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Ainbo, Spirit of the Amazon, Where Forth Art Thou?

Ainbo Theatrical Release Poster.jpgAinbo, Spirit of the Amazon, has done a world tour and the last place this film hasn’t properly visited is North America. This work isn’t listed for theatres (and streaming) yet, and that’s odd when considering its potential. Although developed for General audiences, hopefully other animation enthusiasts can get on board its message of saving forests far and wide.

It’s a beautifully animated film that instils wonder of what life must be like in this region and how unique the indigenous culture here is. At first, I thought the people were of Mayan descent but instead, they’re just Amazonians. An amusing bit of historical inaccuracy is why do they know English? Suspension of belief is needed to get through this fantasy which takes more than a few cues from a certain powerhouse from Anaheim, California.

The story focuses on Ainbo (voiced by Lola Raie), and she is not perfect Disney Princess. That’s Zumi’s (Naomi Serrano) job. These girls are close, but not everyone likes this friend of royalty. Although she tries to introduce her spirit helpers to the tribe, she’s laughed at. Dillo, an armadillo (Dino Andrade), and Vaca, a tapir (Joe Hernandez), are spirit-guides side-lined to provide comic relief than be helpful guardians. This world crafted by José Zelada (a native of Peru) and Richard Claus should be rich in its mystique, and all these mythical creatures roaming the jungles should be treated with greater respect.

Instead, we have another figure from legend who helps bring this film together. Motelo Mama (​​Susana Ballesteros) is a lot more interesting because she’s the heart of the Amazon. She’s a giant turtle and guardian to all who inhabit this vast forest. Her role differs from the Great A’Tuin from Discworld. Though she doesn’t carry the weight of the world upon her back, this version is no different and is regarded as creation; a mother to all.

We need more information about why Ainbo is the focus in this tale, and also I like to know more about why the village shaman, Atok (Rene Mujica), isn’t all that friendly. His imposing size and attitude scares people, and that’s not enough to suggest he may be the villain of this film. What he believes in is far more dangerous for the Candamo tribe than the outside world that’s awaiting them. This tale is set in modern times, and it’s tough to even know this fact when considering how much time is spent in the jungle, and why industry is coming.

The curse this tribe is facing is actually the result of a nearby mining and deforestation going on. Ainbo meets these people, but her naivety to what they represent causes more problems. This subplot becomes important in the later acts and instead of blaming everything on the yakurona, an evil entity, perhaps weighing in on who is worse–white man than magic–can make for a stronger film.

Technically, we have a film that’s no different from Bigfoot Family. This movie’s saving grace is in why living in harmony with nature matters.

3 Stars out of 5

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