Yui and Hiyori are two girls down on their luck. Hiyori, the younger one, lost her parents in a crash and has become mute. Yui is a runaway who couldn’t stand living with her cruel father anymore. They get unofficially adopted by an elderly woman (sometimes referred to as “Granny”) and she takes them to a special house near the coast.
It doesn’t take long for the girls to realize there is something off about this house. A tear in the screen door is fixed without anyone fixing it. Granny says this house is Mayoiga, and it offers hospitality and brings good fortune. She tells the girls a few legends (which turn out to be true) about how this house came to be. The art style changes when she tells her stories, which is a nice touch, because it makes you feel pulled away from reality and put in a folkloric story. The girls try to adjust to their new home, and get involved with the fox dance that others are practicing here.
While at first it seems to be a realistic movie, magical realism seeps in, and then it outright becomes supernatural. Granny has guests over, and they turn out to be kappa. But in this world of the supernatural, there are also dangers, and the girls and Granny must face a supernatural foe.
The movie has a bucolic air, like relaxing in the countryside. Its plot moves with a languid, laid-back pace, slowly building over time. It’s one of those movies that will have long silences where you just admire the atmosphere. It’s also one of those movies where you’ll notice new things if you watch it again. The artwork is remarkable, especially the nature scenes. Blades of grass and clouds in the sky can look real.
The movie also has sweet themes of family, as the three main characters create their own family to make up for what they’ve lost. This is a movie with beautiful artwork, caring characters, and a sweetness that the audience can feel.
The House of the Lost on the Cape is based on a novel by Sachiko Kashiwaba, and is being released in theaters on September 7.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.