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20 November 2012 @ 10:00 pm
 So, Brave Story. Some of you might recognize this as the title of a PSP game. Others of you might know this as a novel by Miyuki Miyabe and translated into English by Alexander O. Smith, or by the animated film based on this novel. Probably only [personal profile] handmaid , though.

I'm going to be talking about the film, though most of what I say also applies to the novel it was based on.

It's a story in the grand tradition of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, in that it concerns a child's journey to a magical and surreal otherworld that he must travel through and escape to return home, all the while learning important lessons.

It differs in how the individual details are supremely fucked up within this framework.

Things like the hero's journey to said otherworld being preceded by him witnessing his classmate summon a demon that devours a class bully, or that his journey is spurred by A) his parents divorcing, and B) his mother's attempt to commit suicide (that had it succeeded, would have killed him as well) immediately afterward!

The fact that the boy is given a magic sword and told to collect a series of gems to put in it in order to escape this fantasy land/have his biggest wish granted isn't unusual. The fact that he initially wants to use this wish to bring his family back together isn't, either. It's not even strange that he must compete with said demon-summoning classmate for these gems- but, of course, it also means that only one of them will escape. It also means that only one of them will survive. You know. Low-stakes stuff.

Then there's the fact that his classmate's wish also concerns his family- who are all dead after his father's murder-suicide a few years back. Reminder: Brave Story is billed as children's literature. He's a charming, sweet boy, who does things like summoning a specter of the hero's father to tell him that he's unloved and unwanted and that's why he left his mother and getting close to a naive princess in order to betray her and steal a gem, summoning basically infinite amounts of demons to destroy the world in the process. You can tell his heart's in the right place. But it's okay, he dies fighting his own doppelganger when he tries to get the last magic gem, forcing the hero to choose between saving the world and saving his friend.

Though he also has to deal with the fact that the helpful magic voice who's been giving him hints and urging him along when he fell into despair wasn't really a goddess or a fairy, but a horrible predatory monster waiting for him at the end of his journey to ruin everything.

(Oh boy, and in the novel? That naive princess's charming kingdom is committing genocide against the cute anthropomorphic lizards and cats that the hero has spent so much time adventuring with. Legit, straight-up genocide. The novel is somehow way more fucked up than the film.)So! Brave Story! Watch it sometime! Be prepared to wonder "how the hell is this a kid's movie?"