The fable of The Little Mermaid gets its fair share of attention in anime, especially when it comes to the ‘doomed-romance’ sub-genre. (Further spoilers below).
Bubble (Baburu) 2022
And at a glance, the film is very much science-fiction. Or action, but despite the setting and the parkour sequences, the diminished curiosity the film shows for the cause of such a radically changed Tokyo allows the romance-side of things to take a larger share of the narrative.
Now, by ‘diminished’ I don’t mean zero.
Obviously Makoto is very curious, but the story isn’t about her and her ship or her research. It’s more of a gradual reveal focusing on how the two romantic leads were ‘always connected’ and so the science-fiction/disaster aspects are in service to Hibiki & Uta’s drawing together.
Which still worked for me, absolutely, but I think this would disappoint viewers expecting a complex science-fiction epic or something like writer Gen Urobuchi’s work in Blassreiter or Pyscho-Pass.
However, if you’re looking for a sci-fi (ish) Little Mermaid re-telling that is visually pretty gorgeous, then give Bubble a try. As with a lot of work from Wit Studio, their use of colour and detail is pretty ace, even maybe overwhelming at times – and the film does feature some thrilling parkour scenes too.
But even with its inevitable ending, Uta’s final moments are still sad.
And it seems also to me, that the personal growth and opening up of Hibiki is only rewarded by him simply becoming more vulnerable to new suffering, and so maybe that aspect left things a bit sour for me in the end.
On the other hand, the sheer spectacle of the visuals was absolutely worth my time.