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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Celebrates artistic expression and freedom and the ways they can be used to tell stories and keep the truth alive. Those in power are depicted as corrupt, attempting to stifle this freedom and cover up the stories.
Positive Role Models
While Tomona and Inu-Oh are dedicated to telling true stories and trying to help make the world a better place, they also follow a somewhat traditional "rock star" arc, acting somewhat selfishly at times, being "rebellious" or confrontational. Their behavior isn't always admirable. That said, while Inu-Oh is initially judged by his unusual physical characteristics (and shunned as a result), he keeps a positive outlook.
Although it's a fantasy story, the tale is based on true events from Japanese history, and characters are clearly Japanese.
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Violence & Scariness
Animated violence. Character sliced in half by magic sword (blood seen, body starts to slide apart); a child is blinded. Slashing motions, blood spatters on ground. Character explodes, leaving bloody mess. Fighting. Stabbing. Punching. Lost teeth. Pregnant woman screams and gives birth to a monster. Father punches a child who has physical differences. Bloody handprints. Bloody sword. Creepy/scary mask. Ships firing arrows at one another. People dying, screaming, falling into water. Father angrily bullies his kids. Adult slaps child's hand. Song about severed arms, with prop arms used.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Dancers make humping/thrusting motions during a performance.
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Uses of "hell," "bastard."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Inu-Oh is an anime film that's based on true events from 14th century Japanese history but reimagined as a fantasy/rock opera. It rambles a bit, but once it gets going, it's dazzling, tackling themes such as people in power trying to suppress the truth. Violence may be animated but is very graphic, with many scenes of blood and gore. A character is sliced in half (his body starts to slide apart), a child is blinded, and there are swords and stabbing, dying soldiers screaming and sinking into the water, blood spatters, bloody handprints, fighting, bullying, a person exploding, etc. There's also some scary stuff, such as a woman giving birth to a supposed monster, and, later, a man punching the grown "monster" (who's actually a boy with physical differences) in the face. Dancers make humping/thrusting motions during performances. There are a few uses of "hell" and a use of "bastards." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
It takes a while to really get going, but when it does, this anime musical is exhilarating, oddly beautiful, and piercingly relevant, given its depiction of greed, power, and lies. Coming from noted anime filmmaker Masaaki Yuasa and based on a novel by Hideo Furukawa, Inu-Oh starts with a narrator who sets up the time, place, and parties involved (anyone not well-versed in Japanese history may want to quickly take notes). The movie's rhythm seems a bit off at the start, as Yuasa presents bloody flashbacks to hints of Inu-Oh's story before switching to Tomona's story and staying there for a while. Viewers also have to wait for both characters to grow up. Even though the movie is only 98 minutes, it drags a bit.
The magic really kicks in when the two main characters meet and Tomona starts joyously jamming on his biwa while Inu-Oh goes into a pleasure-filled dance. When they later perform as adults, they use a three-piece band, with Tomona on his biwa, plus a huge drum and a large bowed, stringed instrument. But the sound that comes out is anachronistic modern rock, with wailing electric guitars and a full drum kit. Visually, Inu-Oh captures the whirling dizziness of the music. The wild, loose animation is probably closer to Ralph Bakshi than to Hayao Miyazaki, sometimes astonishing, sometimes off-putting, but the movie's message about those in power attempting to suppress the truth is bracing.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.