Drifting Home continues to stoke Penguin Highways fantasy and tension

Drifting Home continues to stoke Penguin Highways fantasy and tension ...

Moving to a new house can feel less like an adventure than as a challenge to the established world. In his second anime feature, Drifting Home, which is now available on Netflix, the director Hiroyasu Ishida takes it seriously and gives it a surprisingly literal face. Kosuke and Natsume, two elementary schoolers, are coping with the loss of their previous apartment building when it suddenly moves out towards the ocean with them and their friends.

The Kamonomiya apartment complex in a neighborhood on the verge of revitalization, once abandoned by new water towers and industrial buildings, is a remnant of postwar postwar development. The slow disappearance of their house is evident from the start, as a result of a conflict of words and interests.

As the shots shift toward the past, Kosuke and some friends explore the old houses in search of the ghost that haunts them. Instead, they meet Natsume and her strange new pal Noppo, who claims to be a previous resident.

The crumbling apartment complex begins floundering into the sea like a raft, with no hope of a rescue before long. Its an unexpected moment that feels like real magic, tied up in concise editing. Ishida and co-writer Hayashi Moris have developed strong intuitions to keep the narrative moving.

The journey becomes both a memory lane and a last-ditch argument over the issues that arose between the two old friends. In part due to Kosukes recent deceased grandfather Yasuji, who lived in the apartments since the buildings were constructed, and Natsume's friendship reaches an end of its entropy. Natsume is unable to let go of her attachment to the place, which might cost her a future relationship with Kosuke.

At this stage in their lives, the two children are surprised by change, and leaving a place and the memories it contains feels like removing a limb, an idea Ishida and Mori play out in their script. Even the concept of impossibly castaway buildings has seen a number of iterations in anime, most recently in the series Sonny Boy, directed by Shingo Natsume.

Because of the way Ishida and Mori also ask: What if the characters' feelings towards the apartment complex were reciprocal? Noppo is the film's most haunting power, but his real nature is both remarkable and moving. He laments his abandonment: Everyone is gone, but I'm still alive.

The anthropomorphization of an entire housing complex who is trying to reconcile the process of losing Kosuke and Natsume to new ones, which is often a surprise, is what makes it work: His bones are made of concrete rebar, and his skin is being reclaimed by plant life, much like an abandoned structure disappears beneath grasses, moss, and mold. It's interesting and often moving to see Ishida tackle the ways the children are confronted with these notions of

Studio Colorido's stunning animation (Penguin Highway, A Whisker Away) carries a lot of punch, especially when the driving sequence involves a raft floating across the ocean, while Akihiro Nagae's lines remain subtle, even with the younger characters' interactions with these environments. Sometimes, Kosuke leaps through the corrugated iron roof like a pinball.

Drifting Home continues Ishidas Penguin Highway's work in exploring childish incompetence and sensitivity. Both films demonstrate an even hand in portraying children in all their abilities for both selfishness and selflessness, as well as wisdom. Even seemingly grown-up conclusions may quickly morph into more childish emotions, such as Kosuke's being unable to intervene in a small jealousy.

Ishida is interested in characters conflicting and clashing, without either side necessarily being in the wrong. Each of the characters has a different, less obvious side of their personality, and the film progresses toward becoming more self-aware of her feelings and more compassionate toward their pals as they shed the childhood fantasy.

Drifting Home is so fun to watch that two hours in a single location against a minimal background does not feel overkill, and the kids end up wandering past other abandoned structures that become opportunities for adventure. The film is nevertheless compelling, despite the absence of process, as the kids must hunt for food in order to survive as castaways.

Ishida and Mori do hit repetitive notes between the other characters as they become more entwined with worry and scream at each other with increasing frequency. That tension wears out quite quickly, but at least they provide a fairly convincing portrayal of children left on their own during a hunt for food.

Drifting Home does feel (appropriately!) lost at sea during its portrayals, while the children learn to carry their attachments and memories to new places.

Drifting Home is now available on Netflix.