I give this solid but great movie...an 85/100!
Just when I thought all hope was lost for the three "disability movies" which I like to call them, I randomly come across the fact that Evetaku just fansubbed this...many weeks ago! At the beginning of the month! Whoa! When I saw that on MAL, I rushed over to the site to confirm it, and there it was, right on the bottom of the front page! I immediately downloaded it and watched it right after I got home from school. Thank GOD this thing got subbed! Maybe there's some hope for Happy Birthday: Inochi Kagayaku Toki and Momoko: Kaeru no Uta ga Kikoeru yo after all in terms of the fansubbing department!
The story's about a young girl named Ritsuko who was born with a slightly malformed leg. They don't really explain what her disability is, but in the beginning she was unable to walk. She didn't get to walk until she turned four. But even though she can walk, she walks a little strangely, and can't run to save her life. Ritsuko wants to make friends, but can't because her mother is overprotective and her classmates bully her because of her leg. Ritsuko's only friends are a blind doctor named Ishibashi (are blind people even allowed to be doctors?!), who supports her all the way and a cat she saved named Socks. Can Ritsuko prove to the kids that she's just like them?
Considering that this was made in 1995, the animation is clearly rather sub-par, at best. However, the animators did a great job at giving every single character a distinct look and, once again, giving them physical flaws, such as obesity and small eyes and big teeth. One problem I notice in a lot of new anime nowadays is that everyone doesn't have their own distinct look. Everyone looks the same, except with different hair styles, hair colors, and eye colors, which is especially apparent in a lot of harem and moe anime. Not only that, they're so obsessed with beauty that they have no physical flaws, like big teeth or braces or acne or anything else like that! Even American shows feature characters with those peculiarities and insecurities! What is it with Japan and making everyone look impossibly beautiful and flawless?! Thank God this anime subverted that trope awesomely! The soundtrack isn't memorable, really. I don't remember any of it.
Again, like with the other two disability movies, its characters are awesome, realistic, and wonderfully developed. While they look and act slightly generic, they're not flat-out stereotypes either, and there's always a reason behind their actions. Heck, later on in the movie, the two main bullies who pick on Ritsuko have their reasons for being so cruel. The movie addresses the issue of love, hate, jealousy (NOT romantic jealousy, mind you), and acceptance, and it follows through its themes wonderfully. They're all great and perfectly normal characters. The adults are good too, even though some of them may be a little weird.
If I had to name some problems this movie has, one notable one would be that at times, it gets a little too melodramatic, particularly with Ritsuko's mother and how she reacts to the bullies. How does she react? She goes to Ritsuko's school and literally tells the entire story behind Ritsuko's disability and how far she's come! No parent I know or met is so stupid as to do that! But in this case, it's justified because Ritsuko's mother is portrayed as an overprotective person, and Ritsuko is embarrassed by her reckless actions (Hey, what kid ISN'T embarrassed by the things their parents do at one point?), so I can let it slide. Also, while I do like Ritsuko's doctor for being so supportive of her, I'm really confused: are blind people even allowed to be doctors? Or is he just a therapist? I have no idea, even with the subs! Are blind people allowed to be therapists?
Well, even with it's glaringly obvious flaws, I still liked this movie. Unfortunately, the two other disability movies trump it, though it definitely shouldn't be so neglected.