Green Days

Green Days


Reviewed by: Owen Van Spall

Asian animation is undeniably dominated in the UK popular mindset by Japanese anime. Given that even Japanese anime features tend to get only limited exposure in the UK and are usually Studio Ghibli output, it is fair to assume few cinemagoers here have even considered that Korea is in the animation game. But Korea does have a number of animation studios, and Green Days has been given major billing at the Korean Film Festival to offer a counterweight to the Japan-centric perception. Ambitiously, it is even mentioned in the festival promotional material in the same sentence as the hallowed Studio Ghibli.

Green Days takes places in the 1980s and 90s in and around a quiet rural town school. Arang, a young but confidence-lacking competitive relay runner, keeps faking collapses in the middle of her relay races as she fears crossing the finish line in second place. Things are soon shaken up, however, as two new pupils come into her life: Soo-min, a new and glamorous pupil transferring in from Seoul, and Cheol-soo, a wannabe astronaut with a crush on her.

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As the three young pupils cry, laugh and daydream their way through the term, we see how they each deal (or fail to deal) with their own hopes and insecurities. This is a story told from the kind of heightened perspective that children seem to have where everything - be it asking a girl on a date or losing a race, it seems like life-or-death.

With its warm, rich palette, Green Days is drenched in an unashamedly nostalgic glow. The animation is evocative, with some nice touches to reference the time period - such as a scene where the young girls swoon over the hit film Love Story in the cinema (complete with an appearance by an animated Ryan O-Neill!). This is a film concerned with the everyday small moments of a quiet part of Korea, rather than a feature in the fantastic escapist mould common to Studio Ghibli.

Though it does tip at times into over-sentimentality, this is ultimately a impossible-to-resist tale about those fleeting days of childhood where a heightened level of dreams and fears battle it out in our imaginations. Studio Meditation With Pencil (Studio-mwp) definitely poured a lot of heart into this project, and it shows. Will they one day produce a feature to rival Studio Ghibli? Only time will tell.

Reviewed on: 16 Nov 2010
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Animation about a term in the life of a group of school pupils.
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Director: An Jae-Hoon, Han Hye-Jin

Writer: An Jae-Hoon, Han Hye-Jin

Year: 2010

Runtime: 100 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: South Korea


London Korean 2010

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