Genre(s): Slice of Life, Romance
Age-Appropriateness: 8+ (comic mischief)
Episodes: One 1 hr. 30 min. movie
TheAwersome Rating: 8.0 / 10 (Simple, low-key, feels good)
Premise: Yui “Cherry” Sakura expresses himself better through the haiku he writes and posts on the internet, even though no one gives it attention. While preparing for him and his family to relocate in August, he spends the summer working part-time at a welfare facility. Meanwhile, Yuki “Smile” Hoshino is a budding influencer who feels uneasy about the braces on her protruding front teeth and conceals her own smile using a disposable mask.
After an accidental encounter with Cherry, Smile finds herself becoming a part-time worker at the same facility. Soon, the two assist a senile man, Fujiyama, in searching an old vinyl record he owns. Unable to remember its last location, he wishes to listen to it once more before his memories fade for good. Cherry and Smile only have the record’s sleeve and the word “yamazakura” as clues, and their hunt in the hazy summer heat begins.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: This was a pleasant breath of fresh air on a calm, relaxing summer evening. Nothing supernatural, no high stakes, just some honest kids trying their best to be their best and finding what that means. The pacing was relaxing and slow, which allowed me to really melt into the summer vibes and get to know the characters. That’s not to say there isn’t legitimate conflict and emotion, I did myself a borderline cry more than once, just that the overall stress level of the movie was lower than say, a Makoto Shinkai movie. Animation uses similarly bold, bright, contrasting colors that Great Pretender uses. Overall, I’d put it between A Whisker Away and Mirai in level of stress, quality, substance, and animation quality.
TLDR: A wholesome, feel-good, low-stress adorable piece.
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