Journey to Agartha (aka Children Who Chase Lost Voices)
Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo
Directed & Written by Makoto Shinkai
Starring: Hisako Kanemoto, Kazuhiko Inoue, Miyu Irino
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A coming of age story involving young love and a mysterious music, coming from a crystal radio left as a memento by an absent father, that leads a young heroine deep into a hidden world.
I’d been meaning to watch this film for ages. It was recommended to me by S.G. of Rhyme And Reason a very long time ago & I picked up the DVD right away but then it sat on a shelf for years (like most DVDs I buy). Thanks for the recommendation, S.G.! Like Shinkai’s other work, it’s a lovely film and I really enjoyed it. I have to say I slightly prefer his other films, though, which I didn’t expect as the story in Journey To Agartha is much more “me”.
This anime is from director Makoto Shinkai, who also made Your Name and two beautiful short films that I watched recently: 5 Centimetres Per Second & The Garden Of Words. I’m still fairly new to anime so I stick to the most mainstream stuff and admit that Studio Ghibli will always be what I love the most. Beyond that, Shinkai & Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, Summer Wars, etc) are the two main directors I’ve been exploring. So far, I think I slightly prefer Shinkai’s work. This is mainly because of his style more than the actual stories themselves: his films are beautiful works of art. They’re all very “teenage love story”, though, so I was looking forward to Journey To Agartha as it sounded like a far more interesting plot. It’s “weird” and much darker than the other Shinkai films I’ve seen.
But I couldn’t really get into this one. I think the reason was partly because I couldn’t help but keep comparing it some of the Miyazaki Ghiblis. It’s a bit of Castle In The Sky crossed with Howl’s Moving Castle and a sprinkle of Spirited Away. Those are brilliant, of course, so nothing from other directors or studios can really compare to them. When I want that sort of style, I watch a Ghibli film. From the little I’ve seen, I prefer when Shinkai has stuck to his own style. Your Name worked really well for him so I don’t think he needs to try to make a Ghibli-inspired film. I also didn’t really connect with the characters in this one in the same way I did with those in his other films (such as the woman in The Garden Of Words – she was a strong character). The story in this was also intriguing but the plot was a little messy (but Howl’s Moving Castle can be accused of that too).
I do think this film really picked up at the end, though. The climactic scene was pretty cool & intense (don’t let your young kids watch this one – it’s aimed at an older audience). And this dude was pretty groovy, even though he’s one of the most obvious Ghibli-inspired things:
Oh yeah! And I forgot that the girl’s animal companion in this reminded me very much of the one in Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind:
Overall, I definitely enjoyed Journey To Agartha but I haven’t yet seen an anime film that I’ve not enjoyed. This one won’t be an absolute favorite, though. I think my expectations may have been a little high as, looking at the images, it looked like one I’d love. However, I’d like to give it another try sometime as I watched it after a crappy night out so probably wasn’t in the right kind of mood. I’ll see what the kid thinks of it once she’s a couple of years older and I’ll see if my opinion changes on a re-watch. For now, I’m a bigger fan of Your Name.
My Rating: 7/10
I’ll be reviewing Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai later today. I can’t quite decide if I preferred Journey To Agartha or Mirai…
A good film no question and it’s nice to see Shinkai try something different yet it also shows where his strengths truly lie.
Yep. I did enjoy this but prefer his other films. 🙂
Ah, I thought for sure you’d love this one. For me, it wasn’t so much like a copy of the Ghibli style as almost a hidden Ghibli movie I had discovered. I agree the characters aren’t as memorable as most Ghibli movies, but I really loved the mixture of Miyazaki’s and Shinkai’s styles. Hopefully, seeing it again might improve it.
Thanks for seeing it, though! Don’t forget to check out King of Thorn, Time of Eve, Patema Inverted, and Maquia as well.
Hope you have a Merry Christmas!
Oh wow – sorry I’m so late to reply! I did enjoy this – just didn’t LOVE it. Just not like the Ghibli stuff. 🙂 Ohhh – and more anime recommendations! I’ll have to add these to my (very long) list of anime films I want to watch. 😉 Thanks!
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