Precocious, brainy Aoyama is confident that he will do great things as an adult. In a notebook, he keeps track of the days left before adulthood, along with various other findings and scientific brain teasers. The charming little bugger is talkative and prone to giving deadpan remarks with no facial expression. He fantasizes about the lady who works at his dentist’s office, and the two forge a partnership based in enigmatic conundrums. What is the woman’s connection to the penguins that have appeared in town?

Hiroyasu Ishida’s animated feature, Penguin Highway, takes Studio Ghibli’s aesthetic and moral lessons about the environment one step further. What if nature were controlled by outside forces? Who exactly are we on this tiny round planet still filled with so many mysteries? The adaptation of Tomihiko Morimi’s novel uses a wildly imaginative approach. It is science fiction blended with a story about kids, for kids. Adult audiences, however, will understand the plot on multiple levels that children won’t grasp. Existentialism, the world’s mysteries, and the continual abuse of nature by the human race are all put in front of a proverbial mirror. Though the scripting is lighthearted, there is also power in the characters’ emotions and interpersonal relations. And of course, penguins. Hordes of cute penguins! A beautiful, unusual allegory on life.



TOHO Cinemas, Roppongi Hills, 8:30 PM, October 29th, 2018.