Okko's Inn Movie - Reviews

Alt title: Wakaokami wa Shougakusei! Movie

duchessliz's avatar
Nov 7, 2019

Wakaokami wa Shougakusei! Movie or Okko's Inn, is not a film that I held much expectation for. But, in all honesty, the movie is a hidden gem that surprised me in all the right ways!

Okko's Inn is about a young girl named Seki Oriko (fondly called Okko) who loses her parents in a tragic accident, so she goes to live in the country with her grandmother, who runs a traditional Japanese Inn. Once there, Okko comes across the ghosts of children, which only she can see. Those ghosts are playful and friendly, and they make her feel less lonely as she learns the ins and outs of helping run her grandmother's inn. She struggles in the beginning with clumsiness and poor judgement calls but she quickly learns that making others happy is the key to her own happiness.

Okko's Inn is a film about loss, healing, growth, and acceptance. It's about a young girl who went through something tragic and learned to move forward and make the best of her situation. To move forward with determination rather than dwell on what couldn't be changed. 

The movie actually reminded me a lot of a Ghibli film. It was very easy to get sucked into and I found myself captivated, unwilling to look away from the story playing out before me. Hell, even the animation reminded a lot of Studio Ghibli! And, while the OST may not have been anything outstanding or remarkable, it fit the movie to perfection.

And while the series mostly just focused on Okko, Uribou, and Miyo we get the occasional appearance of different guests, Okko's grandmother, the other workers at the Inn, Suzuki, Matsuki, etc. But I don't feel like that was a bad thing. The movie was focused right where it was meant, circling around Okko and her own personal journey, while taking us on for the ride.

It's been a while since I enjoyed a film as much as I did this one and the ending brought me to tears! (though, it's honestly not that difficult to make me cry lol) This is a movie that I HIGHLY recommend you give a chance... it doesn't disappoint and is a true joy to watch!

8/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
Dubfan's avatar
Mar 7, 2021

(Spoiler Free Review)

Minor objectionable content (TV-PG).

A fine gem, your missing out if you don't watch it. It's a very heart touching story about a young girl assisting at her family's inn. A continuous and linear plot, which is normal for movies. The key that makes this movie special is the depth that is placed on the human psyche. (I was confused at first, because it goes against the standard norms. Most animes avoid "detachment from reality" in character development.) Characters are lovable and there is vast character growth. The animation is beautiful, however the sound needs some work. Give it a try, it's on Netflix and only 100 minutes.

(In my ratings 5/10 is an average anime, therefore 7/10 is certainly exceptional.)

7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
JTurner82's avatar
Feb 6, 2020

Okko's Inn, a disarmingly charming, instantly likable Japanese animated feature, is the sort of family-friendly movie rarely seen from a lot of western productions of this type nowadays. While most kiddie flicks I've seen these days tend to go for loud, noisy, in-your-face schtick and disgusting scatalogical humor for the heck of it, this one instead aims to be a more gentle, down-to-earth sort of tale. Whatever humor we get is thankfully brief and of the clean and clever kind. More importantly, it's a film with a lot of heart. Its only weakness may be that it may fall somewhat short of the standards often set by, say, Studio Ghibli, but director Kitaro Kosaka (himself, incidentally, a Ghibli veteran) still manages to make this a delight for kids and adults while emerging as a beautiful work in its own right.

The main character of this tale is Oriko Seki (aka Okko), a 12-year-old girl who is tragically orphaned within the first five minutes when her parents' car crashes into a derailed truck while traveling home from a festival. Miraculously surviving this incident, Okko is subsequently sent to stay with her grandmother, who happens to be the proprietor of an inn in the countryside. The inn in question, which doubles as a hot springs house, goes by the name of Harunoya, with a philosophy that all are welcome.

Naturally, it does take Okko some time to get settled into this new establishment. She is befriended by three ghosts -- two of which are children who passed away years ago: the spunky but friendly Uribo, and the sassy, mischievous Miyo -- and a pesky "demon" known as Suzuki. With encouragement from these three (invisible to all but the little girl), Okko aspires to be a "junior innkeeper". Predictably, she starts off on the clumsy side and makes some poor calls of judgment, but gradually gets better, learning lessons about selflessness and valuing life. Over the course of Okko's coming of age journey, we meet a variety of other characters, among them a sullen and grieving teenage boy known as Akane, a friendly fortune teller called Glory Suriyo (who takes her on a memorable shopping trip), and a bratty rival junior innkeeper named Matsuki, who treats Okko contemptuously at every opportunity. Of course, at the major core of the story is Okko coming to terms with the fact that her mother and father are no longer with her.

A lot of this movie's subject feels strikingly similar to Hiroyuki Okiura’s A Letter To Momo, as well as numerous other animated tearjerkers such as My Neighbor Totoro, Coco, and Kubo and the Two Strings, but Okko's Inn manages to carve out its own niche thanks primarily to its plucky cast of characters. Okko is an easily relatable protagonist, and her similarly likable ghost buddies provide moments of gentle humor without treading into "annoying" territory. Only Matsuki comes across as downright unsympathetic -- at least for a good majority of the film -- until we find out that she, too, has troubles of her own. (As you might expect, the ending is a bit of a tearjerker, but not so much that it makes the movie downright depressing.)

In lesser hands, this tale could potentially tread into draggy territory. Thankfully, Kosaka keeps an energetic pace throughout all 96 minutes, making even the more quieter, slower moments flow without draining interest. That said, there are a couple of moments when the development of some moments feels a bit hasty, notably in the handling of Matsuki's character. Some additional scenes where we get to see her being nicer would have been welcomed, but that's honestly my only complaint.

Despite being directed by a Ghibli veteran, Okko's Inn was animated at Madhouse Studios, whose output has ranged from gritty productions like Ninja Scroll and Perfect Blue, to somber, friendlier stuff such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. If you're not familiar with this studio, these works you at least may have been fortunate to see. Okko's Inn, naturally, being among the more softer offerings of this studio, has a predictably sunny, beautiful look to it. There is a digital sort of look to the animation, but it still offers the sort of warmth that hand-drawn craft is usually known for. On occasion there are uses of computer images, but thankfully they don't stand out in all the wrong ways.

I went to see the dubbed version, provided by NYAV Post. It's yet another quality effort, with terrific performances by all involved. Eleven year old Madigan Kacmar does an outstanding job as Okko, providing the character with just the right amount of warmth, spunk, and heart. She has terrific chemistry with K.J. Aikens' somewhat smart-alecky but lovable Uribo as well as her other co-stars. Carly Williams' Matsuki is as snarky and prissy as you'd expect, while Tessa Frascogna's Miyo and Colleen O'Shaughnessy's Suzuki complete the trio of ghost companions for Okko. Glynis Eliis is also great as Okko's grandmother. NYAV Post has turned out excellent work lately, notably in the form of of big hitters such as A Silent Voice, Mirai, and even the flawed, forgettable Fireworks. It's gratifying to see them continue to live up to their standards here.

There have been a lot of great contenders for emotionally resonant animated features from Japan lately. Okko's Inn may be among the lesser known of them, but it certainly deserves a following. If you ever decide to check out this charmer, I highly would recommend doing so.

10/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
bobhikes's avatar
Jun 12, 2020

Okko's inn is a happy story with great animation and sound.  I moves to fast not developing the characters.  There is one sad point that might bring tears but overall its pretty generic.  If you like happy colorful stories it is a most but a warning that there is a really sad point.

OKKO's is a girl that just lost both her parents and is going to live with her Grandmother and help with the inn.  The Girl literally packs up her stuff says goodby to her old home walks and takes the train by herself to her grandmothers.  That is basically how they treat all the bad stuff.  It happens for a second to make you emotional then everyone is all smiles.  

5/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
6.5/10 characters
7/10 overall
Rbastid's avatar
Nov 1, 2020

I think I’ll be booking a room at the overlook hotel instead.

Story - 4/10

After a young girl loses her parents in a car accident, one where she was saved by an unexplained phenomena, she moves in with her grandmother and helps run her local hot springs ryokan. While there she encounters spirits that help her become aquatinted with her new life. 

During her time at the inn she’ll meet with three different guest that all help her confront her own losses. One a father and son who had just lost their own wife/mother, and who are dealing with it in different ways. Another is a young fortune teller who recently broke up with her boyfriend, and who takes to Okka as if she was her sister. Finally is a family who’s own situation run parallel to Okko, which may cause an issue with their stay at the inn.

While the movie itself can certainly be seen as cute, there isn’t really much here thats original, innovative, or special in any way. Being aimed at younger children it certainly doesn’t need some huge complex story, but at least trying to make it more than fluff and cheap attempts at tears would allow it to be much more than your average early years anime fairy tale adaptation.

It’s not so much that I didn’t like the story, it’s a small twist on a very common plot, but it would seem that it was never intended to be adapted into just a movie. Everything just goes by so quickly, so you never get a good sense of Okko actually growing and building up the strength to confront what happened. Spending too much time on goofiness, instead of story, is what swings this movie a bit too far into the children’s section, instead of a widely watch movie.

Animation - 7/10

The characters animation is a bit scattered and not very original. It’s all done well, but you can see each character is done in almost a completely different style (and I’m not talking about someone like Uribo who is supposed to look like an “Island” character), so none of them look like they should be together in the same show. This is mostly noticeable with the adults, as many of the kids are the same round faced and big eyed characters that kids always are.

Though not many locations, they were all very nicely drawn and colored, and often with some very good detail.

Sound - 2/10

The dub for anime was really awful in almost all ways. The V.O. artist were all relative newcomers and it showed, with characters like Uribo, Mio and Matsuki being some of the worst acting I’ve heard in anime. Then there’s Okko herself, who wasn’t so much acting as over acting at many points, though for the most part she wasn’t too bad when just speaking normally. The choice for which types of voices to use reminds me of when major studios decide to release an anime movie here in the states, they always pick the same exact sounding voices for each type of role, usually choosing people who may have experience in the live action film world, but who have no ability to translate that to a sound booth. Here they went with actual kids for the roles, but when trying to make a bold choice like that you still need to make the right choices; casting kids but then not picking ones who can pull off the work is an awful directorial decision.

As for that sound booth, I’m not sure what they used to do the actually recording sessions. Each voice sounds like it wasn’t recorded in any professional way, instead maybe done in someone’s bathroom with a cell phone. Either that or the sound mixer decided to try and act like he knew what he was doing by throwing a random filter over the session, in turn making it sound like each actor and actress was yards away from the mic they were recording on, with way too much atmosphere mixing with the vocal track. 

All the music played throughout the film either had a traditional sound, or at least a poppy interpretation, all of which really sounded pleasant and match the movie. The ending theme in particular was a very nice song that was a perfect piece to end things.

Characters - 3/10

While almost all the characters are likable, even those who tend to be a bit annoying, there wasn’t really much to them, as would be the case with most children.

Oriko Seki is the young girl who was saved during a accident that took the lives of both her parents. Soon after she moves in with her grandmother and starts to help out around her inn. She’s always a happy and helpful young girl, even to complete strangers. The major problem with her characters is that she is just a little girl, but they’re trying to write her as much older than she would be, where we’re to believe she essentially shrugged off her parents death until she was reminded of it by a passing truck. Being unable to come to grips with the loss of a loved one is a common occurrence, and you’d expect a child to maybe not feel much if they came from a less than loving family, but from the opening scene it’s clear Okko and her family are very close, yet she shows almost no negative emotion throughout the movie.

Being young means you don’t need to write her a back story, but you then need to add more when it comes to her growth. Very few of her changes ever seemed to deal with her trauma or her development as a young girl, and instead focused almost solely on her becoming a better inn keeper.

The supernatural characters are all a bit annoying, and outside of Uribo they don’t appear to have any reason for being in the show. Using Uribo as a guide had the potential to make a good story, as you can have him connect Okko to her grandmother’s past, the history of the inn, or any number of things, but for the most part he’s instead just used to do typical “ghost” things. The other two characters, Mio and Suzuki, are used for one purpose, either to give a reason for Okko to talk to Matsuki, or to make Okko cry at the idea of her friends disappearing. Like Uribo they could have been used for so much more to make the story interesting, or honestly left out of the movie all together without any impact.

I understand why you make a character like Matsuki to be the rival to Okko, but she honestly makes so little sense. From day one she just rags on Okko and her family’s Inn, but seeing how they cater to completely different clientele it’s not as if they were ever competing. She also continuously puts down Hananoyu Inn as if it’s a failure and ruining the reputation of the town, but there isn’t anything in the film that would lead you to believe that. If the complaint is that they accept all customers, well that would seem good, as it keeps them out of her family’s Inn. The “Little Miss Bossy,” trope is also one of the most annoying things in childish stories, because we know so many ten year olds that run thriving businesses. They really dropped the ball with her, as she could have been someone who eventually connects with Okko due to both knowing loss, even if her sister died before her birth, but instead she only ends up changing her demeanor because she feels sorry for the girl with the dead parents, not because she truly became a better person.

A movie that focuses mainly on emotion can sometimes get away with not building too many characters, but here they ended up not building any characters, even the ones you’re supposed to feel sadness for. Outside of Suiryo, every character can essentially be broken down into a quick description of goofy kid, snotty kid, or somewhat scatterbrained kid. If you’re not going to try and give some human experiences to a character you might as well just make them a talking dog instead.

Overall - 2/10

A great story will build drama and then walk you through the moments till acceptance, but here it was just dropped on you, where immediately this child’s parents die (cheap built in crying moments) and she honestly never actually learns to deal with their passing, she just snaps into being okay with it so to not inconvenience a customer. No where in the middle of the two events did they have Okko use the presence of Uribo or Mia to make connections with others who also experienced loss and who could help her through her pain. 

I often say that Anime is such a great form of entertainment because there are so many different series that transcend the normal age boundaries that TV and cinema have. Often a movie or show might be aimed at the younger set, but it doesn’t treat them as dumb children, which then makes the series enjoyable for those who are older. This film really didn’t. While it might be a nice little movie for younger children, it really didn’t have much for anyone over the age of ten or so, as there were giant plot holes, manipulative scenes to make people sad based on tricks instead of story, and dialogue that is far to simplistic.

By the end you’ll also almost wonder if this was one of the many anime movies that are actually just advertisements disguised as entertainment.

4/10 story
7/10 animation
2/10 sound
3/10 characters
2/10 overall
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