‘Summit of the Gods’ Falls Short of Greatness

Summit of the Gods Poster Art

PHOTO | Summit of the Gods

Few movies in the genre of adult animation have stood out in the past few years. While the genre does have classics like “Akira” and “Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade,” movies such as these are few and far between. 2021’s “Summit of the Gods” aims to join these films in the world of adult animation classics, but falls just short of reaching these heights.

“Summit of the Gods” is an impressive film in many ways, and its director, Patrick Imbert, delivers a film that raises poignant questions about what it truly means to be the best in a world of extremes. The film follows nature photojournalist Makato Fukamachi in his obsessive attempts to find the renowned mountaineer Habu Joji, so as to learn the truth about a legendary 1920’s attempt at conquering Mount Everest. As Makato gets closer to finding the truth about Everest’s disputed history, he learns the true cost of being the best in a world as dangerous as mountaineering.

The film is excellent in its presentation, with beautiful animation that remains simplistic and stylish. There isn’t a single scene that looks dull, instead scenes are dominated by intimidating mountains and densely packed urban environments. Each scene is illustrated perfectly, and there’s never any confusion as to the setting or the action taking place. There are also several scenes that forgo the typical 2D realism the film relies on, offering uniquely haunting visuals that break up some of the slower portions of the movie’s runtime.

It’s an absolute joy to look at, and there’s no question that it’s one of the most strikingly beautiful movies in adult animation to date.

There’s also a stellar soundtrack that accompanies the movie’s various scenes, with each backing track fitting into its respective scene perfectly. During the more intense portions of the movie the soundtrack swells with intensity and highlights the precarious positions of the characters within. During the slower scenes the score is more serene and calm, extenuating the beauty of the scenic vistas and how the characters react to them.

There isn’t a single second of the film that isn’t accompanied by a near perfect score, and it ties the animation and storytelling together very well with the use of its soundtrack.

The film does suffer in terms of pacing, as while it might be incredibly pretty, there are a few scenes that feel unnecessary and somewhat boring. While the beautiful imagery is enough to overlook these duller moments of the script, there are moments where it feels a little difficult to continue remaining engaged. Thankfully these scenes are few in number, but it’s still noticeably jarring to go from an intense mountain scene to a dimly lit office space with little to no transition. Though this does tend to hurt most movies, “Summit of the Gods” still manages to pick up the pace in the scenes that matter.

While “Summit of the Gods” isn’t perfect, it is an animated film worth seeing. In a genre defined by blockbuster franchises and oddities, this film manages to set itself apart from the rest in an interesting and engaging way. With a stellar soundtrack, beautiful imagery, and a serviceable script that does lend itself to drag on at times, it’s hard to find many reasons to not watch this movie.

If mountaineering is an interest to you, or adult animation in general, then this is a film tailor made for you. Although it isn’t very action oriented, and lacks a larger story, “Summit of the Gods” is a breath of fresh air into a genre that has grown stagnant over the past few decades. Those interested in seeing this film can find it on Netflix.