North American premiere

The Relative Worlds

Directed by Yuhei Sakuragi


Official selection

Annecy 2019


Yuhei Sakuragi


Yuhei Sakuragi


Maaya Uchida, Yuuki Kaji, Aoi Yuki, Kenjiro Tsuda


Tomohiko Ishii


Anime Limited

Japan 2019 93 mins OV Japanese Subtitles : English

A virus? Aliens? No one knows the cause of the wave of sudden, seemingly random deaths sweeping across Japan in recent years. Tokyo teenager Shin witnessed his mother’s death when he was a child, and ever since has been soft-spoken, sullen and withdrawn. He wants others at a distance, but he can’t seem to push away sweet-natured Kotori, a friend since childhood. He’s not sure he wants to, either. A lively date leads to an auspicious moment, but just as their hearts are about to connect… reality, the very fabric of time and space, reveals itself to be torn in two. There is another Japan, one that has followed a hellish trajectory. Those who rule that Japan have found a way to ours, and they do not come in peace.

Teenage romance, ontological science fiction, and fierce, acrobatic mecha clashes collide in THE RELATIVE WORLDS, digital animator Yuhei Sakuragi’s feature-film rebuild of his own successful web animation series. That project, as well as the INGRESS anime and the noted NEON GENESIS IMPACTS short, proved Sakuragi’s mettle in the anime realm. With THE RELATIVE WORLDS, he cements his spot as a key talent. With a solid, emotionally aware screenplay in place, he’s set about working his wizardry with cel-shaded CG animation, augmented by good motion-capture work. The results are fluid, natural, convincing — and when the stakes get high, dazzlingly intense. It’s a bumper year for high-standard anime features from Japan, and Sakuragi’s RELATIVE WORLDS is right up there among them. – Rupert Bottenberg