The House of the Lost on the Cape
After a devastating earthquake, two apparently now-homeless girls, named Yui (the older one), and Hiyori (who's been stricken mute by the trauma), are taken in by an elderly woman named Kiwa Yamana. Kiwa takes them to a magical house callled a mayoiga, which seems an architectural version of a Horn of Plenty. In fact, there are numerous denizens of folklore and legend who are friends with Kiwa (she calls them "Enigmas")- but there's now ONE loose that's no friend of ANYONE'S.
"Evil that appears in the human world can only be vanquished by humans"
I'll come back to that quote later. First, I'd like to note that anime is beginning to reflect the national trauma that the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake inflicted on the Japanese psyche. Hakubo depicted kids displaced by the associated tsunami-induced Fukushima accident, but objectively speaking most of the loss of life was more directly associated with the earthquake, as was the destruction of property (and a LOT of sudden homelessness.)
In House of the Lost, the earthquake has loosed a literal monster, but the monster itself (a serpent-like creature called "Red Eyes") mainly wants to use peoples' fears to drive them away from their homes, so the beast is also allegorical, a supernatural representation of the psychological effects of a natural disaster. (Radioactivity, of course, may be very good grounds to abandon one's home, but that wasn't so much an issue in the particular province this is set in. The film, by the way, makes no bones about its inspiration, noting its creation on the 10th anniversary of the earthquake.)
The girls are pretty engaging characters. Yui's reserved and wary about the whole thing at first, while Hiyori quickly accepts everything. The show's director, Shinya Kawatsura, says in an interview included in the Blu Ray/DVD package that he prefers Hiyori's cheerfulness and optimism ("There's more light than sadness in her"), though one could argue that Hiyori's not likely to receive further trauma from the original sources, while this is not necessarily true for Yui. (Nevertheless, BOTH girls will experience "triggering" events in their new home, despite Kiwa's efforts to give them a good life.) I'm a Yui fan myself, since I see myself much more like her.
Among the first of Kiwa's unusual "friends" that Yui and Hiyori meet are a group of kappas, who seem an amiable bunch, and not at all the sort who "playfully" try to DROWN people, as they're sometimes purported to do. (It is illuminating to compare the artistic depiction of these creatures here to those in other anime- for example, the kappa character in Himawari. There are interesting similarities, and differences.) Other denizens of the cryptozoic/supernatural realm will include lion dogs, and even some Buddhas. They're quick to respond to Granny Kiwa's call; but how much GOOD are they in the ultimate crisis?
And here we've arrived at the quote I started the review with. It DOES seem a bit unjust that "evil which is in the human world" that DID NOT ORIGINATE FROM EITHER THE ACITIVITY OF HUMAN BEINGS, OR HUMAN BEINGS THEMSELVES, is nevertheless the exclusive responsibility of humans to deal with. In fairness, the various Buddhas/creatures, etc., here DO perform some supporting tasks, but it ultimately falls on our pair of girls to fight the main battle against the monster. Since the creature here is a supernatural entity that was neither born from, nor reflects, human desires (in fact, it wants to REPEL humans), personally I would think the spirit world should provide more direct support for its elimination, but that's just me.
The art is quite good (they visit one mayoiga that does, indeed, look like a wonderful place to live), and I found the background music well suited to the movie's atmosphere.
For a fantasy, this one does a credible job with the human drama of its two young female protagonists- AND the efforts that are made to make them whole again. Since they have to save the day for everyone, that's just as well. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Rightstuf says 10+. There's fairly strong psychological trauma, and in my opinion the monster(s) would be too frightening for a very young audience.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 Blu Ray/DVD
Review Status: Full (1/1)
The House of the Lost on the Cape ©
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