It’s 2am and I have a busy day that starts early tomorrow, so - what better time than to type out a couple lines worth of notes and impulsively decide to fill it out to full review length? You’re looking at a priority mastermind.
The art is amazing, as standard for Chizu. Anyone who grew up, like me, watching Hosoda’s other works (the first Digimon Movie, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, etc) will recognise the style in a heartbeat, and appreciate the airiness and consistently clean execution with a lot of character.
Voice actors could have used some .. tweaking, or changing altogether. Having a child of just 2-4 as the main character would call for an extremely young-sounding voice and this one at times sounded way too grown up or cohesive. Mature? I would have loved more personality, a little less polish around the edges, but that’s just personal preference - I can totally imagine how finding someone that young to reliably read lines or want to partake at all would be a struggle. It’s not a dealbreaker at all.
My cons all kind of .. merge, I guess, into this soup of general confusion about the film’s target audience. I don’t know who is supposed to be able to relate to the main character. If you write an annoying character competently, he’s still going to be annoying. Anyone close to around his age is too young to watch this film and anyone old enough to have children his age will most likely suffer a PTSD-esque flashbacks from the amount of crying and spoiled brattiness his character exhibits. They wrote this young kid really well, and that’s the problem. It’s unappealing in that sense - especially for someone who doesn’t find children (or their behaviour) cute, at all.This instead feels like the type of film that parents would go and laugh at and be able to relate to the positions of the exasperated parents, but judging how stressful and, at times, jarring the grown-up characters’ reactions are, it’s really hard to imagine any parental figure watching this film and willingly putting themselves back into those situations in their leisure. Just feels masochistic.
As a sidenote, though I appreciate that the father’s inattentiveness and the mother’s somewhat flippant / aggressive nature is later addressed (somewhat), I feel like the former didn’t get much in the way of development at all, and the latter came off as overly snappy in their petty arguments with little justification. I understand that just having given birth is a stressful time, and of course I’d rather prefer an accurate portrayal of home life than a sterilised, cookie-cutter perfect family that is often the case in other shows - but this happened more than once and it made the mother character feel unlikeable to me, personally. The main character had the same problem, but he had the excuse of being a toddler.
Overall, it was good to cross this off my list, and the core concept is a heartwarming chance to peer into the legacies and histories of a character’s extended family. I did cry a number of times - but that’s because I’m hyper-emotional when consuming media, and the subject of family remains a soft spot for me, it seems. I probably won’t watch it again or recommend it, but it was a good way to kill time. Watch it if you’re a Hosoda/Chizu fan, like kids, or if the subject of familial dynamics really gets you. Otherwise .. still give it a go. If the crying and selfishness gets to you, come join me in the realm of staying 100000 feet away from babies at all times. Forever.