Origin Spirits of the Earth is the story of a post apocalyptic world where genetically threes created centuries ago by men and planted on the moon have moved to Earth after destroying their home base and grown into a gigantic forest controlling the lives of humans. Two factions react to the forest’s occupation differently. First there are the people of Neutral City that attempt to live in peace with the forest and accept the control for water imposed by the tree druids. Then, there are the militaristic people of Ragna. When a girl from the past awakens from her stasis pod by accident, she threatens the delicate balance between men and forest by being the key to the latter’s potential destruction. Will she agree to work with the nation of Ragna to destroy the invading forest?
This movie is a cheap rip off Nausicaa and Princess Mononoke. Here, the forest has a mind of its own and is protected by incredible creatures, just like in films mentioned above. The theme is the same. It is men versus nature. However, in this film, unlike the Miyazaki films above, one could argue that it is nature that is the villain and that’s trying to impose its ways on men, instead of men trying to eradicate it. The film goes to length to show how the people of Ragna prefer manufactured goods and artificial “things” over nature and how that makes them evil and somehow bad. There was a name for this kind of thinking in the 19th century. It was called Romantism and it’s just one flavour of human existence with a longing for a perfect past with nature. Nature is anything but perfect.
The real fact is that as presented in this film, it is the forest that is the invader. It first strikes the human race by destroying the moon, then lands on Earth and destroys most of human civilization. Then it imposes its rules on the human race and forces it to ration water. If the forest was replaced by blue aliens with eight tentacles, the movie would be about how the human race has been invaded and must get rid of the invader. Here, under the false and romantic notion that nature is perfect, it is the forest that is the victim and he force for good. I’m gonna spoil part of the conclusion to make my point. By the end of the animé, the forests requests that humans merge with it so they can be grown in melon like pods, like plants. The forests claims that this is a good thing for humanity. It’s with this kind of stupid premise that anything “natural,” even a genetically engineered forest gone wrong is always right and that humans are always wrong that the movie forces the viewer into picking the side of the silly humans who want to protect the forest.
The characters are not worth mentioning. They are your usual animé suspects. There’s the adolescent boy, Agito, there’s the girl that came out of her centuries old coma, Toola and of course the even young prodigy Shunack who wants to turn back the clock and destroy the forest. If you’ve seen Nausicaa, you’ll recognize the curse Ashitaka has on his arm in the plant-like arm Agito gets after accepting to be turned into a plant-man so he can fight the bad guys and perhaps one day rescue his girl. The girl in this film, has nothing to do with the feminist and strong characters of Myazaki’s films. She’s an idiot that follows whatever new guy in the picture tells her to do. There are more characters similar to Miyazaki’s star system, like the top female soldier of the Ragna who has a lot of visual similarities to Lady Kushana, but lacks her brooding and insights.
Visually, the animation is as incredible as you could want it to be, but the entire film lost marks for me because of the flimsy 3D integration of the vehicles and weapons with the classically animated characters. God invented toon shaders so animators could mix 2D and 3D together without breaking the immersion of the viewer. The 3D is also badly animated and looks quite odd. It was more annoying than useful and nothing that would dispel the good old belief that Japanese animators cannot do 3D animation properly.
This movie, released in January 2006, is available on DVD and Blu-Ray. I watched the DVD version and there were little extras. This animé tries to channel great works from Miazaki but achieves not a fraction of its greatness. It’s also truly boring and predictable. I’d recommend avoiding this turkey.