Directed by Inudo Isshin

Epic-action, 144′

Based on historical events from Japan in 1590, ‘The Floating Castle’ blends historical action with quirky comedy to create an unusual and entertaining film. Directors Inudo Isshin and Higuchi Shinji have a particular fondness for humorous characters, and this is ably supported by some excellent scripting from writer Ryo Wada.

The film is rich with historical detail, particularly in the costumes and set design. The armour design of the samurai and soldiers is impressive, and the use of the colour red breaks up what would have been a monotonous landscape of black and grey.

However, while the set design and costume in the film details are lavish, strangely the film lacks certain artfulness in its execution. There are no standout moments of lighting or sound design, and while the general appearance is not unappealing, it is not breathtaking either – surprising when you consider the highly artistic background of Higuchi Shinji.

The film is carried by the characters that Isshin and Shinji bring to life on screen. The strong script brings out the oddities of general Nagachika Narita (Nomura Mansai), and although he could have been made into a weak and foolish character, his childish sense of humour is used to hide a strategic genius, and he endears himself to the audience with dancing that offer some memorable moments of light relief. Samurai Tanba (Koichi Sato) also impresses as the pinnacle of warrior honour counteracting the humour of the other main characters.

Many of the characters project comedic elements, which creates a general feeling of humour rather than having a stock character to act as a relief. That the script includes such a high level of humour seems somewhat unusual for a period action feature, but it serves to make the film memorable and to stand out from what is typically a very serious genre.

‘The Floating Castle’s blend of period action and comedy could easily have come off as awkward and clumsy, but instead it is a clever combination that lifts the action and breathes life into the serious nature of the film. While perhaps not visually stunning, the characters and script than make up for any deficiencies in appearance. Isshin and Shinji have built up a quirky addition to the genre, one that will surprise audiences of both comedy and historical films.

Review Hannah AlboneThe Floating Castle Poster