Eleven Arts and Shout! Factory
Available to purchase on Amazon USA
The animated adaptation of Sachiko Kashiwaba’s novel The House of the Lost on the Cape is sweet. Not only does it carefully touch upon recent events in a thoughtful manner, but also brings folklore to life, by revealing what its relationship is to the environment. The themes explored isn’t too different from what Studio Ghibli’s Pon Poko paraded in a town facing ecological devestation. Instead, the harmony is more reminescent from My Neighbour Totoro, and that’s why I took notice.
In this film’s case, the opening act recalls the devestation from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. The people who chose to stay in the Kitsunezaki region are just doing what they can to go on. But from the terror comes a chance for Yui (Mana Ashida) to leave home. She wasn’t happy because of constant family squabbles, and what we learn about this past is not always neatly explained. Sometime afterwards in her wanderings, she befriends another child, Hiyori (Sari Awano)–who lost her parents–and what they discover may well be a chance to learn how to live life to its fullest.
The House of the Lost on the Cape is not an impressive film title, but it gets to the point. Once these two youths arrive there, they meet Kiwa (Shinobu Ôtake). She’s a lovely old lady who manages a B&B for the yokai. They teach them that it is okay to be scared. That disaster even displaced these wandering spirits. I was amused in how they take their situation in stride. The wisdom they impart is something to take home, and while the kids prepare scrumptious meals for them–which I’ll discuss later–I couldn’t help but wonder if this film is made for foodies in mind too.
By the end, everyone gets to find their forever place. And as for Yui reconciling with her parents, it’s a heavy spoiler I won’t venture into. These kids realise they have to fend for themselves, and be able to carry on like wayward daughters (than sons). That is, I had Kansas’s tune stuck in the back of my head while watching The House of the Lost on the Cape.
Unlike The CW’s Supernatural where this song is used to death, the tone is much different in this anime directed by Shinya Kawatsura. He shows how two young girls can face an uncertain future together rather than apart. This realisation also includes the fact the house they’re living in cares for everyone who steps within its space. It’s a magical place much like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter. It’ll only exist and appear to those who need it the most. In Japanese folklore, it’s known as a Mayoiga.
Also, the monsters Yui and Hiyori meet are rather comical, which gives this work a lot of charm. But a snake threatens not only their world but also the mortal realm. It’s an embodiment of everyone’s fears. Soon, the girls have to save granny from it, and as for how well they succeed, it’s very much like a Harry Potter style adventure set in the backdrop of mystical Japan.
Anyone purchasing this as a home video release is in for a treat. Not only is there a mini art book with production sketches but also we get instructional videos on how to prepare ten of the dishes! I suspect that using Japanese cucumber over a traditional one for a sandwich is better. I recommend going to a local Asian grocer, but in a pinch, visiting the nearest organic farm is just as good. Also, picking up the right product is important because Japanese mayo is very different in taste and texture when compared to Miracle Whip.
Also, fans can watch the Q&A with Shinya Kawatsura. This bonus featurette was recorded at Annecy Film Festival, and I believe what’s said helps round out why this anime has staying power.