Asuna Watase lives in a small village with her widower mother and tiny kitten Mimi. There is a warning about a bear in the area. While walking on a railroad bridge, she encounters a giant monster and is rescued by Shun. He's from a foreign land. Substitute teacher Ryuji Morisaki tells her about Agartha, an underground world of the dead. She goes looking for Shun, only to be met by another boy, and attacked by armed men called Archangels. They enter Agartha and one of the Archangels reveals himself to be Morisaki who is on a personal mission.
Filmmaker Makoto Shinkai definitely has some Hayao Miyazaki in him. Some of the creature designs are reminiscent of the master's work. This has many of those touches including a magical other world and a little girl protagonist. Morisaki does bug me starting with his exposition overload. Instead of letting the girl discover this world slowly, it comes at the audience like an avalanche. I also don't like him joining the quest. Asuna already has the same ultimate mission with her dead father. He's not necessary and also is a wet blanket to the wonderment of it all. Then the dark creatures come out of the ground. They are a great turn which adds a terrific spice to the story. This is a great world with a compelling lead. I could do without Morisaki and the Archangels but they're not that bad.
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