Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a child with a lot of responsibility. At night, he sits at the aide of his forgetful ailing mother. During the day, he tells stories in origami at the town square about a magnificent samurai of legend. All the while, his estranged family is lurking in the shadows waiting to take his eye.
The animation in Kubo and the Two Strings is not afraid of asymmetry. In fact, it requires it both aesthetically and thematically. Many animated films use symmetry for appealing aesthetics, but Kubo is commendable for its purposeful imperfections, as they show a careful attention to craft. The first closeup on the title character’s face is a testament to this attention to detail, his teeth not lazily straight but jagged.
On a macro level, too, the animation is spectacular. Whether it be the hazy setting sun or spider webs of snowfall, landscapes are textured yet fantastical. Some characters are rendered in different ways that are off-putting in comparison, but otherwise there is little that is unappealing about this film from a visual front.
Narratively, Kubo is as whimsical as its animation. Like night and day, dark is always remedied by levity. For children, it is a perfect balance. Add to this tonal harmony a unique take on a family narrative and you get a children’s animated movie with a heart, a brain, and a soul.
The Post Script
Kubo is not only a great movie for children, but it is simply a great movie. It is an animated tale that does not dumb anything down or cheapen anything for the sake of a younger crowd. But it is also not boring to them, with enough excitement, humor, and intrigue to satisfy any viewer, young or old.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)