A paint-by-numbers family-oriented adventure…
There’s the mystery of socks disappearing from washing machines. There’s the speculation that ballpoint pens vanish from drawers to return to their native planet. There’s all the items that are lost every time you move house, even if you write a detailed inventory. Where does all that stuff go? According to this movie, there’s a whole world, Oblivion Island, built from our lost and forgotten items, “collected” by the creatures who live there.
Haruka, the protagonist, has lost her mother to illness, and lost her mother’s hand mirror to Oblivion Island. She believes her father doesn’t care about her, and goes back to the places of her younger life. There, she discovers one of the creatures who’s collecting various items, and follows him into the other world.
Surprises, friendship, bullies, an arch-villain, betrayal, community spirit, daring rescues, painful memories, separation and reconciliation. Of course there’s a happy ending.
If you’re looking for something original, or a great execution of a familiar story, look elsewhere. Oblivion Island is average in all respects: from the railroaded plot we’ve all read and seen several times already, to the smooth CG animation that still can’t get movements and expressions quite right, to a soundtrack that’s appropriate but nothing more. Some scenes look almost copied frame-by-frame from better films: compare Haruka discovering the creature and getting into Oblivion Island with Mei discovering the little Totoro and getting into the big camphor tree.
Oh, there’s very nice backgrounds, and the buildings in the Island show good imagination on the part of the authors. And there is nothing really bad or wrong in any part of the movie. Also, given Sturgeon’s law, I should compliment the distributors for publishing in English more average-or-better works than very bad works.
Let’s just say that I was led to expect much better from the press release. That’ll teach me to take press releases with a large grain of salt.
Oblivion Island: Haruka And The Magic Mirror is released on Blu-Ray/DVD combo and DVD from 1 April by Manga Entertainment.
Distributor: Manga Entertainment (UK)
Edition: DVD (2013)
Both DVD and Blu-Ray include several extras, including trailers, commercials, and several short documentaries on real-world places with echoes in the movie.