Movie Kubo surprises with beauty, music, and a one-eyed boy


Kai Umeda, Film Critic

Well, there’s anime, then there’s stop motion animation, then there are stories that make people mature.  Put them all together and you have Kubo, one of the most beautiful, surprising, and underrated movies that I have watched .  You might know that this production was made by the same crew that made Coraline, Paranorman, and The Boxtrolls.

A long time ago in feudal Japan, we see a one-eyed young boy named Kubo, played by Art Parkinson.  He lives with his mother Sariatu all alone in a cave by the ocean. They stay together because his mom’s family is evil and power hungry and will stop at nothing to get his other eye. In order to get food and money, Kubo entertains the crowds around him by playing a shamisen while also telling stories about his deceased father, Hanzo, in a rather interesting way.

But his life is in jeopardy when he stays up past his own curfew one night, and his two sinister aunts come and find him. Yeah, how can the nicest parents always have the meanest relatives?  Sariatu holds them off and sends Kubo to safety. In the blink of an eye he wakes up and sees a Japanese snow macaque (monkey) next to him.  She keeps him safe, but being a fun-loving youth he does everything he can to annoy her. One day Kubo and Monkey come across an insect-like samurai named Beetle, who says he knew Kubo’s deceased father.  So the three go on a quest to find an enchanted suit of samurai armor in order to keep Kubo safe from his aunts and a greater threat, The Moon King.

One of the thing that stands out about the film is its size.  Everywhere you look there is always beautiful landscape. The characters are also fun to watch.  Kubo and Beetle are both childlike and have a few good laughs and one-liners. Monkey is a bit of a badass.  The fight scenes are intense to watch. The shamisen music is beyond pitch perfect.

Unfortunately, the film could’ve been less scary.  There are scenes which I think are not meant for some people, especially little kids.  But for what it is, I think Kubo is an amazing movie that people should know about.