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  • Since Hoshi no koe I've been a big fan of Makoto Shinkai and I always find his movies so beautiful that make him the only anime producer who is comparable with Miyazaki Hayao. For his latest work "Children who chase voice from deep below", the story settings and the characters are quite different from his previous works. The idea is likely inspired by the many old myths like the story of Orpheus, who traveled to the underworld and by his music softened the hearts of Gods. Yet "Children who chase voice from deep below" keeps on the track with Shinkai's previous works in discussing loneliness of human beings, but unlike "5 centimetres per second", with hope and love this time.

    The music, once again, is perfect and the scenes are delicate and tender. When watching this you find yourself immersed in a dream-like situation where the sky and the trees and the world are of the beauty that far beyond your imagination. Shinkai created perfect environments, the moving wind and the colourful insects, every single detail in every single scene is fantastic. The plot line is a romantic imagination. It portrays a journey of finding hope and love after the every loss throughout our life. It's a reflection of life with fantasy elements. To recover from immense sorrow and stand up again and look forward to the future. I love the message the movie brought to me. However, the story does have flaws. The pace of some parts is too slow while of some parts is too fast. It can be explained by looking at the length of the movie, which is of the longest in Shinkai's works. And obviously, he still has to look for better ways to deal with a "long" movie. Besides it is a pity that Shinkai abandons his talent on talking about modern city life but tries to give a tribute to Miyazaki Hayao by duplicating many elements in Ghibli's anime movies. I have this impression because while watching I thought of Miyazaki Hayao's works like "Princess Mononoke" and "Laputa" in several occasions, yet not as good as those works. A good try with rooms for improvement. After all,however, I still love this film. It reminds me of the beauty in our life. I am particularly touched while on the edge of death the girl Asuna recounts every person in her life she is loved by and says, "After all it was only because of my loneliness." It moves me so much that how our every day will be if we treasure the people still beside us instead of looking for someone or something that is so abstract and beyond our reach. If you love Shinkai, go watch it. It is, definitely, a touching piece for all of us.
  • "Your Name" ended up being one of my favorite movies of last year, and one of my favorite anime of all time, so I went into this film with relatively high expectations, and as a result, I was slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong; this movie has a lot of things going for it. I loved the melancholic, almost lazy piano music that plays for the majority of the film- it creates a magical atmosphere that works wonders with the animation style and overall arc of the story. The way that characters and creatures are designed is memorable, and sometimes it's even a little bit frightening and bizarre, but that totally worked for me. The landscapes are beautiful and sometimes strange (though we never quite reach the level of artistic mastery that came with "Your Name"). There were some parts where I really felt for the characters, and then there were other times when I was quite bored.
  • So I guess I wasn't the only one really excited about Shinkai's new release, "Hoshi o ou Kodomo". With his previous work like "Kumo no mukô, Yakusoku no Basho", "Byôsoku 5 Senchimêtoru" and "Hoshi No Koe" Makato Shinkai has never ceased to impress us with the visual detail and animated scenery, a wonderful blend of color and light that breathes life into the dreamlike landscapes. If you're familiar with his previous films you know what to expect visually, but now to the actual content.

    Unfortunately, "Hoshi o ou Kodomo" doesn't share the same uniqueness as say "Kumo no mukô, yakusoku no basho" and "Hoshi No Koe". I could notice resemblance and inspiration from a couple of films, especially Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke". I even thought of Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker" at some points, with the resemblance of the two main characters setting out on a journey through unknown, otherwordly plains, being lonely and in mourning, seeking to make their strongest wishes come true. This is of course the case in most films and in the creation of any aesthetic work, the artist creates something new under the influence of others whether they want it or not. Especially when it comes to film, which affect us on many levels, changing our thought patterns and point of view. The story was compelling and had me engaged from beginning to end. I'm weak when it comes to these spiritual and existential messages and symbolism often presented in Japanese cinema, especially in animations.

    "Hoshi o ou Kodomo" is certainly no exception with a centered theme of life and death and the mysterious rumours of a world within the Earth, a place where ancient knowledge and memories dwell, and ancient divine entities wander the land, who used to give guidance to humankind. This film can be interpreted in many different ways, this was mine. The soundtrack is both ethereal and powerful, intertwining with the visuals in a flawless way.

    To summarize, Shinkai's new work is a touching and compelling tale of friendship, love and hatred, truth, deceit, but foremost about letting go.

    "Hoshi o ou Kodomo" is without any doubt a worthy addition to Makato Shinkai's previous works.

    My rating: 8/10
  • Every culture has a story about the Underworld, where the souls of the dead reside and where, sometimes, the living can find their way in hopes of bringing a loved one back to life. In "Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below," Agartha is the name of that Underworld, and when young Asuna (voiced by Hisako Kanemoto) finds herself interacting with a boy from Agartha, Shun (voiced by Miyu Irino), her whole world is changed. Shun saves her from a frightening creature, but then he himself is killed. In the meantime, the substitute teacher taking over for the regular teacher of Asuna's class, Mr. Morisaki (voiced by Kazuhiko Inoue), is all-too-familiar with stories from and about Agartha, and he is determined to get there in order to bring his wife, dead 10 years, back to the world of the living. But the balance of all the worlds depends on such things not happening, and there are many forces arrayed against Mr. Morisaki and young Asuna who has willingly joined him in his quest, for she hopes to find a living Shun. Instead she finds Shun's younger brother, Shin (also voiced by Miyu Irino), whose loyalties and desires are not perhaps favourable to Asuna....

    Anime is Japan's version of "cartoons," although they tend to be much more complex and beautiful than Hanna-Barbera ever thought of, and this is one very beautiful piece of work. The images are exquisite and the colours are wonderful, the underworld of Agartha is just as real as the everyday world Asuna initially inhabits. And the storyline, essentially a meditation on letting go of the past while still being free to mourn lost loved ones, is much more resonant for adults than for kids. The writer and director, Makoto Shinkai, has been compared with the great anime master, Hayao Miyazaki, and while those are mighty shoes indeed to fill, Shinkai's work has the same kind of gentleness and beauty; he is surely a talent to watch for in the coming years. A beautiful film, and well worth seeking out.
  • According to Japanese anime director Makoto Shinkai, his latest film Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below is a study of "how people are connected" and the relationship between individuals. Although the film is designed primarily for a young audience, adult themes of love and loss abound in its story of mourning lovers attempting to reach out to them across the dimensions. Its theme can also be said to encompass the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism: Life is full of suffering, suffering is caused by attachment, release from suffering is attainable, and there is a path to the end of suffering. Here, the path is setting your loved one free and "saying hello" to a world without them.

    Nominated for best animated feature at the Asian Pacific Screen Awards in 2011, the film takes us on a journey to a land deep below the surface of the Earth, the legendary country called Agartha where it is rumored the dead can be brought back to life. Unlike other visionary depictions of mythical kingdoms, Agartha has no magical cities of gold with tall towers and futuristic technology, but rather a rural environment of towns and villages in which mundane life appears similar to those who are called the "topsiders", those who live on the surface (us).

    Supported by the ethereal soundtrack of Tenmon, the plot centers around the quest of a young girl of around 11 or 12 named Asuna Watase (Hisako Kanamoto) to find the mythical Agartha, talked about by her substitute teacher, Ryugi Morisaki (Kazuhiko Inoue). Mirroring the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice and its Japanese equivalent, the myth of Izanagi and Izanami, Morisaki longs to travel to Agartha to find his deceased wife Lisa and bring her back with him to Earth. Asuna has also lost a loved one. Her father died when she was little, compelling her mother to work long hours as a nurse. Lonely and withdrawn, she spends her time after school in her private mountain retreat listening to the crystal radio her father had given her.

    One day, after hearing beautiful and strange music from her radio, she meets a young boy with supernatural powers named Shun (Miyu Irino), who saves her from the attack of a ferocious bear-like creature. Returning the next day, Shun tells her that he is from Agartha, a land deep inside the core of the hollow Earth. Surprised by a blessing from Shun in the form of a kiss on the forehead, Asuna leaves suddenly but when she comes back the following day, she learns sadly that Shun, while trying to reach for the stars, has fallen off a ledge and died.

    Telling her story to Mr. Morisaki, the teacher informs her that in the ancient times, humans were guided by creatures known as "Quetzalcoatls," a name we know from Mesoamerican history as the Aztec God called the "Feathered Serpent" who, according to legend, promised to return one day to lead his people. When Asuna once again returns to her hiding place, she discovers a boy who looks like Shun but who claims to be his brother Shin (Irino). Morisaki poses as a warrior of the group called the Arch Angels, those who want to reach Agartha but are interested only in its wealth and superior knowledge. Morisaki, however, simply wants to find his dead wife Lisa.

    Using a device known as a "clavis," he and Asuna enter the underground realms and begin their travel to the Gate of Life and Death, "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns." The journey through the subterranean realms is filled with both beauty and the obligatory horror, the norm for sci-fi adventure stories for children. Asuna and Morisaki are attacked by fearful long-toothed monsters (children must have their nightmares), and have to rely on the powers of Shin to save them, even though he had been given the task of retrieving the "clavis" which they possess.

    The remainder of the film is filled with numerous plot twists and turns that introduce other characters and some of it can be confusing. The viewer is treated, however, to ravishing visuals that invoke the experience of dimensions far beyond our limited reality. Ultimately, Morisaki and Asuna are forced to choose whether or not they wish to pursue their goal in Agartha or let go and surrender to the wisdom of the universe, and the theme song of the film by Anri Kumaki, "Hello, Goodbye and Hello," exquisitely embraces the conflicting emotions the characters feel.

    Whether or not you have recently lost a loved one, you may find the tears hard to resist. Lost Voices is the first of Shinkai's films that I have seen and it definitely encourages me to see more. Comparisons of Shinkai's themes and style have been made with those of Hayao Miyazaki, but since I have only seen one of Miyazaki's films, I will leave the comparisons to others and just enjoy the warm glow of Shinkai's stunning achievement.
  • J-bot69 July 2016
    This film was a pleasant surprise to find and watch. The story is compelling, the Japanese voice acting is excellent, and the level of imagination is fantastic.

    I was struck by the sheer attention to detail in this film: gradual changes in daylight within individual scenes, subtle dirt and weathering, precise animation of water effects, accurate animation of wildlife, and excellent use of light and color. These little extras did not go unnoticed. All of this helps to create a richer visual experience.

    The characters were interesting and quite nuanced and the musical score suits the film well.

    Now here's what really surprised me.... This is the director's first full-length feature and first time working with the larger-scale studio system. Couple this with the fact that he's a young director and you have someone with a very strong career ahead of him.

    The style of this film is similar to that of Miyazaki, and this is intentional. Miyazaki's style was chosen because it is recognized worldwide and it has proved itself effective for dramatic story-telling. Watching the behind-the-scenes information for this film was fascinating and it was amazing to see how young the crew were. Certainly there is a great deal of talent in Japan today -- talent willing to make 'classic' high-production-value anime. And for that I'm grateful. The next generation is sure to enjoy animation of the level that I enjoyed in my youth.

    In summary, I like this film a lot and I highly recommend it. If I were to nitpick this movie, I'd say that a few scenes were cut short a tiny bit too soon. I recommend the director watch the director's commentary for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. In there is a discussion about holding the camera at the end of a scene and why it's important for dramatic shots. I should also mention that although this is an animated film, there are scenes of violence and some sequences that children may find frightening.

    So if you're a fan of Miyazaki's work or simply a fan of imaginative drama and fantasy films, be sure to check this one out.
  • SnoopyStyle30 September 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    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.
  • WatchedAllMovies4 August 2013
    So so
    Warning: Spoilers
    This anime has the same visual style as Miyazaki's animes (Studio Ghibli), same facial expressions, same hair, same running arm movements. Even one of the monsters kind of have the same look as the one in Spirited Away.

    As for the story, it's mediocre. The main characters do not have close relationships with each other, and there is no plot twist. Just a girl decided to venture into an underground world because a boy she just met was found dead and she thought she could revive him by going there.

    If I can only watch half the movie, I probably wouldn't miss the rest of it. It's a pity they spent all these effort to make an anime without first finding a better script. Perhaps it has deeper meaning for Japanese audience that I failed to see.
  • I have been such a huge fan of Ghibli studio that i was not aware there was anything that could compare to such classic masterpieces the likes of Mononka and spirited away. But Makoto Shinkai, children who chase lost voices was amazing. It is very similar to Ghibli although different at the same time.

    I love the animation, the storyline is very mature and deals with difficult issues such as, loss of loved ones, independence and making life changing decisions. I can imagine this would perhaps be a little scary for a young child to watch. I am 26 and thought at times it became a little too dark and intense. Such an original story line and original characters.

    I prefer Japanese animi to Disney and American movies as the content is usually very childish and brain dead. Japanese animi really does deal with issues that some contemplate often. Life, death, love and friendship.

    I can not wait to watch more from Makoto Shinkai. I rate this in the top 10 best Japanese animi :D
  • Shinkai is one of the most talented auteurs working in the medium of animation. This is his third feature length film and it is his longest and most complex film to date. Instead of the more current anime style of 5 centimeters per second this one features the classic japanimation style of Ghibli's films.

    The best thing about this film are the visuals: indeed one of the most beautiful films I have ever watched, each second of this film is pure visual joy. However, the rest of the film is not up to the standards set by the visuals.

    Indeed, this film is a homage to Miyazaki in every way possible. The main plot is derived from Castle in the Sky (which I think is Shinkai's favorite film), while there are several scenes taken directly from Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa. The cat/creature mimi, for instance, is obviously derived from Teto while Asuna looks almost like Satsuki from My Neighbor Totoro.

    However, despite being highly unoriginal the film works very well. It is not as powerful as 5 Centimeters per Second but it is richer visually and thematically.
  • This is Shinkai's finest film to date, a hard feat to achieve given his previous work. From the very first scene to the very last it is a visual masterclass that puts all other Anime Films in it's shadow in terms of beauty. Shinkai has really gone to great length's to make this film come alive with colour, artistry & technicality that will take your breath away.

    Tenmon is a regular in Shinkai's works & as always his soundtrack is perfect, beautiful in places & even more beautiful in others it is a real gem that will tug on your heartstrings which brings me nicely to the story of this film. This film is all about losing someone & how hard it is to say goodbye to them, it will move u emotionally (like all of his work), even with the moments of happiness & lightheartedness thrown in this is still a serious film about loneliness & the grieving of losing loved ones which is not going to be to everyones taste.

    if u have watched Shinkai's previous works then yes this is as good as u hoped & more so, it is part Shinkai & part Miyazaki, it is an Epic Fantasy Adventure crossed with the Poetic Ethereal beauty u come to expect from Makoto Shinkai films.

    This film will have it's critics like all films do but like all films U should be the one to make your own mind up, i think this is the best film i have ever watched & in my honest opinion it may only be bettered by Makoto Shinkai's next work, what ever it may be :) 10/10.

    PS. To all the people comparing parts of this film to parts of Miyazaki's best works please listen to what u are saying... anything that can be compared to those films needs to be applauded & i'm sure that if Miyazaki has seen this film he will be happy that he has left a legacy of film makers that will continue to produce stunning Anime Films like this one for many years to come.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Visually, this movie is absolutely stunning. The scenery and animation are pieced together beautifully and a real joy to gaze upon. However, story wise this is far from original, which makes it less enjoyable for me. There are elements of Studio Ghibli films splashed all over this movie (specifically Nausicca, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, etc.), even completely taken from. Also a hint of Full Metal Alchemist.

    Whether this is a Miyazaki homage or not, this is far from original.

    The story dives into the idea of death, resurrection, loneliness; while it is an interesting take on what the underworld may be, the complications of life and dealing with loss and such wasn't properly executed in my put it bluntly, I was not too impressed with Children Who Chase Lost Voices. This movie is okay and enjoyable, and I did enjoy the idea of going to another world and experiencing beautiful things (who doesn't?!) but overall this movie was a bit of a bore for me. Still, give it a look.

    Story is a no go for me but visuals and animation is a solid 10/10.

    Sorry, this is my first review ever on this site. It may not be as reliable as the the others on this movie so far, but it's my honest opinion.
  • This is a nice little movie notable primarily for its visual beauty. The story is loosely constructed but engaging, the mythical creatures are imaginative, and the whole thing is, while not especially memorable, generally enjoyable.

    On the other hand, I felt the movie kept implying things and then just dropping them. A mysterious boy's statements to the girl seem fraught with meaning, suggesting some back story that is then never revealed. A strange crystal also must have some sort of history, but what? It's as the movie has unplumbed depths.

    This may be the reason that at the end I didn't have the feeling of satisfaction I experience at the end of other movies (like the films of Miyamota). There is something absent from this one. But it's still a nice movie.
  • I discovered Shinkai's movies because of 5 centimeters per second. A film that struck me deep, and which I really loved because of it. I bought his earlier works, but didn't like them as much. I had high hopes for his new movie, this one, but seeing the themes and the more magical world it would play in, I was a little disappointed. Still I did watch it, together with my brother, because we also enjoy Miyazaku movies.

    The movie is visually very stunning. It's the best animation I have seen, so pretty. I would give it a 10 for that.

    The story, like many other Japanese movies, contain a lot of "what the heck ?" moments, where sudden emotional states of the characters are totally not relatable, or feelings seem weirdly suddenly deep. It makes you wonder about how Japanese people/culture handles emotions and feelings, and if Japanese people themselves can relate to the characters in the movie. Miyazaku movies have the seem issue, like protagonists feeling sudden love for someone they just met for a few seconds...

    The story itself contains some mythological elements, and it left me wondering if those elements are more familiar to Japanese people or are embedded in Japanese culture. However, it's always nice to see a more unfamiliar story arc. Negative point is that much is introduced without really explaining things, and therefor you are left with a lot of questions about things.

    I thought the minor violence in the movie is a bit negative because of the graphical display of it. I don't think that was needed.

    It's not as good as 5 centimeters, but bearable. Really hope Shinkai will return to it's non- fantasy setting in his next movie.
  • Blending elements of fantasy, sci-fi & romance into an ambitious coming-of-age tale, Children Who Chase Lost Voices truly astonishes on a technical scale but it's also marred in the storytelling department, for its structure is a mess and the plot is overlong. And the longer it goes, the more tedious it becomes. An extravagant effort from Makoto Shinkai that unfortunately isn't as rewarding as expected.
  • nicolechan91618 May 2016
    First off, the animation and visuals in this film are quite stunning. The landscape shots are spectacular and breathtaking. The colours are vibrant and really bring the world of the film to life. The human characters, though are seemingly normal, is what Japanese anime is known for. To have average looking human characters that imply could be anyone. The other creatures in the film are appropriately strange as characteristic of Japanese anime.

    The narrative is also equally strange. It has a very dark tone to it, and the topics of life and death add to the darkness. What I like about Japanese animation is that they aren't afraid to make the characters 'human' in the sense that each and everyone of them has flaws. You might think you have grasped a character, but then the film goes deeper and adds another element to them. Unlike Hollywood characters who are usually one dimensional (what you see is what you get), these characters show sides of themselves that are unpredictable and that come up at the end.

    Additionally, a popular theme for Japanese anime films is that of the coming of age story - especially involving female protagonists. I don't think I actually know a coming of age anime that has a male protagonist...I'm not sure what this implies. Going off that, there is a lack of important female characters in this film (apart from the protagonist) which I dislike.

    The soundtrack is, for the most part, soothing and complements the narrative well. With the fighting scenes, it sometimes felt like an action movie. Those scenes are well done in terms of animation, visual effects and music accompaniment.

    Overall, an interesting film though it did at times make me wonder what in the world I was watching (Japanese cinema tends to make me think that). The animation is great and the characters likable. However, it can be quite slow at times and may be hard to get absorbed into the narrative.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The animation is undeniably first class. I wavered between "gorgeous" and "very pretty" whilst watching. As much as I wanted to give this film better marks, though, it's impossible to get past the sheer silliness of the script. Its unlovely bones are a jumbled mishmash of legends, myths, and tired tropes.

    Cartoonish eruptions of mindless video-game violence don't help either. Why in the world must a helicopter gunship and masked villains be thrust into the action? Further on, the big fellow who seeks his lost love has an amazing ability to pluck various supplies out of thin air, such as a bulky submachine gun that very clearly wasn't hiding under his clothes or in a backpack that he didn't even have with which to begin. The insulting suggestion of unlimited ammunition made its sly appearance as well. :/

    Without belaboring painful plot holes and numerous other problems, the entire production is a disappointing betrayal of the promise of delight held forth by the introduction of so many potentially rich ideas. It's as if a group of educated but stoned scriptwriters dashed this off near midnight of the day before the final deadline, and the producer sighed and did what was possible to lavishly illustrate a chaotic mess. Frankly, virtually the only bright spot other than the outstanding art was the combination of an entirely sympathetic heroine and her believably loving mother. I expected better. Much better. -_-
  • ThatAnimeSnob11 September 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    So this girl sees these monsters and is saved by a boy from the underworld. And she goes there, and she is chased around by some freaks and… What is the point of all this? Disappointed! This is how I felt after I finished this film. Wanna know why?

    1) The director Makoto Shinkai is quite famous for his tragic romantic tales. Voices of a Distant Star and 5cm per Second are among st the few romances even an uncaring bastard like myself enjoyed. So it was reasonable to expect yet another film regarding a tragic romance. Because, duh, Shinkai never made anything else. And to my amazement he now did. And it wasn't good.

    2) The studio Studio Comics Wave is new but has made an impressive work so far. The thing is, with this film it feels like it is trying to rip-off Ghibli Studio instead of trying to find an identity or style of its own. I had to check three times to make sure this WASN'T a Ghibli production. I mean, IT IS SO ALIKE! In my mind there can be only one Ghibli and now I see someone trying to become its copycat? This is an outrage! Yes, pretty damn good visuals and soundtrack, but they all look and sound like a damn robbery from one of the most famous studios around. I couldn't enjoy the overall film because of it.

    3) The story You think the similarities to Ghibli stop only at the visuals? Heck no, the story itself was a mix of various Ghibli works. At the same time it is hardly as captivating as those films, with far less context, complexity, interesting situations, and plot. So not only it is an imitation, it is also a bad one. If you just sit back and think of the plot of the film you will immediately realize how linear, simple, and eventually forgettable it was.

    4) The characters Not even one of the characters in the film is memorable or interesting. They all play their generic roles to the fullest yet none of them manage to stand out from their counterparts in a myriad other children fantasy stories. To the most part all you see is the heroine being chased around by monsters and being saved by a handsome fighter from a magical land. It couldn't get any cornier. I saw fifty times more in the far similar premise of Escaflowne, where everyone there was far more complicating than he appeared to be at first. And in case you try to excuse it by saying this is a movie and not a series to demand drastic character development, then I will reply that in this case a movie should not be full of useless characters. Yet look at this, there is a whole school filled with children, a whole village filled with people, a whole magical land filled with creatures and you get nothing out of them. They are just standing there, irrelevant to the main plot, and boring since they are not doing anything.

    5) The motivation There is no clear goal for most of the movie. The characters are running around almost apathetically, without really caring or making us care about whatever they want to accomplish. And even when they accomplish it, it feels hollow and pointless, without nothing interesting for you to remember about. There is absolutely no emotional engagement with whatever is going on in it.

    6) Plausibility Furthermore, the movie hardly tries to convince you of whatever happens. Monsters attack our world, the army attacks them with helicopters, and nobody in the surrounding areas besides the heroine takes notice of them. And then the movie ends and she returns and her mother has apparently popped in the story, and she keeps living her life like nothing matters. So what was the point of all that?

    Although most viewers will probably just stare at the cool visuals and vote this a 9 or 10, I am a far harder to please man. I expect emotional engagement, development of the initial concept, some plot twist to be taken back for a few seconds, some characters who manage to escape their stereotype, something that doesn't feel like a lesser rehash of older productions. Well I got none of the above in this one. It was hollow, boring, and made Makoto Shinkai to look like a failed Miyazaki wannabe when he always had his own style and identity. His specialty always was tragic romances, he was so good at it, he had no reason to stray off to something far more childish and stupid like this. Although he tried to pull of something similar here with the myth of Izanami and Izanagi, he failed completely to make it plausible and engaging. His previous works were all quite realistic to the most part, without silly magical powers to offer panacea to any problem encountered. But this? This is a stupid romantic fairy tale for little girls (yes, girls, not even boys) and one so generic that you will forget as soon as you watch the next generic fairy tale that comes along. Heck, watching a low-budget stupid Barbie 3D movie is more than enough to get over it!

    Completely disappointed! Go back to realistic romances Shinkai! Leave behind there stupid magical lands! And above all don't try to grow a beard and act like Miyazaki. Be yourself.
  • A young adolescent girl that is both virginally cute, intelligent and strong willed goes into a world that anyone would have believed it a fantasy, filled with weird and wonderful beings, demons and guardians alike. Sounds familiar? It is incredibly difficult to believe this is not one of Ghibli's productions, as it copies the character, story and animation styles from Hayaio Miyazaki's films, like Princess Mononoke or Howl's Moving Castle.

    The story, however, is a little bit lopsided. The apparent gravity defying feats of characters that otherwise are completely human or some of the underworkings of the hollow Earth world of Agartha are completely unexplained. Some things seem to happen just because they need to and some happen without any relevance to the story or mood of the film.

    Still very good animation and storyline, though. I recommend it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a hugely ambitious piece of work. It scores highly on design, and the attempts at creating a fleshed out setting are clear, but numerous unexplained plot conveniences, an overly long run time, and the constant sense that you've seen this done better, ultimately prevent this from standing out from the crowd.

    The Ghibli parallels are striking. The design of the lead characters (cute, furry sidekick included), the musical cues, and the lush green landscapes. Even more so is the look, feel, even movement, of the numerous supernatural beings. Labelling them Ghibli off casts would be too harsh, but to call them anything other than "heavily inspired by" would be ignoring a patent truth.

    That's not to say the influences are a problem. For the most part the film looks gorgeous. What held it back mostly was the lack of satisfying development of the Underworld's back story. There was no shortage of explanations, but it was exposition heavy and generally raised more questions. Why did the surface kings and emperor's need to use the Underworld's knowledge and treasure to rule? How did they do so? If their pillaging went on for hundreds of years, why did it take the Underworld so long to decide, at the drop of a hat, to keep them out? And where did those crystals come from suddenly? Asuka's nonsensical behaviour, like chilling on her backside until the sun went down, despite having to get somewhere before the night demons came out, was really jarring. It was impossible to relate to her need to sit and ponder her plight (or perhaps she was just tired) when there was deadly danger she was fully aware of, had just been reminded to avoid. The drying up of a river when it provided the only form of defence was obviously for dramatic effect, but running further and further into increasingly thinning water, when it was the only form of protection, is not something any sane human being would do.

    These were not the only plot holes, and unfortunately there were enough to take me out of the film and have me making a mental note to rewatch some Ghibli. The overriding message of coping with loss was not a bad one, but the overall narrative was clunky and not emotionally engaging. I doubt I'll recall much of this film two or three weeks down the line, and will unlikely ever rewatch it. It did look pretty, though.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I guess my expectations after watching "5 centimeters per second" were too high, that's why I was a little bit disappointed with "Hoshi ...".

    The story line is not that original as "5 centimeters" or "The Place Promised in Our Early Days". I can see scenes which are based on "Princess Mononoke", "Spirited Away", "Kaze no tani no Naushika". It looks like Shinkai watched all Hayao Miyazaki pictures just before making his own. Of course story line is not based on any of those, but some scenes, characters or plots are. There is also possibility that all are based on the same mythology or same symbolism that European person like me is not similar with, but I guess you can see lot of analogies with other anime movies. But this is not that bad, story is still very absorbing, you cannot wait to see what's gonna happen next, and you wait for the happy ending. My rate for the story is 7.5.

    But as you can expect visual side of this movie is masterpiece. I'm going to watch it second time today, just to see how great those scenery is, how nice is play of the light, how detailed world is. Landscapes made by Shinkai are something like French impressionistic paintings (especially Monet's) but they are much more detailed, with better colours and lighting. I'm not big fan of character animation in this movie (or anime character animation generally) so it not impress me much. But still the whole picture is rated 10. GREAT.

    Music is another Tenmon line. It's somewhere in the background, not killing reception of visual side. I think it's accurate, sometimes it reminds me "5 centimeters .." sound track, but it's different. It fits here great, but it's a bit less then visual side. So my rate is 9.

    I thought that movie gonna be better than any Shinkai movie or any anime at all, but for me it's not. I guess this is because of story line. It's touching but not that touching as "Grave of Fireflies" or "5 centimeters". I got tears in my eyes like twice watching this and yes I lost someone close too so I should feel the empathy for the characters, but I didn't fully. But my expectations are always very high, so there is no doubt they were too high here. Anyway great movie, guess one of the best movies of 2011 (or the best).

    Final score is 9.
  • Makoto Shinkai is the rising star of the past decade in the anime world. Those who are familiar with his previous films, such as "Voices of a Distant Star" and "5 Centimeters Per Second" know him for his borderline photo-realistic animation and bittersweet stories of unfulfilled love. In many ways, this film continues that dialogue, however in a manner that is far more comparable to the traditional anime.

    The story, based heavily off of the Japanese myth of Izangai and the underworld (Shinkai studied classic Japanese literature in college), tells of a young girl who hears a distant tune through her radio receiver as she escapes monotonous, lonely everyday life in the woods. One day on her way to her hide out, a "bear" (who is really a spiritual guardian) attacks her on the bridge and she is saved by a mysterious boy. The boy receives an injury during her rescue, and is found days later dead in the river. She ventures into a fantastical underworld-- Agartha--with her teacher, who is seeking to revive his lost wife. The story beautifully conveys the permanent loneliness of loss.

    Many have compared it to Studio Ghibli's films, calling it a "ripoff" or "copy" of Hiyo Miyazaki's masterpieces. While, no doubt, this is inspired and comparable to Miyazaki, it is very different in many, many ways. First of all, it is a bit more mature thematically than most of Miyazaki's works. Second of all, the animation is stylistically different (opting more for light-oriented realism) and the plot develops a lot slower and more deliberately than what one expects from Miyazaki.

    Thus complete par- for-par comparisons between the two are misguided. If you approach the film expecting a Miyazaki aspiration, you will be disappointed and that's not the point. It is more like a wondrous marriage of Shinkai's signature melancholy, introspective, cerebral style and Miyazaki's fantastical grandeur. Despite the differences, with this film Sinkai has shown us that if there is one director that can take the tradition Miyazaki and Ghibli has established into the next century it is he.

    The strongest points of the film include Shinkai's greatly improved character rendering--though, not perfect, far better than his previous efforts. Wonderfully executed plot that develops in a slow, well-thought out manner. Sometimes in such stories of fantasy, directors let the plot get away from them, progressing it far too quickly; however, Shinkai kept the pace at the established rate. The character development was incredible as well.

    He also absolutely wonderful scenes of what film critic Robert Ebert has deemed "pillow scenes"--short, inconsequential shots such as a dragonfly on the water, or bird in the sky, or tree out a window--to take a quick breather in between important scenes. They are not only absolutely wonderfully animated, but put in to make the plot feel more natural, progress more realistically and, in this case, give the film a cerebral aesthetic which only adds to the movement of the audience. Though an important feature of many great anime movies, this is probably the film I've seen them used the most effectively. In his past films, Shinkai's over-used them, but had just the right amount in this one It's partially Shinkai's masterful control of lighting and photo realism, I found myself pausing and rewinding at times just to admire an inconsequential butterfly or shimmering sky.

    This is probably only the third anime movie I've given 10 stars, but it deserves every last one of them. Highly recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I remember this movie during the summer of 2017, I came across a thump nail of this and had a weird creature with too kids in front of it. I don't think this video is still on youtube. It took me about 3 weeks to finally watch this film and it is one of the best animated fantasy films I've seen. Though too me thats not saying that much as theres not that many animated films that are full blown fantasy.

    I saw this film on September 14th.

    The film circles around Asuna who goes on an adventure in Agartha the land of the dead, with her mysterious substitute teacher Morisaki who is here to resurrect his dead wife, and a boy named Shun.

    I watched the first half of the movie being very enjoyed. It doesn't take long for our characters to get to Agartha. One thing I like are the creature designs in Agartha. One of them the Quetzalcoatl magic creatures that are about to die out. Its a weird abstract creature that carries dead souls to heaven. It was the first thing I ever saw this in this movie as it was on the Youtube thumbnail, I didn't notice Shun and Asuna until later.

    Pros: 1. The creature design. 2. Agartha, its like the Lord of the rings if it went to heaven. 3. The design of the Gate of life of death looks great. It looks like an airship in the day and a giant million eye creature that can ressurect the dead. But for a price. It's like the forest spirit. Human faced goat creature at day, and Nightwalker at night. 4. The action is just fun too watch, especially with the chase scene from the Izoku, and Shun fighting those guards near the end. 5. Other stuff I forgot to mention but will mention later.

    Cons: 1. Despite what i said above there are some problems some being a bit of the second half of the movie. We got a whole bunch of backstory in this place in about a minuet and it doesn't really amount to anything in the end. This movie became a comic but I don't reed comics or manga. But all that backstory we got we never hear it again at all. 2. Ok this a personal issue with me but to me Asuna looks like she's 10 and she's 15. I'm sorry but that just really bothers me a lot.

    Conclusion: I like this movie but I felt like this film had more potential with its backstory. But besides this, this is a solid fantasy film but I would really bring little kids too see this movie mostly do too the Izoku. But this film is a solid accomplishment from the films director. Especially from the one who directed Your Name the most successful anime film ever at the box office.

    7.5 out of 10.
  • This is Makoto Shinkai's best film, hands down. The plot is engaging and the characters are all memorable. It reminds me a lot of Studio Ghibli's adventure works and Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) - it even includes the blue crystal necklaces! It is based on disparate mythological, fantasy and science fiction influences but combines them in a way that really resonates with the viewer. No longer do we get the sappy romance stories of Makoto's other works, but genuine emotional depth about loneliness, longing and acceptance. Not to mention the animation and the setting are amazing!
  • This movie, with its gorgeous animated vistas and hopeful if melancholic feel was impressive overall, even if it suffered from plot incoherence. This is a trend we've noticed in some recent (non-Ghibli) Japanese anime. It also shares a typical feature of these movies, the shy, introspective girl who is drawn into a fantastic world (e.g. The Cat Returns, Wonderland). Here the goal is to explore the underworld, which seems to be a post-mortem realm filled with dead people and gods, vast and yet declining, vulnerable to human infiltration. And that is precisely what happens here, the girl chasing the voice of a love interest she will never really have, and her teacher, who collects lore about the afterlife from ancient cultures, who is looking to retrieve his dead wife. If that sounds like Orpheus, the ending certainly reflects it in some ways, but otherwise there are actually very few allusions to traditions about the underworld, beyond a few monstrous guards, and a steam-punk ancient Mesopotamian aesthetic reminiscent of Castle in the Sky. Despite the awkward plot, my kids and I were drawn in by the amazing visuals and sense of foreboding that is present at the start and only grows as the adventure continues.

    Sienna's rating: 7 or 8 stars Paul's rating: 8 stars Seb's rating: 8 stars.
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