Japan, 1963. Orphan Umi (Bolger) lives with her grandma (Hendricks) above a fishing village. The threatened closure of her school's clubhouse brings her together with student journalist Shun (Yelchin).
It's as whimsical as always, but unusually there’s not a shred of fantasy in Goro Miyazaki’s latest Studio Ghibli offering. Instead we get part coming-of-age story and part melodrama, as young Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin) negotiate romance, tragedy and the imminent closure of their after-school club. The hand-drawn animation is gorgeous, but that Ghibli hobby horse of progress versus tradition lurks sharply beneath the surface, returning us to a pivotal moment in Japan’s post-War history. It’s touching rather than really moving, but even minor Miyazaki has its charms.
Not on a par with Ghibli's greatest work like Totoro or Spirited Away but not without charms of its own. A solid second effort from Miyazaki Junior.
Reviewed by Owen Williams