I went to see Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms in the cinema last week and in this post I’m going to briefly relate what I thought of it. There will be no major spoilers.
Overall, I found it reasonably entertaining. Maquia, which was written and directed by Mari Okada, is the unusual combination of a human drama set in fantasy world. During the story, epic and fantastic events do take place, but for the most part, the main characters are powerless against them. The heart of the story is the relationship between a young girl, the titular Maquia, and her adopted son, who she names Ariel. The catch, however, is that Maquia is an Iorph, while her son is a human. Iorphs are fair, child-like beings who age very slowly (not dissimilar to elves as they are portrayed in modern fantasy). This means that from the outset, Maquia is aware that Ariel will almost certainly pass away before her.
I went to see this film not really knowing very much about it, other than that the characters in it were cute and that many people who had seen it said that it had brought them to tears. It is definitely a story designed to tug at your heartstrings and there are several moments that are quite moving. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film for me was in regards to the role Maquia plays in it. Obviously, she is the heroine, but her heroism is not the kind that one would normally find in a fantasy tale. I guess you could call it a kind of feminine or motherly heroism; despite going through numerous hardships during the course of the movie, her love, compassion and caring for those dear to her, especially her adopted son, never wavers. And if you stop to think about it, that’s a truly wonderful thing.🙂
On a technical level, Maquia‘s animation, which is 2D, is very reminiscent of Studio Ghibli’s films. The backgrounds are luxuriously detailed, but the characters themselves are simple, which allows for more fluid movement. A bit of 3D is also used, and it does stick out a bit at times, like when it is used for the giant, dragon-like Renato creatures, but overall it blends in nicely. The version of Maquia I saw was the Japanese-language version, so the voice acting was of course top notch. When it comes to the music, though, I’m afraid that I don’t really remember any of it at this point. But since it was composed by Kenji Kawai, a composer I admire, I’m sure that it was more than adequate.
In closing, I would say that I recommend Maquia to those who are fans of stories with lots of drama in them. While it does have a big dose of action, it is not what you’d call heroic action, so those who are hoping for a thrilling fantasy adventure might want to think twice about seeing it. Till next time, au revoir, arrivederci and may the force be with you!😊