Archive for the 'DVDs Released' Category

My Neighbor Totoro: An Instantly Watchable Animated Masterpiece

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a classic tale of magic and adventure for the whole family. When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children. Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride aboard the extraordinary Cat Bus, in this all-ages animated masterpiece featuring the voices of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, and real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning, in one of their earliest roles. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Benjamin P. comments, “My Neighbor Totoro remains an instantly watchable animated masterpiece that holds new surprises from every time I watch it.” Eden T. adds, “My Neighbor Totoro is an amazing movie. In 1988, when this movie came out, anime was not that popular. My Neighbor Totoro set off a craze for anime in the U.S. that has not stopped yet.”  Calista B. wraps it up with, “. It has been 30 years since this film first came out and it still holds up as the beautiful and charming film it is famous for being.” See their full reviews below.

My Neighbor Totoro
By Benjamin P, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Even after 25 years, My Neighbor Totoro remains an instantly watchable animated masterpiece that holds new surprises from every time I watch it.

Satsuki and Mei are sisters who move to the Japanese countryside with their father. The children are fascinated with the quirks of their new house, as well as the vast nature around it. Satsuki goes to school and Mei begins to explore a fantastical world beneath a large tree in the backyard. She meets three little creatures and names one of them Totoro. Mei tells her sister about the adventure, but Satsuki does not believe her. During the next few days, the sisters discover more and more about their neighborhood and adjust to their new way of life.

My Neighbor Totoro effortlessly crafts and develops so many different poignant stories. It is a coming-of-age tale, as well as a story about how we deal with change and one about the bond between two siblings. Totoro, his little pals, and the world they inhabit add a whole other layer to an already complete narrative. The magical elements intertwine with Satsuki and Mei’s story. They bring light to the siblings, during a scary and dark time in their life. The elements of magic add some levity to less joyful parts of the film, giving just as much closure to the audience as to the characters.

The film never reveals too much about Totoro and a lot about him remains a mystery even after the credits roll. He is so adorably drawn and never feels threatening. He has no dialogue, excluding a few grunts here and there, but is still one of my favorite things about this film. He brings a kind of magic that resonates with you every time he is on screen.

The lesson of My Neighbor Totoro is to never lose faith in what you believe in. Mei’s belief in the magic of Totoro never falters and for that, Totoro helps her and Satsuki not just because they are kind souls, but also because they both learn to believe in his magic.

I give My Neighbor Totoro an age rating of 4 to 18. It appeals to all ages and has practically nothing objectionable for young audiences. I think adults will marvel at the spellbinding animation and wonderful story. I give My Neighbor Totoro 5 out of 5 stars and you need to see this special re-release if you haven’t already fallen in love with this film. It’s available now on DVD.

My Neighbor Totoro
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

In 1988, Studio Ghibli released their third motion picture, My Neighbor Totoro. This film is often the first one you think of when you think of Studio Ghibli or director Hayao Miyazaki. The title character, Totoro is even on the Studio Ghibli logo. It has been 30 years since this film first came out and it still holds up as the beautiful and charming film it is famous for being.

The story is about two sisters named Satski and Mei, voiced by the Fanning sisters, who move to an old house in the countryside with their dad. After moving in, they become friends with a forest spirit they call Totoro.

Of course, I like to talk about animation first and it is just beautiful. Not surprising since, the animation in Studio Ghibli films is always incredible. The backgrounds are just amazing to look at and the forest looks gorgeous. The movement is very fluid and fast; and the characters are so expressive. I love everything about this animation!

The characters are wonderful too. The focus is mostly on the two leads, Satski and Mei. The two of them are very fun, sweet characters who feel like real children. That’s always important to me – that kids in films act like real kids. I also have to mention Totoro himself is such an adorable creature. I found myself wishing he was real, so you could cuddle him. He’s just so fluffy!

Also, the music in this film is just phenomenal. It’s so beautiful and whimsical. There is one particular scene where I actually teared up a little, because the combination of the music and the animation is just so pretty. I also listened to some of the music after watching the film and added it to my playlist. Studio Ghibli always has such wonderful music to back up their films.

My one complaint, that isn’t even that big, is that it doesn’t feel like there’s much of a conflict in the plot. What I mean is, it lacks real struggle. There is a slight conflict because the mom is in the hospital, but the film doesn’t treat that like it is a big problem. It’s just something there. But even with that, the movie is just so cute, I really didn’t bother me.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18. The film is available now on DVD so be sure to check it out.

My Neighbor Totoro
By Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 9

The anime movie My Neighbor Totoro is cute and funny, yet somehow still realistic. Even though some parts are sad, that adds to the plot and makes the story even better. It starts with two sisters, four-year-old Mei and 12-year-old Satsuki. When Mei runs off and meets a large, mischievous forest spirit named Totoro, their lives are changed forever.

My Neighbor Totoro is directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Every scene is hand-drawn, unlike modern CGI movies. The rural setting and characters just feel real. In one scene, Mei trips and falls instead of running on. This gives a sense of reality, instead of edited perfection.

The story starts when Mei, Satsuki and their father move to a new house while their mother is in the hospital.  They soon discover that their house is inhabited by forest spirits, such as the soot gremlins. Nearby, Totoro lives in a huge camphor tree and a magical, eight-legged cat bus is a normal mode of transportation for them.

After Satsuki and Mei get into an argument, Mei runs away. This part is so heartbreaking! With the help of Totoro, you’ll see. The ending is a surprise you’ll enjoy!

Hayao Miyazaki has directed other enjoyable anime movies, such as Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away. Recently, Hayao Miyazaki came out of retirement. I, for one, cannot wait to see another Miyazaki directed film!

My Neighbor Totoro is cute, funny and realistic. However, I feel that something is missing. Totoro sounds like the main character, but he is on the screen for only a few scenes. Therefore, the movie somehow seems incomplete. The fact that I want more from it only proves how captivating it is.

My Neighbor Totoro is an amazing movie. In 1988, when this movie came out, anime was not that popular. My Neighbor Totoro set off a craze for anime in the U.S. that has not stopped yet. The special features on this DVD unravel the magic by describing how the characters are created, the real life inspiration for the movie’s unique locations and more. I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 8 to 12. You can view this on DVD or Blu-Ray and both are available now. If you enjoy anime, cute and quirky characters, or just a realistic movie, check this out!

 

 

 

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2 – Where Learning is Adventurous, Upbeat and Engaging

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Enjoy volume one of the second season of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! follows the adventures of 6-year-old best friends, Sally and Nick, as they are whisked off on extraordinary voyages of scientific discovery with the Cat in the Hat.  Thanks to the Thinga-ma-jigger and our friends, exploring has never been more exciting! In this season set, learn everything from space topics like gravity, what causes day and night, the planets, earth’s atmosphere to all about the human body like why do we sneeze, how and why the heart beats, why our stomach rumbles, how amazing our skin, and how important each different bone is in our body. The discoveries don’t end there though! Embark on more numerous adventures where we learn all about animals such as why animal ears come in many shapes and sizes, how different animals carry their babies, who are the fastest creatures in the world, why male crickets chirp, how polar bears survive the arctic winter, how a snow leopard balances, and so much more! So let’s go, go, go, go on an adventure, we’re flying with The Cat in the Hat today! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2 portrays a dream-like world where learning is adventurous and engaging! Each episode takes you on a ride to a variety of places, some are even out of this world.” Jolleen M. adds, “Everything is upbeat and entertaining plus, you learn lots of new things. Even I learned some knew things from these episodes!” See their full reviews below.

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2
By Sahiba Kaur, KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That: Season 2 portrays a dream-like world where learning is adventurous and engaging! Each episode takes you on a ride to a variety of places, some are even out of this world. The animation brings you into the realm of Dr. Seuss. I did not want to leave.

The story follows Sally (Alexa Torrington) and Nick (Jacob Ewaniuk) traveling through everyday life, curious and eager to understand the ways of the world. The Cat (Martin Short) always pops in at the right time to help them find the answers to their dilemmas. Together they hop on the Thinga-ma-jigger and fly on adventures to discover wonders.

Martin Short, the voice of the Cat, uses the perfect accent and voice to compliment the Cat’s personality. He emphasizes certain words to achieve the goofiness in his voice. Alexa Torrington and Jacob Ewaniuk are the voices of the children, Sally and Nick, who grasp the innocence and youthful spirit by their voices. Rob Tinkler voices Fish, Thing 1 and Thing 2. The way he changes the tone and pitch of the various voices is quite unique. The voices for Thing 1 and 2 are high pitched and humorous, while the voice for Fish is lower and more serious.

The animation offers a portal into Dr. Seuss’s world. The houses are crooked, yet appealing. The background hills, bushes and trees are slim and tall. The abstract Thinga-ma-jigger flies through the sky with its misshapen helicopter blades and bright red and orange colors.

My favorite part of this show is the Ca’s personality. He brings fun to learning and, when explaining different conceptions, he adds a sense of humor. For example, when explaining that the brain receives and sends signals from the nose, a phone rings in his hat asking for his nose. He is clumsy and modest about being smart. He makes the children laugh and ends each episode with a joke.

The message of this DVD is learning can happen anywhere and is always an adventure. I give this DVD 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10. It is available now so, be sure to check it out.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That: Season 2
By Jolleen M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That episodes are very colorful, exciting and educational. This season is no exception! Everything is upbeat and entertaining plus, you learn lots of new things. Even I learned some knew things from these episodes!

Season 2 is mostly about science topics. These episodes have lots of songs, jokes and puns, and they can travel anywhere. They can shrink or enlarge themselves to learn about everything. Also, the characters are extremely energetic, which makes you feel energized and uplifted because they are having such a good time.

The voice acting is amazing. All of the characters laugh so much and have a great time. They all sound so happy and amazed at everything they learn. Martin Short, as the voice of The Cat is perfect. His laughs are so contagious and he laughs so often. The children, Sally and Nick (Alexa Torrington and Jacob Ewaniuk) are just as ecstatic and energetic. They laugh a lot as well and are very positive kids. Short, Torrington and Ewaniuk all have wonderful singing voices that enhance the episodes.

The animation in these episodes is bright, colorful and detailed. The animation perfectly suits the educational side of these stories, because you can learn about the object, while seeing it clearly. The music and songs are quite clever and pleasing. The music is a vital part to these episodes.

My favorite episode is “Bounce” because, in that episode they teach many different things besides the topic of rubber. It is interesting to learn everything related to and around rubber.

The message of this DVD is to go outside on adventures, after first asking your parents permission (of course) as Sally and Nick do, and to enjoy what’s around you. The Cat goes to Sally and Nick’s and makes them happy every time by teaching them about their surroundings and showing them around. These episodes inspire you to learn more and shows how learning about new things is fun and exciting.

I give this DVD 5 out to 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 13. It is available now so, definitely go  check it out.

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon – Star Trek-ishly Informative and Entertaining

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Join Angie and friends as they deal with everything from a remote control dance outfit to gravity to moon rocks and more! Hoping to get on a dance show, Von Bolt wears a remote-control dance outfit. But if he lets someone else dance for him, is he really a winner? Next, the Secret Lab Kids are ready to demo their new science song for web entrepreneur, Mook Zookerboom, when he learns that a satellite is coming down out of orbit, panics and heads for the airport. So the team must gather some data on gravity to convince him to return. Then, when Von Bolt accidentally destroys the museum’s new moon rock, the Secret Lab Kids must find a way to replace it. Guided by fun-loving Edison, Angie and friends will show kids just how fun science can be! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Rohan F. comments, “This is a very educational show. It’s bright, colorful characters and high-level facts make it attractive to most ages.  It manages to be both informative and entertaining.” Talia J. adds, “I am happily surprised by this DVD. I was expecting these episodes to be very child-like and not very humorous. I was very wrong! The episodes kept me interested the entire time.” Damon F. wraps it up with, “

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock It to the Moon
By Rohan Foxe, KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, age 12

This is a very educational show. It’s bright, colorful characters and high-level facts make it attractive to most ages.  It manages to be both informative and entertaining.

The DVD has eight episodes that follow Angie, Kent, JD and Nicky as they go on adventures using science. The episodes include Dancing Machine, Murphy’s law of Gravity, Rock it to the Moon, Act Your Stone Age, Von Drop-Out, Freaky Furry, The Monster Not Under the Bed and Nanobots Byte. In each episode the Secret Lab Kids, as they’re called, use their hologram projector to visit a scientist from the past. The scientist tells them a bit about his most famous discovery, which gives them a hint to solve the major problem of the episode. I like their decision to use some lesser known scientists such as Thales, instead of just the most famous scientists like Albert Einstein. However, they could have been more diverse in who they chose. Other than the kids, there are no female scientists in the entire episode set.

My favorite episode is Von Drop-Out. Von Bolt is my favorite character on this show. I like him because he is funny and interesting. In this episode, he feels underappreciated and quits. He gets a new job as a rescue robot and the Secret Lab Kids try to find him so they can get him to come back. I like this episode because its explanation on the science of proportion and measurement is easy to understand and is used in the most practical way that could be used by anyone in the real world. Von Bolt is voiced by Dan Russell. I really enjoyed this voice. He manages to show emotion but still keep the voice robotic.

I like how educational this series is. It teaches science, history, technology, math, vocabulary and much more. This isn’t the only thing children might take from these episodes. The educational values are almost over-shadowed by the wacky, unexplained, convenient items the Secret Lab Kids have.

The music on this show is almost better than the show itself. After each episode, there is a song. These songs teach more science than the stories, teach it faster, are equally entertaining and are amazingly well produced. They are, by far, my favorite part of this DVD and the show as a whole. Overall I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 through 14.

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock it to the Moon
By Talia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock it to the Moon is an entertaining DVD gives everyone a better understanding of science.

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock it to the Moon is an animated series of science themed episodes. The show is about a group of friends who find the famous scientist Thomas Edison’s secret lab. Thomas Edison has made a secret lab where he creates a virtual version of himself and a robot named Van Bolt. The friends embark on fun adventures with one another while at the same time learning valuable scientific knowledge of the world around them.

I am happily surprised by this DVD. I was expecting these episodes to be very child-like and not very humorous. I was very wrong! The episodes kept me interested the entire time. The episodes are rather short which I think is fantastic because it keeps the audience attention the whole time. The episodes are silly, but in a way that got me laughing. These episodes are definitely aimed for much younger audiences. Since I am not in that age range, I did not think I was going to appreciate the humor like a little child would. My expectations were definitely wrong. I absolutely love the little jokes and funny characters. The humor gives these episodes character.

These episodes are perfect for anyone interested in science. What surprised me the most about this DVD is that I didn’t even know most of the science related topics. Some of the topics the episodes discuss are Murphy’s Law of Gravity, fossils, and many more. It is very important for children shows to be both informative and entertaining. Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab: Rock it to the Moon definitely incorporates these two ideas beautifully. Each episode helps teach kids that science is actually fun. Perhaps one day it can inspire the next generation of scientists.

I absolutely adore the music in this DVD. There are a total of eight episodes in the DVD. At the end of each episode there is a music video about science. The music is written and produced by Stefanie and Ron Fair. I must say that I am still caught humming some of the tunes. The music is very catchy, and the music videos are entertaining to watch. In the music videos there are always five robots that are doing something crazy. In one episode they float around space and orbit the Earth. The five robots give the music videos a unique touch.

This DVD is a perfect way to introduce children to science. Each episode adds humor and silliness while including a valuable science lesson. I recommend this DVD for anyone between the age of 4 and 9 and give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars. This DVD is out now so go check it out!

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab – Rock It to the Moon
Damon F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab – Rock It to the Moon is a DVD full of episodes about a group of kid scientists who work together on adventures in Thomas Edison’s secret lab. The series is about the group finding problems around their town and solving them by using scientific facts. I always enjoy these episode packs because I like science and they teach us a lot about chemicals and discoveries I didn’t know about before. After every episode there is a song (written by Stefanie and Ron Fair) about the episode that is sung by dancing robots. The songs are very repetitive and younger kids would like that.

The four kid scientists are, Angie (Phillipa Alexander) a modern female version of Thomas Edison, JD (Adam Long), Angie’s brother who  thinks well under pressure, Kent (Shash Hira), who has all kinds of phobias and loves all applications of science,  Nicky,  a scientific genius who is secretly jealous of Angie, and of course Thomas Edison (Livingston Taylor), a hologram of the scientist who is the kids’ inspiring mentor who  doesn’t solve their problems for them, but instead offers advice and guidance.  In the lab they have Edison’s projector which makes his hologram and a virtual reality machine which opens a portal that each episode sends them to a different scientist from the past who teaches them something that will help them solve their current problem. These lessons teach real life facts which I like. This episode pack is about a few of their problems that they solve using all they know about science.

Episodes on this DVD include, Dancing Machines, Murphy’s Law of Gravity, Rock it to the Moon, Act your Stone Age, Von Drop-Out, Freaky Furry, The Monster Not Under the Bed, and Nanobots Byte. My favorite episode is Freaky Furry which is about when Angie accidently switches brains with her dog during a test. The group must find out what happened and switch the brains back. I like this because it is the only one about the human body which I find fascinating and because I like dogs. My favorite character is Von Bolts, the robot lab assistant, because he is a funny, indestructible machine who features in all the episodes.

The message of this show is that if you work together, you can do anything. I recommend this DVD for ages 4 through 10 because it is funny and very educational but easy to understand. I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars because I like to hear facts and some parts are funny. This DVD/Blu-ray is available now so go check it out. This series has its own website called, edisonsecretlab.com which you should also look at because it has a lot of added features.

 

 

 

 

Octonauts: The Great Swamp Search – Like Mission Impossible for Young Audiences!

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Dive into adventure with your favorite underwater explorers, the Octonauts! Join brave Captain Barnacles, daredevil ex-pirate, Kwazii, and medic Peso Penguin, along with the other Octonauts as they explore the world’s oceans, rescue the creatures who live there and protect their habitats – above and below the waves! On this exciting DVD, join the Octonauts as they journey to the Everglades to help Tweak’s dad, Ranger Marsh, track down several invasive species – including a Burmese Python and her babies! The adventures continue with six more exciting underwater missions! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Arjun N. comments, “The voice acting and plots bring a unique feel unlike other animated work. This is sure to be a hit with kids who love animation.” Sahiba K. adds, “Octonauts: The Great Swamp Search is like Mission: Impossible for younger audiences! There is danger and action at every corner and unique adventures.” See their full reviews below.

Octonauts: The Great Swamp Search
By Arjun N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

This is a fun, educational, adventure-filled DVD with animals. The voice acting and plots bring a unique feel unlike other animated work. This is sure to be a hit with kids who love animation.

The story follows the adventures of an underwater exploring crew, the Octonauts which includes Captain Barnacles (Simon Greenall), Lieutenant Kwazii (Rob Rackstraw), Medic Peso (Wayne Greyson), Biologist Shellington (Keith Wickham), and Founder Grimpoteuthis (Keith Wickham). They are enticed by many adventures including the likes of returning animals to their homes, rescuing baby animals and finding the right turf for a group of hippos. Meanwhile, they discover new information about all the animals they are investigating.

Simon Greenall, as Barnicles, presents a commanding presence in leading the Octonauts, especially when choosing what is a priority. He is my favorite character because of this. Rob Rackstrawis, as Kwazii, is a fun member of the team who loves to help the animals and learn more about them. It is also interesting to see her reunion with her father who plays a big part in the first adventure. Wayne Greyson, as Peso, is an incredibly smart medic who wants to use his skills to save lives. Keith Wickham, as Shellington and Grimpteuthis, portrays two different characters who are of great importance to the team.

Darragh O’Connell directs this show with a Star Trek-esque tone of discovery. My favorite scene is the chase from the hippos because of the creative ways in which the Octonauts flee. It also feels like an extremely urgent scene. My only problem with the show is that, at times, the episodes are repetitive such as when they use the same plots with different animals.

The message of the show is to protect all animals and the ecosystem. Despite being treated unfairly by the animals, the Octonauts work around that to help them. They even give food to the hungry carnivores who threaten the ecosystem, while protecting the other animals. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 12. This DVD is available now so be sure to check it out.

Octonauts: The Great Swamp Search
By Sahiba K., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

Octonauts: The Great Swamp Search is like Mission: Impossible for younger audiences! There is danger and action at every corner and unique adventures. The music is engaging and made my heart race, adding to the thrilling effect. Along with the gripping stories, each episode cleverly incorporates interesting fun facts casually into the Octonauts’ conversations.

The story follows the Octonauts – Captain Barnacles, Kwazii, Peso Penguin, Dashi Dog, Shellington, Tweak and Tunip who always come to the rescue. Each episode follows an entertaining and fresh storyline where the Octonauts face peril and must use teamwork and problem solving to save the day. They help a myriad of animals and learn much from their adventures.

Every species has a distinctive voice and accent. This adds to the element of diversity and uniqueness. Simon Greenall as Captain Barnacles makes it obvious through his authoritative voice that he is the captain. Kwazii (Rob Rackstraw) is a pirate and incorporates an interesting accent to enhance his character and add humor.

The animation is quite realistic, particularly the water, shadows, clouds and colors during different times of the day. The water moves so smoothly that I felt I could reach into their world and touch it. Throughout many scenes, reflections can be seen in the water and are extremely naturalistic. The clouds move subtly across different shots and the movement is memorable. Shadows of the trees, animals and the Octonauts are beautifully portrayed. In the shadows, underwater and during different times of day, the colors change intensity which boosts the sublime qualities of the animation.

The animated cinematography is special. There are many wide shots that show the Octonauts from afar and then zoom in, allowing the viewer a chance to enjoy the scenery, light and depth of the animation. The 3D effects create a world that doesn’t seem so far from reality even though it is. It immersed me in the experience while learning about all the different species.

My favorite part is how fun facts are blended into the conversations. Even though it doesn’t feel as you are leaning something, you learn many different things about hippos, crawfish and a multitude of other animals. The messages of this show is about teamwork, putting others before yourself and being kind to everyone. I give this DVD 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 12. It is available on DVD now so, be sure to check it out. It’s great stealth learning.

 

 

Napping Princess – Completely Engaging! Very creative and entertaining. Like the Fantastic Studio Ghibli films!

Friday, January 19th, 2018

In Napping Princess the year is 2020, three days before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. While she should be studying for her exams, Kokone Morikawa is often dozing off, stuck between reality and a dream-world full of fantastic motorized contraptions. But after her father, a talented but mysterious mechanic, is arrested for stealing technology from a powerful corporation, it’s up to Kokone and her childhood friend Morio to save him. Together they realize that Kokone’s dream-world holds the answers to the mystery behind the stolen tech, and they embark on a journey that traverses dreams and reality, city and country, and past and present. Their mission uncovers a trail of clues to her father’s disappearance and ultimately a surprising revelation about Kokone’s family. Special Features: Interview with Kenji Kamiyama, Introduction at the Japanese Premiere, Greeting at Japanese Release, Okayama Scenery, Special Interviews with Cast, Special TV Program, Trailers and TV Spots. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Calista B. comments, “This film is very creative and entertaining. It reminds me a lot of Studio Ghibli films, which I love and I found myself completely immersed in this movie.” See her full review below. 

Napping Princess
By Calista B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 14

This film is very creative and entertaining. It reminds me a lot of Studio Ghibli films, which I love and I found myself completely immersed in this movie. 

The story centers around a girl named Kokone, who I think has narcolepsy. She often dozes off and dreams about a kingdom known as Heartland. Her father is arrested and accused of stealing technology from a famous company and Kokone and her old friend Morio track him down.

I really like the two main characters, Kokone and Morio. I appreciate their dynamic friendship and their personalities. I truly believe they have a bond that can’t be broken. Besides these two and Kokone’s dad, none of the other characters stand out that much. Of course, I have to talk about the animation. The animation is beautiful. I’ve always loved Japanese animation and this film is no different. I love the backgrounds of both the real world and Heartland. I love how the characters move. All of it is so appealing. And speaking of visual stuff, the outfits that the characters wear are amazing. If there was an award for best costume design in animation, this film would win it! 

The Heartland dream sequences are the best part of the movie. The dreams have their own story, separate to the story taking place in the real world. The dreams are my type of adventure. A kingdom with a combination of sci-fi and fantasy with lots of action? Perfect! It’s also really ingenious. Ancien’s magic tablet is one of the most original and imaginative inventions I’ve ever seen in fiction.

I also love the soundtrack. The background music has a pretty orchestral vibe. The music composer is Yoko Shimomura, a famous video game composer known for working on Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. She also composed one of my favorite video game songs, so I got pretty excited finding this out. 

The one thing that did bother me is that the movie is advertised as a sci-fi / fantasy movie. However, there isn’t that much fantasy. The movie has elements of fantasy, such as in the dream sequences, but it doesn’t feel as if it is an actual fantasy film. This bothered me just a bit. Also, certain things are left unexplained and that left me confused.

I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, due to some mild language. The film comes out on DVD January 30, 2018 so, check it out!

Napping Princess
By Dariana A., KIDS FIRST Film Critics, age 12

The Napping Princess is a prodigious film. It brings you into a world of fantasy and adventure. This movie is what everyone thinks about when they are kids but adds a cool twist. It is the type of film that has you so immersed in it, that it makes you want to be in the movie. The film is originally in Japanese, but the translation into English is so impressive that I couldn’t believe it was originally in Japanese.

The story takes place in the year 2020, with Kokone (Mitsuki Takahata) dreaming about a world called Heartland. Then, Kokone’s dad gets kidnapped for stealing technological ideas and Kokone and her friend Morio (Shinnosuke Mitsushima) must work together to save him. On their adventure, they find out that Kokone’s Heartland holds the answers to saving her dad.

The Napping Princess is such an amazing movie. It has a plot that keeps you wanting more. The animation has the classic anime vibe to it. The only negative thing is that some of the words in the film are in Japanese, so it’s a little hard to understand because they only have subtitles for some of the words. Even though the dialogue was originally in Japanese, the characters’ mouths are still very in sync with the words they say. This story is about a kid’s dream morphing into reality. It is such an imaginative story that with such a creative idea as its basis. My favorite character is Joi (Rie Kugimiya). Joi is Kotone’s stuffed animal that comes to life in her dreams and is just so cute. My favorite scene is when one of the machines sprouts wings. I like it because it reminds me of a Red Bull commercial.

The message of this film is that things aren’t always what they seem and, if you pay attention, the truth will come through. I rate this film 5 out of 5 stars because it has an awesome plot which I love and classic anime animation. I recommend this film for ages 7 to 14. It really is a very marvelous film and it is available now on DVD so go check it out. 

 

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