A visual wonder, Mari Okada’s ‘Maquia’ is rooted in the emotional human experience

In a richly rendered medieval fantasy world, the members of an ancient clan live for centuries weaving the cloth of life. When this village is destroyed, a young girl ventures into the world with a baby boy in her arms, ready to face the hardships her new life will bring. Mari Okada shines in her directorial debut, creating a story that is as compelling as the magical landscape in which it resides. (RMM: 4.5/5)

Review by FF2 Associate Roza M. Melkumyan

Amidst glassy lakes and cumulus clouds, the Clan of the Separated (commonly known as the Iolph), youthful men and women with blond hair and pale skin, weave the story of life. These creatures of legend are some of the last remnants of the magical days of old. The Iolph live for hundreds of years, and they dedicate their lives to weaving Hibiol, a fine translucent cloth that holds messages, records stories, and marks the passage of time.

“Maquia” (Manaka Iwami) is a young Iolph known for her shy, gentle nature. Her friend “Leilia” (Ai Kayano) is the opposite–bold, fearless, and impulsive. Maquia loves her people, but confides to her elder that she feels lonely and wonders aloud if she might find love outside of their village. The elder gently warns her that to fall in love would mean true loneliness. The Iolph are fated to live long lives weaving the Hibiol, not to form attachments to those they will outlive.

When the Iolph settlement is attacked by soldiers riding flying dragons from the kingdom of Mezarte, Maquia’s world is shattered. The soldiers destroy the village, stealing away the female Iolph in order to breed them for their longevity, and killing the rest. Miraculously, Maquia escapes on the wings of an infected Renate before it crashes and dies in a neighboring wood. Here, Maquia finds a baby in the arms of his dead mother, and the two form an immediate bond. In a nearby farm village, Maquia befriends farmer and mother “Mido” (Rina Satô), who takes on the challenge of caring for the two while teaching Maquia how to be a good mother. Maquia names the boy “Erial” (Miyu Irino), and the two begin their journey through life together.

Maquia dyes her hair to match Erial’s own sandy locks, reluctantly distancing herself from her ancestry while stepping fully into the role of mother. As Erial grows, she encounters both the joys and travails of motherhood. When times are hard, she tells herself that mothers don’t cry. Maquia doesn’t age outwardly, so the two must move from town to town in order to avoid suspicion.

In the capital of Mezarte, Leilia’s life follows a different path of hardship. Kidnapped during the raid, Leilia has been selected to marry the prince, and she gives birth to his child. Regarded with disgust by the rest of court, however, she is barred from seeing the child. Meanwhile, Maquia and Erial must face a harsh world that provides little help. As Erial enters an emotionally tumultuous adolescence, Maquia feels time pass without her.

I absolutely loved Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (in Japanese, Sayonara no asa ni yakusoku no hana o kazarô). As an avid viewer and lover of animated films, I expected a film rich in visuals, but I never anticipated just how breathtaking they would be. Maquia boasts quality animation, with vivid colors, landscapes, and character design.

Even more impressive here is the harmonious marriage of setting and story. The legend of this fantasy world comes alive on the screen, but its grandeur and depth don’t take away from the plot or character development. Raw human emotions and experiences such as love, loss, change, and the passage of time all share the stage with the characters. Each human experience explored in this film is either present throughout the entire movie, or it is woven in and out of the story, building until it pervades every action a character takes.

Writer and director Mari Okada has clearly put her own soul into Maquia, and has artfully and honestly portrayed a story of motherhood, sacrifice, and love. Tinged with a subtle yet strong sense of sadness, this film had me captivated from start to finish. Maquia knows that she will outlive her adopted son by hundreds of years, yet she cannot bring herself to wrest him from her heart. If this weren’t enough to reach the audience, Okada interweaves this story with Leilia’s, who shows us different shades of that same love and pain as her restless spirit struggles to escape her gilded cage. As both women stare loss in the face, we are reminded of how truly terrifying it is to feel alone in this worldand how warm the accompanying feeling of love can be. It had me in tears.

While the plot’s overall use of time gaps does not detract from the film, and even magnifies the sense of time passing, there is one rather jarring time gap. Without revealing too much, the jump in time from a 15-year-old Erial to a 25-year-old Erial is less than smooth. A lot happens in those ten years, and I found my mind scrambling to fill in the missing events. A more gradual reveal of significant events would’ve helped, but with a movie that almost pushes the two-hour mark, perhaps this was a conscious decision.

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms is a visual treat and an emotional tour de force. It’s one of those movies that just makes me fall in love with the animation genre all over again. Mari Okada has weaved a story worthy of the Iolph’s Hibiol.

© Roza M. Melkumyan (7/20/18) FF2 Media

Featured Photo: Maquia and Erial share a moment in the water.

Top Photo: Maquia gazes at the Hibiol.

Middle Photo: Maquia and little Erial promise to protect each other.

Bottom Photo: The Iolph village

Photo Credits: Eleven Arts

Q: Does Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?  

Yes. Leilia and Maquia lament the loss of their people together, and talk about Leilia’s daughter.

Avatar

By Roza Melkumyan

As a member of the FF2 Media team, Roza writes features and reviews and coaches other associates and interns. She joined the team as an intern herself during her third year of study at New York University. There she individualized her major and studied narrative through a cultural lens and in the mediums of literature, theatre, and film. At school, Roza studied abroad in Florence and London, worked as a Resident Assistant, and workshopped a play she wrote and co-directed. Since graduating, she spent six months in Spain teaching English and practicing her Spanish. Most recently, she spent a year in Armenia teaching university English as a Fulbright scholar. Her love of film has only grown over the years, and she is dedicated to providing the space necessary for female filmmakers to prosper.

194 comments

  1. Great blog you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any community forums that
    cover the same topics discussed in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get comments from other experienced individuals that share
    the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
    Thanks a lot!

  2. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
    I don’t know who you are but definitely you’re going to
    a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

  3. Magnificent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff
    previous to and you’re just extremely wonderful. I actually like what you
    have acquired here, really like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it.

    You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it sensible.
    I cant wait to read much more from you. This is really a tremendous web site.

  4. It’s really a great and useful piece of information. I am glad that you just
    shared this useful info with us. Please keep
    us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this,
    like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive
    the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog.
    A great read. I’ll definitely be back.

  6. Having read this I believed it was rather informative. I appreciate
    you finding the time and energy to put this information together.
    I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and posting
    comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  7. Hiya! Quick question that’s totally off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?

    My site looks weird when viewing from my iphone 4.
    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able
    to resolve this issue. If you have any recommendations, please share.
    Thanks!

  8. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought I might check things out.
    I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to
    looking into your web page again.

  9. I believe this is one of the so much significant information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. However wanna remark on some basic issues, The web
    site taste is wonderful, the articles is in point of fact nice
    : D. Just right task, cheers

  10. Excellent items from you, man. I’ve consider your stuff previous to and you
    are just too magnificent. I really like what you’ve got right here, certainly like what you are saying and the way in which you assert it.
    You’re making it enjoyable and you continue to care for to stay it sensible.
    I cant wait to learn far more from you. That is actually a terrific website.

  11. Hi, Neat post. There is an issue with your website in internet explorer, might
    test this? IE nonetheless is the market chief and a huge section of other folks will leave out your wonderful writing because
    of this problem.

  12. Appreciating the hard work you put into your site and detailed information you offer.
    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the
    same unwanted rehashed information. Great read! I’ve saved your site
    and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  13. Hello! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with
    us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking
    and will be tweeting this to my followers! Outstanding blog and brilliant design.

  14. Right here is the perfect site for anyone who wants to understand this topic.

    You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you
    (not that I personally would want to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a new spin on a topic which has been written about for years.
    Great stuff, just great!

  15. Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and
    i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam feedback?
    If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you
    can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.

  16. Hey exceptional website! Does running a blog like this take a lot of work?

    I have very little expertise in programming but I had
    been hoping to start my own blog in the near future.
    Anyway, if you have any recommendations or techniques for new blog owners please share.

    I know this is off subject nevertheless I simply needed to
    ask. Cheers!

  17. Have you ever considered about including a little bit more than just
    your articles? I mean, what you say is important and everything.
    But imagine if you added some great pictures or video clips to give your
    posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and video clips, this site
    could undeniably be one of the most beneficial in its field.

    Good blog!

  18. I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. This article
    has really peaked my interest. I’m going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once per week.
    I subscribed to your Feed too.

  19. Hello There. I discovered your weblog the usage of msn. That
    is an extremely well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back
    to read extra of your helpful info. Thanks for the
    post. I will certainly return.

  20. Hey! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with
    us so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely loving the
    information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this
    to my followers! Superb blog and brilliant design.

  21. I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I
    am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody
    else know such detailed about my problem. You’re amazing!
    Thanks!

  22. Hey there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you
    know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My website looks weird when viewing from my apple
    iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this issue.
    If you have any suggestions, please share. Thanks!

  23. Excellent post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I
    am impressed! Extremely helpful info particularly
    the final section 🙂 I care for such information much. I used to
    be looking for this certain information for a long time.

    Thanks and best of luck.

  24. Hello! I’ve been following your blog for a long
    time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from
    Austin Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!

  25. Your style is so unique compared to other people I have read stuff from.
    Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just
    book mark this web site.

  26. Please let me know if you’re looking for a writer for your weblog.
    You have some really good posts and I think I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please shoot me an email if interested. Cheers!

  27. Generally I do not read post on blogs, however I would like to say that
    this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and
    do it! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thank you, quite nice post.

  28. Hi, I do believe this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it ;
    ) I am going to return once again since i have book marked
    it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to
    help other people.

  29. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell
    and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched
    her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but
    I had to tell someone!

  30. Howdy! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone
    3gs! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Keep up the outstanding work!

  31. What i do not realize is in fact how you’re not
    really a lot more neatly-appreciated than you may
    be now. You’re very intelligent. You know therefore significantly with regards
    to this matter, made me individually believe it from so many
    varied angles. Its like men and women are not fascinated except it’s something
    to do with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs excellent.
    All the time maintain it up!

  32. Someone essentially lend a hand to make severely posts I’d state.

    That is the first time I frequented your website page and
    thus far? I surprised with the research you made to make this actual put up extraordinary.
    Great job!

  33. Good day I am so thrilled I found your blog page, I really found you by accident, while I was
    browsing on Askjeeve for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like
    to say thank you for a tremendous post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time
    to go through it all at the moment but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will
    be back to read much more, Please do keep up the excellent work.

  34. Hello there I am so glad I found your blog page, I really found
    you by mistake, while I was looking on Aol for something else, Nonetheless
    I am here now and would just like to say many thanks
    for a incredible post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to read it all at the minute but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so
    when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the superb work.

  35. You actually make it seem really easy with your presentation however I find this topic to
    be actually one thing which I believe I would never understand.

    It seems too complex and extremely large
    for me. I am having a look ahead for your subsequent submit,
    I will try to get the grasp of it!

  36. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was conducting a little research on this.
    And he in fact bought me breakfast simply because I found it for him…
    lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your site.

  37. You’ve made some really good points there. I
    looked on the web to learn more about the issue and found most
    people will go along with your views on this site.

  38. Wow, awesome blog structure! How long have you ever been running a blog for?
    you make blogging glance easy. The overall glance of your web
    site is excellent, let alone the content material!

  39. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for
    your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  40. Right here is the perfect web site for anyone who hopes to find out
    about this topic. You understand so much its almost
    tough to argue with you (not that I personally will need to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a fresh spin on a topic that has been discussed for
    decades. Great stuff, just excellent!

  41. Hi there everyone, it’s my first visit at this web site, and piece of
    writing is really fruitful in support of me, keep up posting these types of articles or reviews.

  42. Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice at the same time as you amend your web site, how could i subscribe for a blog web site?
    The account aided me a applicable deal. I
    had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered vivid clear idea

  43. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find almost all
    of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content in your case?
    I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you write related to here.
    Again, awesome web log!

  44. Very good blog you have here but I was curious if you knew of any user
    discussion forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get opinions from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest.

    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks!

  45. Fantastic site you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any
    message boards that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get advice
    from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest.

    If you have any recommendations, please let me know.

    Appreciate it!

  46. Right here is the right website for anybody who would like to understand this topic.
    You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa).
    You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which has
    been discussed for ages. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

  47. Heya i’m for the primary time here. I found this
    board and I in finding It really useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I’m hoping to offer something back and aid others like you aided me.

  48. Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
    Is it very hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick.
    I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start.
    Do you have any tips or suggestions? Cheers

  49. My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses. But he’s tryiong
    none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on numerous websites
    for about a year and am nervous about switching to another platform.
    I have heard very good things about blogengine.net.

    Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?
    Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

  50. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to
    me. Anyhow, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking
    and checking back often!

  51. I am curious to find out what blog platform you are utilizing?

    I’m experiencing some minor security problems with my
    latest blog and I would like to find something more safe.
    Do you have any recommendations?

  52. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is important and everything. Nevertheless imagine if
    you added some great graphics or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with images and videos,
    this site could certainly be one of the best in its
    field. Amazing blog!

  53. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found
    that it’s really informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels.
    I will be grateful if you continue this in future.
    Numerous people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  54. whoah this blog is excellent i really like reading your posts.
    Keep up the good work! You understand, lots of individuals are hunting round for this
    information, you could help them greatly.

  55. Normally I don’t read article on blogs, however I wish to say
    that this write-up very forced me to check out and do so!
    Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great post.

  56. I do consider all of the ideas you’ve introduced in your
    post. They’re really convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick
    for beginners. Could you please prolong them a
    bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

  57. Howdy! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are
    you using for this site? I’m getting tired of WordPress because
    I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.

    I would be great if you could point me in the
    direction of a good platform.

  58. Simply wish to say your article is as surprising.

    The clarity in your post is simply spectacular and i can assume you are an expert on this subject.
    Well with your permission let me to grab your RSS feed
    to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the
    gratifying work.

  59. Unquestionably imagine that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the web the easiest factor to remember of.
    I say to you, I certainly get annoyed whilst folks consider worries
    that they just do not know about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest and also
    outlined out the entire thing with no need side-effects ,
    other folks can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.
    Thank you

  60. My brother suggested I may like this website.
    He was once entirely right. This submit truly made my day.

    You can not consider simply how a lot time I
    had spent for this info! Thanks!

  61. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this blog.
    I really hope to view the same high-grade content by you in the future as well.
    In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my
    very own site now 😉

  62. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to
    get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Thanks

  63. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and definitely will come
    back later in life. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great job,
    have a nice holiday weekend!

  64. I take pleasure in, cause I found just what I used
    to be taking a look for. You’ve ended my 4 day lengthy hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  65. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make
    your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving
    us something enlightening to read?

  66. I have learn several just right stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting.
    I wonder how much attempt you put to make one of these wonderful informative site.

  67. Hey there would you mind letting me know which web host
    you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different web
    browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker
    then most. Can you recommend a good web hosting provider
    at a honest price? Thank you, I appreciate it!

  68. I’m excited to discover this great site.
    I wanted to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!!
    I definitely loved every part of it and i also have
    you bookmarked to check out new information on your blog.

  69. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to
    my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and
    screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell
    someone!

  70. Hi, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your site in internet explorer, might test this?

    IE nonetheless is the marketplace leader and a huge element of other people will pass over your fantastic writing due to this problem.

  71. Greetings, I do think your website could be having internet browser compatibility problems.
    When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however,
    if opening in IE, it’s got some overlapping issues.

    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Aside from that, wonderful blog!

  72. With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of
    plagorism or copyright infringement? My website has a lot of unique content I’ve
    either authored myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without
    my permission. Do you know any techniques to help reduce content from being ripped off?

    I’d truly appreciate it.

  73. Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a
    blog article or vice-versa? My website discusses a lot
    of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you happen to be interested feel free to send me an e-mail.
    I look forward to hearing from you! Superb blog
    by the way!

  74. Superb blog you have here but I was wondering if
    you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics talked about here?

    I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get opinions from other knowledgeable
    individuals that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions,
    please let me know. Cheers!

  75. Someone necessarily assist to make seriously posts I might state.

    This is the very first time I frequented your website
    page and up to now? I surprised with the analysis you
    made to create this particular post extraordinary. Magnificent
    process!

  76. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  77. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for
    me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create
    your theme? Great work!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *