Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Yumi Tamai, Bunta Sugawara
A young girl stumbles into a mystical world where she’s forced to confront dangers in the form of ghosts, gods, and witches.
This movie came from the creative mind of Hayao Miyazaki (The Wind Rises), winning an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. The original cast features the voice talents of Rumi Hiiragi (Ponyo), Miyu Irino (A Silent Voice), Mari Natsuki (Sakuran), Yumi Tamai (Monshen), and Bunta Sugawara (Tales from Earthsea). (An English version featuring other actors was also released. This review is based on the original cast since this is the version of the film I watched.)
This is a mystical and whimsical tale about a young girl learning to face fears and adapt to a new and unexpected world. The film gets right into the action, with little setup needed. The story leaves a lot of unanswered questions, but that isn’t a problem since it’s such a fascinating adventure. There is a lot of symbolism throughout the movie as well. There is certainly a lot being said about the process of maturing as a young person. The film also addresses the folly of greed. Thankfully, the plot is strong and the themes blend in to the overlying arc. The characters are unique and the dialogue is playful at times. Overall, this is a great story with some fascinating elements.
Critiquing voice work in a language I don’t speak is nearly impossible. I don’t mind subtitles, and I think that the emotional tones of the voice work matched the dialogue wonderfully. There is a childlike energy to the film that really comes out in the performances. Most of the time I prefer to see a film in the language it was made in. For those of you who don’t like subtitles there is an English dubbed version out there too.
This is a visually stunning movie with a wide range of unique characters presented on a beautiful backdrop. The world of the film is filled with color and energy thanks to the great skill of the animators. This film also features a great score from Joe Hisaishi (Princess Mononoke).
This movie is a must-see film for fans of animation. I would also suggest this to anyone looking for a unique movie that is rich in symbolism and has a great story. I give this one 4.4 out of 5 stars.