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Anime / Origin: Spirits of the Past

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"Long, long ago
A seed awakened the heart of the forest.
The Forest-Beast fell from the moon
With its red breath and green tears,
And Man cowered in fear.
In time,
The Beast's tears dried,
And Man strained his ears
To hear the voice of the Forest.

Origin: Spirits of the Past is a 2006 anime film produced by GONZO. It is directed by Keiichi Sugiyama and written by Nana Shiina and Naoko Kakimoto from a story by Umanosuke Iida. The film was released on January 7, 2006.

Set in the 24th century, Agitonote  (Ryo Katsuji) awakens Toola (Aoi Miyazaki) from cryogenic sleep. Toola has some adjusting to do, as a science experiment Gone Horribly Wrong has left the moon a bit less intact than it used to be, has turned plants into destructive forces of nature, and has made water a bit scarce. As she's attempting to adjust to her new life, Shunack (Kenichi Endō), another former cryogenic sleeper, arrives.

Shunack informs Toola that there's a way to return things to the way they were before. Toola, not coping with the murderous forest and other changes well, agrees to leave with him. Agito doesn't think this is a good idea, and the forest and its representatives agree with him. Agito is enhanced with some of the forest's energy so he can stand up to Shunack and the legion of soldiers and Humongous Mecha under his command. As this goes on Toola starts seeing glimpses of just how militant Shunack can be, and starts to figure out that putting things back to "normal" is going to cause a lot more destruction than she thought.

The film also stars Yūko Kotegawa as Yolda, Masaru Hamaguchi as Cain, Toshikazu Fukawa as Hajan and Ren Ōsugi as Agashi.

This film provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The setting of the film takes place 300 years after the present time.
  • Alien Sky: Although the film is set on Earth, the moon is clearly cracked and has a line of debris extending from it.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Shunack causing the disaster that wiped out most of the moon is what caused him to obtain his forest powers and eventually turn into a tree thanks to Agito.
  • Apocalypse How: Somewhere around class 1 or 2. Human society as Toola remembers it is gone and forest covers a lot more of the Earth than she remembers. The rest is desert or ruins.
  • Artistic License – Geology: In the climax a volcano is able to stand up on mechanical legs, becoming a movable weapon of mass destruction, despite logically being cut off from the mantle.
  • Artistic License – Physics: At the end of the volcano scene mentioned above, Agito jumps off the side of the mountain with Toola and both of them fall a good thousand feet. The landing actually kicks up a plume of dirt. Both are totally fine. Now, even if Agito is a silver-haired superman Toola is just a normal human and the sudden stop should have snapped her neck.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: At the end of the film, Shunack becomes one with the forest after Agito traps him during his Karmic Transformation.
  • The Atoner: Shunack is motivated by a desire to fix his mistake by overstimulating the genetic experiment that turned into the Forest as it exists in the present. He describes activating E.S.T.O.C. as erasing "centuries of guilt".
  • Audience Surrogate: Toola and Schunack are the only characters from the past, and thus have much more in common with real life viewers than other characters. Their bafflement, sorrow, disgust etc. for the setting is likely to be what audience reaction would be. Agreement with the later, even though he is the Big Bad, is intended so one can see how, in this hypothetical situation, he can be mistaken.
  • Big Bad: Shunack is the main villain of the film. He is the one who persuades Ragna to find E.S.T.O.C. and convinces Toola to help him. Defeating him is necessary to restore peace.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Towards the end of the film, Jessica and the Ragna Army help stop E.S.T.O.C. and Hajan destroys one of the rocks caused by E.S.T.O.C.'s destruction.
  • Big "NO!": Toola screams "No!" after Agito inadvertently wakes her up. Apparently, she was screaming it when she was first put under.
  • Broken Pedestal: Shunack becomes one to the Ragna Army, particularly Jessica. They respected him as a commander who uphold the ideals of destroying the forest that plagued the Earth. However, they begin to question their loyalty to Shunack when he abandons them to focus on using E.S.T.O.C. and help Agito stop his plan.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Minka has a crush on Agito and so naturally Toola is competition. She makes her claim very clearly, "I'm going to marry Agito".
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Near the end of the movie, Agito runs down an exploding volcano with Toola in his arms while being closely pursued by a very fast (and presumably very hot) lava flow. The ground he's running across is glowing red and actually looks molten in some places and yet neither of them suffer so much as a singed hair.
  • Creepy Twins: The twin forest spirits, and especially the one with the high, squeaky voice, certainly evoke a classic Fair Folk vibe.
  • Cryonics Failure: Toola is the only survivor from a cryogenic vault, everyone else was mummified.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Those who become enhanced by the forest gain extraordinary super-strength and durability, but using that power can gradually cause Metamorphosis and effectively an early death. When their time comes, they mostly accept their fate, claiming to finally be in peace with nature and themselves.
  • Death Equals Redemption: At the end of the film, Shunack's consciousness expresses that he no longer desires to fight and becomes one with the forest.
  • Determinator: Agito will get Toola back no matter how far he has to go or how long it takes. Shunack as well, who wants to correct his past mistakes, and he'll do whatever it takes and let nobody get in his way.
  • Detonation Moon: The Forest was originally housed on the Moon. When it went out of control, it tore its way through the Moon before coming to Earth as debris. The moon is still up there, but it's badly fractured and has a ring.
  • Downer Beginning: The first three minutes depict the genetically enhanced plants growing out of control, destroying the Moon and eventually invading Earth.
  • The Dragon: Jessica serves as Shunack's right-hand woman up until she pulls a Heel–Face Turn towards the film's end.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Classic example with Agito and Toola. As soon as he finds her, he becomes dead set on helping her. This ranges from aiding her adjustment to the new world and then saving her from the Big Bad.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: The Forest experiment grew out of control and caused the Earth to be covered in plants, killing most of humanity in the process.
  • The Empire: Everything about Ragna screams this trope, from their blood red armor to their Humongous Mecha to their heavily industrialized, military society. However, they're far from Always Chaotic Evil, and some of its citizens trade with Neutral City. For the most part, they're generally decent people trying to live independently from the Forest, which they see as a monstrous, tyrannical entity (even though it is not portrayed as such).
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Jessica's reaction to Shunack when he reveals his true motives is outrage.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Shunack has a deep, booming voice befitting for a villain.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: During the Final Battle in E.S.T.O.C., Agito traps Shunack in his own tree with his forest powers. Tree branches grow out of Shunack's hands in the process.
  • Fanservice: There's a decent amount such as Toola in her short, tight hospital gown, and Agito's revealing top and muscles after he's enhanced. Also, Minka sleeps naked, or at least topless.
  • Fastball Special: A comical variation — after Agito gets enhanced, his inaugural battle on behalf of the forest begins with a Druid unceremoniously kicking him off a mile-high cliff and into the midst of Ragna soldiers siphoning water. He immediately recovers.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Shunack's affable personality is a mask to hide his true nature as a villain.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Toola and Shunack are humans who were put into stasis around the time of the cataclysm. Both of them were unsettled and confused by what they saw when they woke up. Shunack wants to destroy it but Toola decides to embrace it.
  • Genius Loci: The Forest is both a place and a Hive Mind consciousness.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Genetically modified plants break the moon in half, land on Earth, and kill most of humanity when one of the scientists, Shunack, got impatient and decided to speed the experiment along a little.
  • Goomba Springboard: Agito is the victim of a rather humiliating one when he fights Shunack. Shunack sends him tumbling and relieves him of his love interest in one easy movement, with a smug look on his face.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The conflict between Ragna and the Forest ultimately turns out to be this. Ragna is a seemingly anti-environmental ruthless empire, but they first-and-foremost only want to live independantly from the Forest and avert the Always Chaotic Evil trope as they don't mind trading with Neutral City. On the other hand, the altered "eco-system" of the Earth looks like a sentient, animalistic, mass-murdering, force of literal nature that demands that its protectors be turned into trees. However, it's still capable to coexist with humans. It is explained by Yolda to Toola that Neutral City is meant to be both a "bridge and a barrier" between the two extremes.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Towards the end of the film, Jessica and the Ragna Army turn on Shunack en masse and help Agito rescue Toola.
  • Hero of Another Story: Agito's dad, Agashi, is revered by the people of Neutral City for both the hard work he put into founding it (ahead of its other two founders) and the wisdom that he still dispenses. However, his story is already over and he becomes one with the forest after his first scene.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Agito transforms into a tree to allow Toola to destroy E.S.T.O.C. and help save the world. He gets better.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Jessica decides she has had enough of Shunack after she learns of his true colors and helps fight off E.S.T.O.C. to help Agito rescue Toola. It's not a completely pure example because every soldier present immediately sides with her instead of Shunack.
  • Hive Mind: The Forest is the collective sentience of the entire forest, as well as any human who reaches the terminal stage of their enhancement.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: At the end of the film, Agito uses his powers from the forest and transforms into a tree to trap Shunack, who also has powers from the forest. This leads to him being forcibly Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • Human Popsicle: Toola and Shunack were frozen years earlier. It's implied that others are still sleeping but others are clearly dead because their skeletons are seen.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Agito and Toola bear striking resemblances to their Japanese voice actors.
  • Invincible Hero: Subverted. After his enhancement, Agito finds that Ragna's tanks with their huge and explosive ordinance can't hurt him. Then he is nonchalantly tranquilized by a random and nameless soldier. Also, despite overcoming that obstacle, Shunack effortlessly defeats him in combat.
  • Japanese Ranguage: In the dub, it's Raguna, in the sub, it's Laguna.
  • Karmic Transformation: Shunack, who not only caused the Forest to overrun the world, but is attempting to destroy it, gets turned into a tree along with Agito. Agito gets better, but Shunack doesn't.
  • Kick the Dog: Shunack's decision to destroy the Neutral City out of spite along with the Forest shows that, while he may be a Well-Intentioned Extremist, he's far more evil than the Forest.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: E.S.T.O.C. is inside a volcano. It takes up the entire thing.
  • Lost Superweapon: Much of the plot involves the search for an old-world device intended to reclaim the world from the feral forest. It turns out to be a walking volcano cannon. The precursors obviously played a lot of Dwarf Fortress.
  • Metamorphosis: Enhanced humans eventually turn into trees, faster if they abuse their powers.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Shunack manipulates both the Ragna Army and Toola so he can achieve E.S.T.O.C. for his own plans.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Jessica and the Ragna Army stay loyal to Shunack until the latter decides to betray them and use E.S.T.O.C. for his plans. After that, Jessica and the army help Agito rescue Toola.
  • Mystical White Hair: White hair is a sign that someone has become "enhanced" by the Forest, granting their tremendous boosts to their physical ability. Agito, though it's not much of a spoiler since his hair is showed white in the advertisements for the movie... and is also the Japanese title. Gin-iro no Kami no Agito, lit. "Silver-haired Agito". Subtle.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • When Toola realizes Shunack plans to commit mass murder with E.S.T.O.C. and she helped him do it, she is horrified and immediately tries to stop him.
    • Shunack felt this trope too when awoke and saw what had become of the world because it was his impatience in the plant experiment that caused it to go wrong.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Shunack's abandonment of Jessica, as well as the Ragna Army, end up being his undoing because Jessica promptly becomes Agito's ally. She provides him with intel and military support.
  • Nature Hero: Agito is empowered by the Forest to fight for the Forest, but he's actually motivated by a desire to protect Toola and the human settlement of Neutral City.
  • Official Couple: It's more implied than anything and certainly unspoken but Agito and Toola get together by the end of the film. In any case, Toola considers her home to be with Agito.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Agito gasps in shock shortly after he inadvertently awakens Toola from her cryogenic sleep.
    • Jessica has a small panic when she realizes Shunack's true motives involve destroying her homeland.
    • Shunack himself has a brief moment of shock just before Agito transforms into a tree to kill him.
  • One-Man Army: Anyone who was touched by the Forest is capable of taking on armies all by their lonesome. Agito doesn't seem to have a problem with singlehandedly destroying tanks. Literally singlehandedly, when he slices a tank in half with one hand.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They're dragon-shaped amalgams of plants and they can survive in outer space.
  • Plant Person: Enhanced humans are humans who have merged with plans. There's also the druids and the forest spirit twins, who are tree creatures in humanoid form.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The Forest on the Moon grew out of control and eventually made its way to Earth as debris, driving many of the planet's civilizations to near extinction.
  • Plucky Girl: Toola is understandably shaken and depressed by the loss of her society and is not an Action Girl but when she realizes the full extent of Shunack's plan, she steals his sword and tries to stop him by breaking the E.S.T.O.C. activation system.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Toola and Shunack still look like how they were over 300 years ago after they are awakened.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Shunack wears a black and red military uniform and serves as the Big Bad.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: The Forest and Ragna, though which side is which is complicated. On the one hand, there's the whole nature vs. science thing; on the other, Ragna and especially Shunack are obsessed with the past while the Forest is a genetically engineered Hive Mind of plants (possibly a biotech Posthuman) that brought down the old order.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Most cities are completely taken over by the Forest and are reduced to rubble, while only a few buildings still stand. This hits Toola especially hard, as she remembers how the city used to be.
  • "Save the World" Climax: The anime starts with a Fish out of Water exploring a new world and ends with preventing a volcano from resetting everything.
  • Say My Name: "TOOOOLAAAA!!!"
  • Scenery Porn: The landscapes are positively beautiful, especially the overgrown ruined cities and volcanic eruption at the end.
  • Science Is Bad: While this seems to be the case, given what happened in the film's backstory, it is not really the case at all.
    • Genetic tampering led to plants destroying the world but this was due to one person's impatience in overstimulating the genes involved.
    • Science led to the creation of a volcanic superweapon but the danger of this weapon is acknowledged by its creator, which is why he put in so many safeguards to prevent its misuse.
    • Toola discarding her future necklace phone at the end is portrayed as a good thing because it is symbolic of her letting go of her past and embracing her new life. The fact that the necklace is high-tech is incidental.
    • The wise plants are indicated to be good, and they are the product of science too.
    • Furthermore, any "technology is bad" message is undermined by the fact that Neutral City citizens are reliant on mining equipment and use old world supplies and Ragna can only survive in the desert thanks to water-extraction technology.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Once Jessica and the Ragna Army realize Shunack's true intentions, they decide to bail on him and help Agito rescue Toola.
  • Spider Tank: "Walking Sticks" and "Ragna Tanks".
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Once Toola wakes up from her cryogenic sleep, she finds that her home has been irreversibly changed.
  • Stronger with Age: Hajan is one of the silver-haired superhumans and he demonstrates that all his old age has done is taught him to better handle all that power. Towards the end of the film, Hajan punches a falling boulder in mid-air and destroys it before it can hit Neutral City.
  • Super-Strength: Enhanced humans get strength enough to effortless tear apart steel machines and shatter rock.
  • Super-Toughness: Every enhanced human is durable enough to survive falls from a great height and close range cannon fire. These plants were designed to live in hostile environments, after all.
  • Taking You with Me: Towards the end of the film, Agito transforms into a tree, dragging Shunack with it. Fortunately, he gets better.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Jessica's Heel–Face Turn is motivated by Shunack abandoning her to take control of E.S.T.O.C. and destroy her homeland.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Agito grows stronger in spades thanks to the forest powers.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: In the backstory, Shunack's impatience in trying to speed up the plant experiment on the Moon doomed Earth.
  • Tranquil Fury: Jessica keeps her cool when she's outraged by Shunack's deceptions.
  • Tron Lines: The entryway to the volcano that contains E.S.T.O.C. lights up with these in response to Toola's raban.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Shunack sees Toola and the Ragna Army as nothing more than pawns in his plans.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Shunack plans to undo the damage done to Earth... by using Toola and the Ragna Army to gain control of E.S.T.O.C..
  • Wham Line: Jessica realizes that Shunack intends to betray the Ragna army as he enters the volcano with Toola to accomplish his true motives.
  • When Trees Attack: Don't piss off the Druids if you know what's good for you.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: It is a downplayed trope. Shunack has white hair and is the Big Bad but so does The Hero and his father, the Hero of Another Story and two other heroic characters (Yolda and Hajan). Shunack himself is a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Wrong Side All Along: Shunack leads the Ragna Army in his efforts restore Earth to its former glory. By the end of the film, however, Shunack tells his second-in-command Jessica that he plans to betray the Ragna army and destroy her homeland. Realizing the situation, an outraged Jessica leads the army to join forces with Agito and stop Shunack from destroying the Earth.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Towards the end of the film, Shunack abandons Jessica and the Ragna army as part of his evil plans.