Between Netflix anime news in April 2022the new film by Tetsuro Araki it was really long awaited. Bubble is available in the catalog starting from April 28, with dubbing in Italian. Produced by Story Inc. and animated by WIT Studio, this exciting sci-fi anime really has a lot to tell, between fantasy notes and a post-apocalyptic atmosphere. Mysterious, sweet, strong, moving: these are just some of the countless adjectives suitable to describe what, as you will see, has all the credentials to be considered an excellent result.
The fundamental points
Since when Tokyo has been hit by a strange event, the city has become a ghost place. A huge amount of mysterious bubbles invaded the metropolis, causing an explosion and generating gravitational anomalies. Since then, the inhabitants have lived in a place almost submerged by water. The youngest decide to take advantage of the new conformation of the environment to start a series of Parkour competitions. Hibikithe first protagonist, is one of the best, but one day, risking something very dangerous, he falls into the water, near the so-called Larvae Pit. The boy looks doomed, until suddenly a mysterious girl named Uta can’t save him. From that moment, many doubts arise in the minds of Hibiki and her teammates: who is she? Where is she from? But above all, what is really behind the bubble phenomenon?
Of obvious post-apocalyptic setting, the story that Bubble tells may seem like one of many in this cinematic genre. At first, in fact, the assumptions of the devastation of Tokyo seem very similar to those of a Crunchyroll miniseries: to learn more, read our review by FreakAngels, which landed on the platform last January. This first impression is partly denied; the plot, in its entirety, has in itself a non-trivial narrative line.
For about half of the viewing, the apparent focus of the tale is competition. THE Blue Blades (BB) compete against i Denki Ninja in Tokyo Battlekour: the players of each team, now without a home or a family, challenge each other by giving away their basic necessities. Another team, that of Undertaker, is ready to challenge the BBs.
The first part, therefore, focuses a lot on the explanation of the rules of the game and on the study of new strategies, up to an inevitable showdown. Each member of the main team owns a very precise characterization, quite common in a diverse and heterogeneous group. There are several stereotypes: the leader, the nerdy girl, the hooligan, the irresponsible young man, the “lone wolf”, in this case Hibiki. The character design of Bubble is entrusted to Takeshi Obatamanga illustrator, also a well-known face of death Note. Impossible, however, to focus on each of them; most of the attention, of course, is concentrated above all on the first protagonists, perhaps leaving unsatisfied the curiosity to deepen the psychology of some secondary characters.
The arrival of Uta immediately lays the foundations for a particular plot point, which finds its full development starting from the second half of the narrative. Araki’s film takes it like this a different turn, certainly deeper and more emotional, which turns Bubble into a real dramatic anime. The core of the story, as mentioned, is therefore the discovery of the greatest mystery that lies behind the appearance of the bubbles. The Undertakers, who seemed to be the main antagonists, now give way to the true enemy of history: the unknown phenomenon that has upset the city.
A magical atmosphere
Bubble is an extraordinary work which manages to capture the soul of the spectator, not only for its exciting story but also thanks to the splendid work that Araki does with the entire team and with WIT. A scene set in Space kicks off this magical tale that comes to life not only through words. The opening theme is already a whirlwind of colors and suggestive images, aimed at immersing the public in this new world, full of fantasy and mystery. An atmosphere that often totally detaches itself from reality, bringing the characters in a suspended and ethereal dimension.
It often happens that the dialogues between Hibiki and Uta are interspersed with long silences that are in no way alienating. A constant sense of calm and peace permeates many of Bubble’s scenes, without ever slowing down or overburdening the narrative. Much of the attention, in fact, focuses on the sounds and noises of the city or nature. In this regard, it must be said that the sound sector plays a fundamental role, not just for the extremely realistic and captivating effects. The opening piece, “Bubble” from And ve And Riria (voice of Uta), is pleasant to listen to and in harmony with the entire soundtrack, by the composer Hiroyuki Sawanoliterally from goosebumps.
As we said earlier, much of the magic transmitted to the public is guaranteed by the fundamental contribution of WIT. The quality of the work of this animation studio is now well known, and Bubble is yet another confirmation of a team from which, by now, a lot is expected.
Araki’s film has an indescribable aesthetic value, the result of a graphic process that combines pure creativity and technicalities aimed at its practical realization. The narrative often alternates particularly static, reflective and emotional moments, with other very energetic moments that find fertile ground in the long sequences of Battlekour. By imagining a fictitious camera, it gives proof of a dynamic vision of space. When the characters move, the point of view changes frequently, accompanying their movements and conveying to the viewer the idea of being in motion with them. These sequences offer the opportunity to show off the virtuosity of which the WIT team is capable. It is no coincidence that some scenes are reminiscent of exactly those we find in the first three seasons of Attack on Titan, when the characters exploit the three-dimensional movement. It is a similarity that, to tell the truth, makes us reflect a lot on the way of approaching new works that can therefore exploit gimmicks and elements already used by the animation studio itself.
The circle and its meaning
The story that Bubble tells is not an end in itself, but becomes the spokesperson for very specific messages and themes, exploiting a symbolism that has always governed many aspects of life. The title of the work is already explanatory: “bubble”. This, on the two-dimensional plane, can be represented with a circle. The very first scene of the film, in fact, immortalizes a large water bubble, perfectly spherical. This circular shape opens the work and returns several times inside, simple or with spirals, through different elements: the Earth seen from Space, galaxies, vortices of air or water, circles of light, gravitational fields, or objects. commonly used such as bicycle wheels. Uta seems very attached to this geometric figure, in fact she even draws concentric circles on a fried egg. She is told several times, in different terms, the theory of eternal return: history repeats itself, as if following a circular line. “It is said that the world collapses and regenerates itself continuously, that it assembles, then explodes, disperses and reassembles itself”: this is the regeneration cycle.
The concept of repetition is the basis of this splendid work, not only on the level of history but also on that of the narrative modality. It often happens that some concepts or even some scenes reappear in a similar or identical way. Maybe this is it a point of weakness, which on the one hand is consistent with the fundamental idea to be transmitted, but on the other the viewer risks getting lost in a vicious circle which, even on a visual level, is tautological. As a matter of fact, it is not strictly necessary to show the same scene several times without a real practical objective. The circle, an essential form, therefore involves the story, the narration and the images, thus uniting all the levels of which the work is composed. A product as complex as Bubble finds a way to simplify itself through a shape that becomes it the essential symbol and, in some way, its primordial dimension.