Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie Review: Children Who Chase Lost Voices

Title: Children Who Chase Lost Voices (From Deep Below)
Writer/Director: Makoto Shinkai
Country of Origin: Japan
Language Chosen: Japanese with captions
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Rating: Teen (scary situations, thematic elements, violence)
Find It On: Amazon

SummaryWhen she hears a strange song from a crystal radio, Asuna tunes into more than just a magical stream of music. Soon, she is transported to a mysterious world where mythical beasts roam and brave warriors fight for their lives. Agartha is a land of breathtaking beauty and unimaginable danger-a place where, it is believed, even the dead can be brought back to life. But at what cost?

Three Words: Stunning. Sad. Sweet.

Writing: Heart-wrenching and beautiful. The characters were completely relatable, the pacing superb - the sweet nature of the main character and the stunning and magical setting lulls you into a false sense of security where all is normal and well and we are in a nice, calm place before MONSTER ATTACK!! Masterfully done.

Art: Detailed and lush. The designs (especially the characters) reminded me of Miyazaki, which is always a plus. Liquids were a bit too spurting for my tastes, but otherwise absolutely gorgeous.

Setting: We began in a quiet, rural town in Japan, beautiful in its rustic simplicity. When it is invaded by an otherworldly creature, we slowly slide into the mysterious until we enter Agartha, the breathtaking underground world of magic and monsters. Both were extremely well-crafted and stunning.

Story: Her father deceased and her mother always working, Asuna is a strong but lonely girl until she meets (and loses) a sweet boy named Shun who saves her from a monster. When his brother Shin comes to retrieve a mysterious crystal that Shun wore, Asuna and grief-stricken adult Morisaki-sensei follow the boy into the underground world of Agartha on a rumor that, in its depths, the dead can be brought back to life. It's a sweet, innocent and beautiful story about moving on after the loss of a loved one. I could tell it was a theme with a story built around it, which I usually dislike, but the story was so expertly executed that, while I felt the theme at the forefront, I became so thoroughly engrossed in the story that I didn't care. As for the end, where the Japanese tend to wrap up on the melancholy side of bittersweet, Children had a more uplifting feel that left me sad but content.

Characters: Where most children in these types of stories long for adventure, that was not the case with Asuna. She really didn't know why she journeyed into Agartha, only that she knew she had to, and discovered much about herself that she needed to find. She had a magnificent strength but a sweet innocence that allowed her to delight in the little things despite her serious situation. I adored Shun, his gentleness and fierce heart, even if he was only around for a little while (he reminded me of Howl + Haku, which in my opinion is perfection personified). Shin was Shun's opposite - brash, violent, angry, but he was extremely brave and had a good heart, and grief was weighing him down. With Morisaki-sensei, it was interesting to have an adult along for a children's adventure who wasn't the bad guy - well, not totally bad (no spoilers ;). Sometimes kids can't continue on their own and need an adult to encourage them, and he was the adult there to keep Asuna going no matter what, despite his own heavy grief over the loss of his wife. As for the "cat" Mimi: all my love.

Conclusion: I'm usually not one for a story based on a theme, but if anyone is capable of pulling it off magnificently, it's the Japanese. This is a touching film about love and loss and letting go to be happy and move on with your life. If you know a child (grade school to middle school and possibly even high school) who is having a hard time letting go of a deceased loved one, this is definitely worth showing them.

No comments:

Post a Comment