The other week, I was finally able to catch up with watching a few anime films that I'd been meaning to see. Along with Wolf Children, which I wrote about two weeks ago, I also watched Children Who Chase Lost Voices. This is a film that had been nominated for tons of prestige awards when it came out in 2011. It's a coming of age story that infuses magical elements based on Japanese mythology.
One of the things that I've always loved about anime is the format's ability to genre bend within a film and there is no inner voice asking me to question the logic behind such changes. This is one of those movies that starts off innocently enough, with a young girl missing the father she's lost and the mother who works days on end. She deals with her loneliness by climbing the nearby hills and listening to a radio powered by a crystal left to her by her father.
It turns out that these crystals have a connection to a world that exists below the surface of the earth, a world where old gods and myths have gone now that they're no longer needed to guide mankind out of his infancy. The girl, Asuna, soon becomes entangled with a human who lives in that world, known as Agartha, and a government agent who is search for it for his own selfish reasons. What transpires is a journey that threatens the very existence of Agartha and causes all involved to question what is possible.
This is beautiful film, with breathtaking moments of animation. Clearly inspired by Studio Ghibli. There are moments that seem borrowed from Spirited Away and Princess Mononokie. They are clearly interested in the same mythology and derive from similar cultural sources. Certainly worth watching for fans of Miyazaki's films.