Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo

Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo is the latest work in 4 years by Makoto Shinkai, who has been keeping a low profile until this popped up. As a fan of his after watching Byousoku 5cm, I was really hoping for a lot from this work. Unfortunately, I do seem to have misjudged things a little.

I’ll have to make a confession at first, I have never really watched any Ghibli movie except for Spirited Away, therefore unfortunately I will not be making snarky comparisons of the show with Princess Mononoke/Totoro/Porco Rosso/whatever else etc etc. from Ghibli. But I will have to say, this show has a really strong fantasy feel that evokes a feeling similar to what fans of the Ghibli series feel when they watch those for their first time. I really should look in to doing that one of these days myself.

Ok, back to the movie. Firstly, it’s very pretty. Comparing it to Byousoku’s BD release, I can say that having the production done entirely for HD really does bring out all the awesomeness of Shinkai’s obsession with backgrounds. Every frame is literally pretty, background wise, and not in a way that makes you think “oh this must be traced from photos” too. Rather, there is a very genuine feeling that this is straight from Shinkai’s ideal inner world. One where he literally weaves out his stories’ settings, as if he’s been living there his whole life and he’s tracing them from memory.

However, the other aspects of the movie don’t really fall up to standards with his settings. Character-wise, I did not really get attached to anyone in the movie and there was generally a sense that they are just there to give a half-hearted purpose to the movie. It’s just that they are there to play a very generically structured role. I was expecting a bit more from Morisaki-sensei, but in the end, even he didn’t pan out. At least the action scenes, when they happened, was properly animated.

Thematically, the series was supposed to talk about farewells and how hard it can be to accept them when the time comes, but in the end, I really did not feel it played much of a role in the story as well. Unlike in Byousoku 5cm, where the simple story brought out the theme of “distance” so effectively, the story this time did not manage to do so, as cluttered as it was. Didn’t help there was many incongruous elements thrown in, like the sudden references to Nazi invasions and Hitler (lol), which just served to explain a little about the world setting, but ended up actually raising more questions about it instead. It’s a shame really.

Overall, I’d say that this was a decently made movie, but don’t expect it to linger in your consciousness afterwards. This is a very well-produced movie, but unfortunately, where it counts, the creativity was spent more on the technical aspects instead of the places where it counts, like the story, themes and characters. Just like a Hollywood summer blockbuster, actually.

tl;dr: everything is pretty but story didn’t impress.

Liked: So-so
Rewatch: Possibly, when bored.


  1. KayDat Said,

    December 4, 2011 @ 1:41 am

    Well said! I guess my expectations were somewhat misplaced too, came in expecting something very different. I personally felt the timing and pacing was a bit rushed; compared to his previous works where there is ample ‘silence’ so to speak, during which there is time to reflect, his latest work feels very crammed and rushed, leaving no time to contemplate and think about what has happened. I struggled to empathise with the characters, although the crying scene did bring a tear to my eye.
    I agree also about the fantasy feel; although Shinkai Makoto has been compared to Miyazaki before, I feel that his previous works were, although pretty, thematically and story wise were quite different. Hoshi o ou Kodomo, being much more story driven is probably more similar to Ghibli works than other Shinkai works have been. I felt pangs of déjà vu, as several scenes and aspects are extremely similar to Laputa, one of my favourite and earliest seen Ghibli works. Then again, it also appears to be a favourite of Shinkai’s, so perhaps it was a homage.

  2. Algester Said,

    December 4, 2011 @ 1:53 am

    well there might be a chance the hoshi wo ou kodomo was a direct homage to Studio Gihbli IMHO, after all Shinkai likes studio Gihbli works, from the character design to the story more or less he took some concepts from many of the works by Studio Gihbli, the probably only thing he never took were the backgrounds, cause you know he knows his backgrounds

  3. Algester Said,

    December 4, 2011 @ 1:55 am

    remember the running joke that Shinkai has the saying “screw the plot, must draw more clouds” type of thing yeah…

  4. Game8910 Said,

    December 4, 2011 @ 7:24 am

    >tl;dr: everything is pretty but story didn’t impress.

    In other words, its the same as 5cm

  5. Skribulous Said,

    December 4, 2011 @ 7:36 am

    Too bad even after making the homages to Ghibli, the closest comparison we could make is the Tales of Earthsea anime. If anything else, Hoshi wo ou Kodomo feels more like a Production IG work.

  6. Kurogane Shiroikaze Said,

    December 4, 2011 @ 9:02 am

    No, 5cm’s story was intentionally made simple in order to convey the theme of “distance”. I actually quite liked that approach since it cut out a lot of bullshit and made it easy to understand.

    Don’t know why Shinkai decided to go back to the “throw lots of random stuff in” method for this. It’s just like in Kumo no Mukou rather :(.

  7. hurin Said,

    December 4, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

    Disappointing . None of the characters had any personality, the main character was so perfect I had to wonder if she poops gold coins.
    The subplot with her father ended up going nowhere, and the main plot was full of holes. I watched the last 30 minutes on fast forward.


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