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Okko's Inn


Stars: Voices: Madigan Kacmar, Courtney Chu, K J Aikens, Glynis Bell, Brittany Cox, James Weaver Clark, Carly Williams, Colleen O'Shaughnessey

Director: Kitaro Kosaka

Your average multiplex manager is hardly likely to have even heard of this delightful Japanese animated fantasy, ideally suited to older primary school kids, but if you do get the chance, it's well worth seeking out - and you will quickly succumb to its unvarnished charm.

Okko (voiced by Kacmar in the English-language version and pronounced Oak-o) is a 12-year-old girl - the character as drawn seems younger - who miraculously survives the horrendous car crash at the start of the film that kills her parents.

She goes to live with her grandmother (Bell) at a picturesque inn (where 'all are welcome') in a leafy suburb of Hananoyu, close by famous hot springs noted for their healing properties.

Understandably still grieving, and indulging in fantasy conversations with her lost parents, Okko is at first all fingers and thumbs as she attempts to become a 'junior innkeeper'. But, in the film's central premise, she, like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, learns that she can see dead people. A series of mischievous young ghosts to be precise - who help her on her way to acceptance of her new life without forgetting the old.

The film possesses something of the charm, heart and appeal, if not quite the depth of Kubo and the Two Strings; and its animation, though bold, is fairly basic - which does kind of suit the story. Simple, yet meaningful, the trip to Okko's Inn provides an experience to remember.

David Quinlan

Japan 2018. UK Distributor: National Amusements. Colour (unspecified).
94 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 17 Jul 2019