Drifting Home builds on the theme and friction from Penguin Highways

Drifting Home builds on the theme and friction from Penguin Highways ...

Moving to a new house may seem like an adventure rather than a necessity to face the unknown world as a kid. In his second anime feature, Drifting Home, which is now available on Netflix, the director takes it seriously and gives it a shockingly literal appearance. Kosuke and Natsume, characters in Drifting Homes, are struggling to cope with the loss of their former apartment building when it suddenly departs toward the ocean with them and their friends.

The Kamonomiya apartment complex in a neighborhood on the verge of regeneration, with old housing structures slowly being replaced by new water towers and industrial buildings, is a remnant of postwar postwar prosperity. These haunted houses were initially intended for demolition, but were later occupied by ghosts. The sudden disappearance of their house is evident from the start, but the two have drifted apart due to a conflict of judgments and priorities.

As the shots shift toward the past, Kosuke and some friends return to 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 abandoned apartment complex floats across the ocean like a raft, with little hope of reunification before long. Its an uncanny moment that feels like real magic, tied up in concise editing. Ishida and co-writer Hayashi Moris have developed an excellent instinct to keep the narrative moving.

The journey becomes both a memory lane adventure and a last-ditch disagreement about what comes between the two old friends. In part because of their shared fascination with Kosukes recently deceased grandfather Yasuji, who lived in the apartments when they were first built. Natsume struggles to let go of her attachment to the place, which might cost her a future relationship with Kosuke.

At this point in their lives, the two children are surprised by change, so leaving a place and the memories it contains feels like removing a limb, an idea Ishida and Mori explore in their anime, the most recent being the series Sonny Boy, directed by Shingo Natsume.

Because of the way Ishida and Mori also ask: What if the emotions the characters have toward this location were reciprocal? Noppo is the film's most uncanny magic touch, but the depth of his connection to the children is both novel and moving. He laments his abandonment: Everyone is gone, but I'm still alive.

The anthropomorphization of an entire housing complex who is attempting to reconcile the loss of Kosuke and Natsume to new houses requires no small amount of corniness: His bones are constructed 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 fascinating and often moving to see Ishida discuss the ways the children are confronted with these kinds of impermanence, for people

The striking animation by Studio Colorido (Penguin Highway, A Whisker Away) does a lot to sell the offending idea. Structures shift and break with believable weight, even though the driving action is about a house floating across the ocean like a raft. Even with the more fantastical figures, Akihiro Nagae's designs remain down-to-earth when the director injects broad, sometimes elastic physical comedy on the characters' interactions with these environments, like when Kosuke

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 assumptions will quickly morph into more childish sentiments, like Kosuke's inability to prevent Natsume's reconciliation from petty jealousy.

Ishida is interested in characters arguing and arguing, without either side necessarily being in the wrong. Each of the characters has a different, less obvious aspect of their personality, and the film progresses towards becoming more self-aware of her feelings and more empathy toward their friends as they shed the myopic illusion of childhood.

Drifting Home is so liveliness that two hours in a single location against a minimal background does not feel too much of an effort. The kids end up drifting past other abandoned structures that serve as opportunities for adventure. The film is nonetheless compelling, making up for the absence of process with some very real danger.

Ishida and Mori do have to hit repeatedly repetitive notes between the other characters, because they become more entwined with panic and scream at each other with increasing frequency. That tension has quickly worn off, making these scenes seem like fairly plausible scenes of children trapped on their own, especially as they race against time to scavenge for food.

Drifting Home does feel (appropriately!) lost at sea at times, as the characters wrestle between youthful impulses and empathy for their pals, all as they learn to carry their attachments and memories to new places.

Drifting Home is now available on Netflix.