Drifting Home doubles down on the fantasy and conflict surrounding Penguin Highways

Drifting Home doubles down on the fantasy and conflict surrounding Penguin Highways ...

Moving to a new home can be less of an adventure than a threat to the known world as a kid. In his second anime feature, Drifting Home, which is now streaming on Netflix, the director takes the issue seriously and gives it a shockingly literal visage. Kosuke and Natsume, who both attend school in the same time, are trying to come to terms with the loss of their former apartment building.

The Kamonomiya apartment complex in a neighborhood on the verge of renewal, which is slowly being reconstructed by new water towers and industrial structures, is a remnant of postwar times. They used to live in these haunted apartments, which were planned for demolition, which were said to be occupied only by ghosts from the start. The two have drifted apart due to an uneasy attachment to time and change.

The setting of the film is a beautiful but simple recreation of the friendship they used to have, returning to the original time when the area was brimming with life. As the shots shift toward the past, Kosuke and some friends look at the old buildings in search of the ghost that haunts them. Instead, they meet Natsume and her strange new friend Noppo, who claims to be a former resident.

The crumbling apartment complex is caught off guard by a sudden outpour of rain, which leaves the audience wondering if they will be saved from the real world. Its an uncanny moment that feels like real magic, tied up in concise editing. Its simply a matter of pleasure, not explanations.

The adventure becomes both a journey down memory lane and a last-ditch disagreement over what happens between the two old friends. In part because of Kosukes recently deceased grandfather Yasuji, who lived in the apartments when they were built. Natsume's friendship reaches a point of its entropy as she loses interest in the place.

The two children's lives are shockingly unfamiliar at this stage in their lives, so leaving a place and the memories it contains feels as removing a limb, an idea Ishida and Mori explore in their script. In anime, the notion of young people becoming castaways at a transitory stage has seen a number of iterations, most recently in the series Sonny Boy, directed by Shingo Natsume.

Drifting Home is different, because of the way Ishida and Mori also ask: What if the characters' feelings towards this place were reciprocal? Noppo is the film's most astonishing magic touch, as is his sorrow: Everyone is gone now, but I'm still alive.

The anthropomorphization of an entire housing complex that is trying to reconcile the process of losing Kosuke and Natsume to new apartments threatens no small amount of corniness. His bones are made of concrete rebar, and his skin is being reclaimed by plant life, much like an abandoned structure disappears under grasses, moss, and mold, and it's fascinating and often moving to see Ishida consider how the children are confronted with these notions of immanence, for

The striking animation by Studio Colorido (Penguin Highway and A Whisker Away) has done a lot to sell the film's bizarre premise. Structures shift and break with believable weight, even though the driving action is about a floating structure through the ocean like a raft. Even the younger characters are drawn with minor, gentle lines, but Akihiro Nagaes direction never overtures danger in dramatic situations.

Drifting Home continues the work of Ishidas Penguin Highway:Both films have an even hand in portraying children in all their capacities for both selfishness, selflessness, and even wisdom. Even seemingly grown-up realizations will quickly morph into more childish sentiments, like Kosuke's being unable to assist Natsume in her petty jealousy.

Ishida is interested in characters bickering and conflicting, without either side necessarily being in the wrong. Each of the characters has their own distinct personality, and the film progresses toward becoming more self-aware of their feelings and more compassionate toward their peers as they shed the myopic perspective of childhood.

Drifting Home is a film with enough liveliness to make two hours in a single location feel like an eternity. The apartment is made to feel expansive, and the kids end up wandering past other abandoned structures that provide opportunities for adventure. However, the film does manage to maintain an interesting plot, particularly with that films gradually unraveling the scientific approach to its fantasy.

Ishida and Mori do hit repetitive notes between the other characters with increasing frequency as they become more tightly wound from panic and scream at each other with increasing frequency. That tension tends to elicit little return quite swiftly, but at least they represent a fairly humane portrayal of children being left on their own in a race against time to scavenge for food.

Drifting Home does feel (appropriately!) lost at sea at points, as its characters wrestle between youthful impulses and empathy for their friends, all while learning how to carry their attachments and memories to new places.

Netflix is now streaming Drifting Home.