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Kaena: The Prophecy
2003, D: Chris Delaporte, Pascal Pinon S: Chris Delaporte, Tarik Hamdine
Dept. of I-Should-Have-Known-Better:
The Brattle's blurb namechecked (French comic artist) Moebius and René Laloux's Fantastic Planet, so I skipped over the part that mentioned that Kaena evolved from work on a video game.
Kaena shows an obvious visual and thematic debt to the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli (especially Nausicaä, with which it shares a young and independent female protagonist, environmental themes, uncommonly large and sympathetic arthropods, and a hostile forest environment with exotic predators). But fans of Miyazaki's complex characters will find precious few here: only the lone male "Selenite" has more than one dimension (he's greedy, horny, and alternately obsequious and overbearing).
The skeleton of the plot is straightforward, but it's unveiled confusingly, and a great deal of it makes no sense at all. There's a spaceship, you see, that gets blown up and crashes exactly between two huge planets. The remains of the ship merge with a big tree that's hanging in space between the planets. The tree doesn't have roots on either planet, but it does have sap (just not much), and a race of parasitic sap-creatures has evolved (the "Selenites," although why they're given a name that means "moon dweller" is very unclear). Even though there weren't any humans on the tree before the ship crashed, the sap-creatures seem strangely dependent on them.
I know there are plenty of folks who are more interested in the visual appeal of movies -- especially fantasy and science fiction flicks -- than in solid stories and compelling characters. If that's you, you're probably reading the wrong Web site, but Kaena might be worth a look. Its space-tree environment is illogical, but also unusual and fairly original, and some of the character and environment designs are pretty neat.
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