Ancien and the Magic Tablet: NZIFF Review
Eerily prescient in its depiction and debate of driverless cars, Ancien and the Magic Tablet is a family film that doesn't quite mesh as well as perhaps it should.
Beautifully etched and full of blues and steampunk hues, the story of Ancien and the Magic Tablet is set just days before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. When Kokone falls asleep, she dreams of a world where she's a brave princess, Ancien, whose tablet can do anything - and that includes saving the kingdom from attacks by Kaiju type creatures.
But back in the real world, Kokone's father, a mechanic, is no longer making money and Kokone is called on to rescue him when he's abducted by shadowy corporate types....
Ancien and the Magic Tablet is an anime that has its moments.
While there's no doubting that Ghost in the Shell director Kamiyama Kenji has an eye for the fantastical, the film's glueing together of the two realities doesn't quite hit the spot when it should.
There are some great moments of humour, and the echoes of Pacific Rim prove hard to shake in the battle sequences, but there's a bit of heart missing from Ancien and the Magic Tablet - and the lack of it, is hard to shake.
More successful is the current concerns over technology of the past and present colliding, and the commentary and corporate espionage shenanigans that ensue. It helps deal with some of the pacing problems that the back half of Ancien faces; and while the animation's nicely done, it lacks some of the wizardry of others.
Unfortunately, feeling like it's lacking some of the parts which make a great anime, Ancien and the Magic Tablet is simply a solid film that does what it needs to and little more. Families will enjoy its fantastical edges, but anime lovers may feel something irrevocable is unfortunately missing.