*Thank you to Madman Entertainment for the review copy*
A Letter to Momo is a feature film from director Hiroyuki Okiura, responsible for past works as diverse as Blood: The Last Vampire (key animator) to legendary anime, Akira (key animator). But despite both those films, and a large number in his works being action oriented, this time around he takes a soft handed approach when directing this feature.
The titular Momo is an 11 year old girl who along with her mother make the move from the big life in Tokyo to a smaller island far removed what she knows called Shio. The move comes as a direct result of Momo’s father being killed in a workplace accident and her mother needing a change of pace and scenery following the traumatic event. After his death, Momo finds a letter in her father’s handwriting which simply starts with “Dear Momo”. Coming into her life when she least expects it are three goblin characters from a book which she accidentally unseals just by opening it. A serious of mishaps then follow and eventuate as we quickly learn that only Momo can see them which leads to some interesting experiences.
The film has been rendered in a really light colour palette which lends it an air of a simpler time, especially of a time on a remote tranquil island. It is a longer movie at around 120 minutes long but the film maker has woven a richly dense tale with unique characters and side plots. The relationships which Momo develops during the course of the movie go a long ways to helping her adjust to her new life and you find yourself really caring for her. Her relationships with the island locals and in particular their ideal pastime of jumping of a bridge into the water below, something which Momo can’t seem to bring herself to do, raises some parallels with her new life. One the one hand, she detests her new life and asks her mother to take her back to Tokyo but on the other hand, she seems really determined and driven to find out more about the mysterious letter she’s found with two words on it.
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this film and story and found it extremely rewarding, rich and beautiful to watch. Momo’s relationship with her three new goblin friends shows fantastic character development from being completely at odds with each at the start to a completely different dynamic being shown by the end of the movie. A great deal of work has gone into the visual style of the film with great detail in the artwork, the island looks like a living, breathing community full of hustle and bustle. If you’re a fan of slower paced anime with a more down to Earth storyline, then you simply have to watch A Letter to Momo. It’s a movie that will stay with you long after you’ve finished watching it.
[starreview tpl=16] Fantastic looking movie with a pleasant storyline that builds a great, tight story by the end. If you want a break from action anime, give this a go!