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Mai Mai Miracle

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Mai Mai Miracle

(Maimai Shinko to Sen-nen no Mah)

Canadian Premiere

  • Japan 2009
  • 95 min
  • 35mm
  • Japanese with English subtitles



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“If there's anyone who can take the throne once Hayao Miyazaki finally retires, Sunao Katabuchi has a serious shot… MAI MAI MIRACLE gets a 10/10” - Dominic von Riedemann, SUITE101

“The visual magic is both subtle… and at times transformative” – Jeff Chuang, JAPANATOR


Director: Sunao Katabuchi
Screenplay: Sunao Katabuchi, from Nobuko Takagi
Cast: Mayuko Fukuda, Nako Mizusawa, Ei Morisako, Manami Honjou, Miyo Wakita
Producers: Tomohiko Iwase, Miho Icii, Ryoichiro Matsuo
Print Source: Shochiku



Far to the southwest of Tokyo in 1955, vivacious and confident nine-year-old Shinko enjoys a pleasant life, romping in her grandfather’s fields and reading storybooks in her hammock. Still, the good life in Koguka isn’t enough for her. Shinko has a vivid imagination, which she attributes to the perpetual cowlick in her hair. When her grandfather explains that the stream that waters the town’s fields, which runs at unnatural right angles, has been that way for a thousand years, she begins to imagine the Land of Suo of that time—the buildings, boats, people and, at the centre of Shinko’s fantasy community, a strong-willed but deeply lonely princess, Nagiko, seeking a friend of her own age. At that same time, back in the real world, there’s a new arrival in town. Kiiko is a delicate yet kindhearted upper-class girl, rather shy and uncertain of her new surroundings. Opposites attract and the two become fast friends. As the sunny days pass, challenges will be met, secrets revealed and the link between the girls and Nagiko brought to the forefront.

Based on prize-winning Japanese author Nobuko Takagi's fictionalization of her own autobiography, a reflection on the halcyon days of childhood innocence and discovery, MAI MAI MIRACLE is a revelation in the world of anime. Director Sunao Katabuchi, following a longterm working relationship with the master, Hayao Miyazaki (he was assistant director on KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE), directed his own PRINCESS ARETE in 2001 while with the admired Studio 4°C. Then he moved over to Madhouse (NINJA SCROLL, CHOBITS), where he gathered a band of top talent to create this outstanding film. Their love and dedication is rewardingly clear in every frame. Simple and clear yet executed with rare diligence, MAI MAI MIRACLE invests breathtaking beauty into the most mundane things—a box of coloured pencils, the play of sunlight off a glass lamp, a little flower garden. Also worth a special mention is the delightful musical score by Shusei Murai and Minako "Mooki" Obata, a sort of baroque vocal jazz that’s evocative and memorable. Comparisons to Miyazaki aren’t unwarranted (little girls letting their imaginations bloom in a bucolic rural setting… sound familiar?), but this is no cheap rip-off. Given his professionalism, his poetic sensibility and his profound love of life, so evident throughout MAI MAI MIRACLE, Katabuchi may well be the prince who claims the king’s crown some day soon.

—Rupert Bottenberg

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