Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms is an animated film written and directed by Mari Okada and is her first debut film as a director. As many people should know, it is quite unusual to have a screenplay writer to receive the rights and power to be the director of their very own film. So with such a unique director at the helm of this production, what should we expect to see? Well to get it out of the way and off my chest, Mari Okada knocked her debut film Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms completely out of the park.
Let’s talk about it…
Maquia is apart of the Clan of the Separated, a clan of people where all of the members virtually stop aging in their mid-teens. Maquia has no parents and although her life is peaceful, she has a sense of loneliness. The clan’s peace comes to an abrupt end when one day an army riding upon dragons known as ‘Renato’ attacks. During the attack, one of the Renato goes into a frenzy due to an illness called “Red-eye”. In its frenzy, Maquia ends up getting swept up by the beast and separated from her clan leaving her all alone in the world of mortals. Soon after, Maquia wanders upon an abandoned baby who she decides to adopt as her own son naming him Arial. The story follows the changing relationship between the two as Eriel grows up and Maquia does not.
The story and screenplay are written by the director Mari Okada who is well known throughout the industry for writing series compositions and screenplays such as Toradora!, Black Butler, and much much more. So it’s needless to say that Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms was destined to be incredibly well written.
I loved every single character in this movie. Each character has a history and story to them. Their stories are told in what is called a “Hibiol”, cloths that are created by the clan Maquia is from which tells stories and keeps records of history. The hibiols created are metaphors for the characters lives and legacies that they leave behind. To have these hibiols around and used as a metaphor, it makes each character that much more impactful. Now let’s get into the characters themselves and talk about who they are.
Faced with the inevitable fate of outliving those around her, Maquia’s character develops to learn what it truly means to be a mother as well as what it truly means to live a fulfilling life. Though Maquia never changes physically throughout the entire movie, each time Arial ages you sense that Maquia is becoming more and more mature as well. Her character is heavily driven by the fact that she wants to be an excellent mother and raise Arial well. Seeing the change in her character while Arial ages throughout the years is absolutely fascinating and sends you on a rollercoaster of emotions. She is most definitely an excellent character.
Arial’s character is ever changing throughout the film and I found myself becoming the most emotionally invested in him, and for good reason. Due to us, the viewers, witnessing Arial live his life and change through the years there is no way anyone should not be emotionally invested in him. We witness his innocent youth, his coming of age, as well as witnessing him as an adult with his very own family. An absolutely lovable character who I grew emotionally attached to… incredible character writing and development.
Lang is apart of a family that Maquia wanders upon that takes her in during Arial’s youth. Throughout Lang’s life, he develops feelings towards Maquia and becomes a major player for when Maquia or Arial need guidance. Though Lang is not a main character in the film, he is still a character you grow to like.
Leilia is one of Maquia’s childhood friends who is captured during the attack on the clan early in the film. Leilia’s story is much different in comparison to her friend Maquia, but still quite similar. Leilia is forced into a marriage with the king’s son in hopes of birthing an heir to the throne who will bear the same ‘blessing’ of long life. Her life is one of loneliness and solitude, a life that nobody should live, but one that she sadly has to face. Though she does not receive close to the amount of screen time as Maquia does, you still get the sense of what she’s been through leaving a great impact on her character.
Art, Animation, and Sound
Early on in the film for about the first ten minutes, I thought the art characters were poorly drawn. I also noticed some early signs of bad CG during these ten minutes. Both of these things changed because I found myself completely and utterly captured and immersed in the world. The art I thought was lazy turned out to be extraordinary warm and soft. The art was drawn masterfully using shading and lighting incredibly well to make a simple scene look extravagant. Along with very quality art, the animation is clean and smooth creating a beautiful world with no breaks in visual quality.
The sound and music in this film is exquisite. The music composed helps capture the immense amount of emotions turning the already impactful story into a spectacle of emotions. I adore Kenji Kawai, the composer for Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms. His work was incredible and really made this film into not only a film but into an experience, an experience I personally will be remembering and recommending to many of my friends.
Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms is a film that I can’t recommend enough. The emotional rollercoaster it sends you on surpasses any other anime dramas I’ve watched in the past. I was left choking up during a majority of the film and the ending left me in tears. The metaphor of the hibiol’s and each characters lives and legacies was incredibly impactful as well which just adds to the emotions built up during the story. Each line in this film had meaning to it and lead to an impactful parallel for later on in the film.
This is a must watch. Though the art isn’t very unique like a Studio Ghibli film, it is just as or even more impactful of a story than any other top-tier animated films I’ve seen. To be fair I didn’t watch Your Name which was supposed to be incredibly good last year, but at least personally in comparison to what I’ve seen, this is the best and most emotionally impactful animated film I’ve seen to date.
Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms Review
Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms
A rollercoaster of emotions written and directed by a legendary screenplay writer, Mari Okada. An absolutely beautiful story told with equally stunning visuals to boot. A must watch.
- Excellent Story
- Beautiful Art and Smooth animations
- Quality sound and music composition
- Doesn’t visually stand out