If it's a stretch to say this film alone is worth the price of a ticket to Japan, it's not a long stretch. "Hoshi wo Katta Hi" is one of the finest short animated films ever made. Unfortunately, unless you visit the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka in Western Tokyo, you will not be able to see it on the screen--or on a video--any time in the foreseeable future.
The story was written by Naohisa Inoue, the person who created the fantastical world seen in another Ghibli film, "Whisper of the Heart." It is about a boy named Nona, a city dweller who is presently living in the countryside with a mysterious woman named Nigna. While taking a cartload of very large turnips to market, he meets a pair of characters who offer to trade a gem for his produce. He takes the gem back home, plants it in a pot, and soon a tiny planet emerges. He tends to the planet and, after a few days' time, there are three moons orbiting it and life is springs forth. Soon, he is forced to return to the city and leaves the care of the planet in Nigna's hands. Subsequently, he is visited by the same characters who traded the gem. They have one final task for him...
Everything about this film is right--except it could have been a feature-length movie. It is a complete story, well written, and animated with all the attention to detail and gorgeous imagery that are hallmarks of the master. I wish Miyazaki would relent on his policy never to show his museum works outside the museum and send it to the Academy for Oscar consideration. The world needs to see it.
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