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for this piece, and even having a lackluster plot, it kind of sets my imagination flying because of the setting and the historical references.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.
Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo or Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below is a movie directed by the one and only Makoto Shinkai. If you are familiar with his other works, you know that the pace is quite slow, and this movie is no different, though it picks up pace within about 20 or so minutes. Story: The story revolves around a young girl named Asuna and her temporary teacher, Ryuuji Morisaki. Asuna is an excellent student, who in her spare time, likes to listen to her "radio" with a strange cat-like creature she calls Mimi. One day, she meets an older boy by the name of Shun, who claims to be from a country called Agartha. According to Mr. Morisaki, several worlds exist underneath their own, and one of those happens to be Agartha, the world of life and death. These worlds are apparently mythical, but he is part of a team that investigates strange creatures said to be from these other worlds. Shun's brother, Shin, helps Asuna and Mr. Morisaki find their way to Agartha. Ryuuji believes that the God of the world will ressurect his dead wife; therefore, him and Asuna set out on their journey. A lot of back story was not included involving Agartha, though effort was given. Time constraint may have been an issue, given that it IS a movie, and not a 12 to 24 episode series. While it was lacking, it definitely was not bad at all. There was also a Ghibli-like vibe from this movie, but I don't think they executed it as well as they probably would have liked to. I saw major resemblances of Ghibli characters in the characters of this movie, which also was not necessarily a bad thing, but some people think they were trying to exactly copy Studio Ghibli. Animation: The art style and animation have to best some of, if not the best I have ever seen in any film, even others Shinkai has done. There was never a moment in the film where I wasn't thinking "This is beautiful and buttery smooth". There are scenes that are so glossy looking to the point where they almost look doused in oil, which is why buttery smooth seemed like the perfect phrase. The transitions are solid--never stuttering for a moment, and the colors are bright and beautiful; I see no flaws whatsoever. Sound: The sound in the beginning is not very notable. It is not until the middle of the film where the music begins to stand out. Though it takes a while, the music is nothing but amazing. The sound effects are fantastic as well. The only problem I really had was with Asuna's voice-- in both the sub and the dub. I found it too whiny and high pitched. I realized that she is a very young girl, but I just did not like her voice. Characters: The one point where this movie was really lacking was with its characters. First of all, the designs were incredibly boring and unappealing. The only characters, no matter how minor they were, that stuck out were those from Agartha. The faces definitely resembled those in a Studio Ghibli movie, though there isn't anything wrong with that. There was not much character development in this film. I thought that Ryuuji would have grown and would have changed his ideals by the climax, but he remained the same. Ryuuji seemed like the only person with a goal, but at the very end, he didn't REALLY accomplish it. Asuna served little to no purpose in the movie, or story, even though she is the main character. Shin was always helping her out, so I would have to say that him and Mimi were my favorite characters. (And Manna, even if she wasn't there for very long; she was just too cute to not like).Final Verdict: Overall, this definitely was not a waste of time, by any means. The story, as mentioned, was good. It may be a little confusing at times, but I think they did a pretty great job at conveying what they wanted. It isn't as slow as other Shinkai movies such as 5 Centimeters Per Second, or Garden of Words, so even if you did or didn't enjoy those, the change of pace is appreciated. The art and animation are enough to watch this film (over and over). Seriously. It is absolutely breath-taking, and I may find myself returning to this film at some point just to experience the beauty that Shinkai created. While the characters and the world didn't feel as fleshed out as they could have (or should have) been, the movie is still a great watch.
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