children-who-chase-lost-voicesTitle: Children Who Chase Lost Voices Sentai Select (Combo pack)

Director: Makoto Shinkai

Studio: CoMix Wave Films

U. S. Distributor: Sentai Filmworks, Section 23

U. S. Release Date: July 19th, 2016

Format: DVD / 117 minutes / Feature Film

Genre: Fantasy

Age Rating: PG

Overall Personal Rating: A-

Similar Titles: Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Vally of the Wind


Quiet and thoughtful Asuna doesn’t have much time for fun. She works very hard in school and at home because with her father passed away and her mother is working long hours as a nurse. The one thing she does enjoy is going up to the bluff that overlooks the city and try to pickup a strange music with the old crystal radio receiver her father gave her. She is not sure what this strange but beautiful music is but she does enjoy it.

A day after she hear a wonderful song, she is confronted on the railroad track bridge by a odd monster that is acting strange and looks to attack her. Just as it appears to be ready to pounce, a young man rescues her and defeats the monster. He uses a strange blueish crystal that emits a strange light. Before she knows it, this young man, Shun, whisks her away and takes her back up to the bluff where she hears the music.

The next day, she returns to find Shun one more time and she shows him the crystal receiver and he notices the special crystal she uses to listen to the music. Shun then explains that he is from a different land and that he was there to meet someone and that he had finished his journey. The next day he was gone and before too long, a boy’s body was found in the river with Asuna’s scarf. This sends Asuna back to the bluff where she runs into someone else that looks like Shun, but isn’t. They are soon surrounded by a group of soldiers called Arch Angels that are after the other boy and the stone he has. In their escape, the boy, Shin, takes Asuna with him into a cave that leads them to a gateway. Just as they get there, the soldiers arrive and one of them manages to take Asuna through the gateway and Shin just barely makes it through. The gateway leads them to the mythical land of Agartha. The one soldier who forced Asuna into the gateway also happens to be her teacher, Morisaki.

Morisaki is searching for the ancient secret to bring back the dead and now Asuna is coming along with him. They find out quickly that they are not welcomed to this mystical land but through much adversity, they manage to find their way to the gateway of life and death. Will Morisaki revive his long lost love or will they be stopped before he can get to the gods?


Makoto Shinkai has made a dramatic move in his development as a creator. His earlier films, Voices of a Distant Star and 5 Centimeters Per Second took on much different narratives. They tended to deal with relationships and communication and the way in which separation can effect these relationships, but Children Who Chase Lost Voices is something completely different and falls under the genre of a true fantasy. It takes place in the blend of our current world and the ability to travel to a mystical world underneath the surface where we live. There are fanciful beasts and magical stones and a main plot that revolves around the resurrection of the dead. My first impression was that it may not be the best vehicle for Shinkai, but as I moved through this film I was reminded of some of the films produced by Studio Ghibli and most notable is Tales of Earth Sea. But much of the scenery reminded me of Castle in the Sky. Nonetheless, this story does tell a tale of the discovery of the power of love and that we must be able to get past loss of our loves.

As for the animation it also has the feel of a Ghibli film. There is a richness to the background and the fanciful creatures that inhabit the world. The film is very engaging and the story moves along. The typical gorgeous Shinkai sunsets are abundant. I almost began to think the world always had this warm pinkish glow to it. The characters also have a simplistic feel to them that help draws you in and makes you feel comfortable right away. Asuna is one of the young girls that wants everything to work out and her connection to nature ends up being an absolute savior. The music also plays a role in the film because it help set the feel of a mystical world that hasn’t changed for over 2000 years. Mystery and mysticism abound.

Overall Grade: A-

There is a lot to really like about Children Who Chase Lost Voices and it is no sunrise that Sentai Filmworks made it a Sentai Select, but I think it falls a bit short for a Shinkai story. I’m not completely sold on this fantasy world and at times it came across a little too simplistic. I loved the look and feel, but the story ran aground from time to time. One thing is for sure, this is a film that the whole family can enjoy and it does deserve to be mentioned along side the likes of some of Studio Ghibli’s films. I think that this young animator has a great future and I hope to see him continue to expand his repertoire.


In this 4 disc set the special features include: Interviews, The Making Of, Japanese Promo Video, Japanese Teasers, The Works of Makoto Shinkai, Interview with Makoto Shinkai (text).

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