As we all know, CoMix Wave Films' is famed for the international hit, Your Name., known as the highest-grossing anime film of all time. Having loved that film, I was naturally drawn in by the trailer of Flavours of Youth which sort of gave off similar vibes -- it felt nostalgic, poignant, and looked damn good. I was, however, very...VERY disappointed.
I'm going to divide this film a lot and talk about its separate parts since it's very inconsistent with its quality.
Minor spoilers ahead -- beware!
This film's broken up into 3 parts. "Fun" fact: this was also used in 5 Centimetres per Second, a film also by CoMix Wave Films. Difference is that each one focuses on a separate character and their stories...and it's a bit more boring.
Part 1 (1/10) : To put it bluntly, the first 15 minutes or so was nothing but straight-up food porn. Its attempt at depicting a fond recollection of past times failed in every sense to give off a strong, tangible sense of nostalgia. Its "hopeful" conclusion had nothing to back it up...you know why? Well, get this -- there's no plot! Absolutely nothing happened. It was just one shitty flashback (the whole movie is a flashback, but this one is just especially bad). On top of that, the narration was unnecessary, and the overall execution was a mess and plain weak, not that the concept was anything new. But god DAMN...those were the prettiest fucking noodles I've ever seen.
Part 2 (2/10) : I guess this was an improvement from the first, mostly because there was a plot this time. This story centres around a once seemingly talent-less woman now a modelling sensation hailed at the top. It more or less felt like a shitty teen movie -- some nice, pretty brunette is the most popular and beloved girl at her "school"...until some blonde-haired bitch comes in and steals her thunder (in this case, pink hair...gotta love anime). After that, it's all about her little sister and how she wants to support her and protect her and all that lovely, generic jazz...to be honest, I don't remember what happened at all -- this was very forgettable.
Part 3 (6/10) : Hooray! We've hit the only decent part of this movie! It has plot! It has emotions! Oh, my! Unfortunately, this was pretty much a copy-and-paste of the whole plot from 5 Centimetres per Second except with a much different ending (
HINT: Makoto Shinkai doesn't direct this film. What a sad man.). That being said, this was fine. This time, the story revolves around man who's reminded of a forgotten would-be love, along with him telling of his following regrets. As the best portion of the film, it actually gives off some sense of nostalgia -- something that the first part horribly failed to do. I genuinely felt bad for the main character, even though I've seen similar instances in other (better) anime many times before. In general, it's a good example of how a recycled plot can be executed fairly well through decent character work and direction.
SPOILER (kind of): The ending and after-credits scene made me smile, and that was the only time I did.
All in all, the story was bad. If the film had been more consistent with the first half being as good as the second, then I would've definitely seen this film in a different and much more positive light. At least Part 3 was something that was even slightly worth watching. Just barely.
HOLY SHIT. THE NOODLES.
OK. It's common knowledge that CoMix Wave makes some pretty-ass films, and this movie is certainly no exception. The first 15 minutes would make any foodie climax. BUT...why does everything have to look way nicer than it needs to be? I mean...I'm all for good animation, but this is just getting out of hand! I get the feeling that it's trying way too hard, putting more effort into the animation than the rest of the movie. Not every scene needs a blurry border or countless lens flares! I don't need to look at some pixel-perfect water droplet magnificently plopping into a house sink! Just give me some plot! I want to see something happen!
In all seriousness, this movie is -- visually -- absolutely stunning. Just put some more meaning into the pretty landscapes next time!
Again, as usual with CoMix Wave Films, they've got some great background music. For some reason, I found the credits song to be especially good (I was jammin' to that shit, I dunno why). However, it feels as if they think that music is the only way to convey any sort of emotion. As I said earlier with the animation, more effort is put into background music than the actual plot itself, and hopefully this doesn't become commonplace within future films made by them. While the sound effects, ambience, and music was great throughout the whole film, using the OST to strengthen a scene's impact will only work under an well-established foundation along with good context. Unfortunately, this was nowhere to be seen in Part 1, and the second part's attempt was lacklustre. I think you've got the point by now that the third is better than the other two in every way possible.
There really isn't much to these characters at all. The first character wasn't exactly relatable due to the "plot" being so messy. The woman in Part 2 is the typical overly-confident, big sister type of gal. The third guy, despite having the best plot, wasn't anything special either, as well as his friends. You've probably noticed that I haven't mentioned their names at all, and for good reason -- I don't remember. Nothing memorable about them. I can't say they're realistic either since other than some of their life experiences which may be plausible, their personalities are so bland that it's hard to believe.
To be completely honest, the first two parts were incredibly boring. I mean, it doesn't really help that nothing happened for the first 15 minutes. Once the second part hit, I was half asleep, not that this transition became anything exciting, either. This is definitely up there as one of the dullest 45 minutes of any movie I've ever seen, and I've watched some pretty shitty movies. The only enjoyment I received during the time was the sexy-ass food and laughing at how extra the visuals were at times. As for the rest of the movie, I liked it...but to an extent. The second half was the only part that triggered some sort of reaction in me, ranging from a soft and sudden "oh" to a slightly louder "oh, shit".
With all into consideration, this film was "meh" at best. I couldn't say that this had much potential either when it's solely powered by gorgeous animation, beautiful music, and not much else. Its cast is bland and forgettable. Its plot in Part 1 and 2 is weak and sloppy, and Part 3 doesn't add much more as a mere copy-and-paste of a movie that's only decent. Its attempt at emitting a similar-but-different emotional prowess as "Your Name." terribly failed for the majority, but at least did a better job towards the end.
Even though it scored a 52/100 (D-), on a 1-10 scale, I'd give Flavours of Youth a 4/10 (✘ Subpar). If you liked 5 Centimetres per Second, you'll like the second half (Part 3) of this film. The first half (Part 1/2) isn't worth watching for anybody at all. Except for the food. That was glorious. Fuck, I can't stop thinking about it...
✘ 4/10 -- SUBPAR ✘
=== NOT RECOMMENDED ===