Limited Screenings Beginning July 15
The Deer King is more than an adventure set in the wild west. The politics that get involved here are complex, and the plot concerns how one secretive order seeks to restore the delicate balance between man and the natural world. In what’s presented, the wolves and deer we find in this film serve a mysterious master, and as the title implies, the latter are everywhere! They are not supposed to be a resource for people to exploit. Instead, they’re a symbol for protection.
Technically, this anime by Production IG is more of a fantasy. The Empire of Zol and the people from Aquafa are at odds; their war abruptly ended when a plague struck the land and devastated one nation. As a result, the other faction feared catching it. The accord forged is shaky, and this tale looks at the state of affairs when Zol dares to resume the fight.
Anyone who knows the original novels or manga adaptations has the edge. The politics are important to the story. Also, fans of Mononoke Hime will detect a passing similarity: the main protagonist is infected with supernatural strength and there are moments straight out of this film! The fact that co-director Ando Masashi paid visual tribute to the Studio Ghibli movie which helped his career is honourable, and I like it!
In this tale, Van (Shin’ichi Tsutsumi) becomes bitten during an attack by the wolves, and isn’t left for dead. Soon afterwards, he finds another survivor, a young girl named Yuna (Hisui Kimura), before finally leaving. The two find safety, and the coming times are nothing but bliss. In the days following, Van recognises he has a gift and doesn’t think much of it. However, when he meets Hohsalle, a healer, not even his analysis helps. What he learns from the doctor suggests that his blood holds the key to a cure for the pandemic.
Another individual knows a lore more, and he confirms the Inside Out chose him for a reason. Although this translation is a funny name for this occult world, I’m okay with it because it’s a mystic realm that’s nothing like the version from Stranger Things.
Van’s abilities are like The Force in the classical Star Wars sense; it flows throughout the air, land, and sea. In other scenes, the reference to the world tree is straight out of Nordic mythology and the wolf’s appearance is straight out of Celtic lore. They appeared again to take Yuna away. As a result, Van leaves the village to rescue her and not too far behind are soldiers wanting a piece of him, too.
I can’t say too much more about The Deer King, otherwise I’d spoil the terrific act three. This world is beyond mediaeval, and I want to see more stories, especially concerning how important the Inside Out is to mysticism. Although I didn’t read the novel that inspired the manga and this anime, I thought the cinematic adaptation was well done.
Any further answers are not likely to be given. But if original author Nahoko Uehashi ever plans on writing a sequel to expand this world, I’m going to have to master reading Japanese!
4 Stars out of 5
The Deer King Announcement Trailer