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REVIEW: Maquia - When the Promised Flower Blooms


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darkchibi07



Joined: 15 Oct 2003
Posts: 4736
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:26 am Reply with quote
Well, damn! So Mari Okada's directorial debut is a total success, huh. And crap, having both mother-son AND immortal-mortal dynamics are a tear-jerker catnip for me.
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Neko-sensei



Joined: 19 Jan 2007
Posts: 113
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:17 am Reply with quote
I also saw the film and thoroughly enjoyed it, but my reaction is a little closer to that from the reviewer for the Japan Times than to this euphoric response.

Okada has matured so much over her career, and Maquia is, for the most part, blissfully free of the infamous people-shouting-their-feelings-at-each-other-while-standing-in-symbolic-places pitch she can so often hit (there is, of course, one late first-act sequence involving two characters standing on a bridge weeping and screaming at each other about how "MOTHERS DON'T CRY!"), but it's also guilty of overexplaining and simply filling space with dialogue that would be much more effective without. One important example (spoilered just in case mods take exception, although it's not much of a spoiler) spoiler[is the fact that Maquia is forced to break Erial's dead mother's fingers to rescue him from her embrace. It's an absolutely beautiful moment, simultaneously gruesome realism and soaring testament to the power of maternal love, and it's accomplished entirely without dialogue. Sadly, its impact is greatly lessoned as the film goes on by Maquia's repeated ejaculations to whomever will listen that Erial's mother loved him so much, she wouldn't let him go even in death. This over-explication reduces the transcendent symbolism of the sequence to another mere story beat, and leaves the viewer with the impression that Okada has no faith in her audience to understand the subtleties of cinematic language.]

Structurally, it's also a hot mess. Note this is not a very serious problem so far as I'm concerned, as I relish films willing to break from narrative conventions, but one does leave the theater feeling that one was cheated out of a whole other equally-interesting narrative concerning Leilia, her strangely noble abductor, and the other surviving inhabitants of Iorf. [Is that really the accepted Romanization?] The arc is obviously intended as a counterpoint to Maquia's journey with Erial, but it receives so little focus—most of its important plot beats are told in two-shot flashbacks!—that it's difficult to make the thematic connection with the main narrative. One male character is particularly abused by this bit of storytelling shorthand, wildly veering moment by moment from pragmatism to hopefulness to total insanity with seemingly no objective correlative, simply because he needs to act to tie the plots together. A more coherent film would either have discarded the B-plot altogether, or else trusted its own instincts and expanded it to fill the story space it required to serve its function.

All this said, there is so much good stuff in the movie! I too often thought of Okada's personal history while watching it, and and there's a (mostly dialogue-free) sequence right at the end of the movie that will send even the stoniest of faces crumbling into hiccuping sobs, not least because it's the exact scene we've been waiting for since the five-minute mark of the film. It's visually splendiferous, Kawai's score is easily the best he's produced in decades, and it has exactly that slice-of-life-in-a-high-fantasy-setting angle I love in my anime. It should be topping the box office, not hanging out in fifth place! Still, it's no In This Corner of the World or, frankly, even Your Name. The film that kept on springing to my mind while watching Maquia was the Escaflowne movie, an experience you love despite its flaws, not a masterpiece for the ages.

Hopefully now that I've adjusted expectations a bit, Maquia will get the kind of happy reaction it deserves among Western audiences (whenever it makes it over there)...
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Scalfin



Joined: 18 May 2008
Posts: 139
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:21 am Reply with quote
Availability?
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Otaku-sempai



Joined: 27 Mar 2017
Posts: 36
Location: Lackawanna, NY
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:36 am Reply with quote
The story's plot put me in mind of a strange, alternative version of Tolkien's "Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" where both of Aragorn's parents die when he is a young child and Arwen raises him as his foster mother. Under those conditions could their romance ever blossom? Or would their relationship forever have been that of a mother and son? Would Aragorn still have been motivated to become the man we see in The Lord of the Rings? If so, perhaps Lady Éowyn would have become the Queen of the Reunited Kingdoms.

I'll have to put all this out of my mind if and when I get to watch Maquia.
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Vaisaga



Joined: 07 Oct 2011
Posts: 12739
Location: Windsor Ontario
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:10 pm Reply with quote
The marketing and premise had me expecting some sort of Hikaru Genji/Usagi Drop type of situation. Nice to hear that's not the case.

I've always liked Mari Okada so it's nice this turned out well for her.
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Usagi-kun
Collector ExtraordinaireCollector Extraordinaire


Joined: 03 Jul 2013
Posts: 739
Location: Nashville, TN
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:43 pm Reply with quote
I really wanted this to be good and I'm glad to see it was well-received. I can't wait for a stateside release!
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catbot158



Joined: 04 Mar 2017
Posts: 116
Location: United States
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:20 pm Reply with quote
Good to see Okada's debut as a director went well. It does look beautiful, and I'm excited to see it when it comes out...in two years maybe? Anime hyper
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SHD



Joined: 05 Apr 2015
Posts: 424
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 1:22 pm Reply with quote
Neko-sensei wrote:
Okada has matured so much over her career, and Maquia is, for the most part, blissfully free of the infamous people-shouting-their-feelings-at-each-other-while-standing-in-symbolic-places pitch she can so often hit (there is, of course, one late first-act sequence involving two characters standing on a bridge weeping and screaming at each other about how "MOTHERS DON'T CRY!"), but it's also guilty of overexplaining and simply filling space with dialogue that would be much more effective without.

So... it's indeed a 100% Okada anime. This is one of the points where she always loses me, no matter how good the underlying idea is. (This, and the convoluted love relationships and over-the-top displays of emotion that dip over into being performative.)

Okada is one of those creators who I just can't connect to. I see the good ideas in her works but they always fall apart at one point during execution and leave me rolling my eyes or shaking my head, no matter how much I want to like what I see. (And no, her personal background doesn't change that,) Kiznaiver was the last chance I gave her, and she lost me with that, too - I guess this isn't going to be the movie that will change my opinion on her.
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LegitPancake



Joined: 26 Jun 2017
Posts: 334
Location: Texas, USA
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:44 pm Reply with quote
Dang A’s across the board. I’ll most definitely be watching it if someone licenses it here, but if someone subtitles the Japanese home video release, it’s gonna be hard not to check it out.
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Kougeru



Joined: 13 May 2008
Posts: 3997
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:45 pm Reply with quote
So happy to see good reception for this film. Huge fan of the entire cast and staff. P.A. Works being my #2 or 3 studio right now too. Really can't wait to see it, especially after this review.
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joe_g7



Joined: 16 Dec 2016
Posts: 312
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:48 pm Reply with quote
Well, this just makes me all the more excited to watch the movie!
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BodaciousSpacePirate
It's Over 9000!It's Over 9000!


Joined: 17 Apr 2015
Posts: 2251
PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:52 am Reply with quote
Really looking forward to this becoming available in the US.
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Emdykay



Joined: 14 Nov 2017
Posts: 79
PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:41 am Reply with quote
While I´m not actually reading any reviews because I want to go into the movie with the least possible amount of knowledge and expectations, it is really good to hear this is getting a positive reception so far.
I always wondered what parts of Mari Okada´s works where truly hers and what was added or demanded by editors and producers, as many of her shows and movies had great characters, ideas and concepts in it, but so often screwed themselves up by recycling their motives and themes or going just way overboard in melodramatics, so I was really excited and interested of this movie would turn out, assuming it would get much closer to her own way of things.
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Chrno2



Joined: 28 May 2004
Posts: 5817
Location: USA
PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:48 pm Reply with quote
I heard about this film not by title, but by image. I thought it was an upcoming TV series.
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Romuska
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Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 458
PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:24 pm Reply with quote
Scalfin wrote:
Availability?


I'd also like to know where I can see this film.
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