"Junkers, what are you doing in that bubble?"
Junkers (pronounced Yoon-kers) is a talking dog. And, as if that weren't special enough, he can also grant wishes, which is lucky for Hiromi, Junkers' 11-year-old owner, because her life is a mess and she needs all the help she can get. First, Hiromi's parents, two workaholics who leave her in the care of a housekeeper, are threatening to split up. Second, Hiromi discovers that her 23-year-old tutor, Keisuke, on whom she has quite the schoolgirl crush, has a girlfriend and is planning to marry soon. Having so much stress at such a young age, Hiromi can't believe her luck when Junkers tells her he's the canine equivalent of a genie.
But can mere wishes really be the solution? After all, if mere wishes could solve all of life's problems, this movie would have ejected itself after the first 15 minutes and self-destructed, thus relieving me of the burden of watching the remainder. But it didn't. As hard as I wished, I was still subjected to the long silent pauses, the ridiculously surreal ending (including the talking, wish-granting dog floating cross-country in a bubble), and the dragged-out story. Perhaps if this movie had been faster paced—the same story in about a half hour—I would have enjoyed it. Perhaps not. The parts I did enjoy (e.g., Junkers' sense of humor) were interspersed with such strangeness (e.g., the maid's unflappable infatuation with Keisuke) that I don't know if any amount of tweaking would satisfy me. Quickening the pace would be a start, though.
Looking past the plodding pace and the unsettling plot lines momentarily, we find an artistic and soothing animation. The muted colors suit the ambiance of the film, and the use of perspective and unique close-ups provides a visual wonderment. I only wish I could say the same for the soundtrack, but a wonderment it is not. The music, meant to support, only succeeds in distracting. Each piece sounds vaguely like something you've heard before—sometimes a Celine Dion song, sometimes a Christmas carol—but not quite. At least twice, I found myself so occupied with figuring out what song I thought I was hearing that I had to rewind to catch up with the story.
The video and audio transfers are well suited in quality to the messages they're transmitting. That is, the 1.78:1 anamorphic presentation does justice to the beautiful animation of Junkers Come Here. It's not perfect—the blacks were not quite as black as I would have liked—but I saw no errors. Again, the Dolby 2.0 stereo tracks (Japanese and English) are appropriate for the film's soundtrack. The soundtrack is lacking and so are the audio tracks, especially the Japanese, which I had to turn up to ridiculous levels just to hear the dialogue.
Finally, the extras, which I rate as mediocre: included are an art gallery of stills from the film; text interviews with Naoto Kine (creator and music composition) and Junichi Sato (director); a theatrical trailer; a "pilot film," which is, as far as I can tell, just a collage of clips from the film; three additional trailers; and credits for the DVD. The text interviews are informative—though they should have been video interviews—but the rest is immaterial filler.
For being too long, for including a soundtrack that still has me singing "My Heart Will Go On," for making it difficult to watch the movie in its original language, for calling DVD credits an extra, and for, well, being about a talking, wish-granting, bubble-floating dog, Junkers Come Here is hereby found guilty of the leash law violations filed against it and is sentenced to attend six months of obedience classes.
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