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for this piece, and even having a lackluster plot, it kind of sets my imagination flying because of the setting and the historical references.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.
Already had issues BEFORE watching this.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices is another movie by Makoto Shinkai and thus I went into it expecting good things, and I’m glad to say the movie doesn’t disappointed, but then that also depends a lot on the viewer.
The story is set around a young girl who goes by the name of Asuna, who has recently suffered the loss of her father and has grown up quickly because of it. When not at school or doing a few chores around the house Asuna can be found at her clubhouse on the nearby mountain with her odd cat like creature, Mimi. One day Asuna comes across an odd boy called Shun who explains he’s from a different country which goes by the name of Agartha, unknown to Asuna at the time, she would be seeing a lot of Agartha in the coming future. As the story goes on we see the death of Shun which leads Asuna to get talking to a substitute teacher at her school who seems to know a lot about Agartha. He explains that Agartha is a world far under the ground; the world of life and death and that he, Ryuji, has his own reasons for going to this world. As the story continues Asuna meets Shun’s brother, Shin, and along with Ryuji, and Mimi the cat she ends up in Agartha heading towards the door of life and death so Ryuji can bring his dead wife back to life. As the story goes on the group suffers losses, fun and sad times, but overall it’s a colourful and pretty adventure, if not hinting towards a darker undertone that not everyone will pick up on.
You could argue that in terms of animation the movie is a joy to watch, but that isn’t completely true. Children Who Chase Lost Voices only seems to come into its own once Asuna reaches Agartha, which is such a pretty and vibrant world to look at. It’s the kind of place our younger selves dream of and wish to live in. While Children Who Chase Lost Voices is lovely throughout for its animation, it really does jump to new heights once we reach Agartha. That said, the movie doesn’t actually have much of an art style of its own, and anyone who has ever watched a few Studio Ghibli movies in the past will quickly realize that Children Who Chase Lost Voices doesn’t look all that different, even in its character designs. That said, while I would have liked to have seen it do its own thing, I don’t mind all that much that it went for a Studio Ghibli style because it pulls it off almost perfectly.
As far as the movie’s soundtrack goes, I can’t honestly fault it. Every piece of music seems to fit the scene, but that said, the more cheerful tracks to the movie sit better than the dramatics. But then, that seems to be the movie full stop; the more light hearted stuff is more powerful than the dramatics.
In terms of the characters themselves some are very much likeable and show real growth as the story goes on, and some just don’t. Sadly, Asuna falls into the latter comment. While Ryuji seems to grow throughout this trip (and quickly becomes somewhat of a father figure to Asuna), Asuna seems nothing more than just someone for us to view the whole adventure through. There really doesn’t seem to be much emotion to her and she seems to just get on with things, even when Shun dies, it’s a long time before we see any real emotion over the event. The rest of the characters, however, are strong enough to more than make up for Asuna.
The movie really does seem to rely on the theme of life and death running through it more than it does anything else. The viewer must decide if the actions of Ryuji are correct, and if you’d act the same put in his shoes. Personally though, I feel like the movie also teaches an important lesson for anyone who has every lost a loved one, in that you can’t get consumed by the fact you’ll never see them again. You have to move on and find happiness in other ways, always remember them, but always keep on living too. Even if you could obtain the power to bring someone back from the dead, it isn’t to say that is the correct path.
When it comes down to it, how much you care for Children Who Chase Lost Voices will depend on how much you yourself have been through in life. Those who have never lost anyone they care about likely won’t read much into the plot, but those that have will find a much deeper meaning under the surface. It’s an enjoyable enough movie either way, but some will pass it off as not being deep enough because it can seem like a very light-hearted story if you don’t read too much into it.
Warning this Review May Contain Spoilers-
So starting this review, I personally found this movie quite boring after a while and pretty confusing overall. I didn't find it all that interesting and I found it rather long, I don't feel like the story progressed as much as I would of hoped it would. I guess if you like all the slow-paced movies which do develop slowly over a long period of time, you probably would enjoy this. It was just too long for not enough story for me, I also know people will disagree but I prefer fantasy which aren't slow paced. The other thing is by about halfway in, I got lost...I was really confused and I didn't know which way the story was heading. The animation, it is very similar to the style in movies such as 5cm per second , following this I like the animation but I don't love it....that might confuse you a bit. But to me it isn't a personal favourite in animation.
The sound was average, maybe just over. I watched this show in dub so my thoughts may be different to some but it wasn't the worst dub but it wasn't the best. It was alright. Some parts in the movie had soundtracks but they weren't as good as some I have listened to previously. Maybe this affected how I viewed the movie once I finished it. The characters, we one minute there was one group then they move on just like anything but I just felt with the story it was just long, the character development I mean.
Overal this movie was average, I personally didn't like it much and if you compare my thoughts to other who have watched it, there might be quite a bit difference in opinion. This ends this review, thank you for reading.
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.