Posted by psgels on 2 December 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews

The target audiences for movies are completely different from those of TV-series. What’s most impressive is that the most overused genre, the family movie, is actually consistently very good and that there are very few people taking advantage of it with cheap and bad story-lines, like what’s currently happening with the fanservice in TV-series. They’re all attempting to be well executed.

Having said that though, there are a lot of movies that just look like each other. I’m of course talking about the My Neighbour Totoro-inspired series: you take a village, you take a kid, and you take some sort of supernatural being, and you try to create a heart-warming story around it. The stories indeed are heart-warming, but they don’t really try to do something new with the genre and tropes. Miyazaki himself did this with Ponyo, a few years ago, but apart from that I can’t really think of many other movies. A Letter to Momo however, gives a really good attempt to stand out, though.

It’s just all so real. These movies stand out with their realism, but this one reallygoes the extra edge: Momo really feels like a typical young girl, and this movie adds so many quirks for her that other movies look over. It’s all in the details, though, but those details are amazing. The animation also really shows this, with a lot of Madhouse’s top people working on it. The faces in this movie are all 2-dimensional, but they have depth. The way they’re animated, the way they move: you feel like they’re more than just a few drawn lines, something quite rare in today’s animation. It only adds even more to the realism and believability.

Where this really sets itself apart though, is in the supernatural creatures that visit Momo. They are nearly always innocent: cute, adorable, mysterious. In this movie, they’re the complete opposites: while they have good intentions, these beings are flawed, annoying, they continuously cause trouble, they keep stealing from everyone, they keep harassing Momo, and they have just generally un-likable personalities. And yet it’s been a while since I laughed as much at a movie as here. They are the kind of characters that were supposed to be annoying, yet only ended up really charming because of it.

The overall plot of this movie is something you should not expect much of: you’ve seen it before in other movies. However, the way in which it does this is remarkable and defnitely deserves a watch as one of the best attempts on how to do it since Totoro. For the Jin Roh fans who were looking forward to this movie though (the director of Jin Ron has also directed this movie, working on it for seven years): expect nothing like it. This movie has no political messages whatsoever, and is the complete opposite of Jin Roh was. It’s a bit of a shame considering how original Jin Roh was and all, but that does not make A Letter to Momo any less impressive.

Storytelling: 8/10 – The plot is nothing special, but how it was told stands out as the best since Totoro of its trope.
Characters: 9/10 – Absolutely lovable, yet different. Excellent acting as well, although the way they developed has been done before.
Production-Values: 9.5/10 – Very realistic. Characters have depth, lots of details and the characters really are brought to life here.
Setting: 8/10 – Realistic portrayal of a random village, nice ideas. Solid

Suggestions:
My Neighbour Totoro
Junkers Come Here

10 Responses

  1. witchy says:

    I’d seen this weeks before. The ending came into a good full circle. ^^ I wish we’ll get to watch Nerawareta Gakuen and Library War movie soon. :)

  2. kero says:

    I saw this movie in the cinema, I enjoyed it and thought it was cute, but nothing much really happens for how long the movie was. I would have liked a bit more action, or more changes of scenes.

    I did think it was great how weird/ugly the supernatural creatures were.

  3. shigurui says:

    Was a little disappointed actually. The realism is there but there is some room for improvement.

    *Spoiler alert*
    Characters development too simple. They seem to have this robotic look (other than occasionally giving off weird smiles exactly like those you see in Omohide Poro Poro), i believe it is intended, which is okay for all the side characters but not for Momo.

    Why so? The main character is supposed to be a city folk, and is supposed to be homesick (to what extent it doesnt matter) but she doesnt seem to display any of these characteristics in the film. The film would have made better sense for me, if Momo appeared more as a spoilt girl in the beginning or something. Well you can say the non-human characters may have helped her alleviate some of these stress throughout but it is the same even when they were not present. Yes she seemed hard time adapting to hew new life in a fishing town but, given that the initial parts of the film has pictured her in an obvious way that she was not interested at all in getting to know her new surrounding, it seemed to me she adapted to the new lifestyle with relative ease and way too fast.

    I think the director had forgotten to take into account the significance that a young girl (not an adult who may have less of a hard time adapting) is not temporarily staying or vacationing in a place outside Tokyo, but was in a way being forced to be a permanent resident in a new life. I am not even accounting for the fact that she is still grieving from her loved one’s passing, which could have made the fault more dire.

    In fact I was more attracted to the non-human characters because being purely fictional characters, I was spared from having to bother if they are realistic or not. Although I would think it could have been better if they possess more intelligence than what was perceived in the film, I mean they had lived through so many eras (assuming they are much older than mortals) so one should expect them to be able to think or take better responsibility in how to resolve the unexpected problems right?

    Probably everyone else will disagree with my opinion (as I have given my review in IMDB and I am the only one with a rating less than 8/10 lol.) but really, I have seen better anime movies talking about the same subject matter.

    • someloser says:

      spolit… like spoiled right? well, I’m quite sure that not all cityfolk are supposed to be spoiled, and truthfully it would probably be a bit weird for a girl to continue her spoiled nature after being guilted by the death of her father. As for character development, the girl finally plays with the other children only at the end of the film, and throughout the film she makes attempts to play with the other kids, so is it really that fast? Then again the demons also go about and help her adapt as well.

      also, can you list the better anime movies as well? im running out of movies to watch.

      • shigurui says:

        I am refering to the reluctance to cope with the new environment, or maybe she doesn’t need to be reluctant, but if anyone of us is in that situation we will have to cope with unfamiliar grounds right? Whether she is actually a spoilt brat or not, from the perspective residents in that town it is likely they will view her as a spoilt brat.

        That indirectly takes a lot away from character development as well because she seems to be less affected by all these things than what I had expected. But you are right the development is there, just not at a large enough quantum in my opinion, because there was no ‘low base’.

        I cant think of a good movie recently, but this movie reminds me a lot about Omohide Poro Poro because the people in these 2 movies had the same robotic look and the weird smile that you see occasionally, unlike in other anime. But for Omohide’s case, that structure made more sense to me

        • shigurui says:

          Nyangoro’s mention of From the Poppy Hill impressed me as well.

        • mulligan says:

          Agree with above commentors re the somewhat “fixed” look to characters, but I actually enjoyed that spared, natural approach. It’s a different take on ‘realism’ compared to say Miyazaki or even Satoshi Kon’s work.

          Personally I felt the most outstanding feature of this film was actually timing – both in shots, action and also humour and dialogue. My immediate thought went straight to Spirited Away and Toki Kakeru Shoujo (have not yet seen Ookami no Kodomo). But I think Momo really distinguished itself in the quality of animation.

          Overall a really likeable film, would love to see more like this from Japan’s animation production houses in future.

  4. Nyangoro says:

    I, too, wasn’t especially thrilled with this work. I mean, it gets quite a few points in certain places (such as the production values and the setting); but when you get right down to it, the actual meat just wasn’t there for me. I thoroughly enjoyed both Momo and her mother, finding them to be very well-crafted characters, but everyone else felt much more wooden by comparison.

    The worst part, however, was the fact that the movie takes two-hours to go all of a foot. All the major development is crammed into the very beginning and the very ending, with the middle feeling more like needless padding than meaningful events. The creatures especially have dreadfully little purpose here, and slow the 2nd act down to a painful grind.

    I was amazed when I saw that this one take the prize at APSA, especially over the likes of Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki and From Up on Poppy Hill. Now, I haven’t seen the former yet, but the latter is one of my favorite post-2000 Ghibli-produced films (second only to Spirited Away).

  5. Juno says:

    This was a great movie. I was surprised to find out it took place right near the city I was living in 4 years ago (Imabari), so the atmosphere caught me in a soft spot. =3

  6. Rincewind says:

    I just watched this movie. Love it.

    Its fantastic. The animation is amazing. The expression, the movements, its so… lively.
    The story is great too, the pacing is just right. And the characters are very likeable. The youkai antics are pure fun!

    It’s a must see for me.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 05:33 AM)
    @Aidan: I sent an email. pls check your Yahoo inbox.
  • Badesh
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 02:11 AM)
    Nice! Looking forward to the reviews. Some nice fighting scenes besides the build up of the story. I just hope they don’t play just this one tune all the time ;)
  • afgm
    (Saturday, Jul 30. 2016 02:10 AM)
    @Aidan: Too bad you’re giving up on Berserk. You’re missing ooouut.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 02:09 PM)
    @Bam, sent you the details. Give me a heads up on here if you send a message back. My yahoo.ie mail is so clogged up with spam that I rarely check it.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 12:49 PM)
    @Aidan: for sure. Might as well put this one up before the next episode is out, and I’ll brush up on my WordPress and handle the next one on. Thx.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 12:35 PM)
    @bam, I got it but it would be a pain to check my yahoo.ie address for every post. So I am just gonna create an account and send you the details on how to log in. Then you can put this up yourself.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 05:51 AM)
    @Aidan: did you get it?
  • Bam
    (Friday, Jul 29. 2016 03:55 AM)
    @Aidan: already sent.
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 01:51 PM)
    Creating a account on the site is easy but I am not sure if you need a WordPress account to access it. Though if you email me the thing I can grab screenshots for you to save you the trouble.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Jul 28. 2016 01:14 PM)
    @Aidan: I believe I have your email from the time I gave you the Black Desert Online Pass. Whichever way is easier for you is fine with me.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

EVA 02c

Neon Genesis Evangelion – 02

Turns out that our boy Shinji is after all THE ONE, akin to Neo in the Matrix or every main mecha hero for that matter. He has been chosen, he must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as he has. Sound like I’m complaining, right? Well, I’m not because I think this is […]

Fate Kaleid Liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! - 04 2

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei – 04

Well after a decisive defeat after assaulting the enemy headquarters, Illya and her newly united crew decide to hang around the school. The main bulk of the episode was dedicated to a fight between Chloe and Illya while other parts were mainly the characters clarifying the situation. The main reason behind the fight was Chloe […]

Mob Psycho 100 - 03 3

Mob Psycho 100 – 02/03

This may be a surprise to some so I better start this with an explanation. As you know I originally planned to cover Berserk this season and have put up reviews of the last two episodes. However due to Berserks rather disappointing quality, my desire to cover it has vanished. I doubt anyone wants to […]

orange 04c

orange – 04

Orange takes it very slowly this week, even slower than its standard. Indeed, we can summarize the plot of the first 15 minutes just by one sentence: After Kakeru dating with another girl, Naho feels brokenhearted and avoids Kakeru like a plague. Which actually makes sense. After all, the guy already had a girlfriend so […]

Thunderbolt Fantasy 03d

Thunderbolt Fantasy – 03

With this episode we basically get an idea where the show will head for the rest of the series and I pretty much enjoy the direction they taking so far. Of course it makes sense that in order to get past those obstacles, the band needs to ally with others who are most suitable for […]

Fate Kaleid Liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! - 03 2

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei – 03

Plenty of action this week as we have faceoffs between Beatrice and Illya with Gil and Angelica firing legendary weapons back and forth. I wish there was a bit more fight animation here as while it was the same in the manga, it’s still a shame to have the scene cut away just when the […]

91 Days - 03 4

91 Days – 03

Seeing as things didn’t quite go to plan for Avilio last episode, it’s now time for him to prove his innocence to Nero. Avilio is playing his cards right and things would have gone to plan if it wasn’t for the man who lead them to Fango before. He states out of curiosity that he […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 17 4

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 17

While I did enjoy this episode and think that some interesting things have been brought up, I must admit that even my patience is starting to run out. I blame this mostly on the fact that I am watching this weekly instead of binge watching it all as the progression in these episodes has slowed […]

EVA 01b

Neon Genesis Evangelion – 01

Truth be told, I’ve never seen any of the EVA franchise, and it’s not normal since EVA is a must for any anime viewer. I don’t really know the reason why I keep myself from watching it, maybe both because mecha is not my favorite genre, and the hype of EVA is just overwhelming that […]

Latest Reviews

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice a

The Murder Case of Hana & Alice (2015) Movie Review – 85/100

Welcome to the third installment of World Animation section, but this time we head back to Japan for my favorite anime movie out of last year. If anything, I have always wanted those reviews to be a recommendation if you want to look for something different. So if there is anyone who would check out […]

Untitled-1

Legend of Legacy Review – 80/100

Oh Square Enix, this is the kind of avant-garde work you need to do. Developed by Furyu with the people behind SaGa, and written by Masato Kato of Chrono Trigger, I knew I was in for a unique game right from the start. But its gameplay is certainly divisive and for good reason, as this […]

My Life as a Courgette a

My Life as a Courgette (2016) Movie Review – 82/100

It’s never easy to make a good family’s animation. For movies aim at adults, the filmmakers can easily get themselves loose, go crazy and the audience can still get it. But for kids, these movies might be one of the first movies they’ve ever seen and that’s a huge responsibility. They have to aware of […]

Red Turtle a

The Red Turtle Review – 93.5/100

Welcome to my first movie review on World Animation section, the column where I wholly dedicated to indie/ art-house animated features around the world that hardly got coverage anywhere really (but rest assure our since sometimes I will review anime movies as well). And what’s a better way to start this section by reviewing one of […]

Flying witch 09d

Flying witch Review – 86/100

As I mentioned in one of my weekly posts, most of the reason why a slice-of-life anime show don’t work well is not because there’s nothing happen, but more because the cast isn’t interesting enough or the show tends to repeat the things that we already know. I’m happy to say that this is not […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 12a

Bungou Stray Dogs Review – 62/100

Well, we don’t usually give a review on the first cour of anime show, given the fact that the second part will air next autumn season. But since I’m not certain I would cover its second half, plus I don’t think this series will improve itself, I might as well give Bungou Stray Dogs a […]

Kiznaiver - 12 1

Kiznaiver Review – 60/100

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]