Legend of the Millennium Dragon
‘Legend of the Millennium Dragon’ is like being stuck inside one of
those old Japanese scroll artworks- the ones that show dark caves, misty
waterfalls and horned monsters. All colours are muted, giving it that
antique look and feel. The human characters are simplistic and childlike
in design, making them look like something out of a storybook. And the
horned monsters are there, in the form of the ‘Oni,’ who are the demon
antagonists from legend.
schoolboy Jun encounters this lost world of feuding humans and demons
when one of the Oni tracks him into his own time, and he takes refuge in
a strange temple. Before he knows what’s happening he’s riding on
horseback through the old Japanese capital, 1200 years in the past. The
locals peg him as ‘the saviour,’ a boy who has the power to end the
conflict with the Oni for good. But when he is captured by the Oni and
taken to their camp, he is shown a different point of view- one in which
humans are the aggressors, and Oni the guardians of the natural world.
Pulled and prodded by both sides, he is drawn into the war and forced to
make a choice- to support one side, the other, or neither.
biggest issue with ‘Legend’ is that it takes far too long to say
anything meaningful. Even at 95 minutes it’s too long. For most of that
time Jun is tortured by indecision, and I found myself just wishing he’d
nick off back to the 21st century and let the two factions
destroy each other. It’s very hard to engage or empathise with any of
the characters, possibly because of the art style- faces are too
simplistic to be able to show any subtlety of emotion.
battle scenes seem a little undercooked. There is some flashy action and
the odd CGI effect thrown in, but it still plays out in a dull and
plodding way. Most of the fights are accompanied by high-tempo
grunge/rock tracks which seem totally out of place in this historic
effects can mostly be described as pedestrian, with very little punch.
Even the clop-clop of horses’ hooves sounds off.
Kawasaki, the man who wrote and directed ‘Legend,’ is best renowned for
his past works Spriggan and Akira. Fans of those probably had the right
to look forward to this- a historic setting, humans in a war with
demons, a scroll artwork style and a moral battle- it has all the
elements of a great OVA, but they just didn’t mesh this time.