Hoshi wo ou kodomo
- Children Who Chase Lost Voices
- (Side note: real translation should be: Children Who Chase the Stars)
- by Makoto Shinkai (previous work: 5 Centimeters per Second latest work: Kimi no Na wa/Your Name)
The anime movie tells the story of a high school student named Asuna Watase. She takes care of the household by herself while her mother is not at home. Asuna likes to listen to her old crystal radio in a mountain hideout. One day, she tunes to a mysterious melody which is different from everything she has heard before. Then, a young boy named Shun appears and saves her from a mysterious monster. And so, he somehow drags her into a lost land and her adventurous trip begins.
The storyline contains many interesting aspects. The main topic is the gate between life and death. The movie shows how far people would go to bring the dead back to life. Here, people are entering the underworld ‘Agartha’ to find a way of resurrection. A further important aspect in the movie is the handling of loneliness and loss of someone beloved. Asuna has lost her father and Morisaki (Asuna’s teacher and companion in the underworld) has to deal with the death of his beloved wife. The movie shows how differently both try to overcome the feeling of loss. Loneliness is a further obstacle Asuna has to deal with. Her father is gone and her mother does not have any time for Asuna because of her job as a nurse. Asuna provides for herself such as doing the household. Adventures are her way to find love and happiness after the emotional experiences of loss and grief.
In fact, ‘Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo’ is a fantasy animated movie. It takes place in an underworld where a lot of mysterious and weird animals and monsters are living. The anime also talks about gods, myths and legends. Especially the Japanese myth taken from the ‘Kojiki’ (an old chronicle and collection of myths) Izanagi and Izanami plays an important role. Their story is very well explained and so it can be easily followed especially by those people who do not know that story. Also the underworld ‘Yumi no kuni’ is another aspect taken from the myth. One can say that the storyline in the anime follows more or less the one in the myth. Furthermore, other fantasy elements such as the crystal stone ‘Calvis’ which is a kind of key to the underworld are also included. We also like the appearance of the ‘Quetzalcoatl’ which represent the guardians and transgressors between the earth and the underworld.
A clear message is also presented in the anime movie: Humans destroy everything even things they do not know. When they enter the underworld, they damage it. Therefore, citizens of the underworld are scared of these ‘topsiders’ (people from earth are called like that) and do everything to stop them from entering.
Moreover, the art of animation is not bad. The depiction of the landscapes and environment elements somehow remind of those of Studio Ghibli works. However, we think that the character design could have been a bit more detailed. Whereas the anime lacks in character design, the creatures and monsters are very good and detailed depicted. Especially the ‘Yadoriko’, the kitten-like-creature, has a very cute appearance.
Nonetheless, the movie is a bit too long which makes it boring. The story moves sometimes too slowly which means that there are some scenes in which nothing is really happening. The storyline also lacks of background information. For instance, the girl Asuna received the crystal stone of the radio from her deceased father. Indeed, the crystal is from the underworld but it is not explained how and why her father was in possession of such a crystal stone.
All in all, the movie shows a fascinating journey into another world filled with beautiful sceneries and many creatures having their own tasks. It is a good story but the length makes it a bit difficult to watch.