Hong Kong Cinema

Sky Blue (Wonderful Days)

Sky Blue
  • Made: 2003
  • Aka: Wonderful Days
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: PAL Reg 0 (2 Disc)
  • Release Date: 14 Nov 2005
  • Company: Tartan
  • Length: 82 mins
  • Picture: 1.78:1 letterboxed widescreen
  • Sound: DD5.1, DTS, DD2.0
  • Language: English dubbed
  • Extras: Featurettes, interviews, trailers, storyboards, deleted scenes
  • Classification: 15


Moon Sang Kim, Sunmin Park (US version)


Marc Worden, Cathy Cavadini, David Naughton, Kirk Thornton, Rebecca Wink, Bob Papenbrook

Sky Blue - Korea has long been the backbone of the animation industry, producing the bulk of the animation for hundreds of series and films worldwide, but thus far it hasn't enjoyed much critical acclaim. Home grown features, such as the lacklustre Armageddon, have failed to reach the giddy heights of the best in anime and western animation. With its ambitious blend of CGI, live action backdrops and 2D cell animation Sky Blue was Moon-sang Kim's opening volley in a bid to launch Korean animation into the international arena. The momentous effort gone into producing the film shows on screen with a non-stop barrage of gorgeous visuals in the backdrops, action sequences and special effects. However it's not all good news, as this optical beauty is mired in a narrative beast.


In the year 2142 an environmental catastrophe has brought about disaster, with most of the remaining survivors living within the purpose built city, Ecoban. Other refugees flock to the citadel, but refused entry, they are forced to mine the carbonite needed to run Ecoban in order to survive. In this manner we have the co-dependent overlords and underground slaves scenario well known in sci-fi and stretching back eight decades to Metropolis.

Sky Blue concentrates on the story of Shua, a man once of Ecoban who now lives among the digger refugees along with his adopted brother Woody and Dr.Noah, the defected designer of the computer that runs Ecoban. Shua works for the resistance movement, attempting to sabotage the city and it is on one of these sorties that he runs into Jay, a childhood friend who has now become one of the security enforcers. As we join the story, Jay has just started to doubt the morality of Ecoban's existence, embodied in the actions of the evil Commander Locke and the unquestioning Commander Cade. Will she stop Shua and his plans to destroy Ecoban, or give in to her feelings for him?


Seven years in the making, Sky Blue is the English language international counterpart to the Korean Wonderful Days. With a history of releasing international art house films, it seems strange that Tartan Video would here opt to only include the English language version of the most anticipated Korean animated feature to date. The usual environmental issues are at the fore here as the city of Ecoban produces pollution as a result of the use of carbonite, polluting the water and air of the digger refugees who live in it's shadow, and preventing the remaining population from seeing a Sky Blue. Further recurring themes are the corruption of power evident in Locke's character and the love triangle, here manifested in the characters of Cade, Jay and Shua. Thanks to the voice acting and script the love that could change the way these characters act comes across as something less than magic.

One scene that does stand out is a dream sequence that is remarkable for its invention and gives us a glimpse of what the creators can come up with when not constrained by the sci-fi narrative themes. Throughout the film we are treated to some impressive visuals as all of the backgrounds and vehicles are a mixture of state-of-the-art CGI and live miniature work and often look very beautiful, but the characters are animated with traditional cels. This itself isn't a problem, but the quality of the cel animation doesn't rival that of more recent Japanese anime and is all the more noticeable thanks to the gorgeous background work. Ultimately, with clichéd yet competent dubbing marred by the pedestrian script, set-piece action scenes that lack invention and a plot that is a retread of dozens of stories, Sky Blue does not live up to the anticipation.


While I can understand the reasoning for the creators intentionally producing an international version of their film to widen their market, I can't see why Tartan didn't seek to include the original whilst instead offering extras running double the length of the feature (though advertised as 190 mins they run for about 150 by my count). The snippets of Wonderful Days with the original Korean dub hint at a more complete movie, better dialogue and voice acting, which would perhaps bring the movie above par. I did see Wonderful Days a few years ago and remember being more impressed than I have been by Sky Blue. For all the in-depth featurettes covering the production work behind the film, it's odd that they don't mention how extensive the edits were involved in transforming Wonderful Days into Sky Blue.

Many of the mini documentaries we are offered are frustrating; interviews badly shot in extreme close ups; photo montages angled to one side as if to allow for text which never scrolls but which makes appreciating the pictures a chore; deleted footage presented in such a way that you have to scroll through twenty minutes of other storyboard footage to get to it rather than having the different storyboard sequences available in a menu. The sheer amount of work gone into producing the film is palpable, but at the end of the day won't improve your enjoyment of it.

Worthy sections of the extras include the insight into the use of miniatures which will explain the feeling that you may have in the film that backgrounds seem so real - they are! Plus in the absence of Wonderful Days, it is good to be able to at least see snippets of what it would be like in Korean thanks to some of the pre-production storyboard and animatic sequences. The discs also come with a nice little booklet including Justin Bowyer film notes; it's very pretty. Picture and sound quality are very good, the visuals are crisp and clean and the sound is clear.


By no means a bad film, there is little aside the visuals to lift this above average and so it remains a good-looking B movie. Decent enough to please undemanding action fans and those looking for a visual treat, nevertheless Sky Blue is ultimately disappointing. If it catches your interest, I recommend seeking out Wonderful Days.