Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is a fantasy-epic which explores the otherworldly and fantastical universe inhabited by the lorph: immortal beings capable of living beyond any normal measures of time known to man. This anime film marks the feature-length anime debut for the acclaimed anime creative Mari Okada (A Lull by the Sea).
From the beginning of the story the anime unfolds rapidly with an action-oriented spectacle as the lorph must protect themselves from the impending invasion of the Mezarte, who seek to find a way to control and take the immortality of the lorph away. Chaos ensues as the lorph do everything they can to defend themselves and their land from invasion.
Once the main storyline expands into focus, the fundamental thematic balance becomes much clearer: this is a story which is about the love which connects families (most especially the connection between a mother and son). Erial (Miyu Irino) is a young orphaned boy who becomes adopted by the sweet-natured lorph Maquia (Manaka Iwami). The film explores their life's journeys together over a long span of time (exploring the character's intertwined lives from Erial's childhood through adulthood).
In addition to the rich thematic ideas behind the story, the film's greatest strength is unquestionably the stunning animation which showcases acclaimed anime studio P.A. Works in fine form. Moving from beautifully animated series, writer/director Mari Okada (A Lull by the Sea) proves capable in this language of cinema. Many scenes are so sophisticated with the artwork that one sense the clear dedication and wizardry of the animators to bring the story to life.
The music score composed by Kenji Kawaii (Ghost in the Shell) is another force to be reckoned with as so many sequences are given life by the music. Kawaii is one of the best composers in anime and this is another noteworthy effort by the gifted composer. With an electric mix of instrumentation to eloquent cues befitting the more dramatic scenes, Kawaii again proves his brilliance.
The cinematography by Satoshi Namiki (Another) and art direction by Kazuki Higashiji (Paprika) and Tomoaki Okada (Wolf's Rain) also go hand-in-hand with the animation. The art directors help to form something unique. This truly is a distinctive anime work within an industry sometimes known for its easily accepted repetitive nature and frequent lack of originality. It takes great talent like Okada to shake things up and remind anime fans why we love the medium in the first place: the classical animation, the beautiful backdrops, and the stories which stay us with well beyond the frame.
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. This is a lush looking transfer which does a strong job of presenting the animation. The colors are vibrant and impressive. This is a first-rate HD presentation that will satisfy anime fans.
Presented with both English and Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentations, Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms has excellent lossless audio tracks. The surround sound field is surprisingly immersive and vital with great use of the rear surrounds and strong, crisp reproduction of the score. Dialogue is also easy to understand and perfectly clear with this lossless 24 bit presentation.
English subtitles are provided for original Japanese presentation. English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing) are also provided.
Featurette (22 min.) is an impressive behind the scenes making of documentary which explores the production process for Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms. Anyone with an interest in the process of P.A. Works as a studio and the collaborative nature of filmmaking will find this an insightful piece. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Trailers for Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is an effective and engaging anime film with stunning animation, strong storytelling, and memorable characters. For anime fans who are also fans of other productions done by P.A. Works it's a worthwhile film. It's one which should connect with audiences. The Blu-ray release has strong technical merits and an engaging making-of documentary which was quite insightful and enjoyable as well.