Harmony (Hāmonī) 2015
Just a short review today:
A little while ago I mentioned some context around production of three films released until the ‘Project Itoh’ moniker (which you can see here) and I suspect that Empire of Corpses is my favourite, but that isn’t to claim that Harmony was unenjoyable at all (or Genocidal Organ for that matter).
I will say that I didn’t find Harmony quite as atmospheric as EoC, but stylistically it’s definitely memorable, at times dream-like, and similar to the other films based on Satoshi Itō’s novels.
In all stories the speculative aspects were probably the main hook for me, both interesting and disturbing. Harmony especially, I think placed questions on what a relentlessly health-obsessed society would look like in the forefront, over character or story.
And while the oppressive elements of EoC or GO are balanced by either the boldness of the mash-up or relative calmness between skirmishing and slaughter, Harmony seems to balance the darker aspects with a somewhat half-hearted exploration of a lesbian relationship.
There, the villain manipulates the heroine, told largely via flashbacks in an ecchi style and maybe misses the chance to develop the characters. Or perhaps I’m just being too hard on the adaptation and the novel gives the relationship extra care?
Still, I think if you like stories that explore free will then you might find enough to enjoy here – there’s also some great costuming, a bit of action and intrigue but mostly, things like the use of colour and the time spent on the settings, the exploration of a futuristic world, that I enjoyed most.
(And also I should mention that the creepy performance from Reina Ueda as Miach Mihie really stood out too.)