Available on Netflix
Kanna doesn’t want to be a messenger of the gods anymore in the animated movie Child of Kamiari Month (神在月のこども). She just wants her mother back, and the Japanese gods she’s supposed to help aren’t all that kind in helping this 12-year-old girl to see Okasan even in the afterlife. They’re getting ready to party because it’s Kannazuki time. It’s a celebration where the gods don’t interact with the mortal world as much during the month of October. They have gathered to discuss end of harvest affairs, and they need that one person to race all over Japan to take the offerings placed at their shrines, and deliver the goods to a place known as Izumo.
Yayoi was supposed to do that, but she passed away. Her daughter, Kanna, is required to take the mantle, but she’s not ready. This young girl also loves the sport of running according to the dubbed version, but I suspect there’s more to the narrative that isn’t translated over, and I had to see it again in its Japanese form (subtitled) to understand the missing details.
The story deals with how to let go of those emotions that can hold an individual back. This revelation is heart wrenching since it’s tough to experience the loss of a parent at a young age.
In how this movie succeeds is that she learns how she can become the embodiment of the person who’s gone. The spirit of her mom is in Kanna; but she doesn’t want to take on adulthood right away. Instead, we have flashbacks about this family’s life, and her present life feels tougher when the young girl thinks she has no one to turn to. Not even her friends and father know how to help; all they can do is hope she can open up with her feelings.
Whether Kanna accepts the job the gods defined for her depends on her willingness to keep the tradition alive. I found this film after watching Turning Red. Its look at the family dynamic from the Japanese point of view is very different. Both are alike in the sense it shows how the youth grow up and be the best they can be. In that regard, this movie is sort of like Chariots of Fire.
Plus, I loved how the Japanese gods party. They don’t just get drunk. They also feast too! What was presented could fill a Viking hall fifty times over, and I’m sure Thor would be jealous.
3 Stars out of 5