After her parents separate, 14 year-old Tetsuko (who will soon be nick-named Alice) moves with her mother to a new town in what she calls "The Boonies" and must enroll as a transfer student...
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A humanoid robot is asked to replace Hal, who was killed in a terrible accident, in order help Hal's girlfriend move on in life, but struggles to understand the real Hal's past and the meaning of being alive.
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After her parents separate, 14 year-old Tetsuko (who will soon be nick-named Alice) moves with her mother to a new town in what she calls "The Boonies" and must enroll as a transfer student in a new middle school. She immediately finds herself bullied due being assigned the seat of "Judas" who is said to have been murdered over a year before. She is told that if anybody knows his fate it would be Hana, the recluse in the house next door, who has been unable to bring herself to attend class since "Judas" disappeared. Written by
This film perfectly captures the adventurous spirit, the whimsical imaginations, and the awkward solutions that fuels every day life of a 14 year old. As someone who grew up in this kind of environment (although a decade ago) I was uplifted by nostalgia and the naive purity of all the characters.
Just look at the screen! The sky painted in this film is absolutely stunning. Backgrounds are detailed and yet not an eye-sore. Sure the characters looked like rough sketch compared to other more visually accomplished Japanese anime, but I think it was simply a wonderful style to match the story.
Iwai Shunji, the sensitive soul behind such classics like "Love Letter" and "April Story (Shigatsu Monogatari)" reunites with the original 2004 cast of "Hana and Alice" (Yu Aoi and Anne Suzuki) to tell this small but emotionally rich story involving ballet, a school cult, and a murder investigation. It's fine that you haven't watched the 2004 film. This sets up a new story and invests time in proper character development. The film follows Alice as she interacts with a number of people and proceeds to build relationships with them. Some are hilarious (the cult leader), some are touching (an old man) and her meeting with Hana, is something else entirely. Despite an over-the-top set-up, the mystery's solution actually makes sense and isn't contrived to deliver ridiculous twist.
The laughs are there, it looks amazing, the characters are people whom I'd give big hugs to and Iwai Shunji is definitely on-form in his direction.
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