“Minor work” is a generous classification for this, Studio Ghibli’s only made-for-TV offering, and one of the few Ghibli productions that animation guru Hayao Miyazaki didn’t have a hand in. Heckle & Jeckle had it right: “We cartoon characters can have a wonderful life. We can do anything we think of!” No manga-Xeroxing magpies were they, content to rotoscope animated wallpaper better suited to a Japanese teenager’s bedroom than a screen. Geared for high schoolers more interested in relatability than art, director Tomomi Mochizuki’s otherwise chatty characters are certified lifeless; his character animation even moreso. For 72 minutes I sat waiting, watching for one movement, one effect, one anything that couldn’t have been achieved through live-action filmmaking. I’m not calling for Marvin the Martian to lead a parade of pink elephants down Main Street, but what’s the point of animating if the end goal is to simply trace over an ABC Afterschool Special? (1993) — Scott Marks
This movie is not currently in theaters.