Last Sunday, I welcomed yet another emotional wreckage.

Kubo and the Two Strings wrecked me like no other masterfully animated film has done before. Okay okay, Studio Ghibli's works are still my top choice for the entirety of this brief human eternity and I still cry every time, but this child of CGI and stop motion follows as close second with its great qualities. 

Before that night, I'd already watched some behind the scenes footage of the painstaking and admirable amount of effort that went into creating the fluid movement of the character, the motion of the sea, and even the windswept look of hair.

I didn't know much about the film except I vaguely remembered the makers based it on Japanese folklore. 

I'm all for increasing Asian representation in media, especially children specific works, so I knew I was going to watch it before summer concluded.

And boy, oh boy. 

*Spoilers ahead*

The film had me from the first scene. The shot of Kubo's mother comforting his infant body on the shore pulled waves of emotions out of me. 

OMG. Kubo's mom sacrificed herself THREE times for him. First, when she fled with him as a baby from her twisted family from the heavens. Second, when she quickly sent Kubo away to safety via magical robe wings mid-battle with her witch of a sister. I thought she died but she apparently transferred her spirit into a living, breathing manifestation of the monkey charm that she made Kubo keep with him at all times. Third, when she finally died (in monkey form) while fighting the remaining twin of already mentioned sister. A mom's work is never done. 

I could ramble on and on about every detail I loved about the film, but I'll share the scene that left the greatest impression on me. The part when his grandfather becomes mortal again but unable to remember a thing - that's when I lost it. The townspeople had seen the violence his immortal self had done to Kubo, but they didn't act predictably. They didn't show anger or cry for his imprisonment or death. It was undeniably clear that the grandfather had lost all memory of his story and past motives. Kubo's elderly BFF took that chance to build him up as the person he could be. She validated him. She complimented him on his great qualities and the rest of the villagers followed suit. They praised him. Uplifted him. They created a new story for him. Of course, I bawled with each character's remark. 

Like several other moments in the movie, this one got me thinking. The answer to violence is never easy. Justice is never clear cut. Compassion is never easy in the face of brutality, but it is always better. 

This is probably the least organized movie "review" you've ever read, but thanks for sticking through! I'd love to read about how the movie wrecked you in the comments. Let's weep together. 

Published by NaHyun Kim