Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Classics: China San no Yuutsu

Before The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, there was The Melancholy of Miss China.

This is the tale of a lesser known anime, one starring a lovely restaurant owner, Miss China, her fiance, and her neer-do-well borders who always create trouble for her. China San no Yuutsu (also licensed as Spirit of Wonder: Miss China's Ring) is an OVA released in the early nineties.

The story plays out much like any H. G. Wells novel. The anime spares no moment to bend scientific principle and draw the characters (and viewers alike) into a world of unimaginable wonderment. It's a cute and campy release from reality like no other.
In the film, Jim and Dr. Breckenridge, two of the boarders who live above China's restaurant, develop a machine that can transport people to the moon. China, who only cares about getting rent from the two, refuses to believe the pair. Jim is so crushed by China's disbelief that he proves his latest invention to her all while finding a way to profess his love for Miss China.

It's a bit out there, but it's a lovely little gem of a movie. It's much different from a typical science fiction anime, taking place in early 20th century England, with an unlikely cast of characters, and making light of outdated scientific theories (ie: currents of ether). But it's well worth watching to unwind from a day in the real world.

The OVA was continued in a "not quite sequeled" second part, standalone from the earlier OVA which got its story from the serialized manga it was based upon. The second film was released as simply "Spirit of Wonder", and while featuring China and company in two shorts and a cameo in the main story, they played a secondary role to a new story following five scientists as they endeavored to reach Mars!

The latter OVA is heavy in fan-service, some inappropriate. The animation is interesting in either film as characters have normal-like eyes and both noses and lips, well-visible upon their faces, and CG elements mixed with beautifully drawn scenery all played out in a slow and steady pace.

If you are lucky to find a copy of either of these out of print titles, grab them up! There won't be anything quite like it on your shelf.

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