HomeAnimeANIME NYC 2021 | "Pompo: The Cinephile" Review

ANIME NYC 2021 | "Pompo: The Cinephile" Review

ANIME NYC 2021 | "Pompo: The Cinephile" Review

“The best thing about movies is that they’re 90 minutes long.”

With today’s short attention spans, filmmakers must understand the importance of telling a story that keeps everyone’s eyes on the big screens. Sure, there are major epics that wow many people during a 3+ hour runtime, but not everyone will fight the urge to look at their watches. Pompo: The Cinephile, the debut film from studio CLAP, understands this notion well, as the movie follows a film’s creation from script to final cut. The end result is a love letter to movie-making, one that will leave audiences everywhere in awe of the art form.

Despite its title, Pompo (Konomi Kohara) is not the main character. Instead, a lot of the focus is placed on Gene (Hiroya Shimizu), a hard-working assistant at Pompo’s film company. The studio specializes in b-movies, where the pretty bikini-clad heroine steals the spotlight and plenty of box office receipts. But Pompo’s new film Meister aims to go a different route, and she wants Gene to be its director.

©2020 Shogo Sugitani/KADOKAWA/Pompo Project

We’re soon thrown right into the production of Meister, where Martin (Akio Otsuka) the screen legend and Natalie (Rinka Otani) the newcomer are the two main stars. Gene, Pompo, and the rest of the film bring their all to the filming, as everyone attempts to think outside the box to deliver a great movie. But as soon as production ends, the real challenge begins in the editing room. And it’s here where the struggles of movie-making are on full display.

One of the great things about Pompo: The Cinephile is that it never glosses over the difficulties of making a movie. At the very first sight of Gene, his eyes are already baggy and his mentality somewhat lethargic. It’s because he lacks that twinkle in his eyes that Pompo wants Gene to sit in the director’s chair. The same can be said about Natalie, who went from working regular jobs seven days a week to breaking out into her first starring role. Thankfully, both Gene and Natalie have a great cheerleader in Pompo, who puts all of her trust into both directing and acting their hearts & souls out.

©2020 Shogo Sugitani/KADOKAWA/Pompo Project

The hardships of filmmaking are in full display when it comes time for Gene to enter the editing room. Taking 73 hours of footage and editing into a coherent movie is no easy task. The bags under Gene’s eyes become bigger, and the pressure pushes harder knowing there’s a deadline to get it done. Suddenly, Gene realizes that the film is incomplete, as it requires one more scene to make it the film he wants to see.

Right here is where the spirit of cinema takes over, as Pompo: The Cinephile showcases the pains and struggles of reshoots, rehiring the cast & crew, and scrounging the cash to get it all done. It’s where Gene’s former classmate Alan (Ryuichi Kijima) takes the fate of the film into his own hands, convincing his bank to fund the costs. Convincing a bunch of hardheaded money-grubbers to part with their green is like squeezing blood from a storm, but how he tries to convince them showcases the importance of creativity in the art of cinema and — in this case — the art of raising funds.

©2020 Shogo Sugitani/KADOKAWA/Pompo Project

For their first venture, CLAP brings Shogo Sugitani’s original manga to life in bombastic ways. From character expressions to the beauty of the Swiss mountains, every frame is filled with a mixture of detailed beauty and cartoonish expression. But it’s when the film gets creative with how the editing process works where the style takes a form all on its own. It’s very anime to see Gene literally take a sword and slash away unnecessary shots & scenes, but it’s also a showcase of the newbie director’s way of bringing the story he wants to see on the big screen.

Pompo: The Cinephile showcases the heart, spirit, and muscle of movie making in every way, and does so with little flaws. From the pre-shoot jitters to the anxiety of post-production, CLAP’s debut movie delivers the ultimate look on how great movies are brought to life. With its mixture of laughs and uplifting messages, Pompo: The Cinephile shows that great cinema comes not from those who dream, but from those who take the biggest of risks.

FINAL GRADE:

Pompo: The Cinephile will be released in the United States in 2022 by GKIDS.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@electricsistahood.com For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)