I don't care what anyone says. I strangely adored this film
Now, I have noticed that of all the big anime films that hit North America last year, this one was one of the most poorly received. And after seeing this, I kinda get it. On one hand, the story wasn't quite what I thought it would be. I went into this expecting a slightly more mature Ponyo but got something much different, but it's still a very basic story and I doubt anyone can honestly say they were surprised by the direction it went in. And, yeah, even the characters and what they're going through are nothing really new. But I feel it's executed more than well enough to make up for that. The anxiety Kai and his friends go through is nothing special, but it's still there and handled very well. (I just feel like I gotta point that out since a lot of people also claim this film has no substance to it. Yes, really) A big part of why it works as well as it does is the relationship between Kai and Lu, which is just the most adorable thing.
While I can understand entirely why people aren't too invested in the story, I cannot wrap my head around how anyone can classify this film as boring. I'll just say it right now, despite what I said about the plot, I actually love this film. If I can classify my number 1 reason for this, it's the energy. This has to be by far the most energetic film I have ever seen. The animations are also fantastic. It's not often you get a film this surreal in this day and age and that just gives it so much appeal. Even Ponyo was significantly more subdued than this. On top of that, the style is really appealing as well. It has that modern look but seems to have taken a bit of influence from anime that was made way back in the 50's and 60's, you know, back when almost every title was aimed mostly at kids, America didn't care enough to license the majority of them and 90% of them looked sketchy and limited beyond compare. I don't know what it is, but that just gives the look even more charm than it already has. Admittedly, I was a little turned off by the movements at first as the fact that this was partly animated in flash showed a little too well but it grew on me after a while.
But most of all, I think what really has me recommending this is that it does a very good job combining simple story telling with a great visual style. And with music being a big theme of the film, it also helps that the dance sequences are amazingly done and the soundtrack is very catchy. On the whole, I'm glad I saw this and even though I know it's not one of the more popular anime films that came to North America last year, I still recommend it. Though I would recommend this for older kids because, one thing I will agree with the one other review I see here on is that this whole idea of mermaids biting people, fish and dogs and turning them into merfolk might come across as a bit creepy to some. Now, for what it's worth, the mermaids have good reasons for doing it. Every time they do it, it's to save the people from drowning, though the way it's animated does make it look like something out of a horror film, so keep that in mind when going into it.
This title contains:
Positive role models
Violence & scariness