Directed by Sang-ho Yeon [Other horror films: Busanhaeng (2016), Busanhaeng 2: Bando (2020)]
Commonly known under the title Seoul Station, this animated prequel to Train to Busan was an interesting experience. It’s my first experience with an animated horror movie, and while I appreciated some aspects of it, overall, I just found this one pretty meh.
I guess it’s worth talking about the animation, which was okay. At times, it seemed somewhat sparse (showing a lot of empty streets with zero zombies shambling about seemed off), but that’s fine. The character designs weren’t great (the faces were what most bothered me), but animation’s not my forte, so I wouldn’t say it really impacted my feelings one way or another.
This movie is oddly somewhat poorly sourced on IMDb, so I don’t really have names to going with the voice actors, but some of these characters were very prone to over-exaggeration, such as the homeless man (who apparently was never named), especially during his “I have no home” wail, which, while somewhat dark, did rather crack me up. I understand that over-acting might be common in animation, but it didn’t make it feel any more realistic to me, which was problematic.
Certainly, I appreciate the attempt to pull in some societal issues to the forefront, such as the division between the homeless and the police (when one officer just assumed all the zombies were just angry homeless people, there’s a problem with the system they live in) and the atrocious reaction of both the city police and the military (a bunch of uninfected people easily could have been saved, but instead they’re just hosed back into their area by police, because fuck the people, amiright?), but I don’t think either of these points are really examined as well as they could have been. Even the tragic lives of sex workers is hinted at, but despite potential, this isn’t expanded on as much as it could have been either.
It could be said that the dismal nature of the story was a bit much (there are few characters who actually survive through the film), but for a zombie movie, I can’t imagine that this is really a surprise. Shim Eun-kyung’s character (Hye-sun) was okay, but I was really hoping for a stronger female lead than what she brought with her. Her boyfriend, Ki-woong (voiced by Joon Lee), was pretty pathetic throughout, and Hye-sun’s father, Suk-gyu (voiced by Seung-ryong Ryu), who brings an actually surprising twist toward the end, was decently efficient. Of course, we see him differently by the end, but at least he was good at killing zombies.
Still, Seoul Station is a bleak movie, and while the same could be said for Train to Busan, I think that this is a lot darker, and there’s not near as many fun sequences here (not that many scenes in Train to Busan set out to be fun, but at least the budget they had made them feel more epic). I don’t hate the story they went with, though I do have problems with some aspects (such as the inconsistent time it takes for people to turn into zombies once being bitten).
For an animated zombie film, while I have nothing to compare this too, it’s not an especially poor film. It’s just not especially memorable or worthwhile either, which isn’t much a positive aspect. If you’re into zombie movies, this might be worth taking the time to watch, but I personally think seeing it once was enough, and it just couldn’t match the enjoyment I got from it’s live-action counterpart at all.