Kokone lives parallel lives. When she is awake she is a high school student, who is getting ready for her exams and making the next big step in her life. When she is asleep she is a magical princess, Ancien, who can make any wish come true by typing them into her magical tablet. When these two worlds collide, family secrets are revealed and the past comes knocking at her door. Kokone has to reconcile her two worlds, and find the place where she truly belongs.
This is first feature length theatrical film of Kenji Kamiyama, who came from directing many TV anime, his previous works being Ghost in the Shell and Eden of the East. He worked as a character designer for many projects, and has a unique, recognisable style. His storytelling, however, can be confusing for the unprepared. In a long running series there is plenty of time to fill in the gaps, in a single feature things unexplained can create confusion.
Switching between the real and the magical worlds the story often jumps forward, leaving things unresolved in both realms, just like an impatient reader would skip through pages, missing out important details. The other problem is the target audience. In the movie theatre beside me sat a woman with two kids. The five year old was bored to sobs and the thirteen year old was only vaguely interested. Despite the characters being high school and university students there is too much kindergarten grade magic involved. Wouldn’t a young adult have better things to do than chasing magic tablets and roaming around in a flying motorcycle a la Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?
The film is beautifully executed with the characters perfectly fleshed out. But while being incredibly entertaining it struggles with its identity - whether to be a low key family drama or an action blockbuster. The ending throws at you giant robots, Godzilla type monsters and massive destructions. And the finale is too sugar coated and far fetched to be satisfying.
Boasting great production values and delivering very well written characters ANCIEN’s narrative is too inconsistent and too predictable to be involving. Catering for a broader audience, the over the top ending, with no high stakes at hand, delivers to no one, making it just another well produced and expensive, but an average anime film.