King of Thorn ReviewKatelyn Kivel
"God, I feel like I'm part of some bad movie" laments a character in the movie King of Thorn. Far be it from me to argue with a character about the movie they're in, but King of Thorn is a lot better than she seems to think.
At the outset the story is simple enough, a plague called ACIS gains the nickname Medusa because its turning people to stone and the American government thinks that a company from Russia, Venus Gate, is to blame. But Venus Gate offers people the chance to go into cryosleep and wake in the future, after Medusa is cured. Then the movie's action buildup takes a sharp turn when the characters wake to find a vine-coated world with monsters attempting to kill them, all while dealing with the fear of the Medusa plague. But this new post-apocalyptic horror itself takes a turn down the espionage route, and then eventually down the road of psychological thriller.
In anime it's easy to write off plot holes maybe the translation was bad or maybe it just isn't supposed to make sense, but in King of Thorn every detail is significant. From the movie's outset in December of 2012 to the cryosleep in 2015 to the reality the protagonists wake into, the turns taken are unexpected and quite rewarding. Flashbacks throughout the post-cryogenic story slowly develop giving us more of the moments leading up to sleep, showing the way characters are connected, and revealing the key moments that proceeded the sleep.
As the layers of story peel back to reveal the underlying truths of the waking nightmare the protagonists explore, dimensions are added to the characters; what starts with the interesting group dynamic of the little boy with a video game addiction, the insecure twin sister whose sibling wasn't placed into cryosleep as well, the prisoner and cop, and the maternal figure all become more, as their underlying issues and flaws are explored.
These subtle and oftentimes cacophonous developments in both plot and character bounce off one another in a beautiful point-counterpoint mosaic that are brought to life through an ensemble that includes Brina Palencia (Ciel from Black Butler), Patrick Seitz (Sky High from Tiger & Bunny), Stephanie Young (Arachne from Soul Eater), Luci Christian (Chidori from Full Metal Panic), and Monica Rial (Index from A Certain Magical Index). These voices are set against a wonderful art style from Sunrise and a musical score that simply chills and thrills.
Talent abound with a magnificently multifaceted story and a wonderful musical score come together to convey an experience. Nothing draws you out of the world of King of Thorn, and the story it weaves will linger in your mind long after the credits roll.
So when Katherine, the maternal figure voiced brilliantly by Stephanie Young, calls King of Thorn a bad movie, I simply have to disagree. It might seem formulaic, even stale at the outset, but like Medusa victims themselves this quickly crumbles and what is left behind is the kind of nightmare that doesn't even need to frighten you to leave you remembering it for years.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.