When she hears a strange song from a crystal radio, Asuna tunes into more than just a magical stream of music. Soon, she is transported to a mysterious world where mythical beasts roam and brave warriors fight for their lives. Agartha is a land of breathtaking beauty and unimaginable danger-a place where, it is believed, even the dead can be brought back to life. But at what cost?
Source: Sentai Filmworks
This movie had a great setting and potential but it bit off too much. It was a slight disappointment compared Shinkais earlier stuff. It tries to be a Ghibli movie but it just can't get there, even tho its visuals make Ghibli pale in comparison. The combination of visuals and sound in this movie are stunning, and alone, make this movie worth watching. There was little to no character development; only one character changes its mind during the whole film. All of the characters are given one simple purpose and role, and they play it from start to finish with no questions asked. This made the story hard to approach and adding in the unnecessary narrative explanation, it didn't feel personal. I just couldnt get attached to any of the characters. The story as a whole, including characters, was put in a really interesting setting, a great deal of work was obviously put into it. Lots of mythical, historical and philosophical elements played a part. However, the characters downplayed it so much that it didn't feel close to as grand as it was. It was just presented the wrong way. In the end, this movie didn't make me feel like I wasted my time on it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if it was more for the visuals and the soundtrack than the actual story. Many great and awesome ideas came together for this piece, and even having a lackluster plot, it kind of sets my imagination flying because of the setting and the historical references. Its definitely a good movie and worth a watch.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below (or CWCLVfDB) Is a film about a director who couldn't think of a title that could easily fit on a marquee. (But really that plot would be much better than the movie's actual plot.) Story - 5/10 While the overall theme of the story is very simple, two people looking to an old tale to help bring back those they've lost, it became very disjointed as the story went along. At first the movie comes across as a slice of life meets loves story, as we're basically following Asuna on her daily routine, including meeting a young boy who saves her life, one that we assume she's attracted to as she feels connected to him and rushes around in hopes of seeing him again. After that plot point runs it's course the movie becomes about a cliche evil corporation looking for a way to find an entrance into the underground world of Agartha. Like the previous part of the movie this ends quickly, almost never to mentioned again. Pretty much the first third of the film is an excuse for getting these characters into Agartha, which is funny as the next two thirds is an excuse to create the creatures that inhabit Agartha. Once in Agartha the story takes a clear path, as Asuna and her substitute teacher Mr. Morisaki search for the Gate of Life and Death. The problem is getting from point A to point B on that path. In an attempt to fill the drama void left by the cliche evil corporation being left on the surface, they decide to insert the equally cliche idea of evil violent humans destroying anything they can get their hands on and the peaceful inhabitants trying to keep them away (ironically by killing them.) Their time in Agartha ends with a nice conclusion of how one should be content with one's life instead of always looking backwards, but that lasts for about three seconds and then we're back to uselessness, with very little explained. The film as a whole is the problem with having a single idea and having no way to explain it (like many of my reviews) Makoto Shinkai had a flash of inspiration and decided to create this film, when he only had enough ideas for a short. Animation - 8/10 You can't even begin to talk about the animation in CWCLVfDB without starting with the background plates. They are some of the most beautifully created images in all of anime, heck all of animation. They look like master works of a great painter, with a stunning palate and a border-less flow. Now on the other end of the spectrum are the characters themselves. They really just felt a bit to Disney, which is to say they are well constructed, but just very uninspired. I felt like i'd seen all the character's many times over. As with the characters the monsters that roam the landscape of the underworld are also very close to being Studio Ghibli-esc creatures. Their look and movement feel as if they were plucked from Spirited Away or Nausicaa, heck the cat Mimi is Teto from Nausicaa, eye color changes and all. Sound - 4/10 The music for the series was northing special. It was nice orchestral fare, but nothing that would blow you out of the water. In truth I thought the closing song, Hello, Goodbye and Hello, might be one of the worst pieces of music in Anime, it's almost as if a computer was given the task of writing a song, so it just copied bits and pieces of hit songs and put them together, leaving out the idea that music is about feeling and soul…..also it's about not being extremely screechy and annoying. The English voiceover cast was also severely lacking. From watching the making of Documentary you can see how much time was put into making sure the emotion of the characters came across in their voices, but in the english version that was missing. Most of the voices were tonally good, but they felt more read than acted. Characters - 4/10 The characters leave much to be desired, as they have little to no background and equally little growth. For a movie that's nearly two hours long they got no where with these characters. We know Asuna is from a single parent home due to the death of her father and we know Mr. Morisaki has lost his wife, but instead of using the rest of that time to try and develop characters even slightly, they spent it with them just wandering around aimlessly, literally forty minutes of people walking around. Despite Shun and Shin playing a big part in the story, we're left to pretty much create our own background for them. For the most part the entire movie could have played out exactly the same way if the characters consisted of Mr. Morisaki and a bag of potatoes. Overall - 5/10 I wanted to enjoy this film. I started by watching the making of documentary and that got me excited for a beautiful and interesting movie, or so I thought. While the beauty was there, everything else needed in a film just wasn't. It's obvious the writer had a big idea, but his ability to execute it, and the drawn out way he completed it, wasn't up to snuff. This seems like one of those cases where the overwhelming praise and perfect ratings were unfortunatly based off of a career and not this individual movie.
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