Reviewby Christopher Macdonald, Aug 15th 2003
Junkers Come Here
Forget about Anime fans for a little while. The movie I'm about to tell you about isn't just for them. Sure, it's from Japan, and it's very different from a typical North American animation, but Junkers Come Here is a movie every North American family should buy for their children. It's also a movie they should watch with their kids.
Hiromi is your typical Japanese eleven-year-old, yet her dog Junkers (call him Yoon-kers) is anything but typical. The little schnauzer can actually talk, but to keep from becoming a media spectacle, he only talks to Hiromi. Day in and day out, Junkers keeps Hiromi company as her parents are always away from the home. Her father's a commercial director and away on location for weeks at a time, while her mother is an executive putting in the long hours, coming home late at night or sleeping at the office. With her parents discussing divorce, Hiromi pretends that there's nothing wrong, but Junkers and Hiromi's tutor can both see how much she really is hurting inside. A miracle would be needed to make things better, but one must wonder, how many miracles can a girl have?
Junkers Come Here is, of course, very different from your typical North American family animation. It goes several places that Disney wouldn't dare go; divorce and absentee parentism are a central part of the story. And as Anime fans already know, Japanese movies aimed at children rarely gloss over the facts of life. But although Junkers Come Here focuses on several topics rarely brought up in North American children's programming, there's nothing offensive or harmful to a child here. What you get with this film is a beautifully crafted story that revolves around certain unfortunate events that can happen to any family but ads in enough magic--both literal and figurative--to make for a truly heart-warming experience.
Okay, now that we have the rest of North America out of the way, what about Anime fans? Anime fans should watch this, too, and then show it to every parent they know that hasn't seen it. Of course, Anime fans will probably prefer the Japanese soundtrack with subtitles. The English dub is more than good enough for children, but when compared directly to the Japanese, the English version just seems to lack a bit of feeling.
From the get-go, this film is fun. While it deals with numerous serious topics, it manages to throw a lot of fun situations and jokes around without glossing over the serious content or being stupid. This perhaps is the secret to the film's greatness; it manages to mix its fun segments and serious segments flawlessly, creating an intelligent, “grown-up” movie for children. Children and parents alike are sure to enjoy Junkers. Perhaps the one shortcoming in this movie is that it seems to drag on a bit at the 95-minute mark. While there's nothing in the film at that point that could be called filler, viewers may feel that the film simply needs to “get on with it.”
Visually, this is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. Everything I had heard prepared me for a good story, but the visuals were equal to or better than those of the most expensive Anime movies. While the character designs were simple, they managed to successfully portray a range of unique and distinctive characters, without resorting to flamboyant hair colors. What really stood out visually, however, were the backgrounds. A mix of beautiful pastel watercolors and vibrant colors set this film apart from the typical shows that are entirely bright colors, entirely earth tone, or entirely pastel. For the type of movie this is, the art could not have been better, period.
Junkers Come Here was produced by Bandai Visual and Triangle Staff, but you could easilly believe that it was from Studio Ghibli, the only studio to consistently put out familly-orientated Anime of this caliber. Junkers is, quite simply, equal to any Ghibli masterpiece.
Forget Disney and Pixar. The best animated movie for all ages to see a North American release this year is Junkers Come Here.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A+
Animation : A-
Art : A+
Music : B+
+ Best Anime for Families since Spirited Away
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