Features Film

“Bubble” Leaps But Falls Short


Bubble, an anime directed by Tetsuro Araki and written by Gen Urobuchi, follows Hibaki and Uta. The story is set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo filled with bubbles. This littel tidbit causing abnormalities in gravity. After a major disaster involving these bubbles all around the world five years ago, Tokyo has become uninhabitable and was abandoned. The only people still living there are children whose parents died in the disaster, and researchers. Hibaki is one of these children. He, along with the other kids, compete at parkour in teams for supplies. One day, he nearly drowns. A strange girl rescues him, and she seems connected to the bubbles themselves. As the relationship between the two grows, so do the gravity abnormalities. This then pushes the plot to move forward.

Visually, Bubble is quite beautiful. It has stunning fantastical vistas and fluid animation that conveys the truly impossible feats of athleticism that the kids perform. A lot of thought went into constructing the dilapidated Tokyo that this movie presents. The rugged, overgrown city with bubbles and loose bits of buildings has a certain charm to it. However, this is still a post-apocalypse of sorts. The story does its best to remind the viewer of this through Hibaki’s flashbacks to when the event occurred and also the vague adult presence. As a result, the adults remind us that there are stakes outside the burgeoning romance between Hibaki and Uta. The threat of eviction from Tokyo – which is technically a restricted area – follows all of the orphans who found their way there.

Despite the fascinating premise, the story does fumble with execution. It feels like the director wanted to do a lot of different things with Bubble. What results is a jumbled mess of half-formed ideas and underlying conflicts. Part of this comes from Hibaki, who is sort of bland as a protagonist. He does not really have a lot of interesting traits, outside of a hearing sensitivity that made him vulnerable as a child. This continues to be an issue for him into the present. Because of it, he shuns company, providing a character arc for him. Uta on the other hand is a much more compelling as a protagonist. She outshines him easily. Any chemistry they might have feels like it only comes from her fascination for him and their shared skill in parkour.

There is also a very bizarre subplot involving an antagonistic parkour team. While it does contribute something important to the plot, this team only seems to act as they are out of neccessity to keep the story interesting. It detracts from the actual villainous force of the movie. That being the source of the bubbles. The bubbles and gravity abnormalities are very ill-defined; there is no real explanation given for why they exist. They just seem to be. Uta’s conflict comes from the bubbles being the reason for her existence, and her dilemma at least is very concrete. Ultimately, she and Hibaki have to decide between their relationship or the world. This is no easy question, though it would be a stronger one if they worked better together.

Bubble is available to watch on Netflix. What Netflix anime movie is your favorite? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

About the author

Layna Putterman

Leave a Comment