Genre(s): Drama, Fantasy
Age-Appropriateness: 13+ (some violence, frightening scenes)
Episodes: One 2-hour movie
TheAwersome Rating: 9.1 / 10 (A unique gem, worth owning)
Premise: Maquia belongs to a special race called the Iorph – mystical beings who can live for hundreds of years and have isolated themselves away from the troubles of mankind. Maquia has always felt lonely, despite being surrounded by her people, as she was orphaned at a young age. One day her people are attacked by humans who have enslaved the last known dragons, seeking to add the immortality of the Iorph to their royal bloodline. Maquia is carried off by one of the dragons when it goes mad, and finds herself stranded in the woods, this time truly alone. Before giving into despair, she hears a baby crying in a destroyed village and decides to raise him as her own, naming him Ariel. Though she knows nothing of the human world, she’s determined to make it work.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: This is a beautiful, sincere, and heartfelt piece that is really one of a kind. In the best way possible, Maquia blends sweeping, immersive fantasy with raw, heart-tenderizing emotion. The animation is majestic, leaving you with a sense of how small a part of the world the characters are, making them easy to relate to, while still being stylized.
What truly sets Maquia apart is the subject matter and themes: the love and relationship of mother and child, and how relationships in general fare against the passing of time. It was refreshing to see very important human relationships explored beyond just romance, and especially to see it in a medium (fantasy anime) that’s usually reserved almost exclusively for action with occasional messages of the power of friendship. I cried a lot in this one, so have a few tissues on hand; this one will stick with you for a few days.
This piece was made even more special to me upon learning that it was the directorial debut of the screenwriter, Mari Okada. While she has been the screenwriter for other anime and movies (such as Toradora, Anohana, and others), this was her first time directing, and she did an amazing job at it.
This trailer doesn’t really do the movie justice in my mind, but I couldn’t find a better one. This movie is one where I strongly recommend the sub to the dub, because some culturally important phrases are a recurring theme in this that don’t really translate over to English, specifically “tadaima,” (I’m home) “itterashai” (safe travels, see you later, come back safe, bye) “ittekimasu” (I’m leaving, I’ll be home later) and “okaerinasai” (Welcome home, welcome back). While in English we say things like this, in Japanese they ARE the things you say, and you can kind of get that when hearing them said and reading the English equivalent in the moment. With the dub though, the significance of it is somewhat lost I felt.