The second part of the Laughing Under the Clouds Gaiden series is here and it brings with it another side story to the parent television anime. While the first part focused on Tenka Kumou and the Yamainu, the second part takes a look at the Fuuma ninja clan!
The second Laughing Under the Clouds Gaiden movie focuses on two characters from the Fuuma ninja clan: Isuke and Isame… twins that are believed to be cursed children. According to their clan’s rules, one must live while the other is to die. The Fuuma clan hunts them down but they are ultimately saved by their parents. During the battle for their lives, Isame is injured when his arm is sliced by a sword. After the battle, Isame and Isuke’s mother hides Isame in a cave while Isuke trains to become a Fuuma ninja. Isame supports Isuke by making throwing daggers for him while remaining hidden.
While Isuke is training to become a ninja, we learn about the Fuuma clan’s barbaric ceremonies where in order to become a ninja, you must kill someone within the clan, most typically a parent or a close relative. Many people go through the ceremony believing that they are doing it to become stronger ninja to serve Master Orochi. Of course, there are people who have differing opinions about the ceremonies and are silenced by the Chief’s ultimatums for obedience.
When Isuke is chosen for a ceremony, his father under cloak and disguise attacks the village in hopes of ridding it of the Chief. He fails his mission and his hunted down by Isuke who ends up killing him. After bearing the pain of killing his own father, he begins to doubt the ceremonies himself. Isuke vows to one day become the chief and abolish the ceremonies altogether. Without spoiling the end of the movie, some more tragic events take place and Isuke has to stand tall in order to persevere through them. The outcome is rather tragic and makes you wonder if things are better now than they were before.
I thought the story for the second film far surpassed the first. While the first film challenged the viewer by assuming that you needed to know the anime’s plot to fully enjoy it, the second film didn’t feel like it needed that requirement at all. There were some scenes at the end of the movie that did tie into the main series but the bulk of the movie was a standalone story that one could easily understand and enjoy from beginning to end.
Isuke and Isame
They are twin boys who were thought to be cursed by the Fuuma clan, a clan of ninjas in which they were born into. When they were born, it was said that one of them must die; however, they defied their clan’s laws and Isame ended up being hidden away by their mother due to injury. Isuke stepped forward to become a ninja of the Fuuma clan but begins to question the Fuuma chief’s ceremonies. The clan exists to server Master Orochi; however, everything that they do, including downright ignoring the fact that Orochi is on the verge of resurrection, makes Isuke question the clan more and more. His internal struggles come to a head after a tragic series of events places him into a position that he aimed for albeit much sooner than he had anticipated.
I really liked the duality of these characters. Isame showed a great deal of frustration being locked away in the cave, not understanding anything that was going on outside. His mother would come and feed him every single day in secret, which was against the clan’s rules. It was a huge risk to do so as she would be charged with treason if caught. This worried Isame and that put even more pressure on him since he was already feeling alone and neglected due to always being hidden. It took a while for Isame to understand everything and his mother’s efforts but it was a bit wrenching to watch someone forced to live their life in hidden isolation.
Isuke, on the other hand, felt more like the protective brother. His only wish was to live a happy life of peace with his family and he would do anything to protect that wish. Isuke knew that things weren’t right with the current regime in the clan; however, he didn’t know how to deal with it. Isuke never really got the time to properly plan how to fulfill his wish as he soon found himself in a situation that caused him to act on a whim. The aftermath of that situation is a bit muddied and that’s due in part to not watching the original anime series but you still get a sense of how things turned out for him. You still had to feel for Isuke after witnessing everything that he had to go through in order to make it to where he did. It certainly wasn’t an easy life and it was one filled with many regrets. Still, he had the courage to press on in the end which was a testament to his character as a whole.
The Fuuma Chief was a typical oppressive ruler who used sternness and obedience along with fear to rule and govern his people. Up there in age, he favored ancient rituals and regarded them as iron law that must be followed no matter what. He was a character that you loved to hate but wished death upon every time he opened his mouth. Just from his words alone, you could easily tell that there wasn’t something quite right with him upstairs. Even still, I found his character to be a bit typical for this kind of story. If you’ve seen one old oppressive ruler set in his ways, you’ve practically seen them all. The Fuuma Chief is no exception here, sadly. Despite the generic character archetype, it was still played rather well. The character did its job in making me hate him and when you can do that, even an overused archetype can still be found to be entertaining. Good job here!
Much like the first film, the rest of the characters were there in supporting role only and didn’t really get any major focus outside of Isuke and Isame’s parents. His father was obedient to the clan but also questioned and challenge the Chief’s ideologies. Their mother was kind and caring and proved that she would do anything to protect her children, especially Isame. All-in-all, there were just good parents and nothing more. They still added extra drama to the story when needed and were shining examples of supporting characters done right!
Art, Animation, and Sound
As with the first film, Wit Studio handled the art and animation and it was still amazing to see. Everything was nice and crisp; however, my only complaint came with the character art. While they did a great job in the first film differentiating the characters from one another while they all wore the black and red motif, here the characters seemed to bleed into each other. All of them sported white hair and purple eyes when they become a full-fledged ninja. Before that, they would sport black hair and brown eyes. Isuke and Isame were twins so aside from the bandages on Isame’s arms and the different tones in their voice, it was hard to tell them apart sometimes. Some of the other clan members all looked alike and I was a bit confused as to who was who sometimes.
Having the film only focus on a handful of people certainly helped out in that regard so it did make the confusing aspect almost a non-issue, which is a good thing. Had they explored every member of the clan, then I think that would have added to the confusion and we would have had a mess on our hands.
Outside of that, the second film looked as good as the first with great backgrounds, fluid animation and well-blended CG that didn’t take you out of your suspension of disbelief! The soundtrack was just as good as the first movie’s and really helped draw the viewer into each and every scene!
I really enjoyed the second Laughing Under the Clouds movie more than the first. While the first film was satisfying to watch, the second one felt like a true standalone story that you could enjoy without having to know any of the source material, although I still believe knowing it will only help you enjoy it even more. The cast of characters was paired harmoniously with an engaging story this time around so the film offered a more complete entertainment package.
The plot points during the film, especially at the end, really kept you hooked and caused you to experience a wide range of emotions. One scene particular took you through shock, sadness, pride, and a sense of excitement all within the span of five minutes! The pacing of the film felt pretty good as well as it mixed story and action in a great ratio. It never made you feel as if the movie was dragging as it quickly moved you from one point to the next without overwhelming the viewer.
So far, the first two parts of this series have been pretty good and I recommend checking them out. Both Laughing Under the Clouds movies is out in theaters on August 24 with the third part coming in 2019!
An advanced screening of the film was provided by ELEVEN ARTS Anime Studio
Laughing Under the Clouds
The second movie brought with it a great balance of character development, story, action, and drama. The ending caused a bit of confusion for those who haven’t seen the previous television anime series but did a much better job of being a standalone film this time around!
- Great story
- Compelling characters
- Great action
- Fuuma Chief felt like a standard archetype
- Ending felt like it required you to watch the anime series