Since her father’s death, life has never been the same again for Momo Miyaura (Karen Miyama) and her mother Ikuko (Yuka). Moving back to her mother’s estate in Shio Island, all Momo could think of is her Father and the unfinished letter that was left behind in her possession. A letter that bear the words ‘Dear Momo…’
Devastated about the move, Momo mopes around trying to make use of her days at Seto Inland Sea. Momo soon encounters a rare picture book in the attic containing pictures of goblins and demons. Little did Momo know that three water droplets from the sky entered Ikuko’s estate with Momo, and transformed into three demons: Kawa, Mame, and Iwa. Suddenly, Momo’s life become extraordinarily interesting. Can Momo settle into her new home and handle the demons’ mischievous endeavours?
Directed by Hiroyuki Okiura (Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade), A Letter to Momo is a hand-drawn masterpiece that many animation fans will appreciate. After spending seven years writing the script, creating the storyboard, and directing the film, director Okiura has done a tremendous job on Letter for Momo. For an animator who has worked on series such as Akira (1988), Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001) and Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (2012), it was surprising to see A Letter to Momo under Okiura’s direction. Sitting on a completely different pedestal from his other works, A Letter to Momo is a rather striking visual film that shows reverence to the environment. From the glorious pastel-coloured landscapes to the breezy scenes of the countryside, it bears great resemblance to the renowned Studio Ghibli films.
A Letter to Momo may trigger fantastical Ghibli vibes but the film presents a very realistic world that manages to encompass elements of the ordinary, unknown, and the extraordinary. As expected from Momo’s point of view, everything about the world and its characters is extremely ordinary. Time was fairly sleepy and the world appears seeped in melancholy…. this wasn’t just Momo’s ordinary world. This was her state of mind.
However, this all changes when A Letter to Momo weaves Japanese folklore into the storytelling. With the film’s ability to intertwine the human and non-human worlds, it adds a fascinating dimension to the story. We’re talking demons — they’re mischievous, troublesome, selfish, and nothing but chaos. Unfortunately, instead of helping Momo overcome her grief, the demons add complicated drama to her life. This certainly does not help Momo at all, considering that she was already ignorant of her surroundings and the people around her.
And naturally, life decides to throw some curveballs in order to shake up Momo’s boxed life. It is here in the climax of the story where everything is laid out on the line — a chance for Momo and the demons to redeem themselves. With so much energy and emotions riding on their shoulders, are they able to work together and overcome adversity? You’ll need to watch the film to find out!
A LETTER TO MOMO is a delicate coming-of-age film that deals with overcoming grief and achieving personal milestones. Despite the film’s overall sullen temperament, the story does have moments where hope and comedy shine on the characters. Whether it be Momo dancing with the demons or the collection of demons coming together to aid Momo, this is a charming film that will inspire viewers to conquer their fears and take charge of who they are.