Dir.: Mari Okada (Co-director Toshya Shinohara); Anime with the voices of Manaka Iwami, Miyh Irino, Ai Kayano; Japan 2018, 115 min.
This debut anime by writer/director Mari Okada (who scripted Anthem of the Heart) is a stunning and moving portrait of an immortal teenager to coming to terms with inevitable loss of her close friends and family. Maquia (Iwami) belongs a to the clan of the Iolphs, elf-like creatures, who live forever, locked in their teenage years. A fiercely proud and loyal people, their heritage is preserved and passed on in their craft of weaving, called Hibbiol. But the Iolphs’ secret of immortality is coveted by a neighbouring kingdom, and Maquia’s friend Leilla is captured and forced to marry the Crown Prince of the Royals after they ambush the Iolphs. Leilla soon bears him a child who she is not allowed to see.
Meanwhile Maquia wonders around lost in the world of the humans, depressed and disorientated. Finding a baby boy, whose mother was killed by the King’s forces, Maquia adopts him and calls him Erial (Irino). The remainder of the story involves Maquia’s development from child to adult, stuck in her teenage body and overcoming existential angst. There are delightfully rendered scenes of the countryside, where mother and son spend an enchanting time together. But when they move to the capital, their relationship becomes complicated with Maquia staying a teenager and her son growing up. Gradually the two come to terms with each other in the moving finale that is considerably enhanced by Kenji Kawai’s original score.
Okada avoids romanticising her story, concentrating on the fate of her heroine and her struggle to find an identity in the human world in a wonderfully emotional feature dominated by memory and loss. AS
ON GENERAL RELEASE ROM 27 JUNE 2018