Kubo and the Two strings is a fantastical adventure set in ancient Japan
Kubo is the newest in line of Laika’s amazing adventures. The studio came nothing short of it’s reputation as one of the best contemporary animation creators. Laika, founded in 2005., is one of the few studios that focus on traditional stop-motion, and they do it astonishingly. All four of their puppet-animation and stop-motion features were (among other awards and nominations) nominated for the Academy Award (Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and now Kubo and the Two Strings). Kubo and the Two Strings was a directorial debut of the company’s CEO and President Travis Knight, and its voice cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes and Art Parkinson as Kubo.
Travis Knight on Kubo and the Two Strings
“Kubo and the Two Strings is a wholehearted love letter to Japan,” says Knight. “I first visited Japan when I was eight-years-old and it sparked a powerful and enduring connection within me. Traveling across the country to Tokyo, small seaside fishing villages, the hot springs in the volcanic hills, and the legendary Mt. Fuji opened my eyes to a different and breathtaking world. It was a revelation, and I was utterly in its thrall. My childhood introduction to Japan was the beginning of a life-long love affair with a great and beautiful culture, and I’m so pleased to be able to share this film, this expression of love of and reverence for this extraordinary place, with the people of Japan. Creating this film is the highlight of my professional life. To partner with GAGA, the country’s premier film distributor, to bring Kubo to Japanese audiences is a profound honor. LAIKA is incredibly excited and humbled by this opportunity.”
The Magic Shamisen
The movie is set in a magical fantasy world of ancient Japan, where the boy Kubo sets out on an epic adventure. His humble and peaceful life with his mother, living in a mountain next to a small village changes abruptly once a spirit from the past awakes and starts persuing him to enforce an old age vendetta. The boy suddenly finds himself fighting monsters and mythical creatures in a quest to retrieve a magical set of armor which could make him strong enough to defeat his foes. The armor was worn by his father, the mightiest samurai warrior in history.
Kubo possesses magical powers which enable him to manipulate objects by playing his shamisen. Before his adventures started, he used to spend his days putting on plays for the local villagers, in which he would make his origami creations act out the stories his mother used to tell him. The synchronized fighting and movement of the origami is one of the most beautiful things in the movie. It was animated and directed unbelievably well. And the very idea of a warrior who fights using a musical instrument to move around objects is enough to impress.
The movie is, in a way, a sad family story, which tells us of a separated demigod family which got destroyed because of a mortal. Kubo’s mother, her sisters, and their father, the moon king, are magical creatures who possess powers and live in heavens. They struggle to separate themselves from the world of weak mortals. A world filled with death, suffering and pain. The samurai warrior Hanzo changes the family picture when him and Kubo’s mother fall in love. She is cast out from the family, Hanzo is killed, and Kubo’s eye is “stolen”, to prevent him from seeing the world of humans. The story follows the revenge which the moon king and the evil sisters have to exact upon Kubo, an old vendetta which they haven’t managed to enforce before.
The fourth feature from Laika Studio
All in all, Kubo and the Two Strings is a remarkable animated fantasy adventure. The world it’s set in is magical and astonishing. Laika has once again managed to create a stop-motion masterpiece. As opposed to their earlier features, where they’ve used traditional puppet animation, Kubo is sort of a “modern marvel”. The puppets used in the film were 3D printed. The animation wasn’t done by moving them, but by printing out not only the extremes, but all the phases! Some critics consider that “cheating”, but I find it groundbreaking and a great achievement.
The movie has grossed in $75 million so far. It is nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 89th Academy Awards. It’s also the second animated film ever to be nominated for best visual effects (after The Nightmare Before Christmas in 1993.). It has also been named Best Animated Film of 2016 by the National Board of Review. The many awards and nominations also include a Golden Globe nomination, ten Annie Award nominations, and the movie was also chosen as best animated film of the year by Indiana Film Journalists Association, Phoenix Critics Circle, San Diego Film Critics Society, Utah Film Critics Association, ustin Film Critics Association, Boston Online Film Critics Association, Chicago Film Critics Association and many more.