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Fantasia 2019 Film Review: “The Wonderland” (2019) ★★★


The world is full of wonders we may or may not know about. What appears before our eyes are nothing in comparison to what tries to stay out of our sight. Adapted from Sachiko Kashiwaba’s Strange Journey From the Basement children’s book, it transports the audience to a world with a dark and grim reality, seemingly the only place we all want to be in right now.

It’s Akane’s birthday; seeing how nice the weather is and the sky so blue, she makes up the excuse of a tummy ache to skip school. When her mother asks her to pay a visit to her aunt, Chii, she is reluctant to do so in spite of the gift that awaits her. However, she did ultimately went to see Chii, which eventually expands her world, makes her a wiser and nicer human being that will think of others first. All that is because of the appearance of a mysterious man, who comes out of Chii`s basement, that will take both of them outside of our world to the world full of wonders.

When Akane, without permission, starts touching Chii’s stuff in her store, she finds a hand-print that her hands perfectly fit into. When Mr. Hippocrates emerges from Chii’s basement, accompanied by his apprentice, Pipo, the man reveals to Chii and Akane that the birthday girl is the chosen one and she is, more or less, the Goddess of the Green Wind that is destined to save the world beyond, which is connected to that basement. To save people from endless despair and bring the color of it back, Akane and Chii agree to join the man to leave the world they know behind to save the one they never knew existed.

“The Wonderland”, directed by Keiichi Hara, is an excellent Japanese animated film about self-expansion as a human being, growing from what we are to something truly great, and of course, saving the world that once again relies on an ordinary mortal being who, sometimes, fail to save their own. But no matter what, Akane will learn from it, realize her importance, and never goes back from where there is an opportunity to always move forward.

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