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Children Who Chase Lost Voices
GKids brings us Children Who Chase Lost Voices on Blu-ray, a 2011 Studio Ghibli feature written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, a strong voice from the studio as it expands beyond the works of Hayao Miyazaki. The GKids label is something of a misnomer in this case, as the action-adventure movie is firmly targeted at tweens and teens. It's an exhilarating and thoughtful thrill-ride that shares as much in common with Hollywood studio fare as it does with the worlds adapted by Miyazaki.
Introverted 12-year-old Asuna (Hisako Kanemoto) runs her own life. Her mother works long hours and her father is deceased, so she gets herself ready for school, prepares her own meals, and spends a lot of time listening to a crystal radio out in the countryside. The world in which she lives blends reality and fantasy elements, echoing the strong pull of religion and mysticism in Japanese society. Students at Asuna's school are warned to be on the lookout for a dangerous bear on the loose, which is actually a frightening, monstrous creature hunted by a mysterious teen, Shun (Miyu Irino). When Asuna encounters Shun and the bear, she's both immediately smitten, and drawn into an underworld of shadow warriors, ancient gods, and more action than I was certainly expecting.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices shares plenty of DNA with earlier Studio Ghibli anime features. My teen remarked on how similar Shun was to Howl from Howl's Moving Castle in voice, style and action, and there are those creatures too, including a couple of different gods with super-unique and mildly disturbing design, but there are also elements that would feel right at home in any modern Hollywood CGI-enhanced action epic. Asuna and Shin, her replacement guide on her adventure to the underworld known as Agartha, are hounded by a shadowy group known as the Arch Angels, a paramilitary organization out to use knowledge from Agartha to guide humanity down a better path. To this end they will chase down people with helicopter-mounted machine guns. Children Who Chase Lost Voices is no From Up On Poppy Hill, that's for sure, a mostly quiet, thoughtful Ghibli movie which came out the same year.
Asuna in fact is really put through the wringer on her journey, hounded by ghostly creatures, and aided by those whose motives seem sometimes cruel and self-centered. I guess it's a great metaphor for life in general, and as the story unfolds, it pivots from action to depths of sorrow, loss, and longing that are quite profound. As a bonus, it's jammed to the brim with gorgeous, stylish, luminous animation that expertly plays with depth of field and color theory to sublime effect. If you're interested in something that will get your pulse racing, this Blu-ray release of Children Who Chase Lost Voices is Highly Recommended.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1, in a 1080p transfer that looks sharp and clean, with bright, highly saturated colors and no issues with its digital presentation.
The audio presentation comes in the way of either English or Japanese language tracks in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both tracks feature a fairly lively soundscape, befitting the amount of action featured in the film. All audio elements are mixed well, with a pretty wide dynamic range - there are heavy bass elements in the score - and good action in the surround speakers. Dialog is clean and clear, too.
In addition to a Slipcover this reissue comes with a Director's Commentary Track with Makoto Shinkai and Staff, about an hour's-worth of Interviews with staff and cast, a 45-minute Making Of Featurette, a 5-minute Japanese Promo, Trailers and 12 minutes of previews for other Works of Makoto Shinkai all of which were ported over from an earlier Blu-ray release. There are also Subtitles in English, English SDH, Spanish and French.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices shares plenty of DNA with earlier Studio Ghibli anime features, it looks fabulous and has great, enigmatic creature and character designs. While a bit action-packed in a Hollywood way, it pivots from that action to depths of sorrow, loss, and longing that are quite profound. As a bonus, it's jammed to the brim with gorgeous, stylish, luminous animation that expertly plays with depth of field and color theory to sublime effect. If you're interested in something that will get your pulse racing while also making you think, this Blu-ray release of Children Who Chase Lost Voices is Highly Recommended.