A Letter To Momo, created by Production I.G. is another heart-warming story from Japanese animation, blending supernatural imaginings with a serious, poignant topic. 11 year old Momo has recently lost her father, and so she and her mother end up moving from the busy city of Tokyo to the quaint island of Shio, where her grandparents live. It’s very different from Tokyo, and Momo still hasn’t got over the death of her father, as the last time they spoke she was very angry at him. All she has left of him is a letter that she found which just says ‘Dear Momo’ and nothing else.
A couple of days after moving to her new home, she hears some strange noises in the attic. Here she encounters three mysterious supernatural beings, who claim they are guardians that have been trapped inside an old book that she opened. Momo finds them an annoyance, but they turn out to be much more relevant to her grieving than she ever could have realised.
A Letter To Momo follows a typical anime structure, with the complex topic of losing a parent explored through the use of magic and fantasy. It’s actually a really emotional story - you might shed tear or two when watching – and shows just how detached life can be when one is consumed by the death of another. Not much is really explained in the beginning, and we’re left to gradually work out by ourselves why Momo is having such a hard time. I feel like the plot was a really good idea, but it didn’t quite have the magic and wonder that a Studio Ghibli production would have done. It just felt like it went on bit too long, and could easily have had half an hour shaved off and still deliver the same effect. The start was especially slow, and it felt confusing put next to the fast pace of the last third of the film.
I also wish there had been more character development – Momo is developed well as we are with her throughout the whole movie but, because of her lack of interaction with the other characters (excluding the guardians) they don’t really develop much. I wanted to know more about Momo’s family, and the people on the island that were from her mother’s past. The development of the guardians is an interesting one – like Momo, I found them quite annoying, but I never really warmed to them in the end (except the small pink one – that one was pretty funny). I get that they weren’t supposed to be likeable from the beginning, but it made me feel a little bit too impartial towards them.
However, once I found out why the guardians were really there towards the end then they turned out to be quite a nice idea. The whole thing was a nice idea, really – Momo’s struggle is relatable to all in a way, and the film was wrapped up really well. The music was something I particularly enjoyed, and I found it fitted each scene perfectly. Of course, the hand-drawn animation was beautiful as well, and I particularly liked how certain subtitles had been woven into the drawings, rather than just placed over the top. A Letter To Momo is a good film to watch if you want something uplifting to watch. It’s not the most striking anime I’ve ever watched, and it’s format does feel a little too familiar, but it’s gorgeous visuals and appealing concept might just be enough to draw you in.
A Letter to Momo gets a 3/5.
A Letter To Momo at CeX
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