I had been at the library some time ago when I spotted this movie. Immediately, I realized, “hey, wasn’t this directed by the guy that made that movie, Your Name? Well, better check it out!” So that’s what I did.
Also, as this is an animation, I am going to be reviewing according to my anime guidelines, rather than pure movie guidelines.
Summary: A coming of age story involving young love and a mysterious music, coming from a crystal radio left as a memento by an absent father, that leads a young heroine deep into a hidden world.
Story: 3.5/5: This had a lot packed into it, and sometimes the pacing could be a little off. Sometimes the plot could be slow, and other times fast and a bit confusing. However, the story was still good.
It follows a young girl named Asuna, who likes to work with a handmade radio. One day, she finds a radio station that plays one of the most beautiful songs she’s ever heard, but then she can’t find it again. Shortly afterward, she is attacked by a strange creature and rescued by a boy named Shun. They form a fast friendship, but then an unexpected tragedy occurs. Asuna is determined to find Agartha, a hidden world that Shun came from. She is accompanied by her substitute teacher, and eventually meets Shun’s brother, Shin.
This story has a lot of difficult themes. Each of the characters have lost people who were very important to them, and it explores how grief varies with each person. It also has touches and thoughts of the afterlife. This movie can become very somber at moments, but also has a lot of hope and beauty to go with it.
Characters: 3.5/5: The character development, overall, could’ve been better. I felt as though some characters and relationships were underdeveloped, even though the ideas behind them were interesting. I particularly wanted to see more interactions between Asuna and her mother, and how they’re both coping with their loss.
Asuna seemed to be your typical plucky, young protagonist. She’s also incredibly stubborn, determined, and makes friends easily. However, it is revealed that she is still coming to terms with her father’s death from several years ago, and that she has loneliness problems because of that.
Shin is the brother of Shun who meets Asuna and her teacher (Morisaki) as they begin to reach Agartha. I wish he was more developed, as he is the stark opposite of his brother, personality wise. While Shun was calm, Shin tended to be more hotheaded. Plus, he has grief of his own.
Morisaki is Asuna’s substitute teacher, who turns out to have a lot of knowledge about Agartha. Mimi is Asuna’s mysterious cat friend as well, and is absolutely adorable.
Animation: 5/5: I’ve heard about Shinkai’s work being absolute eye candy, and people weren’t exaggerating one bit. My only complaint is that the world of Agartha seemed to mimick Studio Ghibli movies too much. I was constantly reminded of Castle in the Sky and Nausicaa while watching this. The character designs were also much more reminiscent of Ghibli than I expected. However, there was definitely something that made Lost Voices clearly different that Ghibli, and was so, so beautiful.
Sound: 4/5: I only watched the English dub of this, as I saw it with my parents. It was fine, not the best dub I have ever heard, but not the worst. I think the voice actors for Shun and Shin stood out the most, but Morisaki’s voice actor was pretty good too.
The soundtrack was lovely, especially the ending song, “Hello, Goodbye and Hello,”. It is beautiful and bittersweet, much like the movie.
World Building: 3/5: The world of Agartha was visually beautiful, but could’ve done with more exploration and depth. At some points, it felt more like a tourist trip; beautiful, but not much explanation. I would’ve liked some more knowledge on what Agartha was, exactly. It felt very much like the outside looking in, and we only got a few explanations and specific places.
- Stunning: The first word that comes to everyone’s minds after watching this is most likely, “beautiful.” Everything, from the animation to the soundtrack, is breathtaking.
- Difficult topics: This is a movie that has more depth thematically than you would expect. It deals with death and grieving, and how to say goodbye.
- Inspired by many mythologies: This is derived from several mythologies, which adds a layer of depth and interest.
- Wasted plot points: I wanted Asuna’s inherited radio to have more of a storyline, plus more development for Shin, and some aspects of Agartha.
- That this movie is heavily reminiscent of a Ghibli movie could be a turnoff for some, as it looks so much like one.
- Lack of world building: Agartha needed to be elaborated on. Although it seemed unique and interesting, sometimes it felt too much like a typical fantasy world for my liking.
Grade: 3.5/5: Lost Voices is beautiful thematically and physically, with some of the most breathtaking animation. However, the character development and world building could’ve done with more work. However, I have heard that Lost Voices is often considered one of Shinkai’s “weaker” works, and considering that I enjoyed it quite a bit despite my complaints, I look forward to watching more of his films in the future!