Bubble (2022) Review

Popping With Visuals
| Apr 28, 2022
IMDB: LINK
Director(s): Tetsurô Araki
Actor(s): Tasuku Hatanaka, Alice Hirose, Marina Inoue
Film Genre(s): Animation , Sci-Fi
Running Time: 100 min

When you take possibly the world’s biggest streaming service in Netflix, and you combine it with Anime, fans can expect to see some of the best the industry has to offer in production quality. Netflix originals such as Castlevania and Devilman Crybaby were well received audience pleasers, breathing life into anime on the huge platform.

When the prominent Wit Studio, and Director Tetsurō Araki team up, huge quality productions are widely expected due to their prowess in world building and overall mastery of the anime Sci Fi genre, as shown by the very well received Attack on Titan and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress series’. This dream team up — including renowned anime writer Gen Urobuchi — introduces Bubble, the latest anime Sci-Fi film from Wit Studio, that shies away from the mature content matter of previous projects and digs into a dystopian Tokyo loaded with gravity altering bubbles, a dangerous high-stakes battle parkour game, and a romantic angle that follows The Little Mermaid closely.

Bubble (2022) Review 1

Bubble takes place primarily in Tokyo five years after the cataclysmic event that saw the emergence of, well, millions of bubbles that altered the city’s gravitational functions. Think, Gears of War E-Day, but with bubbles instead of locust. Once the ‘Bubble Fall’ occurred, many areas of the city became overrun with wildlife that made the former metropolis unlivable. Adolescents and teenagers who have lost their families deign to make this catastrophe zone their new orphanage and run vicious parkour battles across the city for supplies and bragging rights.

The unoccupiable destruction is shown by many shots of buildings wearing mossy shawls, remnants of a better life lived, and fallout that blasts the user with post-apocalyptic scenery. One thing Bubble absolutely knocks out of the park is visuals, the film is gorgeous from beginning to end. There is a vagabond group the audience watches along with called the ‘Blue Blazes’, which is also the name of their parkour team, who inhabit a boat in this already hostile environment. This is where we are introduced to the silent, strong OP protagonist Hibiki (Jun Shison), who is number one in parkour ability, standoffish, and a lone wolf. This, of course, checks many of the boxes on anime main character lists.

“One thing Bubble absolutely knocks out of the park is visuals, the film is gorgeous from beginning to end.”

Once Hibiki slips up and falls into dangerous waters, an unnamed girl saves his life, which sets the narrative in motion. Of course, another anime trope in typical ‘amnesia naming’ fashion gives the girl the name Uta (Riria). This is where Bubble becomes too big for its britches, however. There is a feeling of way too many elements being introduced to Bubble, and like an unbalanced salad, this becomes cumbersome early and makes it difficult to understand everything that is happening.

Bubble (2022) Review 2

There is a catastrophic event that causes a dystopia only in Tokyo, a parkour game that is admittedly described well due to one of the characters not knowing the rules, a romantic undertone featuring Hans Christensen’s The Little Mermaid, and even with all of these themes and devices, there are still major issues the film attempts to attack like disability out casting at young ages, the feeling of abandonment, and setting aside differences to overcome insurmountable odds. In an under two-hour runtime, the film takes on much more than it can adequately handle, which leaves many questions for the audience even after the credits roll.

The Blue Blazes are basically a copy and paste ensemble of anime stereotypical characters, with a headstrong rival type, an annoying ‘always get into trouble’ young member, and even a leader type named Shin that many of the members respect heavily. Uta devours knowledge and becomes an expert at many things in what seems to be seconds, although she acts mostly non-verbal besides singing, and she is, of course, completely infatuated with Hibiki and doesn’t leave his shadow ever. Uta also completely takes to parkour like she was made for it, or it was made for her.

“In an under two-hour runtime, the film takes on much more than it can adequately handle…”

The writing takes too many liberties, and while there are genuine laughs, such as when Hibiki voices his displeasure at the Blue Blazes cringey slogan before parkour matches, the plot drags due to explanations needing to be given at inopportune times.

Bubble (2022) Review 5

The Undertakers are the main antagonist parkour group, and they embrace Sword Art Online Laughing Coffin energy in every single way. They sport creepy outfits and do heinous things to win parkour in an already destroyed city. They take liberties with game rules by wearing advanced equipment and seemingly go out of their way to injure other combatants. Their motives are never expanded upon, they’re just bad for the sake of being that way. There’s a scene where one of their members traps someone in a collapsing building… to win parkour. The parkour competitions offer rewards, but I don’t think murder helps much.

This is where Bubble seemingly can’t get out of its own way, there are just too many things thrown into the film’s foundation that makes it kind of a mess to explore. The voice acting is superb, the visual quality is outstanding, and the musical score orchestrates the movie with well-timed flourishes. Animation sequences are flawlessly done, with no dips in quality during even the most demanding of sequences. However, this only allows the film to be tolerable over all the confusing story lining. Even the disability Hibiki suffers from is a heart-aching moment described wonderfully, but it is thrown away very easily to add convenience to relationship building.

Overall, Bubble is a well-honed gem in terms of visual prowess, with incredible audio and fantastic production quality. But with the over-reliance on anime tropes, massive plot holes, and a sloppy mess of narrative ideas thrown into the salad bowl, it falls somewhat flat.

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