The deer king is an animated film that gives us a glimpse of what would happen if you crossed Princess Mononoke, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Windand lone wolf and cub. The latter was one of the main sources of inspiration for The MandalorianBesides.
The deer king: Details
The deer king is the anime film adaptation of the fantasy novel series of the same name by Nahoko Uehashi (Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, Erin). Production GI (ghost in the shell, Fena: Pirate Princess, Star Wars: Visions Episode 5 – “The Ninth Jedi”) is the animation studio behind this animated film. Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji directed this animated film. This is, in fact, Ando’s first time directing an animated film instead of being “just” the lead animator. Taku Kishimoto wrote for this animated film, Harumi Fuuki composing the music. Finally, GKIDS has licensed this anime film for its NA release.
The deer king created for the first time June 14, 2021 at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. The animated film will make its official theatrical debut on NA on July 13, 2022 (for original Japanese audio with English subtitled version) and July 14, 2022 (for the English dubbed version). You can buy tickets for either version now at GKIDS, Fathom Events, or the official anime movie website. This animated film is also 113 minutes long, so you might want to bring lots of popcorn when you watch it. Oh, and finally, this animated movie has an R rating for a reason. You might not want to bring your kids to this animated movie. Believe me, it gets bloody.
The deer king: Summary
Normally this would be the part of my review where I describe the plot of The deer king in detail. Complete with as many spoilers as I can cram, but with plenty of warnings ahead. However, this is the spoiler-free version. You know, for those of you who want to watch this spoiler-free animated movie. So you’ll get the official GKIDS synopsis instead. Check it out below:
“In the aftermath of a brutal war, former soldier Van toils in an amine controlled by the ruling empire. One day, her lonely existence is turned upside down when a pack of wild dogs carrying a fatal and incurable disease attacks, leaving only Van and a young girl named Yuna as survivors. Free at last, the couple seek a simple existence in the countryside but are pursued by nefarious forces. Wanting to protect Yuna at all costs, Van must uncover the true cause of the plague ravaging the kingdom and its possible cure.
The Deer King is a fantasy epic that marks the debut of Masashi Ando, including work on seminal films such as Spirited Away, Paprika and Your Name. helped shape the world of modern animation.
The deer king: The Good (Version without spoiler)
The story and characters of The deer king are the best part. That’s fine, seeing as Nahoko Uehashi wrote the original story behind it. This animated movie really shows just how successful she is at world building. Everything from the environment to the setting, and even the weird names, really pulls you into this semi-medieval fantasy world she has created. All apparently based on various Asian cultures. It’s actually quite fun to play “Spot the Cultural Base” for the different people here. I’d go so far as to say it’s really Tolkien’s or Sanderson’s level of immersion.
The animation of The deer king is another advantage for this. The animation quality is not the hyper-realistic style we see in modern anime. It is of very high quality, no doubt. However, the animation style seems to go back to the old animated film. You know, like the classic Studio Ghibli movies. Really suitable, for a key animator of Taken away as if by magic. The animation style really makes you nostalgic for those classics, while immersing you more in the story.
The deer king: The Bad (Spoiler-free version)
My only major complaint about The deer king is its length. Not that it’s too long, mind you. But rather, it’s not long enough. While the overall pacing of the animated film was good, I feel like there were parts of the story that could have benefited more from additional time to develop the characters and setting. Really, I think this anime movie would have been even better as an entire anime series. Maybe like a 12 or even 24 episode anime. This is just my opinion on the story. Your mileage may vary depending on your opinions. Feel free to share them here in the comment section once you actually watch this anime movie.