Nowadays, I can pretty much rely on an animated feature to have a certain level of craftsmanship and style. It’s really somewhat of an expected standard. But when I heard that director Hiroyuki Okiura (Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade), animation director / character designer Masashi Ando, and art director Hiroshi Ohno were joining forces for a collaborative release, I gave a sigh of relief knowing that the bar would once again be set even higher. A Letter to Momo // ももへの手紙, appreciate it folks. More story details as follows (via TIFF 2011):
“Seven years in the making, the exquisitely crafted A Letter to Momo is the highly anticipated second feature from world-renowned anime director Hiroyuki Okiura, whose 1999 film Jin-Roh met with international acclaim.
Clinging to an unfinished letter written by her recently deceased father, young Momo moves with her mother from bustling Tokyo to the remote Japanese island of Shio. Upon their arrival, she begins to explore her new habitat, meeting local children and learning their routines and customs. However, it’s not long before several bizarre occurrences crop up around the previously tranquil island. Orchards are found ransacked, prized trinkets start disappearing and, worst of all, each morning after her mother leaves for work, Momo hears strange mumblings coming from the attic of their home.
Annoyed by these creepy goings-on and her mother’s refusal to believe them, Momo embarks on a strange and supernatural adventure to discover the source of the mischief, which leads her to a trio of troublesome imps: the flatulent lizard Kawa, the childlike Mame and their hulking ogre leader Iwa. Momo also learns that her visit to the island is in some way connected to her father’s mysterious letter.
After a decade-long absence from the director’s chair, Okiura has enlisted a world-class team of creators, including animation supervisor Masashi Ando, who previously worked on Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. From the painstakingly rendered serenity of the island’s Shinto shrines to the film’s high-energy, ghostly climax, A Letter to Momo is a triumph of traditional hand-drawn animation. This sensitive coming-of-age story is both a child-friendly exploration of loss and an enchanting flight of imagination.”
Trailer can be streamed down below.