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[Ni no Kuni]
AKA: 二ノ国
Genre: Fantasy
Length: Movie, 108 minutes
Distributor: Currently licensed by Warner Bros, available streaming on Netflix.
Content Rating: TV-14 (Violence.)
Related Series: A video game series for Nintendo DS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Mobile phone, Microsoft Windows.
Also Recommended: Napping Princess
Notes: Based on a series of RPGs, published in Japan by Level 5

Ni no Kuni


Two boys, Haru and Yusuke, are close friends with a girl named Kotona; in fact, both of them are secretly in love with her, but Haru has a definite edge with her, because Yusuke is confined to a wheelchair. But when Kotona becomes the victim of a knife attack by a mysterious assailant, both boys find themselves somehow whisked to a land called Evermore, a medieval-fantasy sort of place where its kingdom's Princess, named Astrid (who bears a STARTLING resemblance to Kotona) lies near death from a cursed wound. Yusuke is able to save the Princess, but the fallout from this gets rather complex, and as the boys discover the secret to travel between our world and Evermore, a difference in interpretation of the link between the fates of corresponding people in each world leads our two male heroes to become bitter enemies.


When I first watched the old Star Trek episode "Mirror,Mirror" and saw several crewmembers of the Mirror-Enterprise get disintegrated, I wondered what was supposed to have happened to their counterparts in OUR universe. Of course, these were minor characters (I don't remember if they wore red shirts, but they might as well have), so the episode could get away with simply ignoring the question.

Ni no Kuni, on the other hand, DOES address the question- up to a point. In fact, Yusuke (he's usually just called "Yu" in the show) first discovers the link between folk in Evermore and their counterparts in OUR world through the demise of some corresponding victims in both worlds. But, on the other hand, even THIS show eventually doesn't keep both worlds in perfect correspondence: later, there's an epic battle in Evermore in which possibly thousands of combatants perish, but we're not given any event with an equivalent catastrophic death toll in our world. I remember reading an analysis of that old "Mirror,Mirror" episode- I don't remember the author of the critique, alas- in which it was maintained that a parallel universe like that of "Mirror,Mirror" could not stay in-synch and absolutely consistent with ours for long. Perhaps he was right.

In any event, while both Haru and Yusuke agree that, yes, there's a connection between the fates of corresponding parties in both worlds, they come to opposite conclusions about the nature of that connection; to use some scientific terminology here, one of the boys thinks it's a simple correlation, while the other fears it's more like an ANTI-correlation. And this leads the boys down very different, and inevitably conflicting, paths. (I DID wonder who the corresponding people to Haru and Yusuke were in Evermore, but the show explains THAT very elegantly!)

Evermore is pretty much the usual mashup of fantasy worlds: a generally medieval setting, but one including Beast People, dinosaurs (!), and so on. It turns out that Yusuke has a reason BESIDES Princess Astrid to like the place. The battle scenes are mostly standard fare for this sort of show, and the "big reveal" of the chief villain's identity is no real surprise; the audience had good reason to suspect that person all along. (The scene's a bit embarrassingly overwrought, too, in its effort to cram too much explanation into one speech.)

On the other hand, there's one scene I did find pleasantly memorable, a night scene at a magical lake. I found it surprisingly Disneyesque, somehow. The show also wound up recalling another line from Star Trek, the Keeper's last line from "The Menagerie"- which may be a spoiler, but only for hard-core Trekkies!

It's got its share of clichés, and it's a little juvenile, but the connections between people in the two worlds made it interesting, and I was rooting for Yusuke; and maybe things work out OK somehow. And that lake scene has a certain magic to it.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: Some graphic stabbing scenes as well as general war violence. VERY mild fanservice. Netflix goes TV-14.

Version(s) Viewed: Netflix video stream
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Ni no Kuni © 2019 OLM.
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