• Related imageGenre : Surreal, Fantasy, Adventure
  • Episodes: Movie
  • Studio: Signal.MD


Kokone is a lively high school student looking forward to leaving her quiet little home town to attend university in Tokyo once she graduates and finally get some excitement in her life but while she sleeps Kokone is the princess of the great machine realm, striving to rescue her kingdom with the powerful magic tablet she wields. Little by little dreams and reality collide. Then there are Mechas all the sudden.

I have the great luck of living in a city which has a ton of movie festivals each year and one of them was showing this movie. It’s always a particular experience to see movies as part of the festival since the atmosphere plays such a big role in your perception. You sort of get swept up in the euphoria of the moment and before you know it you’re cheering, applauding and laughing uproariously along with everyone else regardless of what’s actually on screen. I have seen more than a few titles which I thought were brilliant at the time but turned out to be average to boring on second viewings. Of course, I have also been privileged to see some actual masterpieces – to this day my favorite movie remains Survive Style Five+So it says something that despite the natural high you get from watching a movie in an enormous room filled with happy, dedicated, super enthusiastic movie buffs, I still consider this one a miss.

A few things did work. The settings are nice for instance. Our first introduction to the dream world is fascinating and has a bunch of nice little touches that made me want to explore it further. Okayama, where Kokone lives, is similarly nice and inviting. All these lovely anime venues I’ve been seeing lately are really giving me an itch to go visit Japan again. It’s super cheap now, right? The few dream world gadgets are also attractive. One thing I couldn’t help but notice was that Kokone’s animated sidecar was a dead ringer for Big Hero 6 and her stuffed dog Joy bore a striking resemblance to Happy from Fairy tale. Maybe I’m just being a picky bag of butts here, but I thought that was a little cheap.

Ancien and the Magic Tablet Review
Picture him as a cat

Although adequate, I wasn’t a huge fan of the art. I’m not sure whether it was a creative choice or a cost cutting measure but the characters are somewhat lacking in detail and it made their faces oddly expressionless. One could say that Watanabe was very expressive but he had the opposite problem where his facial expressions were so consistently exaggerated that e just looked psychotic most of the time. This made it difficult to ever forget you were looking at drawings on a screen.


Ancien and the Magic Tablet Review
Abject terror (not kidding)

The story is ok, a pretty standard dream, fairy tale, hero’s journey type thingy – but it falls apart towards the end. Also, If you stop and think about it, character motivations become rather murky. Seems like an enormous amount of ado about pretty much nothing. Weirdly, the heroine is too efficient, admittedly not my usual complaint – I guess I’m just never happy. Thing is, despite having numerous incredible, borderline completely unbelievable, circumstances thrown at her, she is never even a little fazed. She knows exactly what to do next at all times, hardly hesitates overcomes all obstacles with such ease that you have a hard time ever believing everything will be any less than SUPER perfect in the end. And it Is! Speaking of the end, things get somewhat sloppy in the climax, the dream world narrative gets turned into some random Mecha fantasy without ever really revisiting the early threads to tie everything together in a satisfying way. By the time things started sprouting angel wings left and right, I was pretty much over it.

Related image
Couldn’t find a picture of the wings – instead here’s a super important character I never even mention.

Now, this is probably just a personal impression but I got the feeling that this was payed for by the gasoline lobby or something. At one point, it started looking like a glowing endorsement of pollution and you really don’t see many of those these days. Also, there were subtitles over the end credits that did not seem to be subtitling anything. There was not voice track at all, no text on the screen that could possibly be the original and the subtitles were clearly not over Japanese text. I looked super carefully! This enduring mystery is now the most interesting thing about this movie and I really really want to know what the deal is…

Ancien and the Magic Tablet Review
Look I know VR is more interesting…


Favorite character: Watanabe

What this anime taught me about myself: I am too shy to leave a theater in the middle of the movie

“If at first you don’t succeed, try drinking a glass of wine. You’ll be amazed at how much less you care.”

Suggested drink: Sidecar

  • Every time there is a lense flare – sneak a drink
  • Every time you see a lock – sneak a drink
  • Every time someone is comically sneaking – sneak a drink
  • Every time Kokone does magic – play on your tablet
  • Every time we see Kokone’s mom – sneak a drink
  • Every time there’s a traffic jam – sneak a drink
  • Every time we see a smart phone – look at your phone
  • Every time you’re surprised by how well that turned out – sneak a drink
  • Every time we see the king – sneak a drink
  • Every time you look at your watch – take a big drink

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