Mamoru Hosoda is probably one of my favorite anime directors of all time. I know a lot of people tend to favor Miyazaki as there favorite director but him you kind of always knew what to expect, a small female child coming of age story and maybe a couple flying scenes thrown in there as well and it’s a Studio Ghibli movie.
With Hosoda and his animation studio, Studio Chizo you really don’t what to expect from his projects. Sure he seems still have some hang-ups with copying ideas from his first and probably most popular work on Digimon. In this movie, we see the return of magical portals and a brother-sister relationship that almost mirrors the one between the two main protagonists in Digimon Adventure 1999 short.
Still, Hosada has two strengths one of them being able to put in a relatable theme that’s easy to connect with. That being family and how even the littlest of moments that we encounter with them, make us who we are in the future and who our own families are down the line. I have to admit this movie does play it pretty safe because of this, it’s more of a series of scenes where Kun, a young toddler who copes with the arrival of his younger sister becomes frustrated then goes on a journey to help him learn empathy. I have to admit writing a young toddler is a very hard thing to do because you need to make them likable but also realistic to the point where you can tell that they are still learning. The movie does do a nice job as we follow Kun’s journey and we’re able to relate with him, it’s never made clear whether or not these adventures he is going on are all in his head or possibly even his little sisters which leaves the movie with a sense of intrigue as well. Plus they all tie back to the central theme of how all little moments in our lives are so important.
Still, this is probably the tamest movie that I have seen all year, aside from one slightly traumatic moment this movie is not scary or vulgar. At least if you’re an adult there are certain moments in the movie that I imagine might scare very young children, but I’d still strongly encourage viewing because of how much they can relate with.
Hosada’s other strength is his skill as both a writer and an animation director. The animation is nowhere near as experimental as Hosoda’s other works. Although there is this one scene where they are eating cake and I couldn’t help but stare at it wondering if it was just drawn into the movie so because it looked nice because it looked nothing like a cake I’ve ever seen. Instead of using abstract art it chooses to create beautiful background art featuring suburban Japan. The character models are also spot on we have your typical high-quality facial expressions and animated movement. What really caught my eye was the attention detail with the hair animation, they were actually willing to make consistent character models for certain scenes based entirely on the environment.
The premise does come off as a bit repetitive, as it consists of setting up and then some kind of journey for Kun, ut Hosoda manages to overcome that fault by keeping the setup subtle. Early in the movie, we have a scene from Kun’s point of view, his mother is having a conversation with his grandmother about a plot point later in the movie while his father and grandfather are having yet another side conversation. It is able to provide plot exposition along with establishing Kun’s point of view I certainly remember being frustrated as a child and not getting any attention. This type of subtlety and setting up a scene is a brilliant and perfect way to create a scene and I’ve never even seen anything like it before.
Overall I enjoyed the movie, probably not as much as Hosoda’s other works because of how safe this movie feels and not doing anything original plot-wise. What I really enjoyed was how it showed how much Hosoda is growing as a director and that he’s still learning new techniques to tell a story. I have not seen Wreck Ralph 2 or Into the Spiderverse yet but I sincerely hope those movies can be just as good as this one until then this is probably my favorite animated movie of 2018.
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