There is something special about walking out of a screening full of emotion and constantly thinking about the film three days later, but here we are. Brisbane anime fans got the unique opportunity to be the first in the country to see the brand new film ‘Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’ when it was shown at Madman Anime Festival. Admittedly, I wasn’t too keen to see it but something inside me said that I need to check this out. So, grabbing the last few tickets that were available for my friends and I (absolute packed house) we waited to see what the fuss was all about. The hype and buzz that this film had is completely justified. This is the first film from acclaimed screenwriter Mari Okada making this her directorial debut with this fantasy feature. If you are wondering why that name sounds familiar, she was screenwriter of a certain anime ‘Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day’. Just knowing that little knowledge, we were going to be jumping on a feels train.
The people of Iorph have a lifespan of hundreds of years and maintain their teenage appearances for life, but when the peace of this town is shattered by those who want the secret to their longevity for themselves, a young girl named Maquia is forced to escape. Wandering the land alone, upon finding an orphaned baby she chooses to raise him, but as this boy grows up so the difference in their lifespans is thrown into ever-sharper relief.
The film starts off slow, quickly establishing the differences between the people of Iorph and humans. We are introduced to this world and these mythical humans (the Iorph people) and how they maintained long lifespans and being able to spin essentially the fabric of life. The humans want to be able to have this longevity and have tried to bring the two sides together. The Kingdom (where the humans reside) kidnap one of the Iorph females to become the wife of the Prince. This results in the destruction of the land where the Iorph people lived and all around. Maquia is a very young Iorphian, who learns very early on that life is unpredictable. She comes across a newborn boy and decides to become the orphans guardian. I won’t spoil the rest of the film as I firmly believe that if the plot was given the magic of this film will be lost.
What makes this film stand out is the themes that it essentially covers. It is a love story of a mother loving her child, a child loving their mother. It is the bond that two people build between each other that is true and pure. It was a very unique way to explore bonds between people as it is something that is rather relatable with everyone. Another theme that was covered was the concept of life and death. It was chilling at times the way the story was portrayed, however was able to explore the importance of living your life and accepting that death is a factor of life as well. You could even argue that this film explore the concept of the ‘circle of life’ and that everyone has a place within it. There were so many theme weaved within this story that it blew my mind. It looked at family, first love, politics, parental relationship and of course age.
Although at times I felt that the animation was sloppy, there were just breathtaking moments that can only be truly appreciated on the big screen. The emotional factors within this story was built up slowly, leaving viewers right at the end grabbing tissues. It is definitely a film that will leave a lasting impression on you. I still think about the scene where Maquia and Ariel (the adopted son) establish their bond as being parent and child, it is so raw and filled with unintended emotions that it would make the strongest of hearts melt with the feels.
I cannot wait to see this movie again. I do feel it will be one that you will need to see at least three times because there is so much in it, but each viewing you will be rewarded.
I rate this movie * * * * (four out of five stars).
Easily one of the best anime movies I have seen since ‘Your Name’ and ‘A Silent Voice’.
The film premiers Australia wide on June 7. Don’t miss the opportunity to see it on the big screen.