Mai Mai Miracle
Shinko spends her days running barefoot among the endless green wheat fields in her small country village, imagining she is playing 1,000 years ago when the area was the local capital and home to a beautiful young princess kept hidden from society. Shinko gets a new partner for her games when she befriends Kiiko, a shy transfer student from Tokyo whose nice clothes and modern luxuries immediately set her apart from the other kids. Together, the two girls spend their afternoons daydreaming, building dams, chasing animals, and living an otherwise simple and idyllic life—until looming adolescent responsibility and harsh grown-up truths begin to encroach on their make-believe world of princesses and castles, and it becomes increasingly difficult to disentangle fantasy from reality. Director Sunao Katabuchi worked with Hayao Miyazaki as assistant director on Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the influences show, from Mai Mai‘s stunning animation and exalting focus on nature, to the film’s nostalgia for the endless days of summer, and the tender portrayal of a young girl at the transition between childhood and adult.