The story begins with Maquia, who is from a family where all the members stop aging in their mid teens. She has no parents and, although her days are peaceful, she feels lonely. Their peace is shattered when an army invades, seeking the secret to her people's immortality. Leilia, the most beautiful girl in her clan, is taken away, and the boy Maquia has secret feelings for disappears. Maquia is able to escape, but she loses her friends and her home. Wandering alone in the forest, she finds Erial, a baby boy who has lost his parents. The story follows the changing relationship between the two as Erial grows up and Maquia does not.
I've watched it 2 times in japan theater and i cried both time. And i have to say that:
[spoiler]Story: it've been a while since the last time i watched an anime that could make me cry like a baby ( only 3 anime could have done this to me). Not about romantic love but the love between the mother and her children. I bet that you all will find yourself in the movie.
Art: 1 word: out standing
Music: Same as above. The last song make me feel like its a mother's lullaby.
Well... I wanna meet my mom right now. [/spoiler]
I'm very lucky that my father is a movie critic as he, and by extension me, was invited to watch a early screening of the movie (also got to meet the women responsible for distributing MHA on DVD) but Its amazing. I cried. My dad (the most stoic person I know) cried his eyes out. All I can say is that it was outstanding. It's a bittersweet masterpiece about motherhood. The art is fantastic and while the story isn't the focus its still very good. The characters however. Brilliant. I still feel like crying 2 hours after its finished. They feel real. Too real for
my tiny heart to handle. Once again WATCH IT. I don't want to guarantee anything because I could be wrong but I would wager you will smile and bet far more that you will cry. Alot. Especially if your a parent. It's beautiful and I hope it remains a masterpiece for a long time.
Let's start with the obvious: Yes I did give this movie a bold 10/10.
I wasn't sure how to feel about it so I watched it twice in cinemas in Japan with a one week cool-off period in between both viewing.
Honestly, the first time it simply blew me away and stayed in my head non stop for like 3-4 days. This is a heavy statement but it is indeed one of the best animated movies I've ever watched. The second watching was in order to try to find flaws and to focus a bit more on small details of the plot and the music.
a bit the mess in my head, here goes:
Well, Mari Okada all right. She is known for her emotional stories and this one indeed enters the category just fiiiine!
The movie feels very long in a good way: The story, the world and places, the character development, the sub plots... All these elements adds up and fill the ensemble to the brim giving the impression to have lived and discovered a lot with the characters ; and that is one of the main strenghts here. Everything is well rounded and the difference of pace in the various plot elements do not leave any space to get bored. There is a well-balanced mix of emotional moments, intense action and everyday life organized in a non generic narrative structure, which I find very refreshing.
The theme developped is that of the relationship between mother and child. It is not a very common subject developped in detail and I really enjoyed the depth and various angles the movie takes to treat the subject.
Here, we have a very prestigious staff making characters and backgrounds.
For the characters, Akihiko Yoshida character designer on Final Fantasy and Granblue Fantasy did a great job in creating the various types of characters. Even with the adaptation done for animation, you still see his strong influence, especially on the astounding work done on the clothes that are very stylish, diverse and inspired. The resulting chara design is very simple and round on the faces which can be a bit unsettling at the beggining but very cute nonetheless.
About the background: the most prestigious animators of PA Works created incredible places helping to create a very rich world to discover. It is without a doubt the most impressive visual aspect on my end.
To conclude this section, the CGI: globally well done and integrated, some rare sequences stand out too much but it isn't much of a problem in my opinion.
Kenji Kawai is quite recognizable as a composer and you get that very easily here with the usual sound and instruments used. Nonetheless it is a very inspired soundtrack that come and goes with some very insistant themes that really shape the movie and the emotions. Also very well paced and used.
I am not gonna go in too much detail here because I don't wanna spoil the story but once again the characters are very well made, the vast majority of them are very logical in their motives, development and thought processes. The whole focus of the movie is obviously Maquia and Erial (or Ariel whatever) and their relashionship. So much so that you may feel that some secondary characters / subplots are not developped enough... Well it is indeed an argument but remember: It is the story of Maquia and Erial, so it is good the movie doesn't dwelve too much in various directions.
Enjoyment + conclusion:
Well I suppose this is clear enough already!
I very deeply enjoyed this movie that awed me and obsessed me for days on end. It has a compelling story with a not so common theme in a fantasy setting including memorable scenes and very well developped characters with whom you grow fond of very quickly. It gets very emotional towards the end, all thanks to that very well paced development and evolution throughout the film.
Beware, it is indeed a tear jerker and both times the whole room was crying at the end.
Also, in case it isn't clear enough already, this is not a family oriented movie, it is geared towards adults and some themes and element are quite dark and mature.
I've been trying to find flaws but putting aside very minor stuff, I don't see any major problems. Add to that the overwhelming impact of all the goodness I developed above and you get a masterpiece to be remembered. Hence the 10/10.
Not everybody is gonna like it the way I did but if you are okay with emotional stories and fantasy, please give Sayoasa a go without hesitation and you won't be disappointed.
The art for this series is fantastic. Backgrounds, buildings, and landscapes are all works of art. The characters, on the other hand, are not so great. I hope they improve them for the Blu-ray release.
The voice acting was pretty good, but there were a couple places that had me wondering how it passed pre-screening.
The story starts out kinda slow, kinda jumps to a bit of action, then slows again. There is a lot of character growth, and you do get attached to them.
Finally, this movie is an emotional rollercoaster. I usually don’t cry in movies, but this
one had the whole theater (including me) crying at the end.
Overall, I would say it is worth seeing at least once, maybe even worth buying. But I can’t see myself going to watch it a second time in theaters, mainly because I don’t think my heart can take it.