A young immortal girl meets a newborn boy, while taking him from his dead mother’s arms. She raises him thus forming a bond that would last countless years. That is a quick synopsis you can easily find online, or use if you want to explain it to a friend quick and easy. Now I can understand why that may not turn your gears causing you to watch it, but have no fear I’ll go into a little more detail without much spoilers and explain why Maquia became one of my favorite anime films.
A Fated Meeting…
We open up to a beautiful building surrounded by majestic landscapes, living in this fantasy inspired land are the slowly ageing people of legend, the Lorph. With a quick backstory we learn that they are separate from the land of man, spending hundreds of years weaving a cloth that holds words, and history, that they call Hibiol. When a neighboring land attacks the Lorph’s for their knowledge of longevity they attempt to run but end up slaughtered with only a few surviving and Maquia’s friend Leilia getting kidnapped. Maquia escapes via a Renato – a big ol’ dragon – that has been inflicted by “red eye” that accidentally picks her up as a passenger in it’s fit of rage. We never learn just what the red eye disease is other than it kills off most of the Renatos. The Renato begins to burn causing it to die, plummeting to the forest below, which is where Maquia meets the new born Ariel kick starting the story that spans decades.
With the movie clocking in just under 2 hours showing the passing of time quite often I’ll keep the summary shorter from here on out, for brevity and spoilers sake.
As the story unfolds we follow the duo throughout the years meeting a great many of people along the way while befriending them. Showing the passing of time isn’t handled with subtitles displaying the years, instead it’s showed in the growing of Ariel and those around them. We are shown the passage of time via voices changing, – even some VA’s changing – and age worn faces with their characteristics going from child, to young adult, and finally adult, with some even dying. This is such an intelligent manner of showing the passage of time leaving it up to the viewer to place it all together while not bogging down the visuals with unneeded lettering. In Ariel’s teenager years the duo start to grow more distance until a fateful day they run into a friend of the past, following with Ariel joining the military. If I go any further we will get into heavy spoiler territory. Which no one likes.
A Story of a Mother…
Maquia is a story of mothers, family, loneliness, and the passing of years. The movie is very emotional throughout the whole run time, with barely any fighting happening, save till the end. When the fighting is shown it’s only for a few moments, while at a distance. No matter what happens Maquia shows her love for her son even though he isn’t her birth child. She keeps this loving outlook even years later even when he learns that they aren’t related and begins to fight back at her. The few times the story shifts to Leilia we learn she was forced to have a kid with the prince of The Kingdom of Mezarte so they can show their might with legendary beings being the Renato and a Lorph. Having given birth to the kid the kingdom hides her away from everyone, denying her visits with her kid despite her cries throughout the years. Another theme is Maquia and Ariel running into people in the past showing how our fates intertwine and how small the world is. Normally coincidences like this seem unrealistic but Maquia makes them seem not out of the ordinary at all.
In Maquia’s hometown her chief warns her not to have emotional attachments to others, stating that if she does it will only lead to loneliness and sadness. All of this rains true, but ends with Maquia admitting that even with all of the pain she has gone through that the love she had for her son, and his for her, made her greatly happy. Having written all of this and looked back on it, it seems like a movie I wouldn’t watch unless someone mentioned it, but Maquia plays with these themes so well and tells such a heartfelt story that it’s hard not to love. With the theme of motherhood, and growing up featured so heavily, it would be hard not to relate to this movie, hell after the movie I even wanted to call my mother. With themes that parallel the real world the movie had such a bittersweet feeling to it, feeling so human that it could bring tears to your eyes.
Beauty For Your Eyes..
Being a visual medium, anime has had distinctly different art styles throughout it’s many years, with that in mind people have their differing opinion on their favorites, or least. Maquia doesn’t have a distinct art style that will set it apart from others, but what it does have is immensely beautiful. Instead of trying something crazy they ran with their Fantasy theme with high bright colors with gorgeous backgrounds and structures. Anytime a character was feeling a certain emotion you would see their face enact that exact feeling amplifying it with body movements to match.
A Must Watch..
Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms is such a spectacular film that it should be in everyone’s must watch list. Even if you aren’t into anime, or less action, more emotional movies, this is one you can’t miss out on. With this being Mari Okada’s first film she directed I highly look forward to whatever she directs next.
As I watched this in Japanese I will list the Japanese voice actors: