I discovered this film during the Night of Japanimation in November 2015. If it weren’t for the event, I swear I would never ever have had any interest what so ever in such a movie. And I would have missed something… Without further ado, this is my review of the film. Good reading.


Original title : Mind Game (マインド・ゲーム) (Maindo Gēmu))
International title : Mind Game
Director : Masaaki Yuasa
Country : Japan
Language : japanese
Release date :
Japan – July 2004, 8th
Duration : 103 min

Trailer :

Synopsis (animenewsnetwork) :

The film follows Nishi, a loser who has a crush on his childhood girlfriend. After an encounter with the Japanese mafia, the film follows Nishi as he journeys to heaven and back, and ends up trapped in an even more unlikely place. Nishi (and some friends) attempt to break out of their trap, and discover what it truly means to be alive along the way.

My review :

Brief context. The Night of Japanimation, Grand Rex is the venue, around midnight. You’re under the charm of The Boy and the Beast, which projection ended a short while ago. You don’t have the energy of your teenage days so you wish you could go to bed, like… now. “Unfortunately”, the evening has just begun, you must hold on. You take a deep breath, slap your cheeks, open your eyes wide like an owl and you’re ready for the second movie, Mind Game.

First of all the style : graphically harsh. Even ugly. With the dark atmosphere shown during the first minutes, I thought Mind Game was another smart hippie thing… not the best idea at 00:30 when your eyelids are heavy. But quickly, I realize this mere pebble is nothing but a precious diamond.

As I said, the design is rough, sometimes dull, almost basic. At first, it’s repeling – when you’re not used to it and you’ve just watched The Boy and the Beast – but the charm works and graphics turn out to be an asset as they offer larger freedom, flexibility and inventiveness… The colors go from dark to saturated, the atmosphere is bubbly or melancholic. It’s a visual trip. The image lives, becomes a fest and above all, carries the message of the film : carpe diem.

We see a guy die, to whom God grants a second chance… We observe a reflection on oneself, on life choices failures, sentimental life fails, on fatality and abnegation. Mind Game is somewhat an ode to life.

In conclusion: nuts, lively, funny or even sad, the story is no less solid and the themes are strong. The humor sometimes delicate, sometimes greasy, remains skillfully dosed and well scripted. The “poorness” of the drawings contrasts and balances with the richness of the story, making Mind Game an excellent cocktail.

I wanna say thank you to the organizers for having integrated this piece on the program because I would probably never have watched such a film on my own initiative (or I would have stopped watching after 5-10 min).

Overall rating, totally subjective and non-binding : 8.2/10

Mind Game is an unprecedented genre, a film you have to catch mid-air and hold on to it real tight. You can easily ask “what’s that shit? it doesn’t even make sense…”. You can easily be put off by the graphics and colors. Basically, if you’re insensitive, you can easily fall by the way side.

As for me, Mind Game is a real wonder, hilarious, rich in imagination and reflections. It’s not a movie, it’s an experience I highly recommend.

That’s all, folks!

Chrys Prolls

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