Ancien and the Magic Tablet is a weird but wonderful animated adventure showing as part of the Japanese Film Festival. It took me until just about the end of the film to get my head around the confusing connection between the two plots, but maybe that’s just my slow holiday-brain.
It is a dual-plot film; on one side there is the trapped sorceress Princess Ancien, who if only freed from the captivity of the King of Heartland, could easily defeat a Pacific-Rim-style lava monster that came out of the ocean and is threatening to destroy Heartland. With her magic tablet, Ancien can bring inventions, machines to life – and so bring to the match a fighting robot independent of human drivers to conquer the lava monster and restore peace to the kingdom.
On the other side, in a reality more akin to our own, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are about to start, and teenage student Kokone is pondering going to university in the capital city. But when her father, a small-town mechanic, is arrested, leaving her a stuffed toy hiding a tablet on her mother’s grave, Kokone must find out what happened to him with her friend Morio.
I won’t spoil the plot connection, because it’s really beautiful. It takes an hour or so to explain itself just enough for that awesome “Ah! I get it now!” moment, and I wouldn’t want to steal that from you. Ancien and the Magic Tablet is a wonderfully animated film, in the artistic and dramatic style only the Japanese can achieve. However, I would say that this film is for younger audiences; perhaps up to 12 years old.
Ancien and the Magic Tablet is screening at the Japanese Film Festival nationally.