A Letter to Momo (2012)

A Letter to Momo (2012)

A quirky coming-of-age animated journey of grief, accompanied by cute, ugly yokai creatures

7.0

Movie

Japan
Japanese
Animation, Comedy, Drama, Family
2012
HIROYUKI OKIURA
Cho, Daizaburō Arakawa, Ikuko Tani
120 min

TLDR

Please don’t endanger yourself in a typhoon, though.

What it's about

After her father’s death, 11-year-old Momo Miyaura moves with her mother Ikuko to a small island town, where she discovers a message from her father, and three goblin-like creatures invisible to everyone else.

The take

If I must imagine strange creatures to process grief over a parent, I would rather have it be the fluffy Totoro rather than three creepy looking Gollum-esque yokai creatures that lick legs, steal random food items, and overall act like terrible roommates. Still, there’s a certain gremlin-like charm to A Letter to Momo that could captivate animation fans. As these yokai spirit creatures push Momo to explore her new quaint island town, and as Momo eventually befriends them or force them to act better through threats, it’s precisely the sort of chaotic, whimsical adventure that can get a girl to open up, to hope again, and to be open to what life still has to offer. The pacing might deter some viewers, but A Letter to Momo still works as a touching coming-of-age journey marked by loss.

What stands out

There’s an obvious comparison between A Letter to Momo and several titles to Studio Ghibli with the blend of spirits and reality, but unlike the ethereal colorful fantasy of the famed studio, A Letter to Momo has muted colors, a clearer distinction between real and imaginary, and creepy character designs that are just shy of becoming horrific. Reality is more lovely than fantasy here, and it makes so much more sense for a film all about moving past grief and learning to open up again.

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