ReviewWriter: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
“Spirited Away”, “Toy Story 3” and “Cats Return”.
"Oblivion Island" opens with a fairytale of how a farmer prayed to the god Inari with offerings of eggs, so that he would be able to find a missing keepsake of his late mother that he thought he had misplaced. As the story continues, it is revealed that the farmer had not misplaced the precious memento, but it had been collected by the fox spirit servants of Inari, and they scour across the land to collect any items the humans had neglected and stow them away in a secret world.
This story is told by a sick mother lying on a hospital bed to her little daughter, Haruka, who learns the lesson of the story as all children of her age would. While little Haruka proudly shows off the she has kept her mother's hand mirror close to her at all times, she asks the innocent question of when her mother would be returned to her. She even makes an offering as told in the story to Inari, believing that her prayer too would be answered.
Fast forward a few years later and we see that a grownup Haruka in high school did not get her wish. She comes home and answers her father's call with rude words and bitter resentment. While remembering her late mother, she wonders where she had left that hand mirror she once held so dear, and believed that it must have been lost when they moved out of their previous home after her mother's death.
While visiting an Inari shrine, Haruka comes across a masked fox spirit caught in the act of picking up an abandoned toy. Following the little scavenger, she inevitably gets pulled into a world that she once heard of as a child.
Younger audiences should have no difficulty immersing themselves in the fantasies of "Oblivion Island". The brightly coloured settings made out of every trinket imaginable looks like one that came out of a child's dreamscape, and the cute and magical inhabitants just add to the amazement. The animation and design is top notch work as one would expect from the quality of Production I.G, but the eye pleasing spectacle is not the only factor where the entertainment value is found.
As Haruka and her newfound friend Theo sets out to find Haruka's missing hand mirror, director Sato Shinsuke, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Adachi Hirotaka, makes sure that you would be brought on to an adventure that is exhilarating for the kids and emotional for the adults. Besides the fast chases along the railway tracks and the heroes fighting off a giant stuffed doll, there is plenty set pieces to spike the excitement. In the slower moments though, the rather formulaic characters are given some depth to appeal towards the sentiments of nostalgia and family, through the excellent voice casting, which makes it hard for a sensitive adult to not be softened by that scene when Haruka and Theo find themselves in the mirror.
As Haruka returns to the real world with a happy ending, "Oblivion Island" is a colorfully imaginative and exciting adventure that may dispense a touching moment or two for adults. If you are looking for something in this festival to be shared with the whole family, then look no further than this.Cinema Online, 19 September 2013