星を追う子ども | Hoshi o Ou Kodomo | Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below
Makoto Shinkai, 2011
Well, I didn’t hate it as much as 5 Centimetres per Second. Which is to say, at least it has monsters. But it’s still rancid with worthy sentimentality, and Makoto Shinkai’s horribly overblown CG skies and nebulae, aurorae and clouds and sunsets and rainbows and lens flare.
There are lots of elements which are familiar from countless Miyazakis – cutesy animal sidekicks; pseudo-tribal civilization; twinkly, sweeping music; wholesome young girl protagonist (“Potatoes, yay!”) and young boy hero… but which are insufferably here in a way they never are in Ghibli’s output. The very un-Miyazaki addition of military hardware in the form of soldiers and helicopter gunships sits additionally quite uncomfortably with the fantastical elements.
It’s kind of lame to compare all anime to Miyazaki, but the boy/girl protagonists, journey to a fantastical otherworld, and environmental subtext all make the comparison impossible to avoid. I fucking love HM, but, even within the confines of child-friendly fantasy anime it’s not like there isn’t space to deviate. The resemblance here mainly has the effect of showing how effortless the tone and structure of Miyazaki’s films are, when you’re suddenly faced with one-dimensional characters, a nonsensically ‘mystical’ ending (okay, Mononoke’s a bit like that, but, dammit, it earns my forgiveness!), and, fatally, the cardinal sin of taking itself waaay too seriously.
Maybe I’m being overcritical, because in terms of production values it’s quite beautiful. But I can’t help feel it might’ve been more successful if less time’d been spent digitally inserting motes of dust.