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Maquia: The Anime Film that Awards Forgot

We’ve reached the part of the year that’s
not quite New Year’s anymore, but still not spring. This is the time of year when
Hollywood types begin to discuss one of the most coveted things they award themselves
with: the Oscars. On our end, this time of year is also home to the annual Crunchyroll
Anime Awards, which are like the Oscars in that they are awards that people take far
too seriously. Kind of like what I am about to do right now! For both of these awards shows, there is a
category where the possibility of celebrating some great anime films exists. In the case
of the Oscars, it’s the Best Animated Film category, and for the CR Awards, well, it’s
just Best Film – because everything here is animated. But both of these categories
made a disappointing misstep this time. One that I want to call attention to, because
I feel it’s too egregious to ignore. Neither of these awards shows gave even a nod to Mari
Okada, and her directorial debut of Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms. At least
with the Oscars, I can understand. Even if I am disapoint Mirai is a fine film and the Oscars have historically
disliked anime, so we really should be thankful that an anime made it at all. But Crunchyroll? FREAKING MAZINGER Z? REALLY?! So ladies, gentlemen, and others, my name
is Arkada and welcome to Glass Reflection, where today I’m going to do my best to explain
to you why Maquia is one of, if not, the best anime film from 2018. Let’s jam. To truly understand my love for this film, first we have to talk a little bit about the
film’s director. You might have heard her name mentioned out and about, because Mari
Okada has been involved in a number of high profile anime over the past decade. She was involved in many manga-to-anime adaptations, starting
way back in the early 2000’s with shows like Rozen Maiden, up until the early 2010’s
with Hanasaku Iroha and Anohana. Out of these shows though, Anohana is the one she is most well-known for and
with good reason, as that series was not a mere adaptation. It was her own original work.
Anohana – for those not familiar with it and who don’t have the time to go watch
my review on it (shameless plug) – was an anime from 2011 about a group of teenagers struggling
to remain together after the death of their good friend several years prior. The spirit
of that friend then decides to come and interact with them again in the hope that they would
once again come together like they used to. It’s an incredibly moving series that lands
itself on my shortlist for anime that can make me cry just by listening to the soundtrack
of specific scenes because the story was so poignant. Another anime also capable of doing
this is Toradora, which coincidently was adapted for anime by Okada.
The common trend that I’ve found here is that Okada is very good at showcasing relationships
between characters. She is able to introduce us to them in a natural and flowing way, so
that we can learn a lot about them in a short amount of time and experience a kind of emotional
journey we might not have before. This brings us to Maquia. The film is about a fay-like girl who is torn away from her home and then ends up raising a young human boy in order to cope with her loneliness
and the loss of her family. If you haven’t seen the film, which is entirely
possible due to its very limited theatre run and the fact that it only came to home media
recently, then I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers for you, but the general premise
is thus: We are introduced to the young Maquia, a weaver
from a very beautiful line of fay-like beings who live in an isolated colony away from the
rest of the world. They apparently live for hundreds of years and have mastered the art
of weaving so that even the cloth that they create has intricate stories woven into them,
which only they can read. Unfortunately, as with all innocent and fantastical things,
these fay are coveted by the nearby human kingdom. Who soon invade, looking to replenish
the life of their fantasy clout, since their ancient dragons keep dying one by one. And
what better way to preserve the royal line than to mix it with some magical blood? The
fools. During the attack, Maquia escapes and comes
across a nearby human tent, also destroyed by the invaders, which holds a single survivor:
a young baby boy whom she names Ariel. The two of them set off in
search of a new life. From this point, the story’s focus changes
multiple times. The narrative, as if to accentuate the fact that Maquia and her kind live for
a very long time, takes place over a few decades. We have several time jumps to show us the
continued story of Maquia and the young Ariel as he ages from a baby to a young man. It
covers how Maquia, though from a race of people with extremely long lifespans, is still only
15 at the start of the film and starts to struggle with the idea of motherhood, as she
herself was an orphan with no real template to fall back on from a former family. It
also focuses on the young Ariel and how he grows up in the care of Maquia and how he
deals with being adopted by her, how he feels about her, and how he wants to protect her.
Unlike some of her more famous work of previous years though, I wouldn’t call Maquia a love
story, even if love is a very prominent theme. While there are plenty of references to romantic
relationships and hints of that from various characters, the love of this film is more
of a motherly love than one formed out of romance. This film is not some weird retelling
of “The Tale of Genji” where Maquia raises Ariel to be her ideal partner, nor is it a
Japanese version of Lord of the Rings depicting a similar love like that of Aragon and Arwen.
Maquia’s desire for Ariel is nothing more than to be the best possible mother that she
can be, and she’s constantly faced with self-conscious and anxious feelings about
her parenting skills because she feels like she’s never able to be the mother Ariel
deserves. Her youth brings more difficulty to this, because by the midpoint of the film
the two of them are, physically speaking, the same age by appearances and have to pretend
to be siblings to keep Maquia’s heritage a secret.
Already, by this point in our discussion I feel like I have, even loosely, mentioned
so many more kinds of themes and aspects to this film that I don’t normally see in others.
And I’m barely scratching the surface. There is just so much condensed into this narrative
that even a minor summary of it could never do it justice. However, if I was to lay some
criticisms on this film, much as I may love it, it would mostly come down to the sheer
amount of development in such a short span of time. It was occasionally quite difficult
to process all of it while also keeping track of the story as it progressed.
The time skips are not made obvious and sometimes trying to orient myself meant missing out
on so many of the details that exist within each scene, and those are half the joy of
it. It really is a film that’s worth multiple viewings, just so that you can fully grasp
all of those details, especially as far as the secondary characters are concerned. Hell,
I’d consider some of the film’s subplots to be even more interesting and intriguing
than the main story, which is only a further testament to Okada’s writing style.
There is a lot of raw emotion on display, the kind she’s famous for, and the kind
I always love to see. None of the situations presented feel contrived or forced. Rushed
at times, perhaps, but never in a truly negative way. It is difficult for me to properly describe
my craving for this type of narrative, as I get such fulfillment from feeling this kind
of strong emotional connection with the characters and the world they inhabit. So to have all
of that in this wonderful two-hour package has been an absolute delight.
Returning to my initial point about this being the film that awards forgot, I don’t want
to imply that this film is the one that 100% without a doubt was the best anime film from
last year, even if I might consider it to be. Both Mamaru Hosoda’s Mirai and Kyoto Ani’s
Liz and the Blue Bird are very worthy contenders for the same title, mostly being decided simply
by our own individual tastes and preferences. But for this film to not even get a mention,
not a nod, that is the travesty in my mind. It’s not only Okada that I feel got slighted
by this, but also P.A. Works and every single member of the main staff, from Kenji Kawai
on the score to Toshiyuki Inoue’s stunning animation. This may be a film touted as the
first “100% Okada” anime, but she did not work on it alone and they all share in
the film’s success for making a masterful work that should stick in our minds for many
years to come, if only we remember it. And I hope we do, because obviously, looking at
these upcoming awards… Some people have already forgotten… Thank you for spending the time to watch my thoughts on Maquia: When the Promised Flower
Blooms. I hope you enjoyed it. Normally I would mention streaming links, though since
it’s very rare for anime films to be available on streaming services, I unfortunately can’t
do that here. I can however point you towards the home video release on Blu-ray and DVD
by Eleven Arts in North America, as well as Madman in Australia and Anime Limited in the
UK and Ireland. For alternate anime recommendations (for those who have seen the film already), I’ll start
off by just giving a blanket recommendation to pretty much anything Mari Okada has worked
on before, with specific mentions going to both Anohana and Hanazaku Iroha. My second
non-Okada recommendation I’ll make is another favourite anime film of mine that also happens
to have a lovely motherhood aspect to it: Wolf Children. Fitting, considering Hosoda’s
recent film Mirai has been getting media attention as of late and I’ll have to get to making
a video on it shortly, but Wolf Children has a lot of similarities to Maquia. There are
at least enough shared themes to be enjoyable, if you find yourself wanting more of this
film. Between those options, I hope you find something to your liking.
Lastly, a very special thank you to my patrons, who not only support my work in general, but
who also allow me to do what I do. I love and appreciate you all. Specifically though,
as I like to do, I want to give particular shout-outs to patrons Siri Yamiko, Ryefan
Boneapart, Rune Jachobson, Joshua Garcia, and Calhoonboy for being especially awesome.
You guys are great! And until next time – ladies, gentlemen, and others – watch more anime…and
stay frosty.

  • Absolutely. Maquia hasn't acquired the amount of acknowledgement and appreciation it deserves.

    I was lucky to watch it on an Emirates flight, I would've never heard about this beautiful movie otherwise… 🙂

  • Nope, I cant even say it was a good movie at all. It was mediocre at best. It was a clusterfuck of disappointment I cant believe I waited 3 months for that.

  • "Loneliness of an immortal" and "eternity love of mother" make this anime hit me really hard. I cri like a baby lol
    I never cri from watching anime or sad movie, but this anime so great!! 10/10

  • I don’t know what it is about parenthood anime that always make them hit me so hard, seeing as I am not a parent nor do I wish to be one, but things like Clannad After Story and Maquia make me feel more deeply than any other anime ever has. There may be no greater love than that of a mother or father. I wish I could personally thank Okada Mari for this masterpiece that will have a special place in my heart until the day I die.

  • I don’t understand the war at the end with Maquia? (ie. why was the war started? Who were those black soldiers?) My friend and I watched it and felt like we missed a good part because we do not know the reasoning behind the war. If someone can explain it thank you ^.^

  • After watching this review last week, me and my husband watched it last Friday and I cried for 15 minutes straight. When the Collector's Edition comes out in a month from now, I decided to gift it to my dearest friend, who became unwillingly pregnant at 17 and is now married and the most lovingly and caring 25 y/o mother of 2 kids I have ever met. Maquia's hardship and love reminded me so much of her and how much I look up to her. What a great movie!

  • Just finish watching it. Thx Arkada for mentioning this film, It totally went under my radar & i gotta say I really Loved the film. haven't got on to the feels train in quite awhile and but damn… this show hits right in the feels. I'm so glad i watched this movie. 10/10. Thank you again Arkada & Great video as always.

  • I have to admit I am not the biggest fan of Maquia – I enjoyed it immersly and it even managed to make me cry a few times, but I guess my expectations for this movie were just different enough from the actual thing that I struggled a bit while watching. If I was to make my pick for Anime Movie of The Year that would be, without any doubts, Liz and The Blue Bird which simple blew me away with it's delicacy and beauty. However, Maquia still a top-notch movie that was definitely not discussed widely enough and did not recieve enough credit for what it managed to do. I cannot believe Crunchyroll showed such a disrespect to this film and its creators.

  • I agree that Maquia should've had been mention atleast in crunchyroll awards. This anime gave a different aspect and themes that other anime have never had. And i really did liked this movie.

  • The fist thing I did (relatively speaking) after seeing this was go and watch it.
    I can't see why anyone would like this.

    I mean, merely liking it? No idea how that could work.

    As to how anyone could "love" it however. Oh, I have a DAM GOOD idea how they could.

  • I am so so happy this anime movie is getting the recognition it deserves. Thank you for acknowledging this film. It is a beautiful masterpiece.

  • I'm the only one that thought it was pretty shit… Well I'll say average at best made me very sleepy. The visuals/designs/scenery all pretty good just the story dragged on while also being rushed with time skips.. a ton of plots convenient things happening (time skips into kid joining army of course that's when they're attacked to set up this awkward conflict of priorities) movie overall just seemed like typical feels b8 with pretty animation.

    No real build up with love interests.. Arial moves out ~time skip~ he has a baby with some random nameless girl from a flashback of his youth. No idea how they even bumped into eachother let alone care about their relationship.

  • Beautiful movie but the time jumps really ruined it for me. A lot of very important information that would ground the viewer is skipped (like the kidnapping skip, what even happened there?!) So I sadly stopped caring about the characters. Also the ending makes no sense at all. Too much story for the movie runtime. This would have made a beautiful series, and would have allowed for the story to be fleshed out.

  • I agree. I saw this during the U.S. theatrical limited-run, purchased the BLURAY two weeks ago, and will be purchasing the limited edition coming soon. It was the best movie of 2018. Update: also, this Anime has an AMAZING soundtrack! Can't mention that enough.

  • I made sure not to watch this review until I got a copy of the film and watched it myself. You described the film and its strengths beautifully and while I still think Liz may be the better film but this was still an amazing film and glad to see it get some attention from you. Can't wait for the next video 😀

  • Honestly, FUCK awards! The greatest gift of humanity is the gift of sharing amazing stories with one another! ❤️ I hope to get my stories out there one day! 😆

  • Thank God, finally, someone is talking about this film…….so far this is the only anime film that makes me cry. To anyone who havent watched this anime film, watch it, right now, and then go apologize to your parents after what you have done to them

  • Wow you are such a great narrator and story teller! I must say your narrations and choice of words during the movie skit actually gave me goosebumps.

  • Just watched it and I now see why you were so devistated in your anime awards video. I have literally seen none of the other movies, but if there were 6 movies better than this last year I have some serious catching up to do.

  • Damn, this is too good, a masterpiece, just finished watching this a minute ago and I'm still tearing up, what a beautiful movie

  • I remember watching this at a one-night-only showing at my local cinema. It's beautifully animated and drawn. And there are some touching moments here and there that I think drew some tears. The ending in the water in particular was pretty moving.

    Though overall, I wasn't really that fussed with it. As you mentioned, there are a lot of sub-plots and time-skips that put the onus of fitting everything together into one story on the audience rather than the film. As a result, it felt very loose and unstructured. It wasn't clear what sort of film it would be at almost any point in the film. It's high fantasy. Then it's drama. Then it's a bit of political intrigue with a heist of sorts. Then it's a war movie.

    It does well to thread it all through the perspective of the timeless girl (can't remember her name). But it doesn't tell a single story very well, and that's kind of what it needs to be for an audience to keep up the whole way through. I think these problems may be why it wasn't nominated.

    I feel like it really needed to be an anime _series_, and deserved to be, too. It makes more sense to have larger sub-stories along the way, when they can be split between episodes. And the hard cut between episodes makes time skips easier to pick up on. All-in-all, everything would have a lot more time to "breathe," letting us get to know the characters and absorbing the smaller side-stories and emphasising the timeless girl's long life over time. It would give such an epic story the time it needs to work a lot better for the audience without the need for multiple watch-throughs to really pick up on everything.

  • Well , I definitely agree this movie maquia was something so awesome from the story to the drawing to the movement to the music . … it's all great and it's the best movie for 2019 😍 and of the best japanese animation movies 😍💚💙

  • The only anime on which i sheded tears.
    Honest review for me it was 14/10 no wonder it was not even nominated which makes me hurt 😵🤕😢 this movie left me completely depressed for a week after watching

  • I showed this movie to my sisters and they just laughed at the movie and calling it that it was bad.. theyre even comparing it to trash ass films.. i got so mad

  • Maquia is an incredibly beautiful film. Nothing hollywood produces could even begin to compare to anime like this.

  • If you are interested in this movie. There is another show PA works made called Nagi no Asukara fall 2013. It was overlooked by most during its time when it was aired because kill la kill and attack on titan ran that year. Mari Okada also did the script for this show. The art work is top notch, it does has romance but, it does have interesting lore from about the sea and its main cast of where they came from. It does have things that talks about climate change and the sea Gods angry and depression from its children leaving the sea to get marry to another man or woman on the surface. This show art alone stands out and the environment also with its consistent sound tracks. Nagi no asukara ( A lull in a sea) has 26 episodes. Since I'm a blu-ray owner of the series. There is Japanese voices and also, English dub voices. English dub voices are definitely solid. I was really pleased with my favorite character Miuna. The voice actor did wonderful and the rest of the cast is great. If you are a Fan of Mari Okada work. This is one worth watching and if possible make a reaction video out of it. You may enjoy it.

  • this movie gave me existential crisis.

    seeing how ariel grew from being a baby to dying of old age at a PoV of an unaging person really makes me sad. then when maquia visited their old house with ariel's granddaughter addressing how the house was a hand down from maquia's adoptive mother made me realize how things and memories we're doing right now will eventually fade from the generations to come as if you've never existed in the first place that made me cry my eyes out for days. i mean anyone here knows what their grand-grand-grand-grand father did when they're alive?

  • 海外の方でここまで熱心にこの映画について紹介してる人がいてほんとに感謝しかないです。

  • Yes Maquia is a deserved winner in 2018 saying that Ookami Kodomo No Ame To Yuki was a better film in my opinion 🙂

  • I agree with you when it comes to the subplots sometimes being more interesting or compelling compared to the main plot. Although I love the main plot, I feel that the subplot of her best friend was intense, tragic, and even more heartbreaking than Maquia's. I won't give away any spoilers to those possibly reading my comment, but at least Maquia had happiness in her life. It was still an absolutely beautiful movie and I'm glad that I happened upon it when I was shopping at Target (funny enough, I found it right before Mother's Day and I got to watch and enjoy it with my grandmother who raised me).

    It was definitely my favorite anime movie of the year 🙂

  • I decided to put a film on tonight, and after seeing this video in my recommendations. I subconsciously chose it whist looking, thank goodness I did. I might feel dehydrated after crying my eyes out throughout this film, but it also has stamped a place in my heart. I'm so glad I had no previous knowledge before going in, as I lost myself in a breathtaking fantasy world. The themes that are shown throughout resonated with me and i'm sure it will continue to do so. Perhaps I should have taken some time to process it all before writing this, as I might just be rambling but I couldn't help myself. This film has definitely secured itself as one of my favourite anime films, period.
    In my opinion, it's nothing short of a masterpiece. I'm so glad this video, reminded me to try it.

  • I remember watching this without knowing anything about it; no idea about the plot, the characters. I fucking bawled my eyes out. I'm scared of watching this film again now because I know that I'm gonna cry again. (But also, Maquia's crying face at the end was super derpy as fuck. Sorry.)

  • finds baby boy and names it after a Disney Princess

    Nope. Sorry. I can't take this seriously. There are too many jokes to make just from that one name choice that any emotional investment is thrown out the window by just thinking "Hey Ariel, where are Sora, Donald, and Goofy?" XD

  • i watched the movie after watching this and i can't believe it didn't even get a nomination :'( i loved it so much and cant wait to watch it again

  • Finally got around to watching this after the limited edition finally got released. Man what a freaking AMAZING film!

  • Wtf really crunchyroll anime film awards contestants were some madzinger z shit but not maquia. Maquia definitely would have won the awards no doubt its one of the best anime movies i have seen ever my top of all time.

  • I STILL can’t find a dvd or Blu-ray of this in the UK, so sadly I think many people here will never see it legally.

  • I was so lucky to decide to buy this show just because I sa it on Amazon and was like I got a few dollars left on my gift card let's give it a shot and I was not disappointed it was a great movie that il recomend to other anime lovers.

  • the only thing that threw me of was when krim said that maqiua was carrying a child and shes about to suffer the same fate as them and other iorphs but then the film didnt show maqiua taking care of the child she was pregnant with or idk maybe it was just horrible subbing

  • I'm glad you brought up Maquia.

    I've only watched it once recently, but trust me, you're right on the money that it's a film we should never forget. Mainly because, well once you've seen it, I don't think you CAN forget you ever watched it. At least I don't think so.

  • I watched Maquia after listening to this review and thought it was a beautiful movie but it was a sad ending having her outlive all of her relations with those humans that she had come to love.

  • So we say animation is good, story as a whole is good but story telling is absolute piece of shit that make me cringe every 3 minutes. Anime was so badly executed i cant believe.

  • Tell me about that dude who just drops by once in a while and laughs at maquia. It seems like when you have centuries to live alcohol is endgame.

  • I felt such a strong Lord of The Rings vibe from this movie. But it was NOTHING like it. Instead, it was such a human yet ethereal experience that made me run to my mom and made me , a 20 yr-old college student, cry like a little baby 🍼 while she was trying to calm me down 😂😅

  • Of course the Awards forgot it. It doesn't start off with the Cinderella's Castle or fishing boy intros. You know what I'm talking about. But you know what? I try not to let it bother me. Most Disney and Dreamworks films, especially the animated ones, are no more than Redbox rentals for me. Maquia is the type of film I'd be happy to see in theaters, and then BUY the physical or Digital copies for home.

  • Japanese animation is leagues better than american animation in terms of story telling, characterization, depth, plot etc. American animation is still stuck in adolescence, that's why all their stuff is for kids. While japanese animation has reached maturity and their audiences reflect that as well. I can't even bring myself to watch stuff like Toy story, frozen, or any pixar film anymore, they just seem too childish. But of course American awards are going to award their own films due to bias.

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