Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
From zombie mutants to psychological terrors, click here to check out SWITCH's reviews from this year's Fantastic Film Festival!x
review, Okko's Inn, Okko's, Inn, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Seiran Kobayashi, Nana Mizuki, Satsumi Matsuda, Rina Endo, Etsuko Kozakura, Yoko Asagami, Kana Hanazawa, Teiyu Ichiryusai, Kitarô Kôsaka, Animation, Anime, Family, Fantasy, Supernatural film rating

WAKA OKAMI WA SHÔGAKUSEI!

★★★

A GENTLE TALE OF GHOSTS AND HUMAN KINDNESS

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
14th August 2019

Contrary to popular belief, non-perverted anime is fairly easy to come by. “Family friendly” can be a bit tougher to find once you step out of the realm of Studio Ghibli (otherwise known as the Disney of anime), but that depends on your definition of the term.

‘Okko's Inn’ is based on a series of Japanese children's novels, written by Hiroko Reijo and illustrated by Asami, that have already been adapted into a manga series and a 24-episode anime television series. The feature-length film is directed by Kitarō Kōsaka, whose numerous animator and animation supervisor credits include classics such as ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, ‘Akira’, ‘Princess Mononoke’, ‘Spirited Away’, ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ and ‘Ponyo’.

Kitarō’s film focuses on a girl named Okko (voiced by Seiran Kobayashi), who loses her parents in a shocking car accident and goes to live in the countryside with her grandmother. Her grandmother runs a traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan, which is built on top of an ancient spring (onsen) said to have healing waters.

To get the most out of ‘Okko’s Inn’, you will first need to know a little about Japanese culture. Omotenashi is a tradition that involves the subjugation of self to provide hospitality to a guest, without being servile - “omote” meaning “public face” and “nashi” meaning “lack of”, service is from the bottom of the heart, expecting nothing in return. Tied intrinsically into the culture’s deep respect for omotenashi, ryokans tend to be soothingly silent and infused with the Japanese philosophy of zen, whether through hushed halls, the precision of architecture, or the sublime simplicity of the food they serve. They’re intimate and minimalist and typically feature aromatic tatami mats, shoji (sliding paper doors) and soft futon beds. Many ryokans house a hot spring onsen, a traditional bath, and kaiseki meals that revolve around local fish and foraged ingredients.

'OKKO'S INN' TRAILER

Okko goes about her chores and prepares to become the inn's next caretaker, all the while still having visions of her parents. Soon she discovers there are spirits who live there that only she can see. She befriends the ghost of Uribo (voiced by Satsumi Matsuda), a buck-toothed, impish boy who was a close friend of her grandmother’s decades earlier. They’re soon joined by Miyo (voiced by Rina Endô), the spirit of the older sister of Matsuki Akino, whose family runs the huge Harunoya Inn, and Suzuki (voiced by Etsuko Kozakura), a tiny demon who loves sweets and is summoned by a monstrous bell left by a former guest. These spirits are not scary ones, but welcoming ghosts who keep Okko company, play games, and help her navigate her new environment. Suzuki, Uribe and Miyo form a team that help the young girl with her inn chores. As Okko becomes cheerier, though, Suzuki notices that she is less able to see the ghosts.

The inn's motto that it welcomes everyone is soon put to the test by several unexpected guests who challenge Okko's ability to be a kind and accommodating host. Here the director plays with time in that the three groups that come to the inn are based on Okko’s past, present, and future. It's through these trials that Okko discovers that she gains fulfillment in making people happy through her service.

Omotenashi is a tradition that involves the subjugation of self to provide hospitality to a guest, without being servile - “omote” meaning “public face” and “nashi” meaning “lack of”, service is from the bottom of the heart, expecting nothing in return.

The basic message of the film is one that was once summed up by famous tea master Sen no Rikyu with a poem to describe a tea ceremony (a ritual that revolves around a guest): “Though you wipe your hands and brush off the dust and dirt from the vessels, what is the use of all this fuss if the heart is still impure?” The most important part of every tea ceremony is that the bowl of tea is prepared from the host’s heart.

Mixing cartoony character designs (the children are rendered more simply than the adults), beautifully detailed landscapes, and glacial pacing, ‘Okko’s Inn’ is squarely aimed at young children. Okko continues to have happy experiences with her parents in her fantasies, despite knowing that they are no longer alive. The little ghosts who play with her are her support system, helping her to adjust at her new role at the inn, providing friendship and also showing that the afterlife isn’t so scary. Meanwhile, in the process of learning her trade, Okko realises that she can be a positive force in the lives of damaged strangers. It is an exceptionally gentle exploration of death, trauma and simple human kindness (as well as Japanese culture).

Although it doesn't hit the high-water mark of ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ and similarly-themed Studio Ghibli fare, Kitarō’s ‘Okko’s Inn’ is, like the tradition of omotenashi itself, charming and effective at pleasing its young audience, and goes well beyond a napkin on the lap or smile upon arrival.

FAST FACTS
AKA: Okko's Inn
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RUN TIME: 1h 34m
CAST: Seiran Kobayashi
Nana Mizuki
Satsumi Matsuda
Rina Endo
Etsuko Kozakura
Yoko Asagami
Kana Hanazawa
Teiyu Ichiryusai
DIRECTOR: Kitarô Kôsaka
WRITERS: Hiroko Reijo
Asami
Reiko Yoshida
PRODUCERS: Kazuhiro Asou
Takayuki Hirobe
Kôji Hyakutake
SCORE: Keiichi Suzuki
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Looking for more Melbourne International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
Honeyland - Two-time Oscar-nominated film flies into Aussie cinemas
TRENDINGWIN HONEYLANDTwo-time Oscar-nominated film flies into Aussie cinemas
In My Blood It Runs - An eye-opening tale of struggling Indigenous youth
TRENDINGIN MY BLOOD IT RUNSAn eye-opening tale of struggling Indigenous youth
A Guide to Second Date Sex - A quintessentially awkward British romantic comedy
TRENDINGA GUIDE TO SECOND DATE SEXA quintessentially awkward British romantic comedy
Honey Boy - Shia LaBeouf turns his darkest times into an artistic masterpiece
TRENDINGHONEY BOYShia LaBeouf turns his darkest times into an artistic masterpiece
Fantastic Film Festival Australia 2020 - The reviews
TRENDINGFANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL AUSTRALIA 2020The reviews
The Professor and the Madman - Mel Gibson's dictionary origin story a dry read
TRENDINGTHE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMANMel Gibson's dictionary origin story a dry read
The Australian Dream - The conversation Australia needs to have
TRENDINGTHE AUSTRALIAN DREAMThe conversation Australia needs to have
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
Guns Akimbo - Just like Harry Potter but with guns and more violence... not really
TRENDINGGUNS AKIMBOJust like Harry Potter but with guns and more violence... not really
Standing Up For Sunny - A comedy without the comedy but very sweet
TRENDINGSTANDING UP FOR SUNNYA comedy without the comedy but very sweet
Motherless Brooklyn - A neo-noir set in 1950s New York
TRENDINGMOTHERLESS BROOKLYNA neo-noir set in 1950s New York
Blue - A thought-provoking underwater journey
TRENDINGBLUEA thought-provoking underwater journey
Zombi Child - A subtle riff on the zombie genre
TRENDINGZOMBI CHILDA subtle riff on the zombie genre
Emma. - A dazzling new adaptation of Jane Austen's classic
TRENDINGEMMA.A dazzling new adaptation of Jane Austen's classic
NT Live: Present Laughter - Andrew Scott astounds in this thrilling Noel Coward classic
TRENDINGNT LIVE: PRESENT LAUGHTERAndrew Scott astounds in this thrilling Noel Coward classic
Parasite - A bloodthirsty and very funny look at class warfare
TRENDINGPARASITEA bloodthirsty and very funny look at class warfare
Midsommar - Ari Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
TRENDINGMIDSOMMARAri Aster brings the gore but lacks the emotion
Happy Ending - An extra-wrinkly sex comedy
TRENDINGHAPPY ENDINGAn extra-wrinkly sex comedy
School's Out - The children know too much
TRENDINGSCHOOL'S OUTThe children know too much
In My Blood It Runs - An eye-opening tale of struggling Indigenous youth
TRENDINGIN MY BLOOD IT RUNSAn eye-opening tale of struggling Indigenous youth
© 2011 - 2020 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us