I was really surprised I enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Looking at the art style and quickly finding out it's school story about small children, and that it didn't heavily feature crudeness or violence, I thought for sure that I would be bored out of my mind.
I was wrong.
I watched this movie during my breaks at work and was thoroughly engrossed in everything Maruko set out to do. I recalled my own hope and desire to do really well at simple things at school and failing at them miserably. It made me remember the friendships that I had.
The "flatness" of some
of the characters' personality was acceptable because, as a kid, I only really made the effort to know a few people really well. It made their portrayal more believable. The flamboyant one, the ugly clown, the suck-up, the orderly teacher wannabe.
The movie did a great job of reminding me that childhood may seem easier as an adult, but for the kids living it it's just as serious and important to them that their lives go well. The ending isn't tragic in the usual sense, and though it is predictable it is very well set up and it was hard to avoid feeling for everyone involved.
I'd recommend this movie to anyone who looks back on childhood with a little bit of longing. The art style may seem simple but it is surprisingly well-acted, both through voice and animation. They are obviously exaggerations of third-graders, but it is nevertheless believable.