The unsupervised, independent Asuna escapes her lonely life by listening to mysterious music on the crystal radio set left to her by her late father. With its help, she finds a passage into Agartha, a fantastic, fabled land populated by Quetzalcoatls, shadow-dwelling monsters. Asuna’s action-packed rite of passage brings her face-to-face with the realms of the underworld, of life, death and the possibility of resurrection. Though a “robust adventure story,” notes Metrograph’s Aliza Ma, the film is “at heart, a wrenching meditation on the process of mourning, saying goodbye, and moving on.” Clearly influenced by Castle in the Sky, Shinkai’s lush animation also includes a nod to Miyazaki’s Nausicaa, with its brave heroine and her loyal pet cat Mimi. Shinkai’s film won the Tokyo Anime Award and was nominated for the Crystal Award at the prestigious Annecy International Animation Film Festival, which placed him prominently in the international spotlight.
Age recommendation: 14+