A Mildly Entertaining Collection Of Animated Shorts
Split across 3 individual stories, Flavours of Youth is a charming but largely indifferent anime that fails to offer up the emotional drive needed to make this a memorable offering. Artistically at least, Favours of Youth is a beautifully animated offering with vibrant colours and detailed backdrops that help to make this an aesthetically pleasing film. Unfortunately, the characters are largely forgettable and the plots a little too formulaic and lackadaisical to make this an anime you’ll return to in a hurry. While there are worse animes out there, equally there just isn’t enough here to warrant repeat watches of this underwhelming film.
We’d warn against watching the first story, aptly named “The Rice Noodles”, when hungry. This first story gravitates around a bowl of rice noodles and how that arouses the senses and shapes our lead protagonist into the man he is today. Throughout this 20 minute story expect plenty of detailed shots of cutting food, eating and a mildly entertaining tale about love, loss and the increasing growth of commercialism. The second story, “A Little Fashion Show” revolves around two sisters, one of which is consumed by fashion and clothes. Determined to be the best, the story takes a dark turn, contrasting “The Rice Noodles” to see our protagonist push herself to breaking point, all in the name of fashion. The third story, “Love In Shanghai”, is arguably the least interesting and focuses on a topic that’s largely been a staple of mainstream media – putting your career ahead of love. The predictable story beats all play out as you’d expect and round out the three individual stories at work here.
While the anime does well to keep things interesting, this is unlikely to be the sort of film you’ll return to in a hurry. The stories themselves all serve their purpose and at least try and remain relevant with an injection of drama in each but there just isn’t enough here to make for anything above a passive, mildly entertaining offering. The pacing is a little too slow and the stories running parallel to one another don’t really share that much in common, other than echoes of romance and love. You’re unlikely to leave with an attachment to any of the characters either and while there are of course redeeming features for each of the lead protagonists, Flavours Of Youth struggles to conjure the emotional responses from the audience needed to make this an anime that sticks around for very long after it’s been released.
As mentioned earlier, the aesthetic of Flavours Of Youth is largely what helps make this stand out. While it may not be quite as beautiful as the incredible Violet Evergarden earlier this year, Flavours Of Youth features some impressive art work and incredibly detailed backdrops nonetheless. It’s the little touches that help this one stand out and whether it be the drips of fat spattering on a chopping board after cutting some meat or the first-person viewpoint when a character gets dizzy and passes out, Flavours Of Youth keeps its art style interesting and centre focus when the story isn’t quite hitting home.
How much you’ll enjoy Flavours Of Youth really comes down to how enthused you are about anime. This is unlikely to be a film that sways the masses over to watching anime nor is it likely to be the sort of film you’ll be ranting and raving about to your friends and family. There’s enough here to make for a mildly pleasant ride and the stories themselves do at least have a solid three arc structure but they feel disjointed and separate to one another when these should feel harmonically connected. Still, there’s no denying Flavours Of Youth is a beautifully rendered animation and is worth checking out if you’r a fan of anime but for those looking for something more exciting or groundbreaking, you won’t find it here.
Verdict - 6/10