These days, anime films do not get as much attention as they deserve. Hopefully, however, Ne Zha might just change that. With its compelling story and beautiful animations, Ne Zha is is worth checking out. What makes this movie so good in my eyes? What does the plot of the movie have to do with this generation of children? Let’s dive right into this fiery review.
Directed by Jiaozi, Ne Zha tells the story of Ne Zha, a demon boy that goes from outcast to a hero. Picking up a few years before Ne Zha’s birth, the film introduces us to Tianzun, a Supreme God who has two immortal disciples Taiyi and Shen who are tasked with subduing the Chaos Pearl. Despite their best efforts, only Tianzun is able to seal the pearl away and separate it into two parts: the Demon Pearl and the Spirit Pearl. After Shen fights Taiyi in order to steal the Spirit Orb, Ne Zha is born with the Demon Pearl instead of the Spirit Pearl. As a result, Ne Zha’s parents lie to him about his demonic nature. to make him happy to hide his demonic nature. As he grows, Taiyi decides to train the impatient and stubborn Ne Zha in magical skills. When Ne Zha decides to abandon his training in order to hunt a demon, his decision results in damage to the village, causing them to fear him greatly. As a result, those around him must decide whether or not to hunt the estranged Ne Zha or see him for his true value.
Ne Zha has a very clear message that you choose your own faith! Throughout the movie, Ne Zha has been bound by faith and he cannot do anything to change it. However, Ne Zha reminds us that, no matter what destiny does not decide who we are or what is the outcome, we decide and make those choices ourselves. Personally, I especially loved the moment when Ne Zha told Ao Bing that ‘ when faith comes at you swinging, you swing harder’. Here, the film uses Ao Bing to remind us not to give up and push yourself to make your own choices instead.
As mentioned earlier, Ne Zha also relates to this generation of kids and adolescents by tackling the issue of bullying as Ne Zha struggles with the feat that as the kids and other villagers would attack him. Interestingly, from a religious stand point, Ne Zha also echoes the Biblical story of Cain and Abel through the relationship between Taiyi and Shen. Blessed with by the supreme God, Taiyi is clearly the favoured one (as was Abel). This causes tension with Shen who, similar to Cain, also attempts to kill his brother to steal the blessing for himself.
Ne Zha has great visuals, amazing animation and the fight scenes are well executed, especially during the final battle. The characters are loveable and the audience forms an especially deep connection to the main protagonist who wishes to be loved by the villagers without fear. (At times, for the English dub at least, there are times the audio doesn’t match with the scenes, making it difficult to watch, but not everything can be perfect.) Overall, Ne Zha was a fun experience and I do recommend this movie to anyone who loves animation. As Ne Zha would say, the film is a fire experience.
Ne Zha is available on Blu-Ray or VOD now.