Sennen Joyu

Title:Sennen Joyu
Chiyoko Millenial Actress
Millennium Actress
千年女優 (Japanese)
Keywords: , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Madhouse
IIZUKA Shouzou
KON Satoshi
SATOU Masamichi
SUZUOKI Hirotaka
TSUDA Shouko
Fujiwara Chiyoko was once a major movie star who dominated the Japanese cinema world. Thirty years ago, she abruptly disappeared from the screen and from public view. One of her greatest admirers, Tachibana Genya, a documentary filmmaker, has traveled to the isolated mountain lodge where she makes her home to interview her. He presents her with an old key that once meant everything to her, and as if that key had opened a door to her memories Chiyoko starts telling the story of her life, interweaving moments from her past and future and passing through the boundary between reality and the movies that had made up so much of her life, guiding the audience through a millennium of Japanese history.
[Movie, 2001, 86 min]

From the director of Perfect Blue
1:28min Movie Trailer - YouTube Video
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Watch 10 10 10 10 10 10 Violet D [series:701#1393]
Perfect and beautifully done in every way.

Last updated Tuesday, July 07 2009. Created Tuesday, July 07 2009.
Buy 9 10 9 10 10 10 Dreamer [series:701#2279]
I've watched several hundred anime series, ova's and movies over the past several years and without a single doubt, this is my favorite and most amazing anime I have ever watched.... to this day.

Art, Animation & Character Designs
Although the art wasn't as nice as some of the more recent anime, it still boast some pretty artwork. Details were rich and the colors are pretty vibrant. Animation was just top notch... a very smooth frame rate. Character designs were different and looked more western than traditional japanese anime look. It was good nevertheless.

The OP sounded like a traditional japanese piece..... yet at the same time sounded modern. If anything, I can say it was a "new age" piece. Very beautiful. I definately got to get the OST to this. At times, there would be some dramatic piano pieces, and other times, instruments portraying a gamut of emotions. All this fit really well with the flow of the animation and the situation of the scene at hand. The ED was awesome!! I loved it. A new age piece with what sounded like traditional asian flavor.

Series and Episode Story
There has never been any anime, ost or anime movie that had touched me like this one. Not only have I marked this as my all time favorite, but ...... The way this movie was done was just an enchanting interweaving of a character's narration into the listener's vivid imaginations of what they're hearing. As our protagonist is telling her story, her life, the listeners are drawn right into her narrations, her movies and life. We are taken through the journey of ages, from the tumultuous times of world war 2 to the dark ages of feudal Japan to the age of renaissance, and all the while, the listeners (the interviewers), and the viewers (you and I), are inspired, awed and captivated by what's played out in both Chiyoko's life and films.

Tachibana and his cameraman bring a lot of depth to this movie. Their escapades into and through the history of japan, gives a sense of amazed discovery, revelations and awe.... as it's always seemed to be etched into their facial expressions. Of course, it's simply more than experiencing such times, but also the "undocumented" life history of their (mostly Tachibana), idoled "millennium actress". Even more, this whole amazing tale is wrapped around a pure love story.... one that transends the fabric of time and space. The journey, and the narrating of the journey to find a man from childhood years, makes this movie even more grand and epic.

The ending was just a masterpiece. As she's there in her final breaths, it cuts away to........... I'll just let you watch it.

Overall, this is one amazing, truly wonderful and most enchanting anime ever. From beginning to end, you're fixated on the events, the stories, the telling of a tale so grand and powerful that it will leave you speechless and breathless, overjoyed and saddened, transfixed and bittersweet. For the life of you, do NOT miss this one.

Last updated Tuesday, May 12 2009. Created Tuesday, May 12 2009.
Buy 10 9 10 8 10 Ggultra2764 [series:701#1552]
This movie was both moving and mesmerizing for me. It was moving from the drama of seeing Chiyoko hold on to the hope of meeting up with the man she met in her younger days and mesmerizing from the various transitions of scenery that Millennium Actress puts the viewers through. Before this review, this was the only Satoshi Kon movie I had yet to see. Now after watching it, I think I like this more than Perfect Blue now.

The story aspect of this movie comes from Tachibana's interviewing of Chiyoko for a documentary film. Being alive for over 70 years, the woman lived through the major events and pressures that took place in her younger days. The man she grew to love was a painter affiliated with rebels opposed to the fascist Japanese government before and during World War II. The societal expectations of women from the period were even brought up as Chiyoko dealt with her family and those trying to persuade her to give up on the painter. The fact Japan is even prone to frequent earthquakes is also commonplace in Chiyoko's life further adding to the realism of this movie. As the movie progresses, we learn what eventually happened with the painter Chiyoko met and even past connections Tachibana had with her.

What makes the story aspect work for Millennium Actress is the scenery transitions. As Chiyoko told her story in the present, scenes would change over to scenes that took place from one of Chiyoko's films and this is where the film's title gets it's name. From sword fighting in the Sengoku era to a post-apocalyptic future, each of these transitions have scenarios quite similar to Chiyoko's pursuit of finding the whereabouts of the painter giving a unique approach to the storytelling in this movie. Further adding to the transitions are the presence of Tachibana and his cameraman from the present. This adds some humor to provide some brief breaks from the drama of this movie as the cameraman is dumbfounded over where he is and Tachibana is in the position of giddy movie fan as he saves Chiyoko from any danger she faces in each movie scene that Millennium Actress switches over to. The fact Tachibana and the cameraman are a part of these experiences adds on a "story within a story" approach to this movie.

In terms of visuals, they have the usual realism that are found in Satoshi Kon's films: plenty of detail with character designs and scenery with no rough lines and plenty of color. Music fits well with the mood of the movie. But as Devil Doll explained, it isn't up to the caliber of other aspects to this movie.

With its visual storytelling and potent drama, Millennium Actress is the best of Satoshi Kon's films. It is well worth your time and money to get on DVD if you ever find it in stores.

Last updated Sunday, March 01 2009. Created Sunday, March 01 2009.
Buy 10 9 9 8 10 Devil Doll [series:701#752]
[Score: 92% = "Buy+", one of my top 3 Anime movies]
  • Drama: Med (the story isn't easy to see for quite a while but the ending is strong)
  • Comedy: None/Low (just the cameraman; looking back at a whole life makes you contemplative instead)
  • Action: None/Low (but even so there are occasional suspense elements)
  • SciFi: Low (plain old world, normal people, but certain surrealistic effects)
  • Ecchi: None (the story is too good anyway)
I didn't dare to write a review after I had watched this wonderful movie for the first time. But as I breathlessly followed the story even during the second pass my first impression has proven to be true.

While I gave this movie excellent ratings in all categories there is one aspect standing out, and that's the way this movie is directed. This story of Chiyoko's life is told in a way that keeps you watching without noticing how the time passes; the sequence of scenes, seamlessly switching between reality and fantasy, is what stunned me most. I gave both Art and Series Story top ratings to express this.
Everything else is great as well, be that the storyline development, the character interaction, the visualization and the animation. Even the music is good, just not as exceptional as the rest of this movie.
I see no reason to limit the potential audience for this movie other than that younger kids might not understand the romance part of Chiyoko's life. The violence (from a couple of samurai fighting scenes in movies where Chiyoko was acting) is no problem, no blood & gore are shown. The drama aspects never go over the top - there's always the cameraman lightening up the mood whenever necessary. And Chiyoko's last line in this movie is a wonderful summary of the whole story, a great ending that so many other animes are failing to deliver.

All in all a movie that no anime lover should miss, and my sincerest "buy" rating ever because of potentially high rewatchability. By the way I fully support NYCe Guy's excellent category selections.

Last updated Thursday, July 08 2010. Created Tuesday, November 30 2004.
Buy 9 8 10 8 9 Anonymous #1084 [series:701#1084]
This is an absolutely magical story. I'm not going to give too much away, for that is part of the magic - the story has some nice surprises that a complete synopsis will only spoil. The way the film crew are drifting in and out of Chiyoko's past is never fully explained, but fully enchanting nonetheless. The ending is bittersweet, but brings closure to Chiyoko's life and provides satisfying closure for the viewer as well (something I'm told many anime stories lack, but hey, I could be wrong).
Is it suitable for kids? Not the youngest kids, but there's no real nudity to speak of, and only minimal violence. It's definitely art-house material, and not as accessible to the masses - not to mention it's in subtitles only, with no dub track (which some will consider a plus I'm sure). Having said that, it could be an ideal "bridge" film for a teen who as a kid was weaned on dubbed anime to see what a well-made, intelligently-written story can do in the anime form - the artsy side of anime. Anyone into love stories will be very touched. This movie makes me really interested in seeing Satoshi Kon's "Perfect Blue."
Running time is 1:27, subtitled only (French or English), widescreen letterbox (1.78:1 anamorphic), Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1, MPAA-rated PG. Bonus features include an interview with Satoshi Kon, commentary by him, and the US theatrical trailer. Released theatrically in 2001, on region 1 DVD in 2003.

Last updated Sunday, November 30 2003. Created Sunday, November 30 2003.

Other Sites
Millennium Actress Official Website
Official Website for the movie (requires Flash)

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