Nikuko’s Luck Review: a delicious maternal-filial affection
The limited screening of Nikuko’s Fortune, an animated film directed by Ayumu Watanabe, was made available from 16 to 18 May. The name of this Japanese director is slowly emerging on the international cinema scene. Many critics and reviewers are identifying in his works an animation style that tries to go beyond traditional boundaries. His modus operandi is linked to a careful research of moods and their nuanceswhich is expressed through the use of the selected images in effective and direct narrative connections.
At first glance, the story recalls a strong feeling of déjà-vu with the exposure of the mother-daughter relationship. This expectation disappears when the visual impact gives the viewer the opportunity to enter a fantasy world that turns out to be more complex than it seems.. Along the stream of consciousness of the adolescent protagonist, there is no lack of bizarre and extravagant effects of an animation to which we are now accustomed. If on the one hand they arouse strong hilarity, on the other we see hidden pieces of the soul of the characters. Below you will find the trailer official Italian of the work distributed in theaters by Nexo Digital in collaboration with Dynit.
Nikuko’s luck: the stimulus of appetite in the images and curiosity in the two protagonists
The two protagonists are the mother Nikuko and daughter Kikuko. Their relationship is characterized by opposite behaviors: the first is a clumsy, carefree and delightfully optimistic figure; the second, on the other hand, has a serious and calm personality. However, both have a passion in common: food. The storyboard of the film is to be awarded only for this: the lights and colors painted in the numerous abundant dishes perfectly describe the pleasant atmosphere and make your mouth water in the truest sense of the word.
This figurative choice does not stop in the stimulation of appetite as a primary instinct, but is a slow and transparent training path that will lead the two women to confront each other in a highly critical situation. Within that there is no shortage of facial expressions typical of Japanese designers, that Watanabe manipulates at will to then place them in a dialogue of raw sincerity and decisive emotional passages. From then on, we may discover a definitive change or a balance re-established with mutual awareness, pain and support.
“Kikuko’s voice over guides two complementary phases to his psychological development: adolescence in the first, spiritual growth in the second“
There voice over from Kikuko he guides two complementary phases in his psychological development. The first is the difficulties in adapting in an environment dominated by insecurity and erroneousness. A place where adolescents make the most significant mistakes, evaluate the relationships around them, manifest the first hormonal imbalances and are based on the constant exploration of personal identity. The second clings to the experiences gathered in the previous one to plan a framework of concluded answers and to bring out the best part of himself in the near future.
In this way Nikuko it becomes the representation of a maternal character founded on fixed and immutable principles. His role does not need to be overwhelmed, rather he holds most of those benevolent sides of the personality that deserve to be protected from existential evil. What Nikuko’s Luck teaches is the imperfect course of a life cycle in which all human beings find themselves involved. Inside of them permeate those genuine and clear emotions that find it difficult to go out or to be expressed with others. For this we need to look and listen.
The moving and heartbreaking journey of the two protagonists focuses on a powerful revelation that goes from the ordinary to the intimate. The daily routine of this mother-daughter binomial is destined to silently tear into tiny fragments and then consolidate into a great affective armor. It is impossible not to mention the two most important pieces of music: Image no uta by Kurumi Inagaki e Taketen by Greeeen. Both are accomplices of a functional superimposition to the melodic and vocal apparatus and to the movement of images and floating figures.
Another reason for this story is the simple and elementary elaboration that exploits with the visual impact of the shots and with what frames them as such. The space of fantasy does not explode in the round to respect and guarantee particular situations of drama, capable of destabilizing our prejudices in the face of a figure apparently unsuitable for social culture. Behind the healing of happiness, the pain previously collected does not harm the health of the mother and daughter, on the contrary it is a liberating act of the negative things that were still moving in the air of the home.
Based on the novel of the same name by Kanako Hishi, the Japanese director manages to impart greater expressive freedom thanks to the use of a medium consisting of a set of grouped propositions. With the language of the seventh art, the visual story concretizes the words, which have an eager need to light up in contrast to the abstract nature of their communicative manifestation. The imagination and its sensitive treatment accelerate the creative process of the designers and the introspective one of the characters to arouse wonder and reflection.
Nikuko’s luck distances itself from the “just for kids” label through a simple and moving story
Those who know Ayumu Watanabe will not be disappointed by this funny and smiling film. Nikuko’s luck is free from comparison with previous work available on Netflix, that is The children of the sea (2019) (here on MonkeyBit you will find our review), considered an original workmanship from any point of view, because the author’s job is to affirm his figurative and incisive techniques in a productive context of animation in search of unprecedented talents and courageous professionals. In this way, visual interactions are offered that are capable of capturing the attention of adults.
The film in question has won prestigious awards, such as the Fantasia International Film Festival, Scotland Loves Animation and the Japan Media Arts Festival. As we have already said, this film will certainly not go unnoticed. Furthermore, personally speaking, I want to praise the vocal performance of the young voice actress Giorgia Venditti in the role of the protagonist, better known in the world of the web thanks to her participation and her collaborations with the Youtube channel of ZeroMic.