I knew nothing about Ujicha’s “Violence Voyager” that was planned to be screened as part of Fantasia Film Festival that took place in Montreal. But knowing it was a Japanese experimental, almost like a paper-theater animated film in hand-painted cardboard cutouts, was enough to grab my full attention.
“Violence Voyager” follows an American boy living in rural Japan going to school and enjoying his time with friends. His first creation, a homemade cardboard gaming console, wins him a prize at his school’s arts and crafts competition. But that’s not the only victory the foreigner will get a chance to celebrate as his friend Akkun takes him to a secret place in the mountains where they discover an interesting theme park named ‘The Haunted Area’. But what the boys don’t know about it is that soon the only prize they can claim, in case they find the exit from the park, is their own life.
“Violence Voyager”, technically, is an outstanding piece of art completely created on cardboard cutouts. It delivers a unique and refreshing experience to quite a complicated storyline. When Bobby and Akkun arrive at the mountain, they find an interesting place where their childish curiosity begins occupying their mind. A man named Koike, the owner of the theme park, agrees to allow them to play on that particular day for free. The kids are super excited and hope to have fun. And moreover, they promise that they will bring more children, since except themselves there were no other kids around.
But that will soon be proven wrong as the park is full of modified children ready to be eaten by Takashi, Kokei’s son. From drama, the animated film from that moment on turns into a horror film, which I must admit is much more effective than all the expensive visual effects we get from big-budget films. “Violence Voyager”, in fact, is better and more creative in so many ways. The deep friendship we see between Akkun and Bobby is mesmerizing. Character development is truly outstanding. Everything from the start to the end is a must-see, and that’s the least I can say.
In conclusion, “Violence Voyager” is one of those animated films that reminds us why art and cinema are so important in our life. Watching Ujicha’s intelligently crafted piece, we must remember one thing – no matter how many movies are out there, we must never miss an opportunity to see something that was done with heart and dedication, told with passion and love that turns it into an unforgettable journey called “Violence Voyager.”