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On the day before her birthday Akane meets a mysterious alchemist who enlists her to save his mystical plane of existence. Convinced Akane is the sacred ‘Goddess of the Green Wind,’ the alchemist and his tiny fairy-like assistant usher her and her friend Chii to their hidden world, where not much makes sense.
Keiichi Hara’s earlier and superb anime, Colorful, won R2R’s Adult Jury Award for Best Picture in 2012. Drawing inspiration from English language fairy tales, such as: The Wizard of Oz, Sword in the Stone, and Alice in Wonderland, this latest film is a departure from the more traditional Japanese storytelling depicted in his universally celebrated, Miss Hokusai. Decidedly younger and more accessible in aesthetic and sentiment, The Wonderland journeys to a land like our own in which its life force is signified by vibrant colours. As the colours of this land dim, so does the resolve of its people. Feeling frail in the face of insurmountable forces, Akane must figure out how she is meant to help overcome this darkness, or perhaps she’ll never find her way home. Somewhat an analogy for our own biosphere, in danger of collapse, and our personal struggle to find solutions, Hara’s marvellous creations depict a fantasy of pure Wonka-esque imagination.
Akane, voiced by Mayu Matsuoka, will sound familiar to R2R audiences for 2018’s A Silent Voice. Cinephiles will know her for the Cannes favourite, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s, Shoplifters. Chii is voiced by the daughter of actor Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai). The rest of the cast are known for anime classics such as Pokemon: The First Movie, The Boy and the Beast, and Miss Hokusai.
Themes: empathy, friendship, hero’s journey, magic, compassion, depression
Feature film recommended for age: 12+