“The Deer King”, Lone Wolf and Tiny Princess Mononoke [Spoiler-Free Review]

"The Deer King": Lone Wolf And Tiny Princess Mononoke [Spoiler-Free Review]

The Deer KingAn anime movie that shows us what would happen if we crossed. Princess Mononoke, Nausicaä of the Valley of the WindAnd Lone Wolf, Cub. This was the inspiration for my main work. MandalorianIt is, however.

The Deer King: Details

"The Deer King" English theatrical poster.
I would like to think The Wolf KingGiven the fact that there are wolves, this title would be more fitting.

The Deer KingThe anime film adaptation of the fantasy series of the same title by Nahoko Uehashi is called “Anime Film Adaptation of the Fantasy Novel Series of the Same Name” (Moribito: Guardian for the Spirit, Erin). Production I.GGhost in the Shell, Fena, the Pirate Princess, Star Wars: Visions Episode 5 – “The Ninth Jedi”The animation studio behind this anime movie is ) This anime film was directed by Masashi Ando, Masayuki Mishaji and Masayuki Miyaji. This is, in fact, Ando’s first time directing an anime film instead of “just” being the key animator. Taku Kishimoto directed this anime film. Harumi Furuki composed the music. GKIDS licensed the anime film to be released in NA.

The Deer KingFirst premiered on June 14, 2021Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The official theatrical debut of the anime film in NA will be made on July 13, 2022(For the original Japanese audio with English subtitles version) July 14, 2022(for the English dub edition). You can purchase tickets for either version now on GKIDS, Fathom Events, or on the anime film’s official website. You might also want to bring lots and lots of popcorn as this anime film is 113 minutes long. Last but not least, the anime film is rated R for some reason. It is possible that your children won’t want to go to the anime film. It can get very bloody, I promise.

The Deer KingSynopsis

Everything about this anime film just screams “Epic Fantasy Adventure”.

Normaly, this is the part of the my reviews where I describe what the plot of The Deer King in great detail. As many spoilers as possible, but with ample warnings. But, this is the spoiler free version. This is the best way to see this anime film without spoilers. Here is the official synopsis taken from GKIDS. You can see it below.

“In the aftermath of a brutal war, former soldier Van toils in amine controlled by the ruling empire. One day, his solitary existence is upended when a pack of wild dogs carrying a deadly and incurable disease attack, leaving only Van and a young girl named Yuna as survivors. Finally free, the pair seek out a simple existence in the countryside but are pursued by nefarious forces. Intent on protecting Yuna at all costs, Van must uncover the true cause of the plague ravaging the kingdom—and its possible cure.

The Deer King is a sweeping fantasy epic that marks the directing debut of Masashi Ando, whose work on such landmark films as Spirited Away, Paprika, and Your Name. helped shape the world of modern animation.”

The Deer King: The Good (Spoiler Free Version)

Funny how the Japanese trailer thumbnail focuses on the fantasy, while the English dub trailer thumbnail focuses on Hohsalle’s pretty face instead.

The story and characters of The Deer KingThey are the best part. This is fitting considering Nahoko Uehashi was the one who wrote the original story. The anime film is a great example of her ability to create worlds. It is a semi-medieval fantasy world that she has created. All seem to be inspired by various Asian cultures. It’s actually pretty fun to play “Spot the cultural basis” for the different people here. I would go so far as to say that this is Tolkien or Sanderson’s levels of immersion, really.

Animation of The Deer KingIt has another advantage. The animation quality isn’t the hyper-realistic style we see in modern anime. It’s very high quality, no doubt about it. But, it seems that the animation style is very similar to older anime films. The animation style is reminiscent of the Studio Ghibli classics. This is fitting for a key animator. Spirited Away. Animations are nostalgic for old classics and immerse you in the story.

The Deer King: The Bad (Spoiler Free Version)

"The Deer King" screenshot featuring Yuna and her adorably puzzled expression.
The face of someone wondering what’s bad about this anime film.

My only complaint is The Deer KingIts length. Not that it’s too long, mind you. But rather, that it’s not long enough. While the overall pacing of the anime film felt fine, I feel like there were parts of the story that could’ve benefited more from additional time to develop the characters and setting. Really, I think this anime film would’ve been even better as an entire anime series. You could make it a 12 or 24 episode anime. It’s just my opinion of the story though. Your mileage may vary depending upon your opinions. Once you have watched the anime, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

Source: GKIDS

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