Harmony is set in a distant future where sickness and diseases are almost non-existent for a privileged some. A long healthy life is rewarded for those born into major cities and wealthy countries. It all sounds almost utopian, however three young girls in Japan are discontent with what their future holds, and decide to take their own path. A suicide pact is made, and their actions shake the foundations of their community and the health system Watch Me that they are tied into.
The world of health and prosperity was born from terrible diseases and nuclear war that demolished huge populations globally. From the ashes rose a sophisticated and technologically advanced health care system that connects directly into individuals. Monitored through Watch Me, people are always healthy and seemingly happy in life. Two highschool girls Tuan and Cian strike up a friendship with Miach, a high achiever with an idealistic view on the world. Their relationship grows into a dark obsession with keeping themselves free from the chains of Watch Me, and suicide while still pure is seen as their only option. After Tuan’s attempt fails and Cian abandons the pact, the two continue on in life without Miach.
13 years later, Tuan now works for the World Health Organization. With international placements she can escape Japan, even if it’s just for a while. Her distain for civilized life is obvious from the start, and after being busted trading illegally while on deployment, she is sent back home to Japan. She catches up with Cian while there, who seems to be happy and living life at her own pace. While having lunch at a café, Cian takes her own life suddenly and quite traumatically right in front of Tuan. This is quite a graphic and confronting scene. Determined to find out why Cian died, she begins to unravel a conspiracy connected to her past and Watch Me. Around the world unprecedented mass suicides start taking place as more people are taking their own lives. The race to save humanity begins.
In Harmony Tuan is the storyteller, and all the other characters are only seen as they interact with her. I actually don’t mind writing like this, Empire of Corpses was told in much the same way. It’s just unfortunate Tuan’s stoic personality doesn’t carry you through the slower sections of the story. She is almost in every scene, and the middle of the movie is by far the most tedious as she grinds away following leads and memories bubble to the surface. She is not a bad person, she just isn’t very interesting and the pace slows several times due to her musings. She basically doesn’t really like anything, which is made apparent over and over again.
I really don’t like Miach as a character, and I don’t sympathise with her at all even after her traumatic past has been revealed. She plays her part well though and to us her evils are incredibly conspicuous, whereas Cian and Tuan see her as something of an untouchable idol. She is intelligent and incredibly manipulative, using words and her body to get Tuan and Cian to see things her way. Nothing but sweetly spoken ideologies spew out of her mouth, and it does get a bit tiresome listening to her. I checked out mentally a couple of times, and Harmony does have a lot of talking. Cian had better instincts than Tuan, and it was sad to see her demise after genuinely trying to move on. She still had guilt living in her heart, and Miach just wouldn’t let her go.
I’m not sure how I feel about Harmony, the society in which people live doesn’t seem to have any huge negative drawbacks, other than life just might not be that exciting. The Watch Me system has been in place for what seems like at least a few generations. When you compare it to the likes of Psyco Pass where the Sibyl System has only just been recently implemented, it’s a radical difference. Society is still coming to terms with a new technology, and even the Sibyl System is upgrading itself as new challenges arise. Watch Me seems to be fully functioning, and you would think better methods would be in place to prevent hacking and attacks. At least even a safe way to disconnect people to save their lives, which seems to be a fatal flaw in Watch Me.
Overall, it’s an interesting story told through the eyes and heart of a woman who is struggling to come to grips with a very dark past. The animation is high quality and they 3D sections are melded nicely throughout the action scenes. The architecture throughout the cities is unique, although I found some of the interior designs a bit gaudy, like something from Beyond 2000 (if you remember that show). The Bluray is in a nice decorative box, and the case cover has a nice artwork of Miach on the inside. The extras are standard fare with Trailers, Promo videos and a Funimation Short. I watched in Japanese as I always do, and some English to compare and they have a decent cast covering the main characters which is great. Another unique concept of Project Itoh’s novels bought to life, it is a little different to Empire of Corpses (review here) but still thought provoking.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.