meant to reflect Yumemi and Munto, and the crossing of the river together represents Yumemi and Munto bridging the worlds through Akuto, but ugh... I'd watch K.I.T.E. if I wanted to see anime with perverted relationships.

One of the themes in this anime was childhood versus adulthood. Yumemi asks her mother if she was ready to marry (the question coming from Suzume's situation). This initiates a lecture on how children do not have enough experience or the knowledge to make right choices, and that adulthood is about understanding your responsibility and duties to society. I have no idea how this ties in with the 'psychic girl saves world through the power of love' plot, though it does prolong Yumemi's refusal to help Munto. Since she is still a child, she can't do anything except study, right? Right?! Right?! (Yes, I felt the teenage angst meter rise a little there, too.)

I appreciated the soft, washed colors used throughout Munto. It gave the feeling that this world is about to disappear, like a wave washing away footprints in the sand. I also liked the use of a sunset backgrounds, which reinforced the non-violent, slowly fading 'end of the world' feeling. I enjoyed the human character designs: not too generic, but not too experimental either. I was not keen on how all of the Heavenly Beings had elf ears. There are plenty of other ways to illustrate that they are not human instead using pointy ears. Music was restricted to synthesizer melodies that either blended into the scenes completely or were extremely annoying.

I thought that the three girls, Yumemi, Suzume and Ichiko, were interesting and somewhat realistic characters. We view a monologue while Yumemi runs to Munto in the closing scenes of how Yumemi tried to convince herself that the islands were nothing but dreams, and that if she forgot about them that they would go away and she would be normal. Suzume is believable as an almost stupidly innocent thirteen year old, and Ichiko plays the standard best friend who will cover for you, even against your parents. Their dialogue among each other was quite refreshing.

The DVD menu was pretty standard, with a choice of subbed/dubbed. We were also given a selection of CPM Manga and U.S. Manga Corp. anime trailers, none of which jumped out at me. We had chapter selection, and surprisingly, a lot of extras. They included an art gallery (showcasing a lot of good artwork for wallpapers), a background gallery, character sketches, the Japanese TV warning, and the Japanese and US trailers.

I found the English dub track to be better than the original Japanese. Perhaps it reflects the late 80's/early 90's feel to Munto, with no obvious CG effects. Munto reminded me of Escaflowne, especially in the ending, where there should be a 'happily ever after', but there isn't. Yumemi and Munto continue on with their lives like before the Akuto Crisis. The only romantic reference is Yumemi saying that she knows that one day, they will meet again.

If you enjoyed the Escaflowne ending or are a fan of the old school animation style, then perhaps you would enjoy Munto. I am merely too much a child of the late 90's/present style of animation and more than a little tired of psychic girls with world-saving properties, but maybe Yumemi is the right girl for you.

About This Item

  • Munto

  • Format:
    Bilingual DVD / 50 mins.
  • Production:
    Central Park Media / Kyoto Animation / Kyoani Project
  • Rating:
    60%

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