Millennium Actress

Starring (voice): Miyoko Shoji, Mama Koyama, Fumiko Orikasa, Shozo Ilzuka and Syoku Tsoda
Manga Entertainment UK
RRP: 16.99 / £24.99
MANG2038 / MANG2081
Certificate: PG / 18
Available 26 September 2005

Documentary filmmaker, Genya Tachibana, and his cameraman, Kyoji Ida, visit the home of Chiyoko Fujiwara, a legendary but reclusive Japanese screen goddess who, thirty years earlier, suddenly and dramatically disappeared from public view. At the start of the interview Tachibana presents the actress with a small key, triggering an outpouring of vivid memories of her past. Throughout the historic millennium of Chiyoko's tale, her only wish is to once again lay eyes on her first and one true love, an injured artist she had helped escape from the government authorities when she was a small girl and the man who had once given her a small, all-important key...

Millennium Actress is the anime equivalent of a chick flick. Okay, I'm being a little harsh there, but if you are a bloke and your significant other doesn't appreciate your interest in anime, then you need to sit them down with this film.

The movie sees filmmaker Genya Tachibana and his quick-witted cameraman, Kyoji Ida, tracking down screen legend, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who vanished from the big screen and public life when she was in her prime. Tachibana has a surprise for her, an old key which she used to wear religiously around her neck until she lost it. The rest of the movie follows Jujiwara's life story as she reveals why the key meant so much to her and how it catapulted her into the movie industry.

The film sees Tachibana and Ida actually witnessing the events Fujiwara details. They not only see them, but take an active part in the proceedings - with Tachibana coming to Fujiwara's rescue on a number of occasions.

Tachibana has a secret he has been hiding for years, and Fujiwara is on the verge of realising that she may have wasted her life chasing a silly girlish dream.

While I must admit to not really getting the whole 'chance meeting with a rogue changed my life' element of this picture, I still thought this was a beautiful movie. And while I wasn't really sure why we kept travelling back to time periods that Fujiwara could not have lived through, the rather strange narrative doesn't detract from what is a very moving film.

This DVD is available to buy as a single disc, or packaged in a special twin pack with director Satoshi Kon's previous animated movie Perfect Blue. If you haven't already seen this earlier movie, I strongly recommend that you buy the twin disc pack.

Extras include an interesting 'Making of' documentary (40 mins) and trailer. The audio tracks available include Japanese/English stereo, 5.1 and DTS.

Those wanting transforming robots or gun/sword wielding antics should look elsewhere. If you want to see a different side of anime, then you should pick this up.

Pete Boomer

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