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A Letter to Momo Poster

A Letter to Momo (2011)

Animation | Comedy  | Family
IMDB Rayting:   7.3/10
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese

Clinging to an unfinished letter written by her recently deceased father, young Momo moves with her mother from bustling Tokyo to the remote Japanese island of Shio. Upon their arrival, she... See full summary »

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ethSin 18 September 2011

"A Letter to Momo" had reportedly taken the director Okiura Hiroyuki 7 years to produce. Allow me to be the first to say, the time and effort spent on perfecting this film have not gone to waste.

The art/animation in this movie is top-notch. Production I.G. with assistance from P.A. Works, Studio Pierrot, and CG by Dandelion resulted in stunning visual quality down to the tiniest details. What I especially liked, was the amount of attention paid to body language and gestures. There's so much information to be gleaned from subtleties of the visuals alone, and that's what I find most interesting about Japanese films. There was also this action sequence near the end that just blew me away. I don't want to spoil, but I have not seen such breathtaking hand-drawn animation since watching "Tonari no Totoro" in the late '80s.

The story begins with the protagonist, Momo, moving to a small fictional island named Shiojima with her mother. Their new house appears to be haunted, and she feels absolutely miserable about moving out of Tokyo. Being a city girl that she is, Momo struggles to adjust to the country life. Instead of playing with the local kids, she eventually befriends three Youkai in her house - Iwa, Kawa, and Mame. Momo begins to appreciate the life on the island, and come to realize the meaning of his late father's unfinished letter to her.

The character development in this movie is absolutely phenomenal. It begins with a light comedy, but through numerous adventures and mishaps on the island, we slowly learn about her past. The transition from comedy to drama is seamless, and it really makes you to care about the protagonist by the end... This film has what I call magic, something Ghibli films of late desperately lack. Although the local kids were severely underused in this movie, the three Youkai were the true supporting cast. Their chemistry with the protagonist was excellent, and the humor just comes naturally. Mame's character was especially funny in a quirky way. One can easily tell how much thought and planning has been put into this film just by watching the impeccable timing at which Mame's character was used as comedic relief every single time.

Every piece of music appears to be fully orchestrated, especially the violins stood out to build tension in action scenes. Momo's voice acting by child actress and seiyuu Miyama Karen was a perfect fit, as well as the three Youkai.

"A Letter to Momo" is almost like a homage to Studio Ghibli's kids movies - "My Neighbor Totoro", "Spirited Away", and "Ponyo". It sticks to the tried and tested formula of supernatural spirits that only interacts with kids, and somewhat predictable plot development. However, the producers have managed to merge various elements from all those films into an exciting original story. "A Letter to Momo" is a magical crowd-pleaser with great pacing and a heartwarming story. It's a solid movie that anime and movie fans should not miss.

naomi-chiba 18 April 2013

The film is a story about a girl's spiritual growth and overcoming difficulties in a new life. Momo Miyaura, a sullen 11-year-old, encounters three goblins from an old Edo-era's comic book. The goblins are Iwa, Kawa and Mame. Iwas is large, clumsy and honest; Kawa is middle, manipulative and greedy; Mame is small, slow and infantile. They are mischievous, sloppy and dull.

Their appearances are reminiscent of "Kyoka Hyakki Yakyo," an illustration of goblins in an Edo-era comic book called "Kibyoshi." "Kibyoshi" is a precursor of 'manga.' In the Edo era, various images of goblins entertained readers and told valuable lessons.

The film is set in Shio Shima, Inland Sea, an allusion to Yasujiro Ozu's classical film "Tokyo Story." Momo moves from Tokyo to the small island after her father's sudden death. While she is boarding a ship, three drops of spirits come down from the sky and land on her. The drops are the goblins or guardians, which help her reconcile a sad memory about her father. She regrets criticizing her father before he passed away.

In the film, the legendary goblins and Momo develop strange but warmhearted relationships that unite the past and present, or this world and afterlife. A motif of connectedness appears at various levels and creates a poignant but cheerful story. First, it shows continuation of time in Japanese popular culture by making a connection with the funny goblins emerging from a "kibyoshi" and in Momo's contemporary life. The past is linked to the present via 'manga.' The emergence of old 'manga'unfolds a history of Japanese popular culture, which intertwines with her daily life and symbolizes continuity.

Second, the connectedness illustrates the relationships between the spirits and humans in a spectacular way. Various types of spirits such as orchard spirits, ocean spirits and forest spirits assist Momo. This is most memorably exemplified when the spirits collaborate to help her in the midst of a fierce typhoon. Thanks to their support, she overcomes a difficulty. Demonstrating collective forces, the animating spirits generate a harmonious and splendid message that life is working with others. Nobody can live alone.

In addition, the scene also gives us a lesson. Each one of the vigorous spirits provides her with a tiny power that is almost negligible, but its contribution is valuable and finally brings a tremendous result to aid her. It reminds us that selfishness and indifference do not bring anything good. The significant message is that everybody has a role to play in the world. The scene is a pivotal moment of her spiritual growth.

Furthermore, the connectedness with the spirits also underlines a powerful animistic note that we are part of nature, which exerts enormous power and is larger than us. Nature and humans can coexist harmoniously in this world. The connectedness is the key that keeps our lives going.

Third, the connectedness demonstrates that death is not the end of life. The goblins have been sent from Above in order to watch over the living. Their special mission is to rally round Momo and report about her life to Above. Their mission expresses a vastness of time in human life, including the afterlife. In short, the dead also have a mission to do in this world. A person's life in this world is finite, but one receives another mission to complete in the afterlife. The amicable relationships between the hilarious goblins and her impl

Perception_de_Ambiguity 25 April 2013

After the death of her father 11-year-old Momo and her mother move to a remote island to live with her grandparents. Her mom isn't much at home because she has to commute to work every day and the two generally are quite estranged since the father's passing. Furthermore Momo has a hard time making friends in the new environment until one day she hears strange noises in the attic which turn out to come from three peculiar creatures that only the girl can see. They seem pretty mischievous but are they looking to hurt or to help the girl?

'A Letter to Momo' is a delightful anime that admittedly is quite a bit like the great 'My Neighbor Totoro', but it feels nothing like an uninspired rehash, in fact I liked this one even a bit better. As far as "substance" goes this is pretty slight but the story here is secondary to the gorgeous animation that feels very alive, every moment is lovingly animated with brilliant attention to detail to movement and the smallest of gestures. It has a captivating, consistent summertime atmosphere to which the rich sound work contributes almost as much as the animation.

This very much starts out as a slice of life drama until the monsters come into play at which point the film becomes really funny. But even though the antics of the creatures are hilarious and those guys are pretty crazy the character of the girl is well-fleshed out and she remains wonderfully real. The third act is mostly a very dramatic tearjerker. If this sounds like the film is all over the place or the tone is inconsistent, it is not. All the elements work together smoothly and it's a well-rounded experience. It is excellently paced but it does take its time and at two hours it might run a bit long. If you are a fan of slice of life anime with supernatural/magical elements this definitely comes highly recommended. Also suitable for your small ones.

alisonc-1 2 August 2012

Young Momo Miyaura (voice of Karen Miyama) and her mother Ikuko (voice of Yuka) leave Tokyo and move to a remote Japanese island following the accidental death of Momo's father. Aside from feeling outcast and out of place, Momo also feels guilty because her last conversation with her father was an angry outburst; he started to write a letter to her, but after, "Dear Momo," no other words were written on the page. Once in the small fishing village, the children of the town, especially Koichi (voice of Takeo Ogawa) and his little sister, try to include Momo in their activities, but she isn't ready to deal with other people yet. Her mother is off on training courses or in the orchards all day, leaving Momo feeling even more alone. But then she starts to hear three voices in the house when she's apparently alone; these turn out to be three former gods turned goblins, including the Ogre with a huge rectangular mouth Iwa (voice of Toshiyuki Nishida), the frog-like and flatulent Kawa (voice of Koichi Tamadera) and tiny, childlike Mame (voice of Cho). Unlike most humans, Momo can see and interact with these beings, and although they get off to a rocky start, soon enough they find that they need and care for each other, in more ways than one. How the goblins help Momo resolve her feelings about her father's death, her mother's distance and her complete change of environment is all part of the charming and gentle "A Letter to Momo." This lovely film was written and directed by Hiroyuki Okiura, who devoted seven years to crafting this film, using the skills of artists to create an almost entirely hand-drawn, 2-hour animated film. The scenic landscapes are, as usual in Japanese animation, beautifully rendered, and the characters are all lovingly drawn with great attention to detail. I'm not very familiar with Japanese mythology, but the three goblins, in particular the rectangular-mouthed Iwa, looked familiar to me, suggesting that they might have more resonance with a Japanese audience than a North American one. Regardless of the depth of knowledge of the audience member, almost everyone is sure to be entertained, and touched at times, by this lovely fable.

A_Different_Drummer 27 January 2015

While every culture is unique -- which is implicit in the very word -- Japan moreso than others has left us with a type of anime that is unmatched anywhere else.

This is Japanese anime so pure and yet so subtle that, if you watch for the entire two hours, it will slowly but inevitably overwhelm you.

Hiroyuki Okiura has lovingly and painstakingly done hand-drawn images which are deceivingly simple. You only have to pause the film and look closely at that you are seeing to appreciate the detail. Even the rice cooker in the kitchen is an exact match for an actual rice cooker.

The intent clearly was not to move into the more action-packed stories (space, time travel, wars) but to stick with the tried and true tale of a young girl connecting with nature spirits of a sort that are, again, unique to the culture. Very similar to My Friend Totoro, with more of an emotional step-laddering Personally, I loved it Give it a chance and you may be crying by the end.

That goes for the ladies too

MartinHafer 10 April 2015

When this film begins, it looks like another high quality film from Studio Ghibli (Miyazaki's studio) but it isn't, it's from Bandai-- the folks who make many anime series television programs. I didn't realize that they also did full-length films--but after seeing the quality of this movie, I sure would like to see more from these folks.

The film is about a girl named Momo (Japanese for 'Peach'). She and her mother move out to the country from Tokyo after Momo's father's death. Momo hates living there and wants to be back in Tokyo. She also has trouble getting to know the local kids, as she is rather shy. However, over time, three unexpected friends help her out during this time of need--three goblins who are scary looking but who are really quite nice. The problem is that she alone sees them- -and at first she's scared half to death and you cannot blame her! Eventually, however, the four make peace and the rest of the plot is just something you'll need to see for yourself.

So is it any good? Well, as I mentioned above the quality of the production is very nice--really nice animation, lovely music and some cute characters. The story is also lovely--a bit less strange than some of the Miyazaki films (such as "Spirited Away") and it has a very strong Shinto message involving the dead father trying to contact his daughter from the great beyond. Some religious folks might object to this message, but it is very sweet and very Japanese--so what do you expect from a cartoon from Japan?! Well worth seeing...and one that actually might be good to see with a box of Kleenex nearby.

By the way, the DVD I watched was the American version. Often, things are changed or mistranslated in the process and I assume there are some difference between the original and this version. I don't think they would have called these creatures goblins in Japan- -perhaps spirits or demons. Regardless, I just want you to know that my review is based on the Americanized version. Usually, I prefer to see subtitled and original products, not ones redone for local consumption but I oddly had problems getting the DVD to play the Japanese version (which was on the same disc but just wouldn't work on my DVD player).

mahimaryal 3 August 2018

A girl who grief in her father's loss shifts with her mother to tokyo where three goblin or the sky gods have been sent to fulfill their task. It is a slow movie.

nmegahey 17 February 2018

Anyone who has watched any anime features knows that they are able to serve a very different function from live action films. What films like Spirited Away, Wolf Children or Colorful are able to do that traditional live-action can't do quite as well, is find a way of integrating folklore and fantasy elements into the lives of its young protagonists in a way that helps them describe their distinct view of the world and the problems they face growing up in it.

In A Letter To Momo, a young girl Momo and her mother have sold up their apartment in Tokyo and gone to live near some relatives on Shio Island. Momo's father has just died in a boating accident, and an unfinished letter that opens only with 'Dear Momo...' doesn't bring about the kind of closure the young girl needs. Three drops of rain from the sky however accompany Momo to the island, where they take the form of ghostly goblins from an old picture-book.

Even though the creatures can only be seen by Momo, the trick with anime films of this kind is that the viewer needs to be drawn into Momo's view of the world, not seeing the line between fantasy and reality, letting the message that lies behind it weave a magic spell without being overstated. That of course if the cinematic art of illusion and A Letter To Momo does this particularly well, creating good interaction between the characters, exploring the opportunities for visual effects, and building it all up to towards an epic conclusion that gets message across sensitively, without preaching or speaking down to a younger audience.

maximkong 17 November 2012

The fluid movements, personalities and the weird smiles from the characters of Momo e no Tegami really reminded me of my all-time favourite Ghibli 'Omohide Poro Poro'. However it is not on the same level.

Storyline is simple and effective, but for a 2-hour-long movie it is overly filled with comical moments that sometimes did not fit well into the bigger picture and eventually I became frustrated. Also, the characters are just too plain simple...this was the same in Omohide Poro Poro but at that time it made sense with the setting as the main character in the latter (a city girl) was on temporary holiday in a village. It failed here as the main characters here were permanently relocated from Tokyo to a village, but they did not behave as city folks from the start (especially the daughter who should be more spoilt than portrayed) and the process of blending in seemed too premature and quick.

Character development is lacking and below my expectations. In fact it seemed to me the non-human characters were more interesting though I still doubt if their portrayal is as realistic as they could have been.

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