Review: Kubo and the Two Strings is a Stunning Ode to the Beauty of Diversity

Graphic by Mel Egan

By Ariel Kohane

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Kubo and the Two Strings is a movie that animation fans, myself included, have been looking forward to for months. This stunningly animated movie features the voice talents of Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, and George Takei. It follows Kubo (Parkinson) as he goes on a journey to retrieve three pieces of mythical armor in order to defeat his grandfather, the Moon King (Fiennes) and the Sisters (Rooney Mara). He is accompanied by Monkey (Theron) and Beetle (McConaughey).

As I mentioned before, the movie’s graphics are absolutely gorgeous. It was filmed in stop motion with countless hours spent working to perfect the fluid motions of the characters. The story had stylistic nods to Japanese animation techniques that were captivating to look at. Some of the most impressive scenes included the leaf barge, the tidal wave at the beginning of the film, and the fight between Monkey and one of the Sisters. It’s amazing to think that many of these larger-than-life characters were no more than a few inches tall!

The music was incredible, with elements of both joy and sorrow throughout. Traditional Japanese instruments can be heard in the score, such as the koto and shamisen.

I appreciate that the movie was based off of a Japanese legend. While I am unfamiliar with the original piece, it’s nice to watch a mainstream movie that’s culturally diverse.

At some points, however, the story seemed a bit choppy. It felt like the heroes jumped from obstacle to obstacle in a relatively short amount of time. In addition, Takei, the only actually Japanese actor billed with the film, was severely underutilized.

Aside from these minor hiccups, the movie was absolutely fantastic. I would recommend seeing it for yourself, because just reading about it can’t do it justice.