Children Who Chase Lost Voices

CoMix Wave Films

Written & Directed by Makoto Shinkai/Produced by Noritaka Kawaguchi & Makoto Shinkai/Music by Tenmon

Ever since her father’s death, Asuna has lived alone with her mother and her adorable kitty, Mimi. Her mother, a nurse, works a great deal, and Asuna loves to spend her alone time in the nearby hills (at her secret hideout), tuning in to mysterious broadcasts on her amateur radio receiver.On her way to her hideout one day after school, she finds herself attacked by a bear-like monster–but one that is clearly no monster known on this earth! Just when it looks like she’ll never make it, Asuna is rescued (rather abruptly and shockingly) by a boy a bit older than herself (who reminds me of Howl more than I can express!). There’s something special between the boy Shun and Asuna, a feeling of a destined meeting–enough so that she is struck very strongly by his death the very next day. . . . Enough to join with her substitute teacher Mr. Morisaki and pursue Shun into the underworld in hopes of bringing him back from the dead.

Children Who Chase Lost Voices is the first Makoto Shinkai movie I’ve seen that isn’t slice of life. As such, it has a unique feel for one of his stories–while still being distinctly his. (Although, as my brother has noted, in many ways it feels like a dark Miyazaki.) The characters are rich and deep–and they express quite evocatively the longing born in each of us when someone we love dies. The plot is strange and ethereal; it works very well for the ideas Shinkai is trying to express. And fortunately for his viewers, he takes steps to keep it from becoming too utterly dark and hopeless (like including an absolutely kawaii kitty)–because ultimately this is a story of hope and forward motion, not despair. The art and music are classic Shinkai in the best sense possible–stunningly beautiful throughout. I particularly enjoyed the “northern lights” display that painted the night sky in the underworld; it was gorgeous! The predominance of Aztec designs, philosophies, names, etc. was extremely interesting, providing a unique flavor to the story that was strange but that I liked. I think that for a mature individual who wants a beautiful, thought-provoking, and deep, yet richly enjoyable movie, Children Who Chase Lost Voices is a great choice.

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