YÔKAI WATCH: THE MOVIE: THE FLYING WHALE AND THE GRAND ADVENTURE OF THE DOUBLE WORLDS, MEOW! (aka YO-KAI WATCH THE MOVIE: A WHALE OF TWO WORLDS, 2016) is the third movie spin-off of the anime TV series, "Yo-kai Watch," which originated in Japan in 2014 and has been airing in the U. S. in an English-dubbed version on the Disney XD cable channel. The movie offers 2-D cartoon human characters, their live-action counterparts, and anime "yokai" characters rendered in 2-D for the anime scenes and 3-D CGI for the live-action scenes. The novelty here is that some strange, initially inexplicable force transforms anime characters and their setting, Sakura New Town in Japan, into live-action counterparts and then back into anime characters. As a result, this is that rare anime film that shows human animated characters and their live-action counterparts, played by actors, and 2-D cartoon yokai characters and their 3-D CGI "live-action" counterparts, sometimes all in the same scene, making for one of the most unusual integrations of live-action and animation that this reviewer has ever seen
Like the TV series, the film focuses on young Keita (Nate in the English-dubbed version), a boy who has the rare gift of being able to see yokai, "a class of supernatural monsters and spirits in Japanese folklore," and has made friends with a number of them. It's fun watching Keita and six different yokai characters, in three separate locations, as they suddenly experience a change in themselves and their settings as everything shifts over from animation to live-action, after a flying blue whale passes overhead and emits a mysterious sound. Keita is stunned to realize that none of his family, friends or neighbors seem to react to the change at all. Live-action is, apparently, perfectly normal to them. It helps that the young actor portraying Keita in live-action, Ryoka Minamide, is so adept at reacting believably to the animated characters around him even though they wouldn't have been there when he was filming his role. The illusion is quite persuasive.
After Keita and his yokai companions, unseen by everyone else, explore the surrounding neighborhood and all its live-action wonders, they encounter a mystifying blue koala, dubbed by Keita "Koalanyan," who is somehow connected to the flying whale and also has the magical ability to turn the characters and their settings from anime to live-action and back again. Further investigation leads to the sad story of a teenaged girl in a hospital, a dancer whose promising career was cut short by injury and is connected to both the whale and the koala and is somehow responsible for all these strange goings-on. Keita watches in awe as the girl, Kanami (Minanmi Hamabe), flies up into the air, dancing freely, in both animated and live-action renditions, and is able to manipulate events below. The subsequent action includes a showdown at a fancy mall and amusement park with the whale suddenly turning into a "live-action" (CGI) monster visible to everyone, human and yokai alike, and forcing a dramatic confrontation with Keita and as many yokai fighting comrades as he can muster.
I watched this in Japanese with no translation, aided only by a partly-helpful plot synopsis in English found on the web, so I had to guess at certain plot and character developments. Even so, I enjoyed it quite a bit and can only hope that whichever company holds the license for U. S. distribution gets around to providing an edition of this for the English-speaking market.
I wrote about this film in more detail, with dozens of images from the film (some of which I posted in this page's Photo Gallery), on my blog, a link to which can be found when you click on "1 Critic review" at the top of this page.
0 out of 0 found this helpful