Who is the famous animator from Japan? I believe that many of you will answer Hayao Miyazaki, ne? Miyazaki-sensei and Studio Ghibli has been known worldwide and set standards of a great animation. However, in Japan, there is a man who has been called as “The Next Miyazaki”: Makoto Shinkai. “She and Her Cat” and Voices of a Distant Star are his works that I really like. The first one is a short that capture the emotions of a cat and its owner, while the latter will amazed you with his “one-man show” production (yes, almot 100% of the animation is worked by himself!!). For this month, I choose to review his latest work: “Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below“. Let’s check it out.
>> This review is posted for World Cinema Series 2013. Check more movie reviews from all around the world and join the crowd by visit the page here. <<
Asuna Watase is a girl who lives with her mother as her father died while she was a little kid. Coping to her loneliness as her mother works most of the time, she spends her time in her “secret” place up in the hill, listening to a radio that operated with her father’s memento: a blue crystal.
One day, when she walked to her secret place, a huge monster attacked her and a mysterious boy named Shun saved her. Both are quickly found themselves comfortable to each other. The next day, Shun told her that he came from Agartha and that he’s happy as his wishes came true. She told Shun that, once, she heard a mysterious song that sounds like someone’s heart it self. Little did she know that the song was Shun’s dying song. After Asuna ran home (shocked by Shun’s kiss on her forehead ^^), Shun died.
Asuna still couldn’t believe his death. While she’s still sad about it, she learned that Agartha is the land of dead which is inhabited by gatekeeper gods named Quetzalcoatls and small groups of humans. Her rendezvous with “Shun” soon brought her there, a land where you can resurrect the life of your loved ones…
The land of dead, the myth of Izanagi and Izanami, the mysterious melody… the movie sets the mood as a sad and nostalgic movie; not a happy-go-lucky adventure movie. That’s why, from the first time, I’m expected a movie that explored characters’ emotions and their connection to Agartha. Blame my high expectation, because the movie never quite did that. It is a good adventure movie, but, for me, it is not a great one. The movie is more like a journey with obstacles, but, the obstacles felt too shallow and didn’t bring great impact to the characters.
There are also events that are happened in the movie but their details are never explained well to the audience, such as
- why clavis’ (that is made to lock gates between top world and Agartha) can call “God”,
- who is Asuna’s father and why he left the crystal to his daughter (yeah, it is subtly explained, but it looks like his identity isn’t great enough to shock anyone, huh? Err, it almost killed someone. Waks!),
- and why the Izokus didn’t kill the infidel in the first place.
After questioning one after another, the movie didn’t satisfy me with answers. That’s why I feel like there is nothing that caught my interest until the end other than the beautiful details of scenery that this movie has.
I really like how Shun tells us, the audience, that his wishes came true at the first part of the movie and how he seemed glad that Asuna can hear his “song”. It made me want to know more about his real wishes, why he wants to go from his homeland, why his song’s heard by Asuna, why, and why… Then he died. Full stop. :’(
Idea and Development: 2,5
There are many events that are happened in the movie but their details are never explained well to the audience, therefore I felt no connection to the characters and the Agartha itself. The main theme of the movie are revealed near the last battle, but somehow, the movie didn’t convey the message very well.
Cast and Characterization: 2,5
The voice actors did great job though, it is just there’s no one with strong characterization that attracted me.
I think it is too soft for several intense scenes, but it’s okay. The ending song is quite memorable.
Beautiful world and scenery rendered in an animation is, IMHO, Makoto Shinkai bests at. He never fails to amaze me . There are several battle scenes in this movie and I think they are well choreographed.
Opening and ending: 3
It took a little slow just to get to the main point of the story: Asuna and Shun’s encounter and the existence of Agartha. The first part of the movie sets the mood well but the ending has nothing special.
Final score: 3.0*
Entertaining enough as the animation is beautiful, but IMHO, the story isn’t developed very well.
1,0 – 1,9 = Honestly, I don’t think anyone will like it.
2,0 – 2,9 = You may see it, if you have nothing else to do.
3,0 – 3,9 = IMHO, it’s entertaining to watch. Try to see it.
4,0 – 4,9 = Must See!!!
5,0 = Absolutely Superb!!!
Have anyone watched this movie? What do you think?
There are various theories and beliefs about death-realm is. In this movie, one of them is Agartha. Agartha (sometimes Agartta, Agharti,Agarta or Agarttha) is a legendary city that is said to reside in the earth’s core. It is related to the belief in a hollow earth and is a popular subject in esotericism (this is quoted from wikipedia, where you can find out more about Agartha).