Tadashi MiyazawaNao NagasawaTakeshi KagaMomoko Tanabe
Sinbad: Night at High Noon and the Wonder Gate
Also known as: Sinbad: Mahiru no Yoru to Fushigi no Mon
Medium: film
Year: 2016
Director: Shinpei Miyashita
Writer: Hiroyuki Kawasaki
Keywords: Sinbad, fantasy, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Momoko Tanabe, Tomo Muranaka, Ai Nonaka, Akira Ishida, Kouji Haramaki, Masato Obara, Nao Nagasawa, Tadashi Miyazawa, Takeshi Kaga, Yutaka Aoyama, Fukushi Ochiai, Ryuzaburo Otomo, Toshinobu Iida, Yukiko Morishita, Yuriko Yamamoto, Yutaka Furukawa
Format: 51 minutes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=19420
Website category: Anime 2016
Review date: 12 April 2018
It's the end of Nippon Animation's 2015-16 Sinbad trilogy. It's okay and it doesn't feel as pointless as the second film, but it has a disconcerting ending, a spiky theme and an almost unbelievable violation of Chekhov's gun.
Sinbad is sailing the seas with Captain Razzak, Ali Baba, Princess Sana and the world's blandest crew of sailors. Before that, though, we meet his mother! The film opens with her standing back in his home village, remembering the son she hasn't seen in years and her husband who's been missing for even longer. (I'll assume for the sake of argument that they'd been married.)
Sinbad's mother never leaves the village throughout the film and never gets involved in the action.
We then go to the ship and hear Princess Sana tell us about her lost people. Everything had been okay until the baddies came along. Sana shares her sad memories of her parents. There's a long flashback that doesn't return to the here and now until the 15 minute mark, which is a big chunk from a 51-minute film. Our heroes also have Aladdin's lamp, but they don't know how to use it. They puzzle, but then they work out what to do! Look, inscriptions! They read the inscriptions and... hilariously, that's the only use to which our heroes put Aladdin's lamp. They never summon a genie. They never get offered three wishes, which is a bit of an oversight because the baddies will be causing trouble and it could have been handy to have world-changing magic. Chekhov is turning in his grave as we speak.
There's action. Baddies do bad stuff, because they're bad. Our heroes go through the Wonder Gate while it's Night at High Noon (i.e. an eclipse). There's also a nifty bit when Sinbad complains that his body's shivering and has to be told that he's cold, because he's from the Middle East and has never experienced weather like this. I've approved of this trilogy's fidelity to the original culture of the stories it's adapting, e.g. Sinbad's home in the first film being authentically Middle Eastern, complete with the right kind of market.
There's one super-cool surprise. (It's a meaningless throwaway and the film doesn't follow up on it, but that was definitely a surprise.) Razzak and his sailors manage to be useful, which is a first. However the most important thing is that Sana's going to return to her people and none of our heroes will ever see her again. Sana tells us this, very clearly. Nonetheless, though, Sinbad jumps off the ship to accompany and help her. They're both noticeably taller than they were in the first film, by the way. You'll be expecting them to become a couple. They hug and lie down together. (This is a children's film without even the slightest hint of naughtiness, but still.)
And then Sana's prediction comes true. She disappears from the world, leaving Sinbad in what looks like long-dead ruins. That's it. No happy ending. She said she'd go and she went. She did find her people, admittedly, but she and Sinbad have lost each other forever.
Final scene: Sinbad goes home and is reunited with his mother. That's nice in a "glass half full" sort of way, but what about Sinbad's long-lost dad? That was why he originally went to sea, wasn't it, back in the first film? Ahahaha, sorry. No father. Dad's still missing, presumed dead. The end.
That's pretty dark, I think, despite its kiddie-friendly appearance. (When the baddies are apparently falling to their deaths in the finale, for instance, the heroes save them. It's that kind of film.) The theme appears to be one of loss and facing up to the fact that you'll never see your loved ones again. Sana and Sinbad are both visibly older. Did hugging Sana make Sinbad grow up? Significantly, Sana rediscovering her people kills all the magic. Thus for instance flying carpets fall out of the sky and it's brown trousers time for anyone who'd been flying over a canyon. It's about returning home. It might even be about the end of (childish) adventures. It absolutely isn't escapist kiddified action nonsense, although unfortunately that doesn't mean it's particularly good either. (The characterisation's still as thin as ever, even if the Rubbish Sailors are being redeemed somewhat by their plot role this time.)
I don't think I'd recommend this trilogy, but that's a more uncomfortable ending than I'd expected. I can respect that. I don't know if I'd say I enjoyed the ending, though.