Ni no Kuni

August 25, 202020/100188012 min
Release Date
August 23, 2019
OLM, Inc.
1 hr. 46 min.
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Art Style
Animation Production
Rating Summary
Ni no Kuni is one of those films that people find at a goodwill store that stays there for a lifetime, never getting picked. Why? Because the only aspect of this film that is magical is that it was somehow produced.

Let’s be completely honest; whenever a movie franchise – or a studio – gets too big, there are bound to be people that more or less copy specific characteristics. Whether it be from the musical themes, story, or even animated characters, while this may not be a shockingly new concept, and sometimes the latter is decently good, though they’re usually terrible. But sometimes and I do mean sometimes you’ll find that one film that will make you think “where have I seen this before?” no matter how good or bad the movie truly is.

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Ni no Kuni is a 2019 Action-adventure by OLM, Inc., who’s better known for the Pokémon series and films, and also Berserk series. Though Studio Ghibli produced parts of some of the source material, the studio had no role within this film – which is important to remember throughout viewing this film. With such a behemoth of a studio that is beloved worldwide, having no hand with this film asks the real question, can this video game turned anime film stand on its own? With a movie having action, adventure, and even fantasy elements, set itself up for a massive gain if they can successfully produce these elements, which has been done by a few smaller studios in the past. And besides,, who doesn’t enjoy a beautiful tale packed with action and adventure?

Most films describing the story without giving anything away can be a challenge; this film is not one of them. High schoolers Yuu and his friend Haru get involved in a case that somehow drags their childhood friend Kotona into this mess. It is a situation that forces them to go back and forth between their world and another world that is somewhat different yet strangely similar to their own. The real world and Ni no Kuni, when Kotona’s life is in danger, what’s the ultimate choice the three of them have to make in Ni no Kuni? If one believes that this is lacking in detail, that’s a negative. I didn’t even need to sum up anything; this is the basic premise of the entire film.

While this story isn’t groundbreaking or even semi-original, it does have a simplistic charm. Some may describe this as a mock-buster film, which is relatively accurate; this story has a somewhat enjoyable premise. Though outside of the straight to DVD atmosphere this story gives off, the only decent part of this storyline is that it didn’t rely on sex and skin, like other action and adventure films sometimes rely on for support. Though even if this film did have a full-on nude scene, it wouldn’t save it at the very least.

However, this film’s story is chock-full of damaging areas, and some aren’t even negative, but somehow this film found a way. For example, the pacing in this film is nonexistent, and that’s being very generous. Having absolutely a story with a lack of pacing is a problem in and of itself, Ni no Kuni upped the ante with its problematic continuity. If one is looking for a great drinking game, then this film would be an easy target with just that problem alone. Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Another issue within this film that will potentially turn people away from this film is the lack of originality within the story.

This story is one of the most unoriginal, uninspired, and most mundane creation anyone could make. Within the first twenty minutes of the film, the viewer will witness Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz, and any best-friends-must-solve-problem story structure. While having some of the same elements found within other movies or series isn’t a negative, take Star Wars and Star Trek, for example. When a film relies solely on other’s creations to push your production along, it’s utter rubbish.

The art style within this film is compared to the story is five stars all on its own. Though it’s pleasant to look at, it is an imitation towards Studio Ghibli. The viewer will get the same vibes from Princess Mononoke and even Spirited Away, but without the magical wonder that comes with such a beloved studio. The color tones of the real world didn’t give off that polished look one would expect after working on for ten years. While the soft color pallets weren’t favorable with my taste, I can see them pleasing to others, though I’d think this film’s main demographic would be children to early teens.

While this film’s art style was modestly decent at best, the production of this series is the real Achilles heel of this movie. This film doesn’t have the best 2D animation, but it certainly doesn’t have the worst, however, when it focuses on the Computer Generated animation, that’s when it starts to crumble. On the surface of this film, it looks great – especially looking at the poster – once one moves away from that and into the actual movie, the viewer will receive bait and switch.

Though some scenes look rather impressive within this film, the viewer can tell where the budget was going towards and where it wasn’t. The worst part of this production is that the soundtrack within this film isn’t even new, it’s recycled music from the video games. Which is remarkable given that this film concept was in the works for ten years, and they couldn’t create anything new? What a pathetic waste of an opportunity.

If one is going into this film blind like I was and expecting a great deal of character development – it’s fantasy. Then they’ll be better off reading Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop book. Although, there can be an argument towards the two main characters. Anyone outside of those is pretty generic, and any knowledge other than their name is absent. Even with the two main characters being more developed than the rest, it still doesn’t give anything to the viewer, which is blatantly pathetic for any studio or writer.

At the same time, I felt that this film was more of a pain to watch than a form of entertainment unless one’s simply a sadist. I enjoyed some aspects of the film, though I’m still questioning whether I enjoy them because of the film itself or if they took parts of other famously made films and inserted them into their movie. If one sees this film and wonders if they should watch it, I’d say not. It’s unoriginal and even unimaginative to the point that it baffles my mind that this piece had gotten greenlit.

As mentioned before, one could make a fantastic drinking game on how often this film repeats itself, repeats itself, and repeats itself some more. Or how this film simply has no plot, yet still gives the viewer what it’s going to do next, that is simply magical. This film is a prime example of selling a movie with its poster and having no substance behind it. It boasts itself on having a character in a wheelchair, yet over half of the film, he simply doesn’t need it. If one does watch this movie, they better be ready for an awful time, or at the very least, a few bottles of liquor nearby.

Cody Senpai

Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.

One comment

  • Anime Nerding

    October 3, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Though I enjoyed playing the games I also felt this anime movie was just terrible and I love your reviews they’re so cool keep up the great work


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