English: Children who Chase Lost Voices
Synonyms: Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below, Journey to Agartha
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: May 7, 2011
Duration: 1 hr. 56 min.
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or olderL represents licensing company
Score: 7.911 (scored by 15401 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
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Aug 20, 2013
The movie follows Asuna Watase on her journey through a new world, and we get to see all the hardship she faces, as well as those precious happy moments. “Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo” tells a story about love, loneliness, and learning to let go of the past, among other things.
This story is supported by numerous mythical tales, which gives it a nice touch. It does take quite a while before things really kick off, and not as much time is spent in Agartha as could’ve been, but it’s a minor problem.
However, even with this the story moves at a rather fast pace, leaving little room for any form of additional backstory, whether it’s about Agartha or about the characters pasts. This was really too bad, as there are some pretty obvious questions left unanswered by the end of the movie.
(Several people have talked about this being a way too “Ghiblified” movie, but I don’t feel like I’ve seen enough of either director to really comment on this, though it does have sort of a Ghibli feel to it.)
Art: (9 / 10)
The art is absolutely stunning. The backgrounds, the characters and the various creatures all look simply amazing. From what I can tell, backgrounds like these are sort of a standard thing in Shinkai movies, and there are several moments where the camera will just pan over the landscape, allowing the viewer to really take in the beauty of the world that’s been created.
The characters all look good, and the variety and detail of the creatures is very well done.
The animation was very fluid and well done most of the time, however there were times when it just felt a bit off, or when there would be a bit too many/long scenery shots.
Sound: (8 / 10)
The voice actors did a pretty great job with their respective characters, and the music was very good as well. The music did a good job at “emphasising” the scenes, whether it be a sad scene or a more action-focused scene. The credits song, “Hello, Goodbye and Hello” by Kumaki Anri, is an amazing song, and really brought back all those feelings from the movie.
However, there is a minor problem here, as well. Some songs, including an orchestral version of the credits theme, will play often, and I mean really often. Of course, if you don’t mind these songs, then this won’t be a problem, but it could reduce the effect they have on scenes later on.
Characters: (7 / 10)
The characters were mostly fine. They weren’t however all too great, to be honest. There is some backstory and development to certain characters, while some characters are barely fleshed out at all, and are only there to serve a very specific purpose in the plot. This was obviously a bit unfortunate, since I feel like there was certainly time for more time to be spent with the characters, and yet we’re left with this.
Luckily, it’s not at the point where you can’t feel or sympathize with the characters; in fact, there are several times when this will happen throughout the movie.
Enjoyment: (9 / 10)
After all, I quite enjoyed this movie. It tells a good story, and combine that with the great musical score, and the stunning art, and you have yourself a great film. I can’t deny that there also weren’t a couple of times where I cried...
+ Tells a well-written and emotional story.
+ Absolutely stunning art.
+ Great soundtrack.
- Questions left unanswered at the end.
- Some odd animations.
- Characters not really all too fleshed out. read more
Dec 11, 2011
Sorry, that should be a 12 year old girl. Let's try this again ...
Stories about children having adventures in other worlds are a dime a dozen these days, but rarely do we see a tale that's more akin to the stories of old, where brave youths traversed other realms on a journey that would teach them ... lots of stuff.
Nope, that's not going to work either. Let's try putting the two together ...
Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo, which apparently means "Children Who Chase Stars" but for some reason is called "Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below", is the latest work from acclaimed creator and director Shinkai Makoto. The story centres on a small town in the countryside, where a young girl called Asuna spends her time after school listening to the strange music that comes from the crystal radio that her father left to her before he passed away.
Everything is peaceful until one rather eventful day ...
At it's core, Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is an adventure covered in a philosophical blanket that doesn't quite fit, and it shows in many ways. The plot tries to blend a variety of themes, but it never really manages to do this with the panache of Shinkai's previous works. In addition to this, there's a childishness to the narrative that some viewers may find a little annoying, and quite often events are resolved in a manner that is very "black and white". Because of this the story lacks a good measure of catharsis, especially in comparison to "5 cm Per Second" and "The Place Promised In Our Early Days", and the film concludes with a rather lukewarm resolution.
That said, the movie is interesting to a degree, but much of this comes from the way in which myths and legends regarding the underworld and resurrection are tied into the plot. Unfortunately, it's clear from the opening scenes that inspiration for the anime has come from a few very well known sources, and viewers may find that they spend more time playing spot-the-influence, and less time paying attention to the storyline.
One of the first things that people will notice about Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is the very "Ghibli-esque" atmosphere it has, but while this perception can initially be ascribed to the rural setting and the young lead character, the similarities actually run a lot deeper. The scenery is a rather pleasant blend of Shinkai's trademark panoramas and the kind of countryside imagery that one might find in "Only Yesterday" or "Spirited Away". Once the action moves beyond the gate, the background art and the settings dramatically improve, and the audience is treated to the kind of vistas that one would expect in a Shinkai feature.
Unfortunately the same can't be said of the design, and viewers may be forgiven for thinking that the entirety of the movie is nothing more than an homage to a certain well known studio. The characters are so stereotypically Ghibli in fact, it's easy to imagine them searching for Laputa or farming in The Valley of the Wind. The similarities even extend to the animals, and while several of the more fantastic creatures wouldn't look out of place in the forests of "Mononoke-Hime", the strongest resemblance (in more ways than one), is between Asuna's cat Mimi and Nausicaä's pet Teto. Sadly, the comparison can only go so far as the characters lack visual refinement, which is further compounded by the lack of gradation in the colour palette used for them.
When it comes to the animation, Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is a long way from the best work produced by the long-running Shinkai/CoMix Wave Inc. collaboration. The action sequences are pretty decent for the most part, but the characters can sometimes move in a stunted manner, almost as if there's a degree of uncertainty about how each person should act or react in a given situation. In addition to this there are several scenes where the characters seem to have irregularly proportioned bodies, and viewers may find themselves wondering why particular events leave them with the nagging feeling that something isn't right.
The theme song, "Hello, Goodbye and Hello" is a bittersweet ballad composed and performed by Anri Kumaki, and in all honesty it's a rather fitting song given the nature of the story. As for the background music, there's a rather nice mixture of placid or bittersweet orchestral tracks, light-hearted jingles and dramatic pieces, all produced by Tenmon - Shinkai's long-time compositional stalwart. Ironically, the movie excels when it comes to audio choreography, and with an array of high quality effects on offer it can sometimes feel as though more care has been given to making the feature sound good in a pretty setting, and not enough on developing the story.
The script lacks a degree of intuitive flow, and the characters can sometimes state the obvious or wax philosophical for no reason other than to add a veneer of intelligence to proceedings. It's a sad fact that the dialogue can sometimes be stunted, and lacks the nuance that many viewers might expect. While some people may believe that this is due Asuna's age and lack of knowledge, the simple fact is that it highlights more than anything else how inexperienced Shinkai is with this type of movie. That said, the more than experienced cast have rallied well, but even with their ability to project emotion and personality, there are moments when they're unable to compensate for the heavy handed script.
There's a strange dichotomy with the characters as on the one hand Asuna, Shun, Shin, and pretty much everyone else aren't really anything to write home about - especially if you've watched certain Ghibli movies. On the other hand Morisaki Ryuji is a very interesting person indeed, and is reminiscent in many ways of a more humane Ikari Gendou. Unfortunately he also suffers from the same problem in that he isn't given enough back-story to support his actions and decisions, but then, that's pretty much the tale of Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo in a nutshell. Although there is some development for the lead roles, it's often sporadic as the focus seems to be more on the journey itself.
Shinkai Makoto has made it no secret that the inspiration for this movie came from a story he read in elementary school, but it was during his sojourn in England in 2008 that the idea for the anime finally coalesced into something more concrete.
Which, strangely enough, explains rather a lot.
There's a childishness to the movie that doesn't quite fit with the major themes of the plot, and in many ways it feels more like Shinkai was testing the waters and his determination, which isn't actually surprising when one considers that Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is also his attempt to prove that he isn't a one-trick pony. While there are some positives that can be taken away from the feature, there are far too many things that have been "borrowed" from other films, and these make it difficult to see the movie as little more than an homage. In all honesty it would have been nice if Shinkai had the courage of his convictions and relied more on his own style (like he did with "5 cm Per Second" and "The Place Promised In Our Early Days"), instead of trying to piggyback on that of another studio.
That said, Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is a fairly easy movie to watch as long as the viewer doesn't delve too deeply, and it has a much lighter and more adventurous tone that Shinkai's previous offerings. In addition to this, if one considers it an experiment with a new type of story then it doesn't just become a reasonably entertaining feature, but also a glimpse into the mind of Makoto Shinkai, and that is a much more rewarding experience than the movie itself. read more
Nov 19, 2011
I'm sure the clever ones amongst you must have caught on by now that this movie is rather derivitave. Yes the movie takes many cues from Ghibli flicks, particularly Laputa which Shinkai has admitted to being a big fan of, but it plays around with the formula in enough new and interesting ways to stand out from the pack. Asuna, our female lead, does start out as rather irritatingly perfect, but as the movie goes on her loneliness and fears begin to come more to the surface. Plus it does this without ever being in your face about it. Yes, the characters sometimes have to point out the direction their character’s development is going in, such as when Asuna admits to her substitute teacher acting a bit like her father, but it flows well with the dialogue and doesn't feel the need to retread these same points over and over again.
Then there's the substitute teacher, Morisaki, who I've already eluded to as being my favourite characte. He starts off appearing like he's going to be the standard deluded villain, intent on destroying all in his path to get to his goal. This is sort of what he is, but his reasoning is sympathetic and he doesn't act pointlessly evil for the sake of things. He's quick to draw his gun, but it's for his own safety and not because he just likes shooting things. His reasoning for going into Agartha makes him sympathetic too, rather than just being power-hungry or driven by sheer greed. But what makes him great is he also brings out the best in Asuna, elevating her to an interesting character in their own right. As the two travel through Agartha, they strike up a rapport like that of father and daughter, which was very fitting given what the two of them had lost in their lives. They became the family neither of them ever had and, while he was often harsh to Asuna, there was still the strong sense that Morisaki grew to care for her immensely. He's a human character with real flaws, as was Asuna, and their relationship was the real highlight of the movie.
Animation-wise, the movie is stunning. OK, this is still Shinkai, and his tendency to focus on clouds remains completely baffling, but the world of Agartha is beautiful. It's essentially the same as earth, but there's enough touches here and there to make it seem alien. Morisaki and Asuna travelling through the countryside had this almost Lord of the Rings feel to it. The world can feel a bit barren at times, lacking magical towers and sparkles at every turn, but it fit the feel of the world. It was supposed to feel empty and dying. The other thing this movie nailed was the sheer scale of some of the set pieces. Where Ghibli films excel is in the fine detail, which I don't think Shinkai got quite as well in this film, but the scopes of some of the set pieces were jaw-dropping. Particularly I have to mention the giant hole in the world that book-ended the film and that multi-eyed monstrosity that was meant to represent the god of this world. And hey, since we're talking about monsters, special mention has to go to those skeleton-like creatures that swam on the ground like sharks of the shadows. They were flat out creepy.
It's far from a perfect film though, and I particularly have a bone to pick with the music. The sweeping orchestral score has all the subtlety of a child smashing a spanner on a table to get attention. Because the same score is used for almost every single slightly dramatic scene, it robs the music the intense effect it's supposed to have on the more dramatic scenes. It's also a bloody long film, about 2 hours long, and takes a while to get going. It doesn't really pick up until the characters visit Agartha, and that takes almost an hour. This is partly down to Shinkai spending far too much time setting the scene, showing off the landscape of Asuna's home town. Which is fair enough, highlighting the ordinary world so it makes the contrast with Agartha that much stronger, but he really spends too much time on it. I really didn't need that shot of dragonflies having sex Shinkai, and could you please stop it with the bloody clouds? Yes, these scenes are incredibly important to establishing Asuna's character for the development that occurs later on, but it doesn't stop the scenes from being boring. And no, sticking in the fox-cat from Nausicca won't make these scenes that much more tolerable. That's just cheating.
Plus since it's basically Ghibli, it carries over not only the strong points of magical worlds and amazing attention to detail that these films have, but also carries over the warts too. Towards the end it really starts to get a bit silly, especially when the giant monster thing swallows the main character and jumps down a bizillion foot drop in order to transport her, looking rather like a pregnant woman crossed with those robot things from Laputa. It even brings over the forced in environmental message that Miyazaki works into his films with the grace and subtlety of a hippo doing ballet. It did only got a passing mention and, while clunky, wasn't anywhere near as bad as Miyazaki's tend to be. Besides, the movie earns so many points by adding the much needed nuance to the main character and the sorta villain that I can forgive most of the mistakes it makes. Asides from the clouds. Please stop with the damn clouds.
There is one final problem I'd like to highlight. There was something off about the pacing. The story was very well told and wove the themes of loneliness and loss in extremely well, but the transition from set piece to set piece was clunky, as though it was adapting a TV series and these were the gaps between episodes. As I said, it's a two hour movie which is really a touch too long, but I also wouldn't want to cut much out of it (asides from all the clouds). I think it may have suited a short Noitamina length TV series or OVA instead. You could have delved into some of the characters pasts a bit more, or told us more about Agartha. That was one thing I was a bit miffed about. There was an interesting conflict between Morisaki and the people of Agartha where he accused them of accepting their decay and being lazy, which tied quite well in with his own story, but it didn't really tackle the Agartha side of the story once he'd left.
While there are plenty of flaws with the movie, I did end up enjoying it a lot. Not sure how fans of previous Shinkai films will take this, as it's a drastic change from them. I suppose the themes are kind of similar (or at least I'm told the themes are similar, I was too busy gnawing my arm off in an attempt to stay awake to notice the themes of his previous films). But if you like Miyazaki's films, you'll like this. It's too long, take a while to get going, gets a bit silly at times, and someone needs to bop the composer over the head and tell him to lay off the full orchestral sweeps every once in a while, but it's a genuinely entertaining film with a well told story. And clouds. read more
May 7, 2011
Makoto Shinkai's most recent work is something quite new for him. The main criticisms of his works has as far as I can tell been the character designs being to simplistic and rough, as well as all his three longer works being quite similar. Though I would contend the latter point, it's certain that Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is different, in both aspects. It would seem that Shinkai has moved away from his tragic love stories with sci-fi elements and to something more Miyazaki-inspired. But does he succeed? (OK, I guess this isn't much of a cliffhanger considering my scores.)
Story: Our heroine, Asuna, lives a relatively normal, albeit busy life somewhere on the countryside, until she one day gets attacked by a strange beast and saved by a mysterious boy. This leads to an amazing adventure in the strange underworld Agartha. Sure, this doesn't sound like anything new, but the progression of the story is quite interesting, unpredictable and exciting. All the characters have their own stories and agendas, and the film manages to involve us in all of them without losing focus. The climax is extremely moving in the way only Shinkai can manage, and nothing ever feels unnecessary or forced.
Art: Art is certainly one aspect where one have high expectations of Shinkai, but he delivers anything one could want and more. Takayo Nishimura, the man behind the character designs in 5 cm/Second is back, but Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo looks distinctly different. The designs are still relatively simple, but bursting with life and charm. I would compare them to the designs found in Hayao Miyazaki's films, which certainly seems a plausible influence. In this way, Shinkai has ridden himself of what some people thought to be the weak point in his aesthetic, while still keeping true to the relatively simple designs he's always used.
The rest of the art is amazing. The backgrounds, whether they're clouds and stars or forests and plains, are breathtakingly beautiful, and what's particularly interesting about Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo compared to Shinkai's other works is the setting. While he certainly has used nature before, there has usually been more focus on cities or space. In this film, both the Japanese countryside with mountains and forests, as well as the fantastic world of Agartha with its plains and ruins, are brought to life splendidly.
Animation-wise there is nothing to criticize. The animation flows smoothly and beautifully, and Shinkai certainly knows how to work the angles and perspectives to get the most out of the scenes. This is very evident in many of the action scenes, and I was particularly impressed by a swordfight during sunset, the amazing colors of the background framing an intense burst of life with the "camera" flying all over the place, creating an incredible impression.
Sound: Tenmon is back, and he's better than ever. Utilizing a range of instruments including his famous piano pieces as well as some wonderful violins, his music set the mood for the film perfectly. What struck me the most was the way the music could change mood in a heartbeat without seeming out of place, particularily evident in a scene where you first get the "hero riding out to save the princess" mood, and when the scene shifts to the damsel in distress, as it were, it seamlessly changes to an intense "our friends are in great peril" theme.
On the voice actor side, Shinkai has managed to score some very talented people. All the three main characters are quite big names, and Kazuhiko Inoue's role as Asura's teacher, as well as Hisako Kanemoto as Asura herself both excel, and really do their part in making their respective characters believable. Miyu Irino as Shin and Shun is also a very fitting choice. However, one of the most impressive voice actors was Rina Hidaka as Mana, a character who doesn't use words, but conveys all her feelings with random sounds. A challenging role to get right, but Mana's character turned out perfect.
Character: Asuna, our main character, is a very busy girl. She lost her father at a young age, and her mother is very busy at work, so she does a lot of chores, while at the same time keeping up her perfect grades and finding time to climb the nearby mountain to listen to the radio her father left her. As the story progresses, she is faced with quite a lot of hardships, and one can see her progress through dealing with them. She is not quite sure why she's on the journey she ends up on, and seeing her discovering more about herself as she faces new challenges is quite moving.
Morisaki is Asuna's new teacher, and one of the main catalysts of the adventure. He starts out mysterious, but one quickly learns of his goal and the lengths he will go to reach it. He's cold and blunt, but though he will not give up on his goal, he is also considerate of others, and his relationship with Asuna develops in quite interesting ways.
Shun is a mysterious boy from Agaruta who, like Morisaki, starts out mysterious and cold. We learn that he's a conflicted and confused boy trying to find his place in the world, and he develops greatly during the course of the movie, finding great courage within himself.
There's also a great supporting cast, such as Asuna's mother, who's very busy, but still manages to care a great deal about Asuna even after her husband's death. The previously mentioned Mana, as well as Shin, are also great characters for their purpose, but the one that really sticks out is Mimi, Asuna's cat, who follows her through the journey and whose vivid personality really makes one attached to it.
Overall: Though I'm a huge fan of his other works, it's great seeing Shinkai going in a new direction, this time aiming at a much larger group of people, from children to adults. The similarity to Miyazaki's adventure films is certainly present, in particular there were quite a few parallels to Mononoke-hime, but he still manages to keep his own unique style, including the extremely emotional scenes that he excels at. I certainly look forward to more Shinkai works, and would recommend Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo to anyone, regardless of whether or not you liked his earlier works.
Apr 1, 2013
Although, to be perfectly honest, I do not entirely agree with the Ghibli comparison many have done. The similarities stop after a magical land, equally magical creatures and character designs that, with some small adjustments, could have come from any of Hayao Miyazaki’s flicks. The rest is characteristic Shinkai flair, albeit this time muddled with a severe identity crisis.
On a first glance Children Who Chase Lost Voices does not sound too bad. A girl named Asuna is about to be killed by a magical beast when a mysterious boy pops up and saves her. One thing leads to another and soon she is thrown into Agartha; a land unknown to mankind.
This is a good set-up and it also tries to tackle subjects such as death and bonding. But the lacklustre execution leaves extremely much to be desired. It is hard to understand how Shinkai, who at least were somewhat coherent in the past, could end up doing this mess.
The story never really makes any sense and Asuna’s drive, a character she had known for ten minutes disappearing for reasons unbeknownst me, is a really bad excuse for starting it. Every ten minutes, sometimes even less, we have drama cranked up to eleven even by Shinkai standard. In most cases these moments are variations of Asuna needing to be saved which does not help making the drama less tiresome after the tenth overblown scene.
There is no room to for Children Who Chase Lost Voices to actually breathe and explore its own setting. Agartha itself is never properly established and neither are the people nor the creatures that inhabit it. There is some conflict, a large kingdom and so on… but these do not matter at all. This becomes almost pathetic when none of the main characters even question or act surprised at what they are witnessing. This is because they are only there to move the already non-existent story forward.
As if to rub salt in the already fatal wound, Children Who Chase Lost Voices also suffers from a directing that I never would have guessed would come from Shinkai who is an experienced person. The movie has a lot of scene transitions and cuts which results in a very fragmented story. In one second there is a chase scene, another second it has ended and then all of a sudden we are in a town. This hurts the already unexplored setting even more! Add in the tedious drama I spoke of earlier and it simply does not mesh that well.
And this leads me to the movie suffering from an identity crisis. It does not know what it wants to focus on. The setting is not important, the story is poor and the characters are shallow. Yet Children Who Chase Lost Voices incorporates them all in a hope of achieving something. But that something never shows itself throughout the movie. Even the themes, death and bonding, are thrown out of the window towards the end as a way to squeeze out a tiny bit more drama instead of something believable.
Whether or not Children Who Chase Lost Voices was an experiment by Shinkai to try out something new or an attempt to emulate someone else’s success does not change the fact that this is a disaster.
An utter disaster that makes me skeptical of his future works.
Dec 2, 2011
In this tale, we follow Asuna, a regular, independent teenage girl. We also meet a substitute teacher (Morisaki) and follow them through an underground world to play God and revive the dead. Ambitious, you can call them, though it is an understatement. The concept of resurrection is certainly very interesting to explore, though this movie doesn't really do that, even if it is a main focus. It lead to a very anti-climactic ending. They made very quick work of the ending. They could have really explored more about resurrection and be more imaginative, but instead it felt lazy. Everything leading up to the end felt cliché and predictable, thus, a little boring.
The characters didn't really standout, either, though they aren't terrible. Asuna is a fun little character, always happy and optimistic, though also a little bland. Morisaki was also a little boring, always serious and never letting loose. They could have played around with him a little but we got nothing. The same can be said about most of these characters. They're pretty one-dimensional and not very believable.
Of course, I have to praise the art. "Scenery porn" as many like to call it. The landscapes are all very beautiful and detailed; they remind me of shows like 5/cm. It's probably (okay, definitely) the strongest point of the movie. The lighting can be really exquisite at time and DEM CLOUDS. I can jerk off to those clouds all day, but I digress. Being a movie, the animation is very good but not exceptional. Standard movie stuff.
Overall, the music is nice and fits the scenes well. They used the music well, as well as silence for those tense moments. The only qualm I have with it is that it just isn't memorable at all. It's hard to recollect any song from memory. Voice acting is decent, but even they couldn't save the sort of bland characters.
This movie is just another fantasy story that doesn't standout or offer anything new. It isn't really remarkable at anything, except perhaps the art. The story left more to be desired and a lot felt somewhat unexplained, especially near the end. I still kind of enjoyed it though. The characters were a little boring, but I still enjoyed their interactions with the new world. If you're looking for something just to enjoy on a boring night, or need a movie the whole family can enjoy, you can give this a try. If you're looking for a masterpiece, you should probably look elsewhere. read more
Nov 4, 2011
In the cinema theme of overcoming the most severe loss in the lives of everyone is one of the most difficult to implement. Too easy to drop down to the banal repetition of precepts of the ancient sages or even go away from believable emotions, depriving the viewer of not just the answers, but even a simple empathy to heroes. No wonder that both in live-action and animation few authors dare to even approach it. In Makoto Shinkai's "Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo" this topic continues theme of parting loving hearts of his previous works, but it does so in an unexpected setting, clearly reminiscent of "adult fairy tales" of Hayao Miyazaki.
The first thing one can say about the film - its visual component is simply breathtaking. These words can be applied to both animation and design. Previous films of this director were also very rich with details, but here, in fantastic Agartha, such attention creates a stunning effect. Every second the picture plays with light, colors and shapes, masterfully using 3D animation, where necessary, and creating fantastic immersive experience. And while the roots of many design elements can easily be seen, they acquire here such a new charm, that the movie holds the stage until the very end.
The other sides of the film are more ambiguous. The plot takes a quick start, jumping at a gallop speed from scene to scene. The first 20 minutes take approximately the same pace of events as the rest of the movie. And here one of the director's weaknesses become evident, which he obviously did not manage to completely overcome - the inability to combine individual dynamic episodes into a smooth and solid sequence. Despite the fact that the beginning of the film shows us all that it should be in a prologue - everyday life of Asuna, her acquaintanceship with the other main characters and events that give impetus to the main plot, the absence of natural transitions not only evokes a sense of theatricality and staging of what is happening but also calls into question the reliability of experience and motivation of Asuna, who made such a difficult journey. It takes too little time to develop relationships of characters for a viewer to believe in such a strong attachment of them to each other, which is like a red thread going through the whole picture.
Music only reinforces this impression. Shinkai's permanent composer Tenmon decided this time to move away from the calm and soulful melodies of the previous films, resulting in every second scene accompanied by loud epic composition. Such pathos really makes an impression when it is used moderately and appropriately. On the contrary, here we have an emotional soundtrack which is often does not correspond to what's happening on screen, and in the viewer's perception music moves into the background, not emphasizing the really important moments in the climax.
As soon as the plot develops, it becomes increasingly clear how little of the potential of the film's setting is used. Information about the life and history of Agartha is being given dryly and very schematically. The same can be said about the past of the protagonists: the relevant scenes and remarks, though sometimes decorated like character's memories, rather resemble the notes in everyday conversation, the topic of which concerns something completely different. I believe there is only a single scene in the whole movie where country's people and villages are portrayed not as scenery, introduced by director just for the sake of the story. Unlike Idzoku tribe, which plays a key role in the storyline - in spite of their mystique, the origins and motives of creatures, so alien at first glance in this world, are left behind the screen.
Nevertheless, the one can somewhat empathize to characters, because their desires are clear and understandable. Following along with the story till the end, we come to the message of the film. And I must say, I was expecting something more here. Of course, under the given artificial conditions set by the author, the actions of the characters can be easily divided into right and wrong ones. However, what was the point in all that mess if all the director wanted is to show us something so obvious while not digging into the main question? "You are as naive as that visitor from the Upper World", the village Elder blames Sin. In turn, we can blame of naivete the Elder and, further, maestro Shinkai himself, which brought up a global problem, but instead of at least try to solve it, hit the peripheral ethical issues.
Summing up, I can not say that the film touched me. The unambiguous bright side of the movie is its astonishing beauty and concept. Shinkai could create a masterpiece on this basis, but it did not work. Instead, he made "just" a good adventure film, which can certainly take its place in the collection of every fan of animation. And it is not that bad, is it? read more
Jan 1, 2012
This is truly one of the best animes I have ever watched - hand down.
The intensity and emotion behind each of the characters and their actions is overwhelming at times and these emotions certainly won't fail to move any person who has had any relation to love, loss of someone important or simply just a person who has the felt the warmth of motherly love.
The story of this movie could - to some people - seem a bit rushed and somewhat not thought through completely. But I beg to differ as I don't think the story is what's most important to this movie.
Anyway, I think the story is great and I like the fact that it doesn't beat around the bush but it constantly keeps focusing on the most important aspects of the movie. The development of the main character, Asuna, and her relationship to the other characters as we move forward in the movie.
The art was what was truly amazing about the anime and definitely its selling point. Nearly every scene involving the environment or the atmosphere around our characters was simply breathtaking and almost without comparison. In addition to these scenes being absolutely amazing there weren't just a few of them but this movie was filled with beautiful landscapes and sky sceneries. Especially the night skies are particularly beautiful.
The sound was almost as amazing as the art and gave me goosebumps several times. It fitted perfectly with the sceneries and the movements and expressions of the characters.
To sum up I don't think that the music could've been any better than it is.
At first the characters seem very classic and maybe a bit overused. The typical main character being a girl who's a bit lonely but diligent nonetheless. She meets a boy who saves her from an evil creature thus being her hero. But as the movie progresses you discover that a lot of the characters aren't really your every day run of the mill.
I was really entertained throughout the whole movie and it kept moving me. If not by character interactions then by the beautiful soundtracks or the amazing atmospheres created by the art and sound combined.
So overall this anime gets a 10 from me. Great story, beautiful animation, perfectly fitting soundtracks and very enjoyable characters. Apart from a this, the movie had a lot of touching morals and enlightening views on life and death. Two very heavy subject which were handled with grace.
I hope you will enjoy this movie as much as I did, although I think it'd be almost impossible~ :3
Oct 27, 2012
It is also -as we all have learned to love and expect- breathtakingly beautiful in its large panoramic vistas of long-grassed fields and cloud-layered, color-tinted skies and his signature railway crossroads. The world is imaginative and vibrant and the action scenes beautifully animated and choreographed. Speaking of expectations, the theme of "distance" is heavily played but manages to never cloy.
However, the movie falls prey to its own good intentions. Trying to include too many trappings and conventions of the medium he's paying an homage to, the result is not unlike that of a patchwork that had to sacrifice character development and proper, cohesive narrative to make room for all of it. The jerkiness in plot and character development make the story hard to believe and the characters hard to empathize with, giving the general effect of having cut most of the "boring" character-establishment, emotion-development, sense of wonder and personal reflection to give you all the thrilling plot-advancing bits it could pack in two hours.
Without a doubt, this story would have been much better served as a 24-episode series than as a movie and that without adding much new, really: Just filling the blatant holes in the narrative and pacing the events properly. Having said that, I understand why this is a movie and not a series: its very own premise makes it wholly unoriginal and derivative which would make the series painfully unnecessary and redundant. As a (superbly visually beautiful) movie it stands as a statement of love and gratitude rather than as a rehash or a cash-in.
At this point, I think it's necessary to acknowledge Makoto Shinkai's shortcomings as a teller of epic narratives, which we have seen in his other plot-driven movies. Hopefully, he'll become aware that his real kind of genius is that of the deeply personal, character-driven stories and manage to expertly make of that the focus of the big, sweeping epics he obviously loves to tell.
I still wholeheartedly recommend this movie, specially if you are a fan of nineties anime and studio Ghibli. Its plot may leave you slightly unsatisfied but everything else will make you smile. read more
Jan 10, 2012
If you haven't already, go read the story synopsis then come back here. The first arc of the movie is a slow introduction to the leading girl - Asuna - living in a rural town. It's relaxing enough for me to start hoping that this Shinkai guy would finally make a movie with an optimistic tone for once. Well, this being a Shinkai movie, it takes no time at all to tell you the girl's lost her daddy. That scene is subtle, which is neat, which piqued my interest immediately. The movie slows down again to show her life, then suddenly... MONSTER ATTACK!!! Yeah, the movie never explained why that monster was there, which is what I'll keep in mind when giving score to the story. Anyway, the girl is rescued by a some dude that seems like he is a brother of Haku from Spirited Away (you remember Haku, right? That River Spirit dude?). He's not actually Haku's brother, of course, but he's no less supernatural than that guy. The dude - named Shun - tells our leading girl that he's from Agartha, whatever the fuck that word means. Moving on, the 2 bond a bit before the dude Shun inexplicably disappears! No wait, I take that back, the movie does explain that later. Anyway, Asuna is now saaaaad because another intimate acquaintance has left her. Yeah this is a Shinkai movie, alright.
From this point on, the movie gradually picked up its pace quite a bit. A new character is introduced, which is Asuna's new widower teacher. Yeah, he's a widower, the story will get into that plot later, but for this arc, he is the Captain Exposition for the oblivious Asuna. Basically, there is a myth involving resurrecting dead people if you travel to Agartha, which is deep, deep underground. And he is a widower, guess what he intends to do with that myth? Turns out Agartha is actually real when Shun's brother, his actual brother named Shin came to the surface to snatch the crystal he left behind. This new guy Shin also looks like Haku, btw, just sayin'.
Now from the second arc, I will let you discover the movie yourselves, as it turns into a fantasy adventure movie. But without spoiling anything, I must say I am intrigued by the mythology of this fantasy world. And I bet you will too, once you see what Agartha actually looks like, what creatures live in it, you'll wish this movie is gonna spawn a grand franchise, which regrettably will never happen. There are these deity creatures called "Quetzal Coatl" (did I write their name right?) with a fascinating back-story about how they came to be in this world. Then there is the Itzou, some kind of shadow demons that maintain the balance in Agartha, vulnerable to sunlight and water (wait, they are like... vampires???) and keep the Surface Dwellers away. But most fascinating of all, a giant flying Ark! A freaking flying Ark! That thing should catch your eyes the moment it comes on-screen, and not only that, it's gonna play an important part in the last arc, which I won't spoil here.
One thing I would like to praise Shinkai is his ability to build tension and keep it going. There are so many scenes in this movie, especially in the 2nd arc that I was on the edge of my seat worrying that this girl Asuna might not make it out alive. I mean goddamn, this is what an adventure movie should feel like, it's about putting your life on the brink of death and escaping through a hair's length. It's like watching The Adventure of Tintin, but with a vulnerable, defenseless protagonist. I mean, it feels breath-taking watching this girl and Shin escaping the Itzous by leaping across the colossal ruins in Agartha. There is another scene where Asuna is approached by those demons in their invisible forms, and it's so tense simply because it feels like an inescapable situation, almost like it was lifted straight out of a horror movie. Ah yes, horror, that's the genre you won't find much (if at all) in Western animation.
And I'm surprising myself by praising Shinkai for these merits. Before watching this movie, I was worrying that he could turn out to be a one-note hack who is good at nothing but sappy romance and he's gonna wear himself out the longer he keeps making them, like the recent Clint Eastwood movies. Well, as this movie shows, this guy has much more tricks up his sleeves to be reckoned with. I expect this guy to show more range in the future. Hell, he could tackle as many genres as Danny Boyle did and I would be still pleased (you know Danny Boyle, right? That guy that did a zombie movie, a kiddie movie, a hard scifi movie, a sappy drama movie, an inspirational survival movie and they were all good?).
The movie has to get away from the action scenes at some points to return to its slower, dramatic parts. You will soon notice a running theme through many of these drama scenes. I'm not gonna say it straight out what that theme is, but I will say that these scenes suggest their common morality in a very subtle way, unlike The Fountain (2005) - that movie pretty much hammered the message into your head. It's not heavy-handed, that's my point. The story also spends some length to flashback to Asuna's and the teacher's past. These scenes are quite touching, it may get you teared up a bit when you see how Morisaki (that's the teacher) became a widower.
Now for the ending, it's appropriately climatic, and it's climatic without a lot of action goiing, the conflict between the characters is enough to carry the climax. And the solution to the climax, I love it. Knowing Shinkai, I was actually expecting it to go in a much sadder way. Without spoling too much, I will say this is actually a much happier ending than his previous movies. I walked out all of his 3 previous movie feeling sad, and was surprised by this ending. It's not totally optimistic, I mean, come on, a widower wants his waifu back, you know where this is going. But hey, considering Shinkai's track record, this is as optimistic as his movie can get.
Quick note: There is notably less romance in this movie by Shinkai's standard, not that I'm complaining, 'cause he sure made up for that with so much more goodness.
For a good story, I like to squeeze all its flaws into one paragraph to keep the tone of the review generally positive. Yes this movie has flaws, I'm not turning a blind eye to them just because the movie is so good already. First thing is the plot holes. Notice the plural word, I counted 3 plot holes and I'll make it short. #1: the monster appearance never got explained; #2: The town guards intend to drive the Surface Dwellers away (Asuna and Morisaki) but after fighting Shin, they stopped chasing those 2, as if forgetting their objectives; #3: During night time, the river tide in this movie is low, that’s backward from how river tide actually regulates. The second flaw is the whole half-baked Arch Angel black-ops sub plot, which thankfully didn't overstay its welcome to detract too much from the movie. That's pretty much it.
This is an oddball in Shinkai's filmography, a lot of his signature elements took a back seat here, and that should be a warning to any of his fans not willing to adapt. Me? I love movie directors not because they can only do one thing right, I love them for doing MANY things right. And goddamn did this movie got so many things right that I tolerated its few flaws and even tolerated the fact that it was more optimistic than I expected (wait, is that a bad thing to begin with?). A rock solid 9/10 for the story should do the justice.
Shinkai took a back seat for the character design of this movie and give more leeway to his character designer Takayo Nishimura. While Nishimura also worked on 5cm/s, this guy also did Konnichiwa Anne, which is obviously where he did the homework for the character design in this movie. The first Anne series - Akage no Anne - was done by 2 Ghibli veterans: Isao Takahata and Yoshifumi Kondou. There you have it - the origin of this movie’s art style. And I’m glad that Shinkai is giving Nishimura more creativity control. Why? Here is the problem I've always had with Makoto Shinkai: this guy can't design characters. If you go back and watch his previous movies, you'll notice how most of his characters look bland, uninspiring and at times, rough around the edges. I thought he just cloned his own characters across those movies to spend more work on the background and the CGI (which we'll get into later). Now with this movie, the characters do look more distinctive, or at least enough so that you don't mix up Asuna with her school friends. And they are more expressive in this movie too - one thing you can't say about Shinkai's previous movies. By Ghibli standards though, Shin and Shun look a bit generic and could easily be replaced by the prince from Tales From Earthsea and, as I've mentioned, Haku from Spirited Away. But well, in the end, this is a good improvement in the character design for a Shinkai movie.
Now for the main dish: The background. HOLY HOT DAMN is Shinkai on the top of his game for this movie. I mean, this is his talent, this is what he excels at beside sappy romance. The scenery, from the rural town to Agartha looks jaw-dropping, and consistently so. Just by looking at the meadow in Agartha, you would wish the movie would hang for a moment and ponder on that scene so you can admire it some more. This guy draws background so great and detailed that even the wood planks on the floor looks great (I'm not even kidding). And that's just the wood planks, wait until you see the night sky. Wooo *shiver*
Another thing to admire here is the lighting and shadow effects. Whenever a clavis crystal starts activating whatever magic it has, the whole screen is filled with eye-candy. Even when it doesn’t act up and only emits some dim light, it still grips your eyes looking at how the light from the crystal shine on the surrounding object. Then every now and then there are some light sources that just look so mesmerizing, like there is some flicker from the sun, or some unknown light from afar that catches your eyes so easily because this guy makes the whole screen pretty just from that. The shadow effect blends itself seamlessly into every scenes of the movie. Shinkai drew shadow not only to the characters, but to the smallest objects like the birds or down to the flower petals, so when there is high sun light and some flower petals floating around , they created some great god ray effects. And was it hand-drawn or CGI? I can’t tell, and this is why I love how this guy handles CGI: blend the CGI into the hand-drawn segments, instead of calling attention to the CGI itself.
Talking about CGI, there are several panning shots in here using a combination of hand-drawn and CGI that took me out of my seat. The most notable one must be the fight scene between Shin and the town guard. You can tell Shinkai has a great sense of cinematography just from this panning shot alone, as it pans around the 2 fighters while they are doing complex choreography, the background and the foreground constantly changing, and the 2 of them kept on fighting while the viewpoint upon them changes every second. So many animators would sweat a bucket when they see these panning shots, as they require incredibly smooth hand-drawn animation, a sharp sense of space and movement and seamless synchronization with the CGI background. Yet this guy pulled it off like those challenges were never a problem with him to begin with. So my hat off to him, and I reward this movie a perfect 10/10 for the visual.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Yes, Tenmon’s score is freaking phenomenom, alright? There you go, this Tenmon guy is becoming Hans Zimmer or Clint Mansell or something. I guess I’ll have to keep a second eye on this guy.
I did praised Shinkai’s sharp sense of space just now, right? Well, guess what? He also applied that to his sound effects. A common trait I found in his movie is the clear distinction between sound effects from different distances. A slightest shift in distance will make a difference in the volume of the sound. This results in a great surround experience, if you can manage it, go watch this movie with a great audio system to get the most out of it. For a hand-drawn animated movie, this requires much more work than a fully CGI movie, and most anime won’t even bother with this aspect, they just play the sound effects like they all came from a flat board. So hey, many people won’t even give Shinkai credits for the sound design, so I’m doing it. What else to say about the sound effects here… oh yes, the variety! This guy did the sound effects to the smallest objects, just like he did with the background, so what you have is an array of sound effects ranging from a drop of water in the kitchen sink to helicopter’s machine gun to the moaning of the Itzou to a simple touch of a chopstick to the bowl. Once again, my hat off to the attention to detail of this movie.
Not much to say about the voice acting, they all give a fine performance here. Another perfect 10/10 to the sound department.
Are you watching this, Pixar? Are you fucking watching this? This is what Makoto Shinkai was doing while you were so obsessed with making Cars 2. I mean freaking hell, Cars 2’s awfulness has caused a stagnation in Western animation in 2011, Oscar pick for Best Animated Feature seems hard this year. But I can tell, you put all of the contenders next to this movie (Rango, Winnie The Pooh and Arthur Christmas are my best guess) and they will all be pale in comparison. Of course Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is not gonna participate in the Oscars, but then who needs their approval? Shinkai doesn’t need an Oscar to prove his worth, he earned every right to spit on that Pixar movie and be fucking proud of it. This movie, honestly, has blown out my anticipation of Brave. Even though I enjoyed it in a different way from 5cm/s, there is no reason to brush it off as if it’s a bad thing. Yeah sure, it’s not a modern masterpiece like 5cm/s but this movie is still exciting, thrilling, has plenty of heart to spend, occasionally touching, beautifully animated and fantastically scored. By the standards of a Western movie, this movie scores an excellent 9/10, and from my viewpoint, that’s exactly what I’m gonna give it, a 9/10. read more
Dec 30, 2011
Basically, this movie does that. With an art and animation of Makoto Shinkai we known of, and the fairy-tale-like story of Ghibli, this movie does its best with stunning visual and animation quality.
Eventhough the story were not on the same level as Ghibli's, this movie does has a touching story and a linear story which simple to understand.
Absolutely stunning visual quality. From the start until finish, you will be amazed by the quality of background and animation, and that lighting, so amazing.
The entire sound quality were top notch. Every moment on the movie accompanied by a great music scoring and sound detail is so brilliantly executed.
The character of this movie, if I should dare to say, were average. There's no character which I find likable, even the main protagonist.
Overall, I find this movie entertaining enough, especially that background and animation.Just don't put up too much hope this movie will be on the same level as Ghibli's work.
Nov 5, 2013
In short, it's a string of scenes that look beautiful on their own without context, but taken as a whole, it's an unoriginal, plodding mess.
Oh, and there's a scene of two dragonflies fucking for some reason. No idea what the fuck that was about. read more
Aug 12, 2012
Overall, its two hours that is worth your time read more
Dec 27, 2011
And this new work is going to have the same effect on me!
...or so I thought.
It certainly looked like Makoto Shinkai. It sounded like a Makoto Shinkai work. But it wasn't Makoto Shinkai. Let me explain.
Art [10/10]: It can definitely be recognised from the art that it is a Makoto Shinkai film. The detailed depictions of the town and surroundings gave way to stunning vistas that reach far into the distance as I entered another world. The quality of the drawings was sustained throughout the film, and the art helped immerse me into the environment. If you like eye candy, you don't need to read any further in this review. Watch it now.
Sound [10/10]: Tenmon's musical score once again complemented the art beautifully, blending in inconspicuously to further emphasize the mood of the world and the events that occur. The calm music gently moves to sharps and flats as intriguing and suspenseful aspects of the story were told. Silence was well used in appropriate places, and sound effects were used in varying degrees depending on the scene, to induce a sense of normality in the world as well as to raise suspense when it is needed.
To enjoy the sound and art is enough reason to watch Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo. However, the character development and storyline would definitely leave you thinking "so... what now?" by the end of the film, detracting from the superb imagery that has become typical of Shinkai works.
Story [3/10]: When watching the film, one can clearly distinguish the different direction that Shinkai took when creating the storyline; simply by recognising that the theme of 'distance' is missing. Instead of a story about separation, time, distance, this focuses on memory and 'saying goodbye'. And this deviation is one of the points where the problem stems from. Shinkai's expanding the genre of his anime by mixing other elements into it, and it's not working well.
-Comparison with Ghibli
A girl gets in touch with another world, one different from the one she knows.
She has a cat.
There's monsters that serve to preserve the nature of the world.
Sounds like a blend of Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke.
Hey look! Even the theme of human pollution of the environment is there!
Sounds like Ghibli.
OK. Ghibli storylines are good, so that's not the problem. But this film tries to mix all these different aspects and themes into two hours, and this dilutes the message. I can't say that this film is about environmental conservation, even though messages about that are in there. I can't say that this film is about farewells either, even though messages about that are in there. There's a lack of focus or central theme.
This is coupled with the lack of immersive features to convey suspense, grief, or other emotions that can be found in many Ghibli films. Sound was well executed, but anime techniques like vectors, shadows, camera angles and shots proved to be reinforcing Shinkai's trademark visuals rather than reinforce the story.
Therefore, we can deduce this doesn't qualify as a 'Ghibli film'.
- Comparison with Shinkai
So let us revert to the elements that made 5 Centimetres per Second so great. 5 Centimetres per Second focused on the lives of two people. We see their relationship develop then wither as the couple unsuccessfully tries to cling on emotionally to each other. Everything in the world was real and believable. The plot can actually occur in the real world, and this reality was essential in it becoming a "tear-jerker" film. We got to know the characters, and we got to see both sides of how they separate.
Now apply this to Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo. Four central characters: Shun, Shin, Asuna, the Sensei. Asuna has met Shun for one day. There's no way they could be attached emotionally to one another. 10 minutes into the film we see a supernatural monster.
This makes it not a 'Shinkai film'. The seemingly random mix of Ghibli and Shinkai elements is the film's demise. There's a lack of a complication in the film, which in return leads to no resolution. By the end of the film, I thought "so... what now?". And I don't think Shinkai or Asuna know either. Ask Asuna herself (quote from film):
Asuna: "I'm also going!"
Morisaka sensei: "Why?..."
Asuna: "Well... I don't know"
Well, if she doesn't know what she's doing in the film, then nor do I.
The lack of direction in the plot shines through in the scenes: the story does not cover both sides of the attempts to speak to 'the dead' - we never see what Asuna says. And that's probably because, well, there's nothing to say. What is there to say to someone who you talked to for a day and will never meet again? However, Asuna's story is supposed to be the one we're following - since she is the first character introduced to us. The conclusion seems to be carelessly tacked on in order to finish the film.
The plot of the film really doesn't allow the film to reach its full potential.
Character [3/10]: The film is set up to be a classic Ghibli shoujo story - a young girl goes on an adventure, possibly to a different world, and gathers courage and friendship, changing along the way to reach a grand goal. So let us talk about Asuna (the shoujo) first.
Asuna - Clearly, the Shinkai shoujo is supposed to be different from a Ghibli shoujo. In a Ghibli film, Shun's disappearance and Asuna's knowledge that she may see him again would be a catalyst for Asuna's determination, leading her on a grand adventure that helps her grow and realise her qualities - like a bildungsroman. However, Asuna clearly has no idea what she is doing - even after reaching another world. She even says so. Instead of holding leadership qualities, she follows her teacher until the end. She never grows. She never changes. She's dull and boring. Her reliance on others doesn't allow us to learn anything about her, and hence we're not attached to her in any way.
Shun - He's heroic because he saves Asuna. And that's probably all we know about him, since he only appears for a few minutes at the start of the film, and for an even shorter timeframe at the end of the film. This is despite his status as one of the main characters in the plot.
Shin - So he blindly follows orders from his village, he misses his brother, and he may be a bit attached to Asuna. But what are his qualities? We don't know. The film doesn't show us. It seems like he's just a plot device to get Asuna out of undesirable situations.
Morisaki the teacher - conversely, we know about him the most. We have flashbacks of his backstory, we know where his motivation stems from, and we understand why he wants to achieve his goal no matter what the means. However, he's a minor character. He makes his introduction later in the film, when we have affixed the protagonist status onto Asuna and Shun. The storyboard design also followed Asuna instead of Morisaki in situations where they are separated.
It seems like the film was originally centred on Morisaka, then bits were placed at the beginning and end, and editing done, in order to make the film fit into the stereotypical Ghibli 'shoujo' film.
The film tries to blend elements of Ghibli, a successful animation studio, into the established Shinkai story. This in itself is not bad, but poor planning and execution leaves us with a seemingly half-hearted story without emotional impact, moral lessons or substantial themes.
The art, however, is on par with if not exceeding Shinkai's other major works. The sound lets the world come alive.
In short, it is still an enjoyable film, despite the lackluster plot and character development. Watch it for the art and the sound, but do not expect an engaging story.
Dec 3, 2011
Story [7/10]: The story starts with a girl named Asuna who meets a boy named Shun. He comes from a distant land named Agartha (actually the underworld as its refered to as in the story- though a very beautiful one). He saved Asuna from one of the creatures which had surfaced from that land. They quickly become friends. But soon he disappers (dies). After his disappearance Asuna come to learn about Agartha once again in her school during a lecture from a teacher. She investigates more by reading and also consults the teacher who mentioned about it in class.A series of quick events leads Asuna and the teacher to travel through Agartha. The rest of the story chronicles the experiences of Asuna and the teacher through the land and the purpose of their travel are revelaed. Its a fantasy story ofcourse so things outerworldly were expected. Just that the movie doesnt quiet elaborate on it smoothly. I mean there are gaps and sudden jumps so its a bit hard to sometimes digest why the characters are acting the way they are acting. But overall it wasnt as bad either. Concept of travel though underworld was interesting enough and could have been developed more. Maybe the manga will elaboarte more.
Art [10/10]: I am giving this section a full 10 only for the breathtaking sceneries shown throughout the movie. The colours are soft and how to say maybe lucid. Yeah each landscape is like a masterpiece. The mountains, meadows, the skies in particular (I guess the director must really like looking at the sky- both daytime and night time) are just to grand and wonderful. The way the sunrays falling on the ground are pictured in every scene are too good. For the human figures- they were okay I guess. The way they were drawn reminded me of typical ghibli movie human figures. Creature of the underworld have been modelled mostly on different dinosaurs from what i could make out by watching. Other modern day animals were nicely drawn.
Sound [7/10]: All voice actors have done excellent jobs and expressed emotions aptly. A bit disappointed in the music cause it was not too audible in the first place. Or maybe I have just missed it cause I was awestruck by the landscaping >. read more
Dec 18, 2012
From watching the trailer to Children who Chase Lost Voices I knew going into this movie that it would be a departure from his previous works. It was only after I’d seen the movie that I realised how much of a departure it was. So much so that if I’d seen this movie not knowing Shinkai directed it I wouldn’t have known it was one of his movies at all. Just as I look for the Miyazaki signature in his movies so did I look for Shinkai’s signature here, and it was a struggle to find it. I can’t help but think that this movie was less a natural creative process for him and more a response to the naysayers who think he can’t do anything else. Artists should produce work based on what naturally comes to them, not what comes about as a result of pandering to critics.
This movie feels so desperately like he wanted to show critics that he could do more than romance stories, and this concern with wanting to try something new was unfortunately to the detriment of the movie as a whole. I feel it’s quite sad that Shinkai felt he needed to make such a drastic change to his style when making this movie. As someone who is an avid fan of his works it pains me so much to say this but, this movie has problems and as a result I’m quite critical of it. I’ve always maintained the personal policy that to be fan of something, anything at all is to not be an apologist, to recognise and accept when something you like is waning. To put this movie on par with Shinkai’s first three features would be disservice.
I do wish to say out right that while I did enjoy this movie I would put it last if I were to rank his works to date. Also at the screening of the movie I actually had the honour of meeting Shinkai himself. I had a brief chat through an interpreter, got a signed poster and was glad to meet such a great artist and personable individual. I feel that this should be kept in mind while reading what I thought of it, and that even the excitement of briefly meeting the man whose works I’ve thoroughly enjoyed didn’t do anything to effect my objectivity nor stop me from noticing the flaws within this movie.
I’ve no problem with a director trying something new but it shouldn’t be at the expense of what makes them great at what they do, this should be true of all artists. For example I’m not sure why he felt the need to change his signature character designs and animation style and the musical pieces weren’t as instantly memorable as the others from Voices or 5 Centimetres. Ghibli movies manage to maintain signature character designs and music while trying all kinds of different stories. Shinkai didn’t need to change that aspect of his film making while working on this movie. If it were just cosmetic changes that would ok but its so much more.
What really matters and what it always comes down to is plot and characters. To sum up it plainly, this movie lacks focus. One thing I’ve always liked about Shinkai is his minimalist approach to story telling. You can still tell a different type of story while maintaining a minimalist style. While this style is somewhat present in the first act it disappears soon afterward. The unfortunate result is a movie that doesn’t know whose story it’s supposed to be. And with some minor rewrites there are characters and respective plot points that are simply not needed. The most glaring example of this is the brothers Shin and Shun, there’s no reason at all why these two characters couldn’t have been the one person. It completely breaks the follow of a movie when you have two characters filling what is essentially the one role in separate halves of a movie.
In Shinkai’s pervious works he has managed to convey beautiful stories with small casts, each character had a purpose and it worked. As part of the new direction for this movie he decided expand to a larger cast of characters. The problem is the most of these characters either serve no real purpose in furthering the plot or appear so briefly that you wonder why they were included at all. Like apparently Shun and Shin have a sister named Seri, who was included in a scene for some reason. Another example would be Asuna's mother, instead of being the background parent like is generally case and what works for these types stories, the point was made to focus on the fact that she is a nurse who works lots of hours.
There are also some plot decisions that didn’t really make any sense. About halfway through the movie Asuna gets captured by these shadow creatures. As it turns out they wanted to kill her. Ok, so why the elaborate kidnapping scene, why bring her to another location and wait for her to wake up if killing her was the end goal. Then we have Mimi, a cute little cat who accompanies Asuna on her adventure. Instead of keeping Mimi as a simple companion like Teto in Nausicaa, Shinkai decided to include a plot point involving the cat that was completely unnecessary.
As I mentioned before the movie seems to have a hard time deciding whose story it’s supposed to be. At first you would assume it’s Asuna’s story as the whole first act is setting her up to be so. Then in the second act we get this guy Morisaki who is travelling with Asuna to Agartha to find a way to reunite with his wife, when his story began to dominate the movie I began to wonder why Asuna was even on this adventure first place.
Depending on the kind of anime fan you are, there is potential to question the appropriateness these two characters travelling alone together given their age. It probably wouldn’t be so obvious if it weren’t for a slightly creepy scene at the conclusion of Morisaki’s quest. Given the kind of stories that can be found in anime I’m willing to bet that there are people that either didn’t question this or didn’t even notice it. But the very existence of the Morisaki character brings us back to my original point of Shinkai’s telling good stories with small casts. This movie really should have simply been Asuna travelling with Mimi and Shin across Agartha, and that would have worked. No brother Shun and no Morisaki and his wife storyline. The movie would have worked so much better and would have complimented Shinkai’s style had the script been written to not include either of these characters. It would have attained the focus the movie so desperately needed.
Unfortunately Children who Chase Lost Voices was just too ambitious in scope for the kind of storyteller Shinkai is and ultimately it doesn’t hang together. As I said before it pains me to be so critical of this movie because I’m such a fan of his previous works. And even though it’s the wrong approach to take when trying to be impartial about a movie, I went into the screening of this movie really wanting to like it. Part of being fan is to recognise when your favourite works are missing mark and to not be afraid to admit it when it does. Be it anime, movies, TV, music or video games. Sometimes they’ll create great works and sometimes they won’t, and sometimes they’ll never return to when they were at their best. It’s just the way things go.
To end on a positive note I do think Children who Chase Lost Voices is worth your time and I will definitely buy it at some point, and maybe my opinion of the movie will improve after a second viewing. Here’s hoping Shinkai’s next work will be a return to form for this amazing director. read more
Mar 8, 2013
I have watched Hoshi no Koe, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, 5 centimeters per second, and this in row. And I felt this was probably the best.
I really felt the plot was great. It was fast paced. I felt that 5 centimeters made more of an impression on me because of the slower development though. After watching this, I realized Shinkai just does not like happy endings. There's no "distance" in the movie though, unlike his other works.
Shinkai lives up to his name. The animation was smooth, and the backgrounds were great. The light reflecting off the swords in battle, the realistic water, all felt great. I did felt that 5 centimeters had better art, although that's probably just because it relates to the real world more and had a chance to really show detail. The animation was probably the best among Shinkai's works.
Like this movie, I felt Tenmon was trying different elements as well. He departed from the usual piano scores, and a lot was based on more epic compositions. I don't know, maybe I didn't really like that, but it did fit the overall theme and setting of the film. I was kind of wavering between a 9 or a 10 for sound, but it was Tenmon so I gave it a 10. I hope that Shinkai-Tenmon partnership will be like Miyazaki-Hisaishi.
I gave this a 9 because the characters felt a bit overused. Sure, the villain wasn't cliché, but we have seen this kind of development a few times before. Asuna probably took a wrong turn at the Ghibli Studios and walked into this movie. However overused, they are still likable characters with realistic motives. A few characters could have been expanded a bit more, like the Ikozu, why her father had a Clavis, the Amaurot elder, and so on.
I suggest watching this at the highest possible resolution you can, because it is just that worth it.
I am now an avid fan of Shinkai. I hope he can keep up this level of quality in his works and really surpass Miyazaki.
This is my first review by the way, so... yea. read more
Dec 11, 2011
Disappointed! This is how I felt after I finished this film. Wanna know why?
1) The director
Makoto Shinkai is quite famous for his tragic romantic tales. Voices of a Distant Star and 5cm per Second are amongst the few romances even an uncaring bastard like myself enjoyed. So it was reasonable to expect yet another film regarding a tragic romance. Because, duh, Shinkai never made anything else. And to my amazement he now did. And it wasn’t good.
2) The studio
Studio Comix Wave is new but has made an impressive work so far. The thing is, with this film it feels like it is trying to rip-off Ghibli Studio instead of trying to find an identity or style of its own. I had to check three times to make sure this WASN’T a Ghibli production. I mean, IT IS SO ALIKE! In my mind there can be only one Ghibli and now I see someone trying to become its copycat? This is an outrage! Yes, pretty damn good visuals and soundtrack, but they all look and sound like a damn robbery from one of the most famous studios around. I couldn’t enjoy the overall film because of it.
3) The story
You think the similarities to Ghibli stop only at the visuals? Heck no, the story itself was a mix of various Ghibli works. At the same time it is hardly as captivating as those films, with far less context, complexity, interesting situations, and plot. So not only it is an imitation, it is also a bad one. If you just sit back and think of the plot of the film you will immediately realize how linear, simple, and eventually forgettable it was.
4) The characters
Not even one of the characters in the film is memorable or interesting. They all play their generic roles to the fullest yet none of them manage to stand out from their counterparts in a myriad other children fantasy stories. To the most part all you see is the heroine being chased around by monsters and being saved by a handsome fighter from a magical land. It couldn’t get any cornier. I saw fifty times more in the far similar premise of Escaflowne, where everyone there was far more complicating than he appeared to be at first. And in case you try to excuse it by saying this is a movie and not a series to demand drastic character development, then I will reply that in this case a movie should not be full of useless characters. Yet look at this, there is a whole school filled with children, a whole village filled with people, a WHOLE MAGICAL LAND FILLED WITH CREATURES and you get NOTHING out of them. They are just standing there, irrelevant to the main plot, and boring since they are not doing anything.
5) The motivation
There is no clear goal for most of the movie. The characters are running around almost apathetically, without really caring or making us care about whatever they want to accomplish. And even when they accomplish it, it feels hollow and pointless, without nothing interesting for you to remember about. There is absolutely no emotional engagement with whatever is going on in it.
Furthermore, the movie hardly tries to convince you of whatever happens. Monsters attack our world, the army attacks them with helicopters, and nobody in the surrounding areas besides the heroine takes notice of them. And then the movie ends and she returns and her mother has apparently popped in the story, and she keeps living her life like nothing matters. SO WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ALL THAT?
Although most viewers will probably just stare at the cool visuals and vote this a 9 or 10, I am a far harder to please man. I expect emotional engagement, development of the initial concept, some plot twist to be taken back for a few seconds, some characters who manage to escape their stereotype, something that doesn’t feel like a lesser rehash of older productions. Well I got none of the above in this one. It was hollow, boring, and made Makoto Shinkai to look like a failed Miyazaki wannabe when he always had his own style and identity. His specialty always was tragic romances, he was so good at it, he had no reason to stray off to something far more childish and stupid like this. Although he tried to pull of something similar here with the myth of Izanami and Izanagi, he failed completely to make it plausible and engaging. His previous works were all quite realistic to the most part, without silly magical powers to offer panacea to any problem encountered. But this? This is a stupid romantic fairy tale for little girls (yes, girls, not even boys) and one so generic that you will forget as soon as you watch the next generic fairy tale that comes along. Heck, watching a low-budget stupid Barbie 3D movie is more than enough to get over it!
COMPLETELY DISAPPOINTED! GO BACK TO REALISTIC ROMANCES SHINKAI! LEAVE BEHIND THESE STUPID MAGICAL LANDS! And above all DON’T TRY TO GROW A BEARD AND ACT LIKE MIYAZAKI! BE YOURSELF! read more
Nov 24, 2012
Jun 9, 2013
If you haven't seen this, there are many stories out there just like it. I suggest looking up Spirited Away or Kiki's Delivery Service for a more satisfying plotline. If you have ever seen Spirited Away, this has a similar feel, but with a less complicated plotline and more cliches.
That said, I found the story to be very compelling in its own right. The art is beautiful and unique, although many of the mythical creatures have an art style reminiscent of Avatar the Last Airbender and many of the other characters just look similar, which could get confusing. The scenery is amazing though; rolling hills and open skies are portrayed magnificently.
The ending of the thing was however completely anticlimactic and dissatisfying, so beware. I am personally left feeling like I could have stopped watching 5/6 of the way through and been far more satisfied than I am now. read more