Kubo and the Two Strings is the latest work from the stop motion animation studio Laika.
The fantasy adventure delivers mature themes through a whimsical story set in Japan. It boldly tackles un-fun topics that adults also struggle to deal with – grief and loss. Kubo is a shamisen playing storyteller during the day, then goes home to a mother who would have been diagnosed with dementia in real life.
The story is brought to life through a combination of 3D printing, stop motion, and CGI. Paper is used as a motif throughout the movie – as a storytelling device through origami and symbolism of how fragile yet transformative life can be, in the hands of those who shape it.
Kubo’s street performances are as captivating for us as it is for the audiences in its world as mighty warrior Hanzo fights a giant paper chicken spewing confetti fire and firing egg cannons. Elsewhere the details show craftsmanship in character design and action sequences.
The characters are believable thanks to great voice acting. While all the actors are a perfect fit for their role, the casting is disappointingly whitewashed. The Japanese actors are relegated to token characters with a few lines, while the principal cast is dominated by Hollywood staples.
Despite the American voices, Kubo and the Two Strings still prove to be a captivating tale thanks to its technical feats. However, these elements leave little for the core of the movie.
The story is a typical quest with a convoluted back story and a passive lead character. There is little action-adventure and fight scenes, as the movie focuses more on the melodrama.
Nonetheless, Kubo and the Two Strings still prove to be a highly enjoyable animated film for the whole family that has heart-tugging compelling moments without being manipulative. The movie does not shy away from telling hard truths – the dissolution of families and the loss of a parent. The ending is bittersweet and hopeful.
Kubo and the Two Strings teaches children that as long as you cherish the memories of your lost loved ones, they will live on in your heart.
Kubo and The Two Strings
Kubo and the Two Strings is an absorbing but whitewashed tale with great voice acting and breathtaking stop motion animation.