Netflix seems to be crushing it, with not only the original anime content making its way to the streaming service, but it’s also the place for artists to express their sensibilities through visual albums, such as Bo Burnham, Thom Yorke and The Lonely Island. So what better way than for Netflix to combine the two art forms with Japanese singer and composer Eve (stylized as “E ve”) headlining an hour-long mixture of live-action, anime and music with Adam by Eve: A Live in Animation.
For those unaware of Eve, who specializes in J-pop and rock music, many of his tracks have music videos that have been produced by some of the most acclaimed anime studios from Wit Studio to Bones. He has also done a number of songs for anime– televised and film– from Jujutsu Kaisen to Josee, The Tiger and the Fish. His latest project, Adam by Eve centers on two high school students: Aki (played by Hanon) and Taki (played by Ano), best friends for as long as they can remember. Taki suddenly disappears, causing Aki to search through Tokyo to find her, and her disappearance may have something to do with a one-eyed man that exists only in dreams.
Despite its simple narrative of the search for a missing girl, which blurs the line between dream and reality, the story is there to connect the dots between the songs, performed by Eve, whose face is never revealed when performing. That said, you buy into the friendship between the two young women through their cutesy interactions, whilst Aki’s narration touches upon her feelings about why her friendship is important to her and feeling a sense of loneliness when Taki is suddenly gone.
The film is written and directed by Nobutaka Yoda, who has done multiple animated music videos for Eve. His blending of live-action footage and animation is seamless, such as in the scenes that are basically the music videos, in which flashes of different animation styles pop off in front the artist performing. With most of the movie shot in live-action, the main setting of Tokyo is shot in beautiful digital photography. The supernatural presence of the one-eyed figure slowly consumes the streets, and through the eyes of Aki we see her reality being plunged into a surreal anime.
Produced by Studio Khara, best known for the Rebuild of Evangelion film tetralogy, there are a number of anime shorts within the fifty-eight-minute running time. Each is helmed by a different director bringing their own sensibilities, though one of which seems to be just there to support another song. The standout is an extraordinary six-minute sequence in which our heroine is trapped in a dystopian animated version of Tokyo, where she appears as a blue-haired girl with a smiley face that covers her own, whilst she is controlled and gazed upon by the one-eyed man who populates this world. Starting off with stunning 2D animation, the film becomes more frantic with 3D visuals that evoke first-person shooter video games, leading to its own spectacular climax.
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