Lonely Castle in the Mirror is an anime film that was released in Japan in December 2022 and is now set to make its US theatrical debut. Based on a 2017 novel of the same name by Mizuki Tsujimora, the film tackles real-world issues such as bullying and depression through a fantastical lens. Directed by Keiichi Hara and produced by A-1 Pictures, the film aims to redirect negativity into a more positive place.
In an interview with Screen Rant, director Keiichi Hara discussed his motivation for adapting the book into a film. He explained that he wanted to address the issues that kids face today and provide a fantasy world that could offer a better perspective. Hara resonated with the original book’s themes and its exploration of the impact of losing a family member.
When asked about the message he hopes younger viewers take away from the film, Hara highlighted the importance of encouraging children to talk about their struggles and seek support. He acknowledged that many kids feel like they don’t have a place at school or home and don’t want to verbalize their weaknesses. Through the film, Hara hopes to inspire kids to open up and realize that it is okay to depend on adults and engage in conversations about their experiences.
The film includes a supportive parental figure, Kokoro’s mother, who takes her concerns seriously. Hara explained that he wanted to portray a positive relationship between a parent and a child, as it is not always the case for children facing similar situations. The film showcases Kokoro’s mother fully supporting her and bridging the communication gap between them.
When asked about the influence of the manga adaptation on the film, Hara confirmed that there was no effect on the animation. The manga and the film are separate entities.
Hara also discussed a scene in the film that he was especially proud of. He mentioned the part where Kokoro helps Aki in the room of wishes, which he found visually and narratively significant. The scene’s animation was done by Toshiyuki Inoue, and the music by Harumi Fuuki added to its uplifting and impactful nature.
Regarding the common themes in his films, such as depression and anxiety, Hara stated that it is not something he actively seeks but more of a coincidence. He mentioned his past work on Crayon Shin-Chan, a comedy series, and expressed his interest in revisiting light-hearted gags. However, he noted that he is not stuck on a particular theme and is open to exploring different genres.
Overall, Lonely Castle in the Mirror is a heartfelt anime film that addresses important real-world issues through a fantasy lens. It aims to inspire younger viewers to open up and seek support while portraying a supportive parent-child relationship. With visually striking scenes and a compelling narrative, the film offers a touching tale of finding connection and acceptance in a world where one doesn’t fit in.