When I saw a NiNo Kuni movie on Netflix, I was super excited. I’m a fan of the game, and the premise is really good, so it’s story translated to a movie made perfect sense to me. The trailer made it look like it would be the games story, but upon watching the movie, it’s more one of those movies based on the concept of the game. Does that mean the movie was bad? Well let’s get into the review and find out!
The basic concept of the movie is pretty much the basic concept of the game. Two worlds coexist and the lives of both influence the other. That’s honestly where the movie and games parallels end, because after that point we’re all in original character territory. Initially, that bothered me a bit, because I was looking forward to a game adaptation. But after the setup of the movie, and we got transported to the alternate world, I was all in on this fantasy adventure. I’m not going to say it’s something new and spectacular: the plot plays out like your average fantasy movie, with the added flare of going from world to world. But there’s just something about the characters, the plot, the setting and music, that make me really be invested in the outcome of this story. If you’re a fan of really good character beats, then this movie will be for you. Because other than the relationship between Haru and Yu, and Yu and Astrid, there’s not much more to this than epic fantasy being epic.
The villain was soooo predictable. Like second scene they were in, I called it and was right. But somehow, this doesn’t detract from the charm of the movie: it actually adds to it. Since it plays out as a generic fantasy adventure, it just adds to said adventure and it was nice to see that this movie didn’t try and do anything new and risky with the plot. A lot of times, people rag on stories for “sticking to clichés” or not trying something new. But if we have good characters, good plot, great music, fun action, I’m all in for a generic fantasy story if the payoff overall is good and fits with the story.
And the payoff was so, so well deserved. A genuine plot twist at the end I wasn’t expecting, but was led up to with little things sprinkled throughout the story. When they dropped this twist, it was just super satisfying and made sense to the narrative. It wasn’t one of those what the heck did I just watch? Ends, but it added a cherry on top of this really enjoyable movie, and I left it with a big old smile on my face. Just a really, really well done movie start to finish. It knew what it wanted to do, wasn’t afraid to do so, and landed with every story beat it set forth. I can’t always say that about media I watch, so this was a pleasant viewing for sure.
Surprisingly enough, this movie had audio description! It’s not that Netflix isn’t good with its audio description library, it’s more that it’s rare to see anime have audio description. Unless it’s a Netflix original, I don’t see too many anime going the route of audio description, so it was nice to have it on here. It definitely added to the viewing experience, as there’s a lot of action that’s well staged in this, and the audio description does a great job at making sure you know every important thing going on in each scene. It even describes the after credits scene, which is really nice! Sometimes, you can watch a show without audio description, and feel like you wouldn’t really be missing too much with it off. It’s always preferred to have, but you can figure out what’s going on without it in a decent amount of shows. With this one though, I feel like you’d miss a lot without audio description, so it was nice to have it available for the viewing experience. Scripting was well done, no real problems or errors with characters names changing or anything like that.
This movie is a lot of fun. If you’re a fantasy fan, you’ll definitely like it. I think it does an original NiNo Kuni story well, and if it wasn’t going to be a movie based on the game, I’m glad we got this instead. It’s a great way to kill 2 hours, so I’d definitely say give it a watch!