A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is a feature-length anime based on the characters of a popular and highly regarded series of Nintendo DS video games. Viewers can choose between an English-language soundtrack or a Japanese-language soundtrack with English subtitles. The movie contains mild fantasy violence, such as killer sharks, angry wolves, martial arts, giant robots, explosions, and sword fights, but even though death is discussed, no one is actually injured or dies. There's also a comical instance of a minor character pouring a large glass of wine. The main characters, a professor and his young apprentice, are excellent role models, demonstrating kindness, compassion, intelligence, and even good manners. A message about remembering loved ones after they die is positive, but not for all younger viewers.
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What's the story?
After solving a case involving Big Ben, the gentleman sleuth Professor Layton (voiced by Christopher Robin Miller) and his young apprentice Luke (voiced by Maria Darling) receive an invitation to hear an opera, sung by one of the professor's former students, Janice (Emma Tate). After the show -- about a beloved queen and an elixir that gives eternal life -- they learn of a contest: the winner will receive an actual elixir, but everyone else will lose their lives. The mandatory contest consists of answering tricky questions, which the professor can do easily. But what will happen when the stakes grow ever higher, and the professor discovers the diabolical mastermind behind the game?
Is it any good?
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is the first movie based on the popular Nintendo DS video game series, and doesn't sound promising -- but it may surprise you. The actual movie is a most welcome, utterly delightful treat. On every level, it's a clever combination of old-fashioned and ultra-modern: the characters are hand-drawn, while the elaborate backdrops are computer-generated. On a story level, Professor Layton and his apprentice Luke seem to come from a simpler time when being a "true gentleman" is something to aspire to.
Indeed, there's a real Sherlock Holmes dynamic to this duo, using deduction and traditional know-how to solve problems. But at the same time, they live in a fantastic world of high-tech robots and high-flying inventions. Even the subject matter feels cozy; there's nary a strong word or a hint of sexual innuendo. The only real issue here is some fantasy violence, as well as the threat of death (even though no character actually dies). Anime fans (and non-fans) will be in heaven.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. How intense or realistic is it? Are people ever in real danger? What would be the real-life consequences of the kind of violence portrayed in the movie?
What do you think about the style of this movie? What are some differences between Japanese anime and that produced in the United States?
Who are the role models in this story? Does every story need role models?
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