A grounded Ghibli film anchored with a strong sense of nostalgia and sense of place. It’s cute and sweet but lacks the deft characterisation of a Isao Takahata film, the fantasy or epic nature of a lot of Hayao Miyazaki’s work, so it comes across as something of a lesser work.
The contrast between the film’s landscapes, and the extremely detailed, loving way the clubhouse the film’s plot revolves around is rendered is impressive. So much attention to detail. The way the story revolves around Japan’s past and attitudes reflective of that time is interesting but not as in-depth as I might’ve liked. The surprisingly incestuous angle is quite deftly played.
The way the film plays with attitudes toward past and future, history and progress, is conveyed well through the teenager’s mindsets, never feeling too pitched above or below how people of that age would actually think. It’s a well-realised setting and a nice enough period drama but there isn’t anything especially magical – literally or otherwise – to this film, so it’s no wonder it’s a bit forgotten amongst all the other Ghibli films that magic pervades. Two and a half photographs, and a safe voyage.