The newest addition to Studio Ghibli’s emporium of wondrous Japanese animations is a tale of schoolgirl romance, containing all the delight but hardly the depth of Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle or Spirited Away. Umi is a Cinderella of sorts, running her family’s coastal boarding house after her sailor father dies and her mother leaves to study in America. Her prince is daredevil activist Shun, who’s set on saving their school’s unkempt “Quartier Latin” student center. Set in a post-WWII Japan ignited by social ferment, the film’s young characters battle authority and discover love to a soundtrack that sounds like Asian Gershwin. This family affair—Miyazaki worked on the screenplay and his son Goro directed—is dreamlike, endearing and fiercely visual. But scenes of Umi gazing over a misty harbor fall short of the mystical wonder expected from the studio behind Howl’s living, teleporting mansion.
- Running Time:
- Release Date: Monday, April 1, 2013
- MPAA Rating: PG
- Critic's Score: B-
- Watch the trailer