Anime Review: Seoul Station (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 29.05.2017

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Seoul Station (UK Rating: 15)

As seen in the Cubed3 review, Train to Busan is an amazing film, a superb revitalisation of the zombie film, an exhilarating ride with characters the audience actually cares about, and a truly compelling story. The prospect of further stories in this universe is a very promising one, especially when they are helmed by the same person that directed Train to Busan. Seoul Station is exactly that; an animated prequel to the movie, written and directed by Yeon Sang-Ho himself.

Set before the initial outbreak, the story opens on a homeless man, stumbling through the streets outside the titular Seoul Station. As he hobbles along, a bite wound on his neck bleeds profusely. A friend and fellow homeless person tries desperately to get him some help but is shooed away from anywhere he goes. This hatred towards the homeless becomes a key element of the story. Just as Romero linked the racism and prejudice of the time to the zombies of his formative Night of the Living Dead, this story does the same with the homeless - showing not just everyday people's disdain and disgust for the homeless, but also that of the government. That old, bitten, homeless man may very well be the beginning of the outbreak, but he's not the focus of this story. This story is about a daddy who lost his daughter; a man named Suk-Gyu, and a girl named Hye-Sun.

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Hye-Sun is a teenage girl who ran away from home and ended up working as a prostitute to survive. She thinks she's finally gotten away from that sort of life after meeting a boy named Ki-Woong and moving in with him. The problem is that Ki-Woong is a loser. He's jobless and spends most of his time at cyber-cafes. He can't even pay the rent and, eventually, he tries to put Hye-Sun back to work… advertising her as a prostitute online. This advertisement makes its way to Suk-Gyu who had been trying to track her down for a long time and he immediately heads out to find her. There's just the small matter of the impending zombie apocalypse in-between the two.

Suk-Gyu and Ki-Woong end up together, trekking across the country, trying to reunite with Hye-Sun, while she finds herself travelling through the dregs of Korean society to reach them. The state of the homeless is a huge part of the film and an eye-opening one. From the opening scenes, all the way to the fantastic finale, they are treated as less than hum by not just the populous, but also the government itself. It gives an interesting glimpse into Korean culture.

The art style is very evocative of Sang-Ho's previous work, The King of Pigs. Korean animation is noticeably different from the more famous Japanese anime but it looks great here; a little more comic book than classic anime, with more realistic faces, a more realistic world. The zombie designs, in particular, are fantastic and match up with their live action counterparts. The wide, rage-filled eyes, the chattering teeth behind pulled back lips, and the signature bulging veins almost bursting through the skin.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
An excellent accompaniment to the spectacular Train to Busan, from the interesting social commentary on the state of the homeless in Korea to the truly surprising finale, Seoul Station is filled with quality. The action scenes are great and the tension is kept high throughout the entire film. There is a considerable flaw with the film, however - the characters. The trio of "main characters," Suk-Gyu, Hye-Sun, and Ki-Woong, are all horribly flawed, not particularly likeable and repeatedly do things that are completely inscrutable.

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