Kubo and the two strings

Movie Review: Magical origami saves family honor

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Kubo and the two strings

Daryl Von Dunker, Times Staff

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A wonderful tale of coming of age, Japanese folklore and ancient traditions, Kubo brings the imagination alive with the simple art of origami – folding paper.

Originally released in Australia for an International film festival August 13, Oregon-based Laika Entertainment explodes on to the silver screen with a technologically advanced anime known as 3D stop-motion fantasy.  While stop-motion capture is as old as 3D-clay-animation creations such as Davey and Goliath (1960 – 1975) and British-based Wallace and Gromit (1990 – present) with tremendous improvements such as the Matrix – Bullet time (1999), no one has mixed it with anime before.  It is a welcomed, elegant change and vast improvement.

Directed by Travis Knight, an incredible cast dazzles and enthralls the audience with truly stunning performances – proving that storytelling is as strong as the actors themselves and their chemistry.

Even the opening narrative during an ocean maelstrom captures you and compels you to join the story…

“If you must blink do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see – no matter how unusual it may seem. If you look away, even for an instant, then our hero will surly parish.  It is time I follow my own path.  My name is Kubo and this is my story…”

The young ocean castaway and his widowed mother, Sariatu, land near a seaside village.  His mother, mentally lost with a forgetting illness, passes each day just a shell of her former self.

As it tries to leave their sheltering cave, Kubo wakes each morning only to chase the family’s surviving prized possessions – origami paper.  Using a growing magic, Kubo captures the papers by playing his 3-stringed shamisen instrument.  Then he feeds his mother and walks to the local village.

At the village, Kubo earns a living by asking each villager to provide a single word, then creating masterful madlib-tales about the famous samurai Hanzo battling the Moon King.  As people begin to throw their coins and he strums his shamisen, the paper rises and folds itself into marvelous phantasmagoria, then plays out each storyline with zest and samurai sword slashing.

As happy as he is, Kubo misses his father and his eye – the one thing his grandfather and aunts stole from him and the reason for the original oceanic escape.  One day he learns about the Obon ceremony that allows family to commune with the dead.  He initiates the tradition only to plunge himself, his mother and his father into a wild adventure seeking Hanzo and the family sanctuary.

Join Kubo as he gains a monkey guide, breaks one of his strings and compassionately saves the family honor!

Using Imdb.com’s rating system – this movie is also 10 stars!