Yosuke, Natsume, and four of their classmates are exploring the abandoned apartment building where Kosuke and Natsume used to live, but after a sudden drenching rain, they find the building apparently afloat on the ocean, and have no idea how to get home or summon help.
The best part of Drifting Home is frankly its opening, where, to its exuberant musical score, we see a series of rapid montages documenting changes to the landscape over time.
Now, since our protagonists are elementary-school kids you wouldn't think they would have had to personally experience many of the ravages of time, but it turns out that a couple of them- our leads, Kosuke and Natsume- once lived in the apartment building referenced in the Synopsis, which is now due to be torn down. (Despite being condemned, it's still surprisingly sturdy...even seaworthy.)
Kosuke and Natsume have apparently been on the outs with each other for some time. Natsume has been TRYING to get back together with Kosuke, but he keeps rejecting her overtures. When we find out what the original falling out was about, it's fair to say that IF there were blame to be attached, it would fall equally on both of them, though really it's not either of their faults; but Kosuke wants to act like the aggrieved party, shunning Natsume. She, in her turn, has been taking his anger to heart, developing feelings of self-loathing (and more than a bit of a martyr complex), that later has her seeming to choose certain death with another, rather than be saved by Kosuke. (Usually when someone chooses certain death over having to live in the world with you, you MIGHT conclude that they're Just Not Into You.)
I didn't find any of this particularly pleasant, nor did I particularly like Reina, a vain, spoiled girl who also likes Kosuke, despite Kosuke's being a psychological abuser. Reina's the sort who whines constantly at every inconvenience, and when the apartment building literally goes to sea, she becomes just insufferable. (An astonishing array of structures are buoyant in this movie, neither foundering nor capsizing for days on end. Naturally, there's the SUPERnatural involved, and the Japanese affection for animism seems at the bottom of it, but the movie is pretty vague about how much of this is objectively "real", versus just subjective experience.)
Outre events happening to elementary schoolers was also the theme of Penguin Highway, which I reviewed a while back. But the protagonist in THAT one, Aoyama, I found more sympathetic than Kosuke. Aoyama wanted above all to understand what was going on, but was way out of his depth; while in Drifting Home Kosuke, Natsume, and Reina are mainly preoccupied with their personal issues first, then maybe survival.
I should mention the rest of Kosuke's classmates who are on board this unplanned journey, and who receive far fewer lines. They include Taishi, one of those "excitable" little guys; and my two favorite characters, a heavyset kid named Yuzuru and a "glasses girl" named Juri, who are stalwart and compassionate, and therefore the kinds of individuals you really NEED in a situation like this. And finally, there's a strange kid named Noppo, who Natsume's befriended, and who's apparently been living in the building despite its abandonment.
There are some problems with pacing here too. The apartment building's progress stalls within sight of shore, and along with it the story, for a while; but a violent storm also seems to drag on too long.
Elementary school kids shouldn't be this neurotic. While I guess anime kids DO tend to be precocious, they've got plenty of years ahead of them to develop grievances, guilt, and grudges, and have all that ready for an anime set in their teenage years, so why rush things? In fairness, though, some of the issues DO get resolved; the artwork is VERY good; and the musical score is delightful. I suppose it's worth two hours of your time- though I think the Rec is much better. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Netflix says TV-PG. There's some near-drowning, some flesh wounds (NOT of "Black Knight" severity), and other sorts of peril, so I'm on board with that rating. As long as I don't have to board a building for an ocean cruise.
Version(s) Viewed: Netflix video stream
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Drifting Home © 2022 Netflix/Studio Colorido
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