Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below ("Hoshi o Ou Kodomo")
Official Selection, BFI London Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2012
Official Selection, Imagine: Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival 2012
“Perhaps the most visually stunning and lovingly crafted animated feature you’ll catch all year” — Patrick Gamble, CINEVUE
Tartarus, Yomi, Naraka, Agartha — many names have come down to us through the ages from early civilizations, names for the underworld, the subterranean destination of those souls whose mortal existences have drawn to a close. It is the land of the dead, into which those still living rarely venture…
Such matters are of little concern to young Asuna as she scampers excitedly under the bright summer sun of the Japanese countryside. Her time is divided between school, where she excels, her home life with her widowed mother, and a cliff high up a nearby mountain. There, Asuna toys with her homemade radio kit, hoping to catch fragments of the mysterious yet beautiful music she has discovered. Her idyllic life, however, is turned upside-down by the appearance of Shun, a good-looking lad who saves Asuna in the nick of time from an unearthly, rampaging monster. From that moment, Asuna is cast into an amazing adventure, one of ancient, dying gods, high-tech conspiracy, and ongoing confrontation between the cynical powers of our world and the denizens of the afterlife.
In 2003, Fantasia brought you a half-hour short film called VOICES OF A DISTANT STAR, a fascinating and touching work of science fiction that already had the vanguard of global anime fandom buzzing. Its young creator, Makoto Shinkai, showed incredible potential, and his subsequent efforts, notably the 2004 feature THE PLACE PROMISED IN OUR EARLY DAYS and 2007’s three-in-one omnibus film 5 CENTIMETERS PER SECOND, proved that his debut was no fluke. Investing his capably crafted anime with profound emotional resonance and gentle poetic touch, Shinkai has been tagged by some as “the new Miyazaki”. While the master’s shoes might be big ones to fill, CHILDREN does echo the amazing imagination and firm moral grounding one counts on from Studio Ghibli. The lesson in Shinkai’s film, so elegantly expressed, is that just as it takes courage to seek out new things in life, so does it take courage to let go of the things one has lost.
— Rupert Bottenberg