Kubo and The Two Strings is a 3D stop-motion fantasy action film from the production company that produces Coraline and The Boxtrolls. It is set in ancient Japan and with a pretty unique origami/hard clay visual that looks really good. However, does its story befit the beautiful visuals that it offers? Read this mini review to find out!
A fatherless child who has to care for his mother whose mental health is declining discovered a great danger that is going to befall him and his loved ones. With only a legend as the key to his rescue, could Kubo manage to find the hero Hanzo to end all evil?
Let’s talk about the visual part, which is the main key in most 3D animations. Kubo does a brilliant job in this department. The combination of origami paper and hard clay texture creates a unique combination that reflects the ancient Japan era. It has an earthly visual that instantly captures my attention. Some scenes are warmly lit and bring back the feeling of nature for which we can connect to their world, where nature is still preserved by the people. Also, the animation wise is top-notch in blending the movements of the characters. You can feel that they are not animated as smoothly as normal 3D CGI animation, but that is their charm ala Japanese anime. Particular applause is reserved for their origami animation which captures so much details and each folding just looks natural and wonderful to appreciate; it is a work of art.
The characters are filled with their own personalities. Each scene adds more background stories into the three main characters for which I will not spoil. There is a sense of bond between them through the events that they encountered. I can feel myself caring for the characters during their struggle and finally for their resolve to save Kubo. Ironically, Kubo does not receive as much character development as the other two despite being the main character. However, it is due to him developing it at a slower rate and by the end of the movie, you can definitely relate to him watch him grow through his trials.
Then there is the music, which is actually pretty simple with the most memorable being played by Kubo’s Shamisen, a Japanese three-stringed instrument. The music fits very well with the story and the ancient Japan setting. It also plays in critical moments in the films that depict Kubo’s personalities and growth.
Finally, I reserved the Story for the last as it is one of the best simple stories I have ever seen. There are no major plot twists and most characters are pretty straightforward. It is perhaps due to this straightforwardness that we learn to simply enjoy their story in the purest form. An earthly visual with a simple story is just a perfect match for a wonderful film. Although it is simple, it does not neglect the basic of storytelling. We can witness the growth of Kubo from the start through the end, as this story is about his transformation to become wiser. His story is also one of bravery and love in different forms and I am touched by some specific scenes which capture these parts perfectly. This is simply a beautiful story with an ending that is uncommonly great for children’s animation film.