Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo
Mimi: I had the pleasure of viewing this film on the big screen at Otakon and briefly hearing Makoto Shinkai speak afterwards. My excitement that day went through the roof, as he is one of my favorite anime directors and artists. Fans call him the new Miyazaki, and you can clearly see why in this film. It is an adventurous, mythical tale that is very different from his previous works. The characters strongly resemble that of Miyazaki’s, including Asuna’s cute little companion named “Mimi” who looks just like “Teto” from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. In fact, I felt like I was watching a Studio Ghibli film, but there is no mistaken Shinkai’s unique qualities. His artwork is sheer beauty! As soon as the film began, I heard the crowd simply say “wow.”
The basic story tells of Asuna’s journey to another world called “Agartha,” as she searches for a boy named Shun who had once saved her from a strange creature. Traveling alongside her is her teacher, Ryuji Morisaki, who wants to find the power to resurrect his dead wife. Asuna is also no stranger to pain, having lost her father. In a nutshell, this journey serves to help them accept their losses and move on. It might not be groundbreaking or anything, but hey, it’s a very solid story. What makes it so thrilling are the characters, the fantasy, the music, and the surprising bloody action. Though I’m pretty sure that 99% of the time, I was just mesmerized by the visuals…probably drooling too.
Well, I did pay enough attention to come up with three nitpicks. 1) The characters don’t spend enough time together for their emotional attachment to seem believable. For instance, Asuna is supposedly in love with Shun only after seeing him for a brief time. 2) This might be more of a personal thing, but the characters don’t leave a big emotional impact compared to Shinkai’s other works. His star-crossed lovers definitely touched me more. And 3) It would have been nice for the film to explore the mythical creatures and the people of Agartha more in-depth, particularly the enemy camp, which seemed to promise something bigger than it delivered.
But despite those drawbacks, this is still my favorite Shinkai film, next to Voices of a Distant Star. It blew me away in the visuals department, and I’m a sucker for fantasy settings. I absolutely love the new direction he has taken, in which he has great potential. What is he going to come up with next?
Since Alex is also a big fan of Shinkai’s works, I expect him to add a thing or two when he gets to watch it. I’m definitely planning to re-watch it once the subs are released. In doing so, I’ll probably add more to this review as well. =D
Alex: With Shinkai’s works, I tend to expect some emotional impact and stuff. With this movie…there just wasn’t any impact. It was a great movie, with a great plot and great direction and great artwork, but it wasn’t as good as his previous work, and he should leave the hardcore fantasy to those who do it best, and do what he does best.
Mimi’s Score: 8 Meeps out of 10 (Very Good)