Give Makoto Shinkai the budget that Disney gives Miyazaki, and films like this would skyrocket here in the States. Picked this title up on a monthly run down to the Brentwood, TN store since they carry a pretty large selection of anime. Didn't realize that I already had a movie, "Voices of a Distant Star" by him as well. Going to have to watch that one again.
"When she hears a strange song from a crystal radio, Asuna tunes into more than just a magical stream of music. Soon, she is transported to a mysterious world where mythical beasts roam and brave warriors fight for their lives. Agartha is a land of breathtaking beauty and unimaginable danger -- a place where, it is believed, even the dead can be brought back to life. But at what cost?"
"Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below" is an incredibly beautiful movie. The plot flows very quickly and smoothly. The only real "slow" period is at the very beginning where were exposed to the every day life of Asuna even as the seasons change and time goes by. Plenty of action, no cursing, and amazing visuals deliver a complete package that is very fulfilling.
Perhaps one of the best features of this film is the lack of CG usage. Shinkai, in a Q&A session in the extras, expresses his preference of great 2D visuals, especially with the backgrounds, to deliver the most impact. The artwork is beautifully rendered with the passage of time superbly represented as the sunlight rises of fades in each scene. The Japanese countryside is great enough, but Agartha is awe-inspiring.
Musical score is done extremely well, too. I really enjoyed the closing theme "Hello and Goodbye." Even the English dubbing was incredibly well done. Truthfully, I wasn't expecting a ton from Sentai Filmworks, but I was blown away by their performance. Will have to go back through to watch it with the original voices and subtitles later on.
Also, Sentai has a horrible track-record for any sort of Extras, but "CWCLVFDB" #long abbreviation# actually has a lot. Have some good trailers, even if they don't do any narration. 50 minutes of cast interviews. Director Q&A. Other films from Shinkai. Was great to watch them all.
Definitely, I'd recommend this title to everyone. It's fantastical in nature, but the ideals represented are firmly grounded and realistic. A great telling of finding love, losing those close to us, and overcoming loss.