NYICCF 2010 – Mai Mia Miracle Review

Do you remember when you first met your best friend from childhood? Mai Mai Miracle is such an anime. Adapted from Nobuko Takagi’s autobiography, the film is a slice of life from post-war Japan. Shinko, a feisty tomboy, always imagined what life was like for her rural town of Suo, Yamagata Prefecture in ancient times. Her grandfather always tell her stories of Japanese royalty, wars and iron making in their town.

A transfer student from Tokyo, Kiiko, moves into Suo. She is every bit a princess from Tokyo: fashionable, polite, shy and clean cut. Kiiko is very much alone in her new surroundings and feels very much out of place. Shinko, ever the curious one, follows Kiiko home from school one day, just to see what kind of house Kiiko’s family lives in. Shinko also finds out that Kiiko recently lost her mother. Kiiko’s father is a doctor, so she is often alone.

Being the good friend that she is, Shinko decided to bring Kiiko into her world of friends, family and imagination. Upon Kiiko’s first meeting with Shinko’s family, Kiiko brought a box a chocolate candy in shapes of little bottles. However, Kiiko didn’t know these little chocolate bottles were filled with whiskey! So there was Shinko, Kiiko and Shinko’s little sister getting smashed by the time Shinko’s mother arrived. I can imagine certain parents in the audience may be up in arms about this scene, but I have to say the intention was a very innocent one. Needless to say, this is a beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Shinko and Kiiko often imagine the life of a princess named, Nagiko Kiyohara, who lived in Suo 1,000 years ago. Nagiko Kiyohara’s story sort of runs parallel to Kiiko’s: a well-to-do young girl who is longing for a friend. The film’s plot is interspersed with Sei Shōnagon’s, The Pillow Book.

The film does get confusing for me at times. Perhaps it could be the fact I am not familiar with The Pillow Book. I enjoyed the film nevertheless. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Since this is a slice-of-life story, don’t expect action or drama.

There were two young girls sitting next to me, sharing a thermos of hot drinks and cookies together throughout the film. One of the girls admitted to me she actually shed a few tears towards the end. I guess it reminded of her what it was like meeting her best friend for the first time.

Go see this film with your best friend when you can.

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