In an attempt to imitate Your Name and its success, STARLIGHT PROMISES is XFLAG’s latest anime movie project that promises great potential. Directed by Kazuya Murata (A.I.C.O. Incarnation, Eureka Seven, Code Geass), Starlight Promises is about an overdue encounter between two friends. With such high expectations riding on this film, did the film reach the audience’s hearts?
After losing contact with his good friend Atsushi for almost three years, first-year high school student Shoma Mihara one day receives a text message from Atsushi to attend a festival called ‘Tanabata Seven Night Festival’.
Located deep in the mountains, Shoma hopes to meet up with Atsushi at the festival and catch up from where they left things off. To Shoma’s great disappointment, he ends up meeting a girl named Shiori Senozawa who is also meeting someone at the festival. Greeted by the festival’s program manager, Kana, she suggests that Shoma should stay on the mountain until the festival is over. Before he knows it, both him and Shiori ends up preparing for the festival along with everyone else.
From making traditional clothes to paper lanterns, everyone was all hands on deck. But in the midst of festival preparations, Shoma can’t help noticing that the festival appears to be very suss from the get go.
No phones or belongings allowed. Purple mist appearing here and there. Ghost samurais attacking people randomly. Clothes and props that allow you to do things that you normally can’t. Technical bug errors in the ‘system’ — according to Kana. And the fact that a random structure exists on a mountain and people are forced to stay for the festival … something fishy is definitely going on.
As Shoma says to himself, “I’m starting to feel like I ended up somewhere crazy …”
Coming into the film with high expectations, you can bet that our expectations quickly dropped due to our frustration with the plot. Thankfully, the film compensates for the disappointment in other ways that we did not expect.
With the story situated in a unique setting, we are entranced by the beautiful background sceneries of the Japanese countryside and mountain views. And also, the costume designs and format for the ceremonial processions are absolutely breathtaking which will distract you from the story’s oddities.
While there are obvious plot flaws and little character development, there are some parts of the story that will surprisingly resonate with the audience and trigger feelings of nostalgia, guilt, and sadness — maybe some tears as well!
Overall, Starlight Promises is a simple, pleasant narrative that bears some striking similarities to Your Name and even Studio Ghibli films.
However, with its restricted time-frame and many unanswered questions, the story became lacklustre in the lead up to the climax and conclusion. Starlight Promises isn’t exactly special nor is it memorable but it is worth watching if you have a spare hour or so.