Children Who Chase Lost Voices (Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo)

Children Who Chase Lost Voices (Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo) 2011

I think Children Who Case Lost Voices stands out in Makoto Shinkai’s filmography as the one with the biggest scope. To date, it’s also his last ‘adventure’ story perhaps, since the movies that followed put relationships in the foreground.

Children Who Case Lost Voices is far more ‘sweeping’ with multiple storylines and various players engaged in big conflicts – though the narrative does mostly zoom down to focus on schoolgirl Asuna as she tries to uncover the mysteries of Agartha – the land of the dead. I’ve simplified the plot there but despite the fantastical elements, it’s still a story of very personal stakes for the lead characters.

And wow, the imagination on display here is so fantastic – I remember being so excited at the time, in part because the film was another ‘original concept’ work and I’d love to see more of them, as opposed to mostly watching adaptations. If you’ve never come across Children who Chase Lost Voices then my mini rave about the imagination of the film – things like the creepy Izoku, the Quetzalcoatl or the Ark of Life – won’t appear as more than a list of empty nouns, but so much about the story strikes a great balance between familiar and unusual, especially in regard to the setting of Agartha itself.

The flipside to all the immersive world-building is that the audience doesn’t always know what means what, when certain events happen or why characters act a specific way, and at times, rather than create a pleasant sense of anticipatory curiosity, that can set you adrift. You don’t necessarily always want to be spoon-fed as a viewer, but nor do we always want the opposite either. That happened for me at times but the visuals and the pacing kept me going and usually, within a few scenes the film gave me the context I needed.  

As with most Shinkai films, there’s a careful focus on how light appears in the natural world

Possibly my favourite Makoto Shinkai feature film but I haven’t had a chance to see Weathering with You yet so I guess I’d better reserve judgement for just a little longer!

4 Stars

Random sidenote: Not sure if I’m way off now, and I’m having to rely on my memory of the time – but I think the film comes right after emo culture peaked in many places, and to some extent the angst and deep discontent of that sub-culture seems to have fed into characters within Children Who Case Lost Voices. Again, maybe I’m reaching with that claim but I’m thinking of Shun here at least.

I think it’s also easy to see where a certain amount of anime aesthetic fed into the emo scene and vice-a-versa too, though no single culture lives in a vacuum of course. I wonder if I should do some real research and try to see if there’s anything there… perhaps one day.

Abandoned #3 (The Rising of the Shield Hero, Inuyasha & Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress: Battle of Unato)

  1. The Rising of the Shield Hero (2019)

Portal fantasy is a classic genre and can be perfect for a writer to deliver exposition – naturally, the visiting character needs most things explained and at the same time, the viewer gets the info.

That’s why I like such shows in a way, because they’re up front about what I need to know and the pacing of a story tends to be fast(er) as a result of that, but despite all the good, tension-building angst at the beginning, I didn’t finish episode one here.

I think I’m just not precisely in the mood for this one, so I can see myself coming back to it.

2. Inuyasha (2000)

Sensing a theme? 😀

I got a few episodes in and was enjoying Inuyasha, which is definitely a classic, but despite me liking the characters and the world-building, I felt kinda crushed by the weight of the rest of the series.

It’s not the longest out there of course, but with nearly 300 episodes I just knew I’d never make it. Maybe one day I’ll go up to a certain arc’s resolution but for now, I’m glad I’ve actually seen at least a few episodes of this one.

3. Kabaneri of the Iron Rortress: Battle of Unato (2019)

This one is probably my mistake rather than any particular deficiency that I noticed – slick animation, vivid colours, some compelling tension and an interesting world that I’m curious about – but I’m half-way through the film and well aware that I’ve missed enough from the series that the character interactions should be carrying more weight.

So yeah, that’s my mistake – I started the film on a whim, knowing I shouldn’t watch it before the series, but I was drawn in enough even without the wider context of the show.

Will finish after I’ve seen the series.