Saturday, February 16, 2013


Freedom is a 7 part anime series directed by Shuhei Morita (森田修平) released between 2006 and 2008. A lot of the design work was done by Katsuhiro Otomo (大友克洋) who is better known as the director of Akira and Steam Boy. The theme song 'This is Love' was performed by J-pop superstar Hikaru Utada (宇多田ヒカル). The series was commissioned by Nissin Cup Noodles in celebration of their 35th anniversary in 2006, and produced by Sunrise. Each episode features some rather heavy and obvious product placements.
The story revolves around a group of boys living in moon colonies on the far side of the Moon called Eden. The Earth was abandoned 160 years ago due to environmental degradation that left it inhospitable to humanity. Lead by Takeru, the group of boys find out that Earth may not be as unlivable as they are taught in school, and set out to return to Earth to discover for themselves.

One of the first things I noticed were the similarities to Pixar's WALL-E also released in 2008. In both stories, humanity leave Earth due to the inhospitable nature of the environment, and live in large highly controlled colonies in space. The controlling bodies in each story also restrict knowledge about the true condition of a revitalized Earth in order to retain their power and control over a captive population. Replace WALL-E and his gang of freedom fighting robots with Takeru and his gang of boys and the plots are very similar.

But the ideas of humanity losing controls of their freedoms as technology advances toward a big brother state is also a common theme not only in Katsuhiro Otomo's earlier works of Akira and Steam Boy. Bosozoku (暴走族) inspired groups of youth fighting against the oppressive overbearing authorities who are abusing technological advances. Shuhei Morita's directorial debut with Kakurenbo also features a group of children rebelling against their lose of freedoms in an increasing dystopian future Tokyo.

Those of you are fans of Otomo's work should definitely check out Shuhei Morita as well, who I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more from in the future.

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