Ah, the Japanese dog movie. It is a strange genre, although a prolific one. Any Japanese DVD shop will have a section devoted to it, and there are sometimes even cat movies as well. Probably the most familiar to US audiences is The Adventures of Milo & Otis, which was, shortened, re-edited and narration added for American audiences.
Unlike most US dog movies, like Benji or Lassie, the Japanese dog movie usually presents their animals as non-anthropomorphic, not performing super-feats or amazing tricks, but just showing loyalty and love and companionship, all the things a dog should do. They rarely save the day or foil criminals. They always bring a tear to the eye with their simple affection.
"Quill" is a quintessential Japanese dog movie. A floppy little puppy, cute as they come and entirely poster-ready, is trained to be a seeing-eye dog. A cantankerous blind person, assured that he doesn't need to be dragged around by a dog, is set to be proven wrong. Bring out the hankies and open the floodgates!
The story was adapted from a popular novel, "The Life of Quill, the Seeing-Eye Dog". The film is almost a documentary, showing Quill from his initial training up to his eventual bonding with his human companion to whom he will be both eyes and best friend. The training is handled in a realistic fashion, without forced drama or silly situations. While designed to be simple, and to educate children about the life of a seeing-eye dog, under the directorial hand of Yoichi Sai (A shock in and of itself, considering his next film was the brutal Blood and Bones. Apparently he had enough of sweetness and needed to get dirty), "Quill" becomes an enjoyable and moving film.
It is absolutely the kind of film that you could watch with little children, and still get something out of it yourself. Be warned that the film is realistic, and that death is a major theme. Nothing horrible happens, there is no heart-wrenching accident: this isn't Old Yeller, but death is a part of all living creatures, and is something that "Quill" addresses.