Netflix’s Bubble is full of energy and ambience, and mystery. But without surprise, it’s correspondingly thin on explanations.
Bubble (2022 Anime) Synopsis
An inexplicable rain of bubbles wreaked pandemonium around the world, with Tokyo particularly hard hit as it was entirely encapsulated by one. Five years later, the destroyed Japanese capital is the playground of orphaned male teens, who use the many gravitational anomalies to stage a dangerous version of parkour known as “battlekour.” Hibiki, a star contestant, also holds the key to ending the otherworldly bubbles.
Can’t remember where I read it years ago, and it goes something like this. The best Anime are those that are full of gorgeous and visually magnificent moments, but absolutely sparing with explanations so that you’d rewatch and rewatch.
Rewatch numerous times, in fanboy hopes of detecting all plot clues. In heated wish of eventually figuring everything out. Or just because your eyes can’t get enough of the beauty.
Make sense? Well, I don’t agree with the rewatching bit but I do notice many great Anime movies, including acclaimed ones like Weathering with You, being thin with the why-did-it-happen. In many cases, perhaps because not doing so focuses viewers’ attention on the romance of the mystery. The poignancy and the tragedy, and so on.
The same goes for Tetsurō Araki’s Bubble, (besieged) Netflix’s animated N-Film for late April. Now, before all else, this is a beautiful movie. A dystopian adventure that’s as dreamy as it is desolate, and filled to the brim with exhilarating, incredibly uplifting parkour races. (The over-the-shoulder moments are the best)
In contrast, and you sense this before long, the story is completely unbothered with the truth about the otherworldly bubbles. For that matter, neither does it even explore the many characters involved. All such “explanation” moments, when they hit, are directed to quotes from Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. And I mean, directed to direct quotes.
The suggestion seems to be that everything happened because of an ill-fated encounter too. But why did it turn out that way, we do not know and the movie doesn’t seem to feel the need for us to know. Will it happen again? Would there be a continuation, an escalation? Not areas touched on as well.
An Anime that begins and ends with the same mystery, in other words.
But it’s not a true disappointment, of course; there are movies purely meant to be watched for energy or ambience. I’ve already mentioned the high-octane races. In between these are many moments of classic Anime romance too. The races themselves feel to be a celebration of evanescent existence, by children the world chose to abandon.
Naturally, Tokyo is the perfect playground for these teenage desperados. It’s hardly the first time the Japanese capital is depicted as a forsaken wasteland, but rarely are the details of ruin so majestically, so lyrically presented.
These visuals alone make Bubble worthy of streaming, if only for that one popcorn-munching viewing.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.
Read my other Asian Movie Features.