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Review: Beauty is fleeting in Japanese animated adventure ‘Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’

Review: Beauty is fleeting in Japanese animated adventure ‘Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’
A scene from the animated film "Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms." (Eleven Arts)

“Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms” is a romantic adventure that reflects the Japanese belief in the transitory nature of all beauty.

The elfin Maquia (Manaka Iwami) belongs to the Clan of the Separated, whose members live for centuries, but cease aging in their teens. They spend their time weaving a special fabric that preserves time and memory within its warp and weft. A raid by armed knights leaves her stranded in the human realm of Mezart, where she rescues a baby whose parents have been killed. Although she admits she knows nothing about motherhood, Maquia devotes the next several years to raising the boy she names Erial (Miyu Irino). Because she never seems to age, Maquia has to move every few years, finding work and shelter where she can.

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Erial grows at a normal rate, rebelling against his adoptive mother’s protective care and striking out on his own. Eventually, Erial grows old and feeble while Maquia remains young and lovely. But her love never waivers, even when she visits the aged Erial on his deathbed. Like Arwen in “The Lord of the Rings,” she learns to accept the burdens of her long life, as well as its rewards.

“Maquia” marks the directorial debut of Mari Okada, a popular animation screenwriter (“Anohana,” “The Anthem of the Heart”), making her one of the few women directing animated films in Japan. At almost two hours, the film feels a bit long and suffers from multiple endings, but Okada is clearly a talent to watch.

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‘Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’

In Japanese with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Playing: Starts July 20 in limited release

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