“If you have to blink, do it now.”
Kubo lives a quiet life in exile with his mother, whom he takes care of as needed while they hide from the night sky. He spends his daylight hours telling legends of questionable veracity to the local village. But Kubo’s longing for more concrete knowledge of the past will bring that same unknown, and dangerous, past into his present in an upending way.
The central plot is quite simple, and classic, at its base. It’s the way the story embraces these elements and how the characters approach and react to their journey that elevates Kubo’s adventure into something special. From genuine sounding dialog and relatable emotion grounding a fantastical tale to incredible animation and visuals that make everything come alive and enthrall the viewer, every piece of this film works together perfectly. In particular the animator’s approach to the origami aspects is INCREDIBLE and a delight to watch.
Of course beyond the timeless and recognizable elements to the story there are also some surprises cleverly built to within the classic structure, executed with a deft touch that maximizes their impact without going overboard. The themes of the power of stories and what defines happiness and identity are favorites of mine, and are given proper due and weight while being integrated seamlessly enough that they never slow down the pace of call undue attention to themselves. I really can’t say enough about the care put into the making of this movie, nor how clearly that comes across during viewing.
At its core Kubo and the Two Strings has plenty of the thing most important to the selfsame stories it trumpets: heart.