Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms
The Iorph are weavers whose product is the Hibial cloth, on which they write their own history; ordinary humans cannot read the messages, but nevertheless prize the cloth for its beauty. The Iorph have something else which ordinary humans covet as well: they can live hundreds of years, yet their appearances never change beyond their teenage years. The Mezarte Nation attacks the Iorph homeland, seeking to exploit their eternal youth, but an Iorph girl named Maquia manages to escape. During her flight, she finds an ordinary human baby who's been orphaned by the murder of his parents; she names him Erial. We follow the travels, travails, and most of all the changes in the relationship between Maquia and Erial over time, complicated by the facts that the Iorph seem to be psychologically devastated by loneliness, and that Maquia is a "mother" who will always look like a teenager.
I often have trouble finding good Recommendations for shows, but this one conjures up plenty; bits and pieces of the world of Maquia will remind you of numerous anime fantasy worlds. But it's all extremely well realized: the landscapes and architecture of the Iorphs' land are given a particularly lush artistic treatment. The Iorph and their land most remind me of Tolkien's Elves, and in particular those of Lord of the Rings' Lothlorien, both in their blond-haired inhabitants and their pastoral settings, but even more in the fact that, as related by a character in Maquia, Maquia's world, just like Tolkien's, is a world where magical people, and other fantastic living things, are disappearing, either dying out or being scattered; it led to a pervasive sense of melancholy in LOTR, and we'll behold some of that extinction in Maquia's world as well, not just of the Iorph, but also of one of the chief tools of their enemy. (But unlike Tolkien's Elves, the Iorph are nearly complete pacifists; judging from the one Iorph we see who becomes capable of aggression, it seems possible that they can't perpetrate violence without also going mad.)
The core of the show, though, is the relationship between Maquia and Erial. I'm not quite sure whether this show is exactly shoujo ("girl's") anime in the usual sense, since that usually seems to involve romantic relationships rather than maternal ones. (Maquia herself does get one sincere romantic offer, which part of me was hoping she'd say yes to; he's a pretty decent guy.) The show both touches on the logical necessities of being a near-immortal in a mortal world (i.e., moving every few years, avoiding attachments to people whenever possible), along with the particular ones an ordinary human might face growing up with such a "mother": the need to publicly present their relationship differently over the course of years, but most of all in the changes related to Erial's biological development (with a nod to Dr. Freud here, too), and the eventual urge to "leave the nest", even as Maquia wants their relationship to stay the same, FOREVER. ("Forever" is just too long for a mere mortal.)
There's an interesting second storyline going on as well, though it only gets a few major scenes in the show, involving a second Iorph survivor, Maquia's friend (or sister; I was never sure about the Iorph relationships) named Leilia. Leilia is the unwilling subject of an "experiment" by Mezarte that is apparently a failure (though yet another character in the show demonstrates that this HAS succeeded with other individuals), and Leilia's situation presents its own interesting changes in attitude over time- and eventually leads to one of the most powerful psychological breakdowns I can ever recall witnessing in anime.
By the end of the story everyone has to do some adaptation- or just depart, one way or the other- but the final sequence in the film is absolutely stunning: bittersweet, thought-provoking, and memorably strange, all at the same time. And the last line, from Maquia's escort, perfectly sums it all up with brevity and wit; it's one of my favorite anime closing lines.
I wavered between four and five stars on this. I thought the dialogue was often overwrought, much too maudlin and/or pretentious. On the other hand, it really IS a moving experience, and offers a fascinating exploration of aspects of human growth and development from the unique perspective of having one party in a relationship whose apparent age, and whose LOVE, remain absolutely constant, while the other's yield to time and nature. Motherhood will never look the same again. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Violence, including war violence. There's one pregnancy resulting from rape (though we don't see the deed itself), and the Mezarte royalty is generally contemptible. No MPAA rating; Rightstuf suggests 13+.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Maquia: When The Promised Flower Blooms © 2018 P. A. Works
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