Deep in the heart of a bustling Japanese town, a young boy slowly starts telling a story woven in magic. Gusts of wind cause dust to kick up from the wooden, rendered ground as excited voices murmur in a tight circle. A red origami figure whizzes past and the boy rises from his crouched position to tell a fantastical story of magic, wonder and excitement.
As we discover more about this young storyteller Kubo, he’s thrust out of his quiet life when he accidently summons a mythical spirit from his past. On the run, Kubo teams up with unlikely duo Monkey and Beetle on a thrilling quest to save his family from the approaching evil.
Kubo & The Two Strings is quite simply, a stunning piece of art. Its unique blend of stop-motion and CGI are done in such a way that its realistically coloured landscapes and scenes stand out among other vibrantly coloured animations. There’s such a unique Japanese flavour to this film as well and it really honours and respects the incredible history and depth of the island. From the creative designs of the monsters, to the rich history and even the music that oozes authentic strings and chimes prevalent in feudal Japan where the story takes place, Kubo is an amazing artistic achievement.
Its a strange though because for all its uniqueness and incredible storytelling – Kubo & The Two Strings is a film unsure of its target market and as such, on the surface seems like a forgettable film. It’s too grown up for small children due to its cleverly woven horror and tense action and yet doesn’t fall within Animation tailored for adults due to its use of humour and story. What we get then is a great film with interesting characters, convincing villains and breathtaking animation that doesn’t quite have a clear audience.
That’s not to say the film is unfocused in any other way, quite the contrary. The characters all have clear, distinct goals and are well fleshed out with good arcs and the villains themselves are well designed and sinister, just as you would expect. It’s a film crafted with love, with an eye for detail and perfection in every scene and that much shines through.
It really is a shame because Kubo & The Two Strings is an original, unique Animation that feels like a breath of fresh air amongst a Summer of disappointing sequels and underwhelming hits. Its characters are memorable, there’s some good humour here and it definitely does justice to a Japanese culture that remains as full of mystery as it does intrigue.