Song of the Sea is a heartwarming 2014 film by Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon. It won the Grand Prize at the Tokyo Anime Awards Festival 2015, after receiving many other awards. But should you watch Tomm Moore's Gaelic Fairytale?
I know this isn't exactly what we would call an 'anime', but I find it great enough as an 'animated' film that it deserves to be watched by everyone.
It would be one thing for me to try to convince you to see this film by writing a standard review. But that wouldn't do an adequate job of conveying the film's emotional resonance or considerable charms. I fact, I'd probably bungle it, and make you change your mind.
So instead, I'm gonna show you some images taken from the movie, along with a little bit of exposition.
Look at that beautifully painted background. The watercolor paint really conveys a sense of dreamlike bliss, easily drawing viewers into its world.
The soft lighting used in the film is top notch, being used to great effect, as seen in the above image; a sojourn beneath the waves of a young selkie with some seals.
The film is about the return of magic, which can be seen in the above image, as the soft tendrils of light penetrate into the dwindling darkness. Looking at many of the backgrounds, you'll notice how everything is getting modernized, since the film is set in 1987.
But the story is also one that is very human.
Song of the Sea follows young Saoirse, a selkie, and her brother, Ben. Ben has to embrace his sister as a part of his family, as it is his duty as her brother. The above scene clearly shows that he dutifully follows Saoirse, because it's what you do for family.
The film is also about how important family is. The group of badgers sleeping underground only serves to place emphasis on this point.
They live with their father, Conor, a lighthouse keeper, who slowly realizes that he is hurting his children, due to the fact that he can't get over the loss of his wife.
The above scene is also a great example of how they've managed to produce exactly that kind of scene, in which the waves batter against the small boat, as well as the cute, fluffy dog, Cú, who Ben calls his best friend.
Early in the film, Bronagh, wife to Conor and mother to Saoirse and Ben, is realized as a very important part of the family. That's why her loss has such a huge impact on the film's direction.
The blackness from Ben's closing eyes viewing the last image of his mother hangs over the entire film, and is the reason he comes to despise his sister.
Another great image is of the giant, Mac Lir, crying for his lost love. There is so much raw pain you can see from the image, a testament to the creative abilities of the artists.
It shows one important thing: If you look hard enough into any mythology, you'll notice that our 'gods' always are the ones who deal with the most powerful 'human' emotions, including those of sorrow, anger, and happiness, because it is an easy way to confront those emotions. Those emotions are the hardest part of being human, and Song of the Sea manages to portray that wonderfully, to great effect.
It's a beautiful movie, with a beautiful story and beautifully handled characters. What else do I have to do to convince you to see it?