Hal (2013) – A Separate Memory

There will be a moment where you should accept a departure of people you’ve loved. There will come moments where every human being will experience a lower phase, the deepest phase of sadness and depression. We’re tempted for how to fight it and how to get out of the zone. We’ve to live again like humans who’ve let go of their departure. In short, “Hal” is one of the most romance anime movie twists of all romance anime I’ve watched. It’s so rare that anime always include something like a sub-plot in the form of a twist in its genre.

There may be some but at least, “Hal” is one of them in my opinion. It’s not a mindf*ck-like about Charlie Kaufman. Before this film, there was CLAMP’s “CHOBITS.” There are also other films such as Spike Jonze’s “Her.” Both of them use the same concept as this film too. Or there is no mistake if I mention “Steins;Gate 0″ because it’s in the category too. Apart from that, the movie didn’t really get me into from first to the end. Sure, it’s surprising especially the ending which I’ve never expected. I watch this movie without anyone telling me a twist or something like which. Regardless, this is a recommendation from a friend. But, “Hal” isn’t something I’ve never expected so far.

Set in a slightly future, robots become a helper for humanity. They also work as a therapy for someone who has a mental illness. Kurumi must see her boyfriend die tragically on a plane crash. Being someone who’s so depressed and unable to accept it, one of the robots is called to be one of those therapies by redesigning Hal along with its memory. There is something more than that besides their complex relationships experienced by Kurumi before Hal died.

However, stories like this aren’t the usual. It left with irony and tragically. Their relationship with a fight. Feeling regret, Hal as the robot is trying to heal Kurumi back. The farther away, it doesn’t seem to be as a robot in general. He can understand and feel like humans. The story really sticks with it besides not explaining how robots work at that time.

On the other hand, it doesn’t really attach with it relationships between Kurumi and Hal. Regardless it’s a short movie, what can be done in this film is just a plot device for each character. For example, the Rubik’s cube is the trigger for Hal the robot’s action and what he should do, photo albums which give rise to the irony of beautiful, bitter memories, and a little orb camera which I don’t really know what object is memories from the beginning to the end experienced by Hal.

Each of these objects is a message, memory, and clue. They will conclude at the end of the film. On the other hand, they can tell us some information before the accident. You keep understanding these characters, get the knowledge about their past, and the final conclusion. It contains an upside-down message. It’s about love and sorrow, put together into one fruit. A tree can be a metaphor for love and sorrow and a fall fruit can be a metaphor for the plane crash.

As I said from the beginning, “Hal” is a story that’s not too complex but at least you will see the twist you never thought. You don’t need to be a detective or Sherlock Holmes-like because this is just an ordinary romance thing. The twist really leaves its audience confused as well as what the robot feels. There are many points which are revealed about the story besides that and behind the plot.

Every detail, you can find the clue if you watch twice the same as I did just to find the clue and hole from the ending. But, as I said, it’s not about the twist because you watch this movie without recognizing anything. Leftover, “Hal” isn’t a mindf*ck movie apart for a moment you will think twice until you realize everything in the end. Sometimes, it can be said it’s quite a puzzle for the audience itself.

I can’t really understand about the characters in this film. Other characters besides Hal and Kurumi are indeed the major stories in this film. In addition, the supporting cast only becomes a plot device so that the character can straightforward until the end. The pace is indeed forced and this is why I ain’t too connected with these characters. Even though this film has an aspect of drama that in any case makes you melancholy or so, such a pace also makes it not too deep-seated. The pace isn’t a bad one but the movie shows a very beautiful visual. Starting from color choice, the reflection between light and dark atmosphere, the gorgeous setting, the details, it has a colorful background from the visuals shown.

The background isn’t too futuristic so we can still feel this film from the background itself because it doesn’t use sci-fi or something related too much. I also like how the reflections in this anime are executed with the use of lighting that’s so fantastic, creates a wonderful impression for films in general. The soundtrack fits with the mood and environment depending on the scenes. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, and sometimes some intense scene can draw more bittersweet memories of the irony that creates the movie feel comprehensive. The voice acting is excellent too. Yoshimasa Hosoya and Yoko Hikasa are seiyuu who take more part and spend more of their superb performance.

“Hal” is a romantic movie about loss. It’s just one of the anime romances in general with the addition of plots which I’ve never thought before besides I watched this film without knowing anything about the twist or something like that. It’s about sacrifice, accepting the death of your loved ones, stretching forward, and understanding what love really means. I didn’t find any connection with the characters because it didn’t explore very much of their past, their connection, and their memory. Every other character only relies on plot devices except the Rubik’s cube and others. Moreover, this film sometimes becomes a puzzle that must be completed in order to conclude a complete story. It’s a movie that has a forced pace but causes us to feel miserable of mix feelings that you can’t understand.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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