Seven children, an abandoned apartment complex, an endless body of water and only one goal: back home. This summer’s coming-of-age story is Drifting Home. Let’s find out what it’s all about in this review!
Drifting Home is a coming-of-age story set in a fantasy world. It was made by Twin Engine and Netflix, and Studio Colorido made it. Colorido is known for its Original Net Animations (ONAs), like the hugely popular A Whisker Away and Burn The Witch, which is like a spiritual sequel to Bleach. In Japanese, the film is called Ame wo Tsugeru Hyouryuu Danchi and Hiroyasu Ishida is responsible for it. Ishida is known for anime films like Penguin Highway and Fastening Days.
First place on Leisurebyte’s Best Anime of 2021 list went to (Spoiler Alert) Sonny Boy, which I’m surprised we’re talking about again. The show was a dark horse on many fans’ lists of the best anime and was nominated for two of Crunchyroll’s most prestigious awards: Anime of the Year and Director of the Year. Although it wasn’t a popular choice, the show won the hearts of many people, including this writer. It’s just a great anime that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should.
Why talk about this show now? Well, for one, they both get their ideas from the same thing: a horror manga called The Drifting Classroom. The premise of the story is also the same: a group of children are stuck in an endless void from which they cannot escape. Both of these happen because one of the kids is having an emotional outburst and the other kids are having to overcome their mental blocks to get out of that place. Both stories are about children growing up and teaching them how to deal with growing up.
So the big question is: is Drifting Home any good? Yes, that is without a doubt. It’s not perfect and has a lot of issues, which we’ll talk about in a moment, but it was still a very enjoyable read. The film had a clear goal that it stuck to at all times, and it told a very complete and satisfying story. From the start, the author had a clear idea of what he wanted to see on screen and he did everything to make the story as clear and logical as possible.
The film had many themes and stayed true to those it chose for each character. Some of the themes our main characters dealt with throughout the story were growth and dealing with change. They both lose someone very important to them which causes them to stop talking to each other. The way you act towards someone you think you’ve done wrong but don’t have the courage to do something about was very lifelike in the film. I didn’t think a show with children as the main character would penetrate the human mind so deeply, but I’m glad it has.
Even though the characters spoke in a language that most of us don’t understand, it felt like they were speaking very naturally. It might have been because they were all kids and the dialogue was simple, but it made the film feel more real. It also helped that the kids’ lyrics were powerful without being too cheesy and making people laugh. Despite that, there was still some tingling, but not as much as you might think.
Grief and how it causes people to feel disconnected or connected was the other main theme of Drifting Home. Grief is difficult even for adults, and we are talking about children here. Natsume’s connection to the apartment complex, the only thing that keeps her grounded, was a great metaphor for what it’s like to be a person who is grieving. The show made Noppo a whole character representing attachment and grief. This worked very well as an animated character who could respond with empathy and respond to the children’s grief. For what it was, this movie was pretty grown up.
But Drifting Home wasn’t all flowers and sunshine; there was something wrong with it. The film just went on and on for much longer than it should have. That was the biggest problem. Some scenes took longer than they should, some characters didn’t get enough time to grow, and there were entire scenes that should have been cut. Even the ending was bad because of this problem. It was on topic, emotional and great, but it took way longer than it needed to. Still, most of what happened in the story was good.
There are many different types of people in Drifting Home. You have to give them a break because they’re supposed to be kids who don’t know any better. I’ve tried to do that but some of the things they do are just plain stupid. The tagline of this film should be “Bad Choices”, although most of the characters end up learning to be smarter and make better choices. It’s hard to explain how frustrating it is to see someone making the same mistake over and over again, especially after being told more than once what will happen if they continue like this.
I’m talking about one character in particular who might seem picky until you remember that Natsume is the main female character in Drifting Home. She has a long way to go before she grows up because all she does is mess up. Actually big. With terrible consequences for everyone, including her. She’s learning the lesson the story was trying to teach her in the end, which is good, but it took a lot of important plot development to get there. She was a good person except she was a clumsy idiot.
Kosuke wasn’t very interesting and he didn’t have much of a personality other than yelling and being rude to everyone. A lot of that is fine because he’s young, but that doesn’t make the bottom line any easier to see. He doesn’t have much to do in this story besides being on screen and helping Natsume out of the holes she’s digging for herself, but he does it well and is still a likable main character. He has his own lessons to learn, which he does very well.
The rest of the cast is ok but they don’t have that much to do. They still have roles in the story and unique personalities that bring a lot of life to an otherwise boring situation. Reina is the main supporting character. It’s a bit stereotypical, but it’s still fun. Yuzuru and Taishi, the other two guys, are good too. Noppo, on the other hand, isn’t that great. Given the role he played in the film, he should have been a much better character than he was. It wasn’t bad, but it was very plain and boring. Well, I guess they can’t all win.
The production quality of Drifting Home was great, like most shows coming out these days, especially on a platform as big as Netflix Anime. The floating houses and amusement parks as well as the few fast-paced scenes towards the end were very well animated. The way the characters were drawn was stylish too, and the whole movie had a cool filter that made it look like it was shot by the sea, which made sense given the setting. Are we finally getting to the point where all animation is so good that all you can say about things that look like it is, “Yeah, I think it was good enough?”
On the other hand, the music missed the mark. It just didn’t carry the weight you would expect for something as ominous as this. There was nice music here, but it wasn’t the kind of music you would remember after the credits rolled. Still, the vocals were great, especially the city pop song played in the middle. That aside, it’s a set of songs that’s easy to forget.
Drifting Home is one of the most charming and well-written movies you’ll find on Netflix. The pacing and music weren’t anything special, but the story and animation went well beyond what most people would expect.
“Drifting Home,” a Japanese animated fantasy film about a group of sixth graders who drift out to sea in a haunted apartment complex, is about these children growing up. I say “sort of” because the lessons learned and new friends along the way are never as interesting or well-developed as the film’s apocalyptic central premise: A tight-knit group of friends become lost after a flash flood sends them into space with no food or fresh water them and the empty Kamonomiya dwellings into a vast and perhaps limitless ocean.
The kids, led by Kosuke (Mutsumi Tamura) and Natsume (Asami Seto), his childhood friend, learn not to take their loved ones for granted, but they also need to know when to let go. Unfortunately, the beginning of the film is more interesting than the main characters. There’s a light tone to the whole thing, which makes the times it sounds like a disaster movie even more shocking. But yes, you read that right: there’s a new animated film about a group of kids falling through a hole in space-time, and it’s not as good as it sounds.
Manga fans may find that the main idea of ”Drifting Home” is similar to the main idea of Kazuo Umezu’s creepy and creatively made horror comic The Drifting Classroom. In Umezu’s manga, a strange catastrophe sends a group of elementary school students into a dystopian future. As a result, they lose their place in time. Drifting Home is a lot more fun than the other two (and features fewer mutated spiders and infant crucifixions).
In Drifting Home, Kosuke has to go into 60-year-old Kamonomiya’s projects with his friends Taishi (Yumiko Kobayashi) and Yuzuru (Daiki Yamashita), although he doesn’t want to. Kosuke is the most developed of these characters, mainly because he has family members other than his friends. His grandfather Yasuji (Bin Shimada) just passed away and his mother Satoko works too much (Nana Mizuki). Even though Kosuke thinks of Yasuji when he sees Kamonomiya’s homes, he still takes his friends to look around. Later, Kosuke reconnects with Natsume, who has been like family to Kosuke for a long time.
Also, the Kamonomiya building is haunted by a pale child who looks like a ghost. His name is Noppo (Ayumu Murase) and yes he is a ghost. Noppo and Kosuke’s group is held together by a dream logic that is over-explained and under-utilized. Most of it has to do with Kosuke’s strong emotional bond with Natsume. But after a certain point, that link doesn’t mean much anymore. The group’s floating shelter sometimes cruises past other run-down and (mostly) empty locations, such as a department store and apartment buildings. About two hours later, when the movie finally gets to the point, it’s because of those exploration scenes. “Drifting Home” doesn’t get there quickly, but it does get there in the end.