In the best of circumstances, I’m not really an anime guy. I don’t read manga, and my knowledge of the medium consists of memories of Yu-gi-oh from when I was eight and Studio Ghibli films. When it comes to anime, my tastes are very, very basic.
As a result, you’re going to have to take everything that I say here with a grain of salt. I have no idea who Akira Toriyama is; although, from what I can tell Sand Land is loosely based off of his manga. If you’re like me, it’s probably worth noting that Toriyama is the brains behind Dragonball. As a result, this film is supposedly something of an event for Japanophiles.
Sand Land features the legendary Prince Beelzebub (Mutsumi Tamura), an impish daemon who, despite being over 2500 years old, is notably immature. Beelzebub is asked on a quest by Sheriff Rao (Kazuhiro Yamaji) in order to save a land that has literally become the Sand Land.
Is Beelzebub cute? Very. Is this a faithful adaptation of Toriyama’s work? Probably. Is the film impressively shot and designed? Absolutely. Yokoshima’s film feels like a film, which is arguably the biggest difference between good anime and good animated cinema. There remains a notable commitment to the basics of film grammar that remains doubly impressive when you remember that there is no camera here.
However, the film is still very silly. Is there a gang of roadside bandits known as the swimmers who have a giant man named Guppy in this midst? Without a doubt. You know who you are if the sound “Mad Max: Fury Road but make it weeb,” sounds appealing to you. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you might want to pass on Sand Land.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Fantasy, Science Fiction
- Release Date: 7/23/2023
- Directed by: Toshihisa Yokoshima
- Starring: Akio Otsuka, Chafurin, Cho, Kazuhiro Yamaji, Mutsumi Tamura, Nobuo Tobita, Satoshi Tsuruoka, Tomokazu Sugita
- Written by: Hayashi Mori
- Studio: ANIMA, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Bandai Namco Filmworks, Bird Studios, Kamikaze Douga, Shueisha, TOHO