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4.3 out of 5 stars56
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 31 March 2013
The film itself is excellent entertainment. I wont go into too much detail as it will spoil the movie. Makoto Shinkai proves he can do more than just amazing visuals (I don't feel he needed to anyway...) I thought all the main characters were compelling and believable - you want to experience their adventure, both physically, and perhaps more prevalent - emotionally. The story itself has many underlying levels. But if I were to pick a overall theme, it would be coming to terms with life and death. It doesn't portray 'good' and 'bad' conventionally (or even at all to be honest) or try to shove down your throat any one repeated message. An important thing to note is that not everything will be picked up upon on first viewing. It gets better every-time I watch it. It's just a solid 2 hour Journey...to Agartha (pun intended). The films presentation is excellent, the stand out being the visuals - just a treat to the eyes. You can tell a lot of effort was put into this (I know from watching the bonus content, more on that down below). Even everyday life is portrayed so aesthetically pleasingly - You just notice little things all the time. The style isn't solely photo realistic as his previous works but a mix, and works very well.

The bonus content is quite good overall. The stand out clearly being the 'making of' and interviews with the actors and creator. I wasn't expecting both of those to be a minimum of 45mins each! One reason I'm doing this review is because, after watching both of those features, I feel Makoto produced exactly what he intended (the other reason is because some people have given this 1 or 2 star and have not even watched the damn thing... the forums/comments are below people) The bonus content is well worth a watch if you enjoyed the film. I was surprised how knowledgeable and genuinely proud of the film and their characters they portrayed the actors were. Very likeable indeed. It isn't a standard set of interview questions regarding the process of voice acting. (though that is covered). The art book is nice and gives further insight into some of the scenes visited - the small town for example or just early character concepts. The box itself opens upwards and cannot stand straight on it's on due to this. The artbook isn't secure in the box either.

I've watched it twice, both in Japanese with subtitles. I do intend on watching it one day with the English dub. But I feel, after watching it with subs, that the English cast just don't reflect how the characters should sound like when I briefly switched audio track mid way through second viewing. I'm sure it's adequate and accurate, but not my cup of tea on this occasion so far.

Overall; Buy this film. If you're reading this review it's likely that you're not new to anime and perhaps want to broaden your horizons. Competition is good for everyone in business, especially for the consumer. I highly doubt you'll feel or wished that you hadn't purchased and watched this film when the end credits roll. It will most likely leave some impact :)

Nigel out.
33 comments24 of 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 January 2013
Compared to some other animations on the market,this is a diamond.Asuna,the 10 year old heroine,seems to be on her own.On arriving home after school,she calls out "I'm home" but the house is empty,it was just someone had left a light on.Apparently,her Mother works late.So,Asuna cooks,cleans AND does the shopping !
Her passion is to climb a local mountain and listen to sounds through a crystal radio.Asuna has even made use of a cave as her den.We soon meet a boy who sits in the same spot and seems to think it isn't safe for Asuna.He's got a crystal too.They feature prominently in the film.
This is Shun,a teenager,who leads Asuna on a journey to discover the meaning of life and death and that they are both part of the human condition.
It's an amazing depiction of another world where more respect was shown to our environment and more importantly,a world before GUNS !
So,we're shown a film about the choices we can make and the consequences of them.It's about love,loss and friendships.Yep,the usual stuff,but done very nicely.I knew I'd spent my money wisely after only 5 minutes !
I thoroughly enjoyed all 116 minutes of it.The animation is brilliant and reminds me of the Studio Ghibli films.I think the great Miyazaki has an equal here in Makoto.There are loads of extra little animations that really do add to the pleasure of watching this film.It's nice that they go to the trouble of putting them in.
I'm convinced there must be a DVD's worth of deleted scenes 'cos there are some abrupt scene changes during the film.There were no extras on this DVD but there is a promo for Bleach.Not a criticism,but an observation.
The film focuses on light and colour so when Asuna and her companion near 'The gate of death',it changes to rainy grey,a marked contrast to the rest of the film,that's for sure.
So.I guess there's not much for adults unless you enjoy just great animation with a superb imagination brought to life.I also have the two other films by Makoto Shinkai so my expectations were high.I'm pleased to report,I'm not disappointed !
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on 4 December 2012
Journey to Agartha (or, as in the Japanese title "Children who Chase Stars" [星を追う子ども]).

Set in the countryside, it is the story of a small girl who likes to listen to the sounds made by her home-made crystal radio, given to her by her now dead father.

A chance encounter with a strange monster and her saviour boy leads to a journey of discovery of a mythical land: Agartha.

I will not say more about the actual plot so as not to spoil it.

This is a film about the acceptance (or otherwise) of the loss of loved ones (including pets).
It is beautifully made and offers readings for both young and old.

I have seen this film in its original Japanese language so I cannot comment on the quality of the English dubbing.
What I can say is that the quality of the animation is one of the best I have seen for this type of film.

Highly recommended.
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on 18 April 2014
A lot of people has claimed Makoto Shinkai to be the "new" Hayao Miyazaki and while I get that it's only meant as praise for Shinkai I kind of feel that the claime is misleading because while the two have similarities for sure Shinkai is still doing his own thing - but I do love both directers work a lot!

Anyways...Leaving all that aside the movie is about a little girl who lives in a small village with her mother and meets the boy Shun and their meeting is ultimately what leads her to her journey to Agartha. I know that was kind of the really short explanation, but I won't go any further in the story because it's something you need to watch for yourself to trully enjoy the movie. The theme would be something along the lines to accept life as it is and that death is also a part of life - I really like the message, but it isn't something that the movie forces on you by any means. I decided to buy the DVD after watching the trailer for and the movie does not disappoint - before I new it the two hour long movie was already over. It's a really entertaing movie with some of the most amazing visuals I've seen in anything(but it's not in the photo realistic style as his later work in Garden of Words), but it looks gourgeus!

So I'm happy for my random trailer watching and this movie made me a fan of Makoto Shinkai. So if you like anime and anime movies in general you should give this movie a shot.

Thanks for reading and I hope it was helpful :)
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on 31 March 2013
The film itself is excellent entertainment. I wont go into too much detail as it will spoil the movie. Makoto Shinkai proves he can do more than just amazing visuals (I don't feel he needed to anyway...) I thought all the main characters were compelling and believable - you want to experience their adventure, both physically, and perhaps more prevalent - emotionally. The story itself has many underlying levels. But if I were to pick a overall theme, it would be coming to terms with life and death. It doesn't portray 'good' and 'bad' conventionally (or even at all to be honest) or try to shove down your throat any one repeated message. An important thing to note is that not everything will be picked up upon on first viewing. It gets better every-time I watch it. It's just a solid 2 hour Journey...to Agartha (pun intended). The films presentation is excellent, the stand out being the visuals - just a treat to the eyes. You can tell a lot of effort was put into this (I know from watching the bonus content, more on that down below). Even everyday life is portrayed so aesthetically pleasingly - You just notice little things all the time. The style isn't solely photo realistic as his previous works but a mix, and works very well.

The bonus content is quite good overall. The stand out clearly being the 'making of' and interviews with the actors and creator. I wasn't expecting both of those to be a minimum of 45mins each! One reason I'm doing this review is because, after watching both of those features, I feel Makoto produced exactly what he intended (the other reason is because some people have given this 1 or 2 star and have not even watched the damn thing... the forums/comments are below people) The bonus content is well worth a watch if you enjoyed the film. I was surprised how knowledgeable and genuinely proud of the film and their characters they portrayed the actors were. Very likeable indeed. It isn't a standard set of interview questions regarding the process of voice acting. (though that is covered). The art book is nice and gives further insight into some of the scenes visited - the small town for example or just early character concepts. The box itself opens upwards and cannot stand straight on it's on due to this. The artbook isn't secure in the box either.

I've watched it twice, both in Japanese with subtitles. I do intend on watching it one day with the English dub. But I feel, after watching it with subs, that the English cast just don't reflect how the characters should sound like when I briefly switched audio track mid way through second viewing. I'm sure it's adequate and accurate, but not my cup of tea on this occasion so far.

Overall; Buy this film. If you're reading this review it's likely that you're not new to anime and perhaps want to broaden your horizons. Competition is good for everyone in business, especially for the consumer. I highly doubt you'll feel or wished that you hadn't purchased and watched this film when the end credits roll. It will most likely leave some impact :)

Nigel out.
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on 6 April 2013
Visually the film is beautiful so on that alone I would recommend it. The storyline is heart warming with some tear jerking bits along the way.
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on 31 October 2013
Strange to see the hollow-earth figuring here in a modern film. As in 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth', the protagonists invade a secret, dangerous and vulnerable inner world, but two, heroic and damaged heroes stay behind, to atone for their crimes against it, while the third, innocent, generous-spirited and heroic character returns to the surface. determined to keep the secret and get on with her life. You are left wondering if the ghoulish predators of the underworld will overwhelm the conservative but decent agriculturalist humans. You also wonder if the upper-world's techno-fascists will go on trying to dig into and exploit the treasures and talents of the under-worlders. Metaphor and satire permeate the film, but it is also watchable just as a ripping yarn, by younger viewers. (Not too young: the ghouls are pretty nasty.)
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on 6 February 2013
Wow.....I've seen the director's other works (5cm per second, The place promised in our early days) but this film has just gone that step further. The artwork is stunning, the story, isn't too original seeing as many scenes reminded me of Ghibli's Princess Mononoke and Tales from Earthsea (Shin and Prince Arren look totally alike) but the plot is far enough away from those films to consider it as new. He really has done this film justice and I hope he continues to make great films like this one.

If you're a die hard Ghibli fan like me and enjoy films like Summer Wars, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and the other above mentioned films, I would definitely put an order in for this one, it's totally worth it.
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on 17 April 2014
This is definitely one of the best looking anime films I have ever watched, just everything about the art direction, the music and the choice of shots really sells the sense of adventure the film has. However, quite a lot of the world feels very unexplained (which could be intentional, to be honest) and it didn't draw me into it quite as much as something from Studio Ghibli (maybe like Princess Mononoke did).
That being said, this is a fantastic film, and I would highly recommend it if you've seen any of Shinkai's other films and enjoyed them even a little bit.
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on 1 February 2013
This film is the story of a young girl who, after meeting a mysterious young boy, finds herself thrown in to the conflicts involved around a secret magical underground land. Much of the lore the film is set it in is taken from actual myths and legends of such a place, giving it a rich and well realised setting.

The film is visually gorgeous, with stunning scenery and brilliant use of sweeping vistas bathed in soft, colourful light. It evokes the feeling of many Studio Ghibli films, especially more recent ones. The character designs and animation are also brilliant. Those of the human characters also bare similarities to recent Ghibli films, but the designs of the various creatures look more like older films from Ghibli, such as Princess Mononoke or Laputa.

The story is where it sets itself apart from the famous anime studio. Although many of the characters themselves may come across as having personalities similar characters from Ghibli, the events they are involved in certainly are not. The story mostly actually revolves around the past conflicts between Agartha and nations from the surface, and the journey of one man who betrays his position as one of a group of shady government investigators who are seeking to plunder Agartha themselves, his intention being to resurrect his dead wife. His intentions clash with those of the girl, but one gets the feeling that his side of the story is much more meaningful and well developed. The girl's motivations are mostly born out of naivety, while the man's story has more layers to it and gives his character an interesting arc. It gives the feeling that the story is framed as the experience of a young girl who has been caught up in the affairs of adults and has gotten out of her depth, even though those events take place in a fantastical setting.

The themes of the story make the film stand out among others in the genre, but it is far from a masterpiece. The main characters are mostly not very compelling or developed, and not a whole lot of interesting stuff happens until the third act. It's not unenjoyable per se, but the story feels like it's focusing too much on a side of the story which is not very original or interesting. If it were the only aspect of the story then this film would be completely forgettable, but once the story of the man and his wife takes over the movie towards the end things become much more interesting.

If you are happy to just watch a movie for how good it looks, you could to a lot worse than this. If you're looking for a moving narrative with characters you fall in love with throughout their journey, then you'll be disappointed.
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