Children Who Chase Lost Voices is the most recent release from anime film director Makoto Shinkai, following on his films Voices of a Distant Star, 5 Centimeters Per Second, and The Place Promised in Our Early Days.
It tells the story of Asuka, a young girl who spends a lot of time in a secret hideaway (which, to me, looked like an old World War II hideout) where she listens to strange music on the crystal radio she has built. She encounters a strange creature on the way to her hideout one day, and is saved by a mysterious boy named Shun. He tells her she should stop coming there due to the dangerous creature, but she stills continues to go there.
The next time she goes to the hideout, she encounters Shin (Shun’s younger brother) and is captured by a group known as the Archangels. Using a crystal, they enter the realm of Agartha, or the land of the dead. She then travels with Shin (who is from Agartha) and Morisaki (her teacher, who is also a member of the Archangels and is searching for Agartha) to the Gate of Life and Death because Morisaki wants to bring his dead wife back to life.
The visuals in Children Who Chase Lost Voices are amazing, and it’s obvious Shinkai has been influenced by Hayao Miyazaki, one of the founders of Studio Ghibli. The backgrounds are filled with pastels as well as vibrant colors which give the film a solid and real feeling. Some of the rural imagery in the beginning made me all nostalgic for my rural home in Japan.
Each of the main characters has an interesting story which is revealed throughout the course of the film, and Shinkai is good at only giving out a little bit but also giving it out in such a way as to keep the story moving along. The pace of the film is a little unusual as there are many flashbacks, and this may make the film feel disjointed to some. It also made the plot confusing until just before the end where it all seemed to be pieced together.
I think that is my only major concern with Children Who Chase Lost Voices. This isn’t my favorite Shinkai film so far (that honor goes to The Place Promised in Our Early Days, as well as the short film She and Her Cat, included on the DVD release of Voices of a Distant Star), but I enjoyed it. If you like thoughtful films, you will like this one.
Release Date: November 13, 2012 (USA)
MPAA Rating: not rated
Language: Japanese (English subtitles)
Original Title: 星を追う子ども
Nudity: 1 (bathing)
Violence: 3 (some fantasy and military violence)