Last year, there are 3 anime(?) movies I anticipate with full spirit. Ghibli's Red Turtle, Shinkai's Kimi no Na wa, and B&T Studio's debut, Big Fish and Begonia. First time I heard about this movie was when it appeared on next-season-animu-chart, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Curious, I tried to find more info about it and ended with a trailer in Youtube. It was SUPER GORGEOUS AND PROFOUND. I was surprised when later found out it wasn't made by Japan but a Chinese studio instead. Last summer, during my trip to Comiket, I actually planned to watch the Japanese theatrical release (along with the premiere of Kimi no Na wa), alas both plan failed. But while Kimi no Na wa is easily substituted because we got our own release, waiting for Big Fish and Begonia is more painful due to the lack information of its DVD/BD release. Not to mention this movie tend to go under everyone's radar because its a Chinese cartoon (literally). Finally, with some frequent relentless search I manage to stumbled upon the raw. But this being a Chinese movie, I can't consume it without subtitles. So the file just got piled up in the corner of my hdd, UNTIL some good people at MAL forum decided to join forces and made a subtitle. It took five months but at least its finally finished last January.
Now about the movie. Wiki said that it's an epic fantasy, and I couldn't agree more. The movie took 12 YEARS in the making, you can see all the effort in every frame. It's breath taking. Visual wise, I think there's some Ghibli influence in it, the world building and other worldly but homely ambience. But what's the point of good painting without a history behind it? That's where the plot came in, and its also doing a great job making this anime shines. Big Fish and Begonia tells a story about a magical creature girl- argh, screw it, if you're familiar with mythical jianghu, tales of demons alias film siluman china, it would be far easier to explain, afterall the movie integrates many elements from ancient Chinese literature. So in this movie, there are two worlds, human's and non-human's. When a non-human reaches a coming of age, they must follow a ritual called rite of passage where they deplore to the human world in the form of red dolphin in order to experience firsthand about The Law of Nature (that's some ＤＥＥＰ words right there) for seven days and seven nights. The heroine of this story, Chun, enjoyed the experience of being in human world that's livelier than her home world.. that is before she learn about the horrible things human do to the nature (because human are bastards, rite?). Eventually she got trapped on a fishing net during a storm but got saved by a boy. She was saved but unfortunately, the boy died saving her. Haunted by her regret, Chun begin her journey to bring the boy back from Agharta, eh salah, well anyway you get the point right?
If you love tragic siluman love stories kind of movie (Painted Skin, Mural, Sorcerer and The White Snake, etc) then you're sooo going to enjoy this movie. All the familiar tropes are there. Forbidden exchange, sacrifice, one sided love, fantastical majikaru batoru, and stuff. Also, mahjong against god of death, kind of. And as I said before, the magical worlds also full of awesomeness, there's many small quirky details that's fascinating to see, like magical potted plan, lamp, cigarette. There's also abundant ＤＥＥＰ ＡＮＤ ＰＨＩＬＯＳＯＰＨＩＣＡＬ talks as well as narration. Stuff like the meaning of life and of course things that asians can very much relate; FAMIRI HONORU. Last, for a drama movie, I expect the movie will have some sad scenes, turns out its not some, but a lot. Good thing I watch this midnight.
Final verdict: Definitely recommended!