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So I guess I wasn't the only one really excited about Shinkai's new release, "Hoshi o ou Kodomo". With his previous work like "Kumo no mukô, Yakusoku no Basho", "Byôsoku 5 Senchimêtoru" and "Hoshi No Koe" Makato Shinkai has never ceased to impress us with the visual detail and animated scenery, a wonderful blend of color and light that breathes life into the dreamlike landscapes. If you're familiar with his previous films you know what to expect visually, but now to the actual content.
Unfortunately, "Hoshi o ou Kodomo" doesn't share the same uniqueness as say "Kumo no mukô, yakusoku no basho" and "Hoshi No Koe". I could notice resemblance and inspiration from a couple of films, especially Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" and "Princess Mononoke". I even thought of Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker" at some points, with the resemblance of the two main characters setting out on a journey through unknown, otherwordly plains, being lonely and in mourning, seeking to make their strongest wishes come true. This is of course the case in most films and in the creation of any aesthetic work, the artist creates something new under the influence of others whether they want it or not. Especially when it comes to film, which affect us on many levels, changing our thought patterns and point of view. The story was compelling and had me engaged from beginning to end. I'm weak when it comes to these spiritual and existential messages and symbolism often presented in Japanese cinema, especially in animations.
"Hoshi o ou Kodomo" is certainly no exception with a centered theme of life and death and the mysterious rumours of a world within the Earth, a place where ancient knowledge and memories dwell, and ancient divine entities wander the land, who used to give guidance to humankind. This film can be interpreted in many different ways, this was mine. The soundtrack is both ethereal and powerful, intertwining with the visuals in a flawless way.
To summarize, Shinkai's new work is a touching and compelling tale of friendship, love and hatred, truth, deceit, but foremost about letting go.
"Hoshi o ou Kodomo" is without any doubt a worthy addition to Makato Shinkai's previous works.
My rating: 8/10
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