From Production I.G., the studio behind Ghost in the Shell, Eden of the East, FLCL, and Blood+, paired with the animation team behind Attack on Titan, comes Hal, a film set in a futuristic Japan where robots exist among humans. Hal and Kurumi are lovers whom seem destined to be together, but are soon ripped apart after a devastating plane crash.
Note: This review was done off of a screener disc and was not a final product release. It only contained the original Japanese language track with English subtitles, no English dub track was included, nor any extras. This is the reasoning for the lack of the Video/Audio and the extras sections. I'll be sure to include a much more detailed review when the final product comes in.
The story begins in an unnamed and quiet village in a futuristic Japan, as we see a robot named Kyuichi trying to catch fish in a stream. Soon, this peaceful setting is shattered by a airplane bursting into flames in the sky above. We soon meet Hal and Kurumi, whom we're led to believe are destined soul mates, however there love is soon cut short when we find out Hal was aboard the aforementioned plane, killed in the explosion.
Hal's unexpected death leads to a complete breakdown from Kurumi, leading to her isolating herself from everyone and everything. She won't eat, sleep, talk to anyone, go outside, total shutdown from the outside world. Kyuichi, seeing her emotional trauma, wants to be of help. Through some sort of surgery/therapy, Kyuichi is able to get a Hal skin, resembling him in every single way. Despite this makeover, "Robo-Hal" still cannot get Kurumi out of her depression.
Robo-Hal eventually finds a Rubik's cube with writing on it, but is unsolved. As Robo-Hal continues to work on the Rubik's cube, he the two eventually begin to bond and grow close to one another. As their relationship grows deeper, Robo-Hal continues to solve the cube, and each side he unlocks reveals a hidden message from Kurumi, a wish to Hal. Eerytime Robo-Hal solves a side of the cube, we're treated to cleverly placed flashbacks, where we learn who Hal and Kurumi truly were together, and how they truly loved each other through all of their faults and flaws. Slowly, Robo-Hal realizes what their love really meant and that no matter how hard he tries, or even resembles, you cannot replace a lost loved one in your heart.
+ A beautifully told love story.
+ Ending was well done.
+ The flashbacks were executed perfectly.
+ The animation was stellar.
- It's an odd concept... putting on essentially a suit (with no actual qualities of said person) of the person that you loved and have just lost, wouldn't that just make you further depressed?
- Only 55 minutes long, I would have liked a bit more time to get to know the characters.
Hal is a beautifully done story from start to finish, with characters you can really connect to from your emotional core. At only 56 minutes in length, it's a bit short, but it will tug at your heart strings nonetheless. It has well fleshed out characters and a love story that rivals any you've seen in a anime film prior. This is a film I'd recommend to anyone. Highly recommended.