Harmony (Hāmonī) 2015
Just a short review today:
A little while ago I discussed some of the context around production of three films released until the ‘Project Itoh’ moniker (which you can see here) and I suspect that the Empire of Corpses is my favourite, but that isn’t to claim that Harmony was unenjoyable (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 where the villain manipulates the heroine, told largely via flashbacks in an ecchi style and misses the chance to develop the characters. Maybe the novel gives the relationship proper care?
Still, I think if you like stories that explore free will then you might find enough to enjoy here – great costuming, a bit of action and intrigue but mostly, things like the use of colour and the time spent on the settings, the exploring of a futuristic world, are all pretty great and the creepy performance of Reina Ueda as Miach Mihie really stood out for me in Harmony.