Sci-fi infused take on the mermaid’s story
Netflix’s latest anime offering is a quaint movie called Bubble. The story centers on Hibiki, who lives in an abandoned Tokyo city, who finds his life changing when he meets a strange girl.
There are elements of fantasy and science fiction at play, with hints of budding romance and companionship. The duration is short – only 100 minutes long – and it does leave a lot to the imagination.
The story begins with the introduction of our modern city of Tokyo being abandoned. Five years ago, water bubbles started falling from the sky. The Tokyo Tower was enraptured in a cosmic blast that led to gravitational anomalies. The water bubbles melted and drowned the city. The citizens left Tokyo and a giant bubble enveloped what was left, leaving it desolate.
Children and people who have run away from their homes sought shelter in this abandoned city. Resources are limited, and there is danger around every corner.
As a way of entertainment and adventure, a game of parkour was developed. Two teams of five members each compete against each other to win the opponent’s lot of daily and necessary supplies.
The protagonist, Hibiki, and his friends are quite lucky as they win several of these games. Hibiki is the group’s ace because he always takes them to the finishing line. Since childhood, he has a hyper auditory sensitivity that makes him susceptible to the minutest of noises. He uses this to his benefit and finds his way during the parkour games.
One day he meets a mysterious girl. She does not have a name nor does she speak. Hibiki names her Uta and she becomes a part of the team. She even competes in the parkour games too. Her past is unknown, and her motivation to save Hibiki or even come to this city are unknown.
The story soon leaves the realm of sci-fi and takes a turn on a ‘modern take’ track. The tale of mermaid and the prince is given a post-apocalyptic, fantasy update here; Uta is the mermaid and Hibiki is the prince.
Uta is introduced to the story through a story book but she thinks the story as her own, as Uta develops a crush on Hibiki, and vows to do anything to please and save him. As the story progresses, the symbolism of the mermaid and the prince cements.
Bubble was selected for the Berlin Film Festival, but I wonder what warranted this decision. If the movie was simply marketed as sci-fi retelling of a classic mermaid fairy tale, then it might have been more satisfying to watch. There are a few loose ends to the narrative that take away from the main story.
Narrative issues aside, the scenes are beautifully shot. One must watch the film in high definition to truly appreciate the colours presented in the film. From the titular bubbles to the destroyed buildings – and even the character’s appearance; extensive and accurate detailing in the frames make this one visually appealing flick.
With the addition of 20 more minute, this may have helped to flesh out more of this world, which feels underdevelopment. Bubble is enjoyable, but certainly leaves room for improvement.
Verdict - 6/10