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"You cannot fall in love with someone from the outside.
If you fall in love, you will become truly alone."
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The above was told by clan elder Rachine to the lonely Maquia, a 15-year-old girl born to the Iorph tribe, those who while away their days weaving their reclusive near-eternal life into Hibiol fabric. But that very night, troopers from Mezarte Empire attack the village with their legendary Renato dragons, seeking the way to attain immortality. Maquia is separated from her home, her one-sided love Krim and her friend Leillia among many others, before finding an infant boy who lost his parents in a nearby forest. Overcome by her loneliness, she chooses to adopt Ariel as her son, setting off a generation-spanning saga between a girl who never ages and a boy who will continually grow up; a story that teaches what relationship means in a world where nothing lasts forever.

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (or Sayonara no Asa ni Yakusoku no Hana o Kazarō, lit. "Let's Decorate the Promised Flowers in the Morning of Farewells") is an animated Japanese Low Fantasy film and directorial debut of Mari Okada (a veteran anime screenwriter, mainly of Anohana The Flower We Saw That Day fame). Produced by P.A. Works (in their first feature-length film production ever) and featuring character design from Akihiko Yoshida (Final Fantasy XII, NieR Automata), Yuriko Ishii as chief animation director alongside music from Kenji Kawai (Ghost in the Shell animated film, Fate/Stay Night 2006 series, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and metric load of other prolific works)

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With that kind of story and production staff, expect waterworks.

One of the biggest surprises of 2018, the film is distributed by Showgate and first premiered in Japan on February 24, 2018 as a general release and outside Japan on March 4, 2018 at the Glasgow Film Festival.


The film provides examples of:

  • All for Nothing:
    • Mezarte's quest for immortality ends up losing against time as Leillia fails to turn up with a 'useful' heir and the Renatos die out, right around the time allied neighboring nations start attacking the empire in retribution for what they've done in the past.
    • Krim's determination to free his love interest Leillia and bring back their old life costs him the death of many Iorph co-conspirators, loss of respect from Maquia and indirectly his own life. Even though Leillia left Mezarte in the end, she picked being able to see her own daughter over a life with Krim.
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  • Always a Child to Parent: What the teenage Ariel thinks of Maquia's treatment.
  • An Aesop:
    • Sometimes letting someone go is the truest act of love.
    • Being a good parent is full of pain and hardships, but it's worth it.
    • People change with time, both physically and mentally. And it's important to acknowledge this fact and move on.
    • The Power of Love and how it can withstand the test of time.
  • Baby's First Words: Maquia is overjoyed when Ariel says "mama" for the first time.
  • Bayonet Ya: The Final Battle is fought with bayonets. One supposedly kills Ariel.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Barlow has one hell of a timing when multiple Mezarte soldiers arrive in an alley to stop Maquia from taking Leillia back in the first half of the story.
    • Izol of all people gets one. See Villainous Rescue entry below.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: While Dita gives birth to their child, Ariel supposedly dies in battle.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The film does not play nice with its casts' lives. Krim is killed, dying cold and alone unable to attain the love of his life. Leillia is finally set free, but at the cost of terrible lifelong trauma and leaving behind her daughter who barely got to see her even for just a passing moment. Maquia herself is faced with the inevitability of losing Ariel and non-Iorphs she came to care for all in her lifetime. But on the other hand, the oppressive Mezarte eventually loses its power against neighboring nations, Iorph clan members eventually return to their home and rebuild their lives together, Ariel goes on to have a proper family of his own and Barlow assures Maquia that partings aren't all that bad, implying that there's much more to look forward to in the future.
  • Bookends: Maquia's first meeting with Ariel was when the latter was a newborn infant, holding on to her hand. By the end of the movie, Maquia's last meeting with Ariel is when the latter is now an aged man, holding on to her hand as he passes away.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": A fantasy folklore variant. "Renato" are basically dragons, and the golden-haired, immortal Iorphs living isolated in their pristine city might as well be Elves.
  • Central Theme: Parenthood. Particularly, motherhood.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Knowing that Dita once teased Ariel back in childhood and never got the chance to apologize for it, the last thing anybody expected is Ariel coming back to settle down and start a family with her.
  • Close to Home: When Anora dies, Mido reminds her kids that a dog's life is shorter than a human's which makes Maquia tear up and run away because she is reminded of how she will have to outlive Ariel and the rest of her new-found family.
  • Coming of Age Story: One for both Maquia the parent and Ariel the child.
  • Contrived Coincidence: During the battle, Maquia comes across Dita who turns out to be the wife of her son.
  • Declaration of Protection: Ariel repeatedly promises to protect Maquia. After the Final Battle, she notes that he succeeded.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Two of them:
    • Lang, who was rejected by Maquia when he suggested living together. However, Lang remains supportive to Maquia and by extension Ariel for the rest of his life.
    • Krim, who has to endure the knowledge that his lover Leillia is practically raped and imprisoned by Mezarte. By the end of it, Leilla chooses her daughter over him, which caused him to finally snap.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: In one scene, Maquia hums the melody from the main piece of background music.
  • Distant Finale: The film ends with Maquia visiting the now utterly old Ariel (who went on to have a granddaughter) on what is possibly his deathbed for the last time.
  • Doomed Hometown: Maquia's Iorph hometown. However, The Stinger reveals that it is largely intact enough for the surviving Iorph to rebuild.
  • Dye or Die: Maquia is forced to change her hair color to brown in order to hide her heritage.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And boy did Maquia and Ariel fight for it.
  • Empathic Environment: It starts raining when little Ariel runs away from home and Maquia is looking for him in the city.
  • End of an Age: One of the running themes.
    • Maquia gets to experience generations of non-Iorph passing away before herself.
    • The story explores the changing way of life forced upon by external circumstances. Traditional rural life starts giving way to a more industrialized society. The Iorph became separated and Maquia, Leillia and Krim coped with the present differently.
    • There are less than a dozen Renato (dragon) left in Mezarte's control, and those still living are actively dying out. This causes Mezarte's king to become even more desperate for anything to prolong the empire's power. Come the ending and it's clear that all Renato will die and old Mezarte will give way to a new kingdom no matter what.
  • Flirtatious Smack on the Ass: Maquia gets a slap on her behind by a patron at the inn where she is working as a waitress.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The random wanderer Maquia meets right after finding Ariel has suspiciously detailed knowledge of the Iorph, even knowing her name and recognizing her as someone close to the tribe's elder. He shows up again later and reveals that he's half-Iorph, and is heavily implied but not outright stated to be The Elder's son by a human man.
    • Krim reacts negatively to Ariel calling Maquia his mother, and much later insists on cutting Maquia's Rapunzel Hair due to the fact that female Iorph are not supposed to let their hair grow beyond a certain length unless they have had a child. His denial of mother-child bonds doesn't work well for his plan to save Leillia near the end of the movie.
  • Freak Out: Maquia has once after she realizes that she has been separated from her hometown possibly forever.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: Maquia likes to do this with Ariel when he was little.
  • Generational Saga: The film has a shade of this, as it follows Maquia and Ariel through the stages of life.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: The movie takes place over the course of several decades. This was essentially inevitable to ensure that characters would even be remotely recognizable across the numerous time skips.
    • Most notably with grown-up Dita who has the same beads in her hair as when she was a little kid which helps the audience to make the connection to her earlier appearance.
  • Hand on Womb: A recurring sign of pregnancy.
    • First, Leillia lets Maquia touch her belly to make her understand why she chooses to stay.
    • Later, Dita touches her pregnant belly in worry when the battle breaks out.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Maquia's hometown is secluded behind mountains that seemingly only Renatos can cross.
  • I Choose to Stay:
    • A variant of this occurred near halfway point when Maquia rejects Lang's offer to come live with him in a farm, wanting to stay together with Ariel.
    • Leillia, despite her tomboy personality and the fact that she was practically raped and imprisoned for years, chooses to not escape Mezarte with Krim in the end because of her wish to see her daughter who she hadn't even got a chance to see since her birth. This eventually sends Krim off the edge.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: It's actually fifteen for the Iorph, but still a straight case of the trope.
  • Instant Birth: Just Add Labor!: The water breaking indicates Dita being close to delivering her baby.
  • Interspecies Adoption: Maquia, who's from a race of immortals, adopts Ariel, a human boy.
  • Intimate Hair Brushing: Krim brushes Maquia's hair before cutting it shorter.
  • Ironic Echo: "Wimp." Leillia made fun of Maquia's Shrinking Violet tendencies in the beginning. Turns out Maquia braved far more hardship on her own volition while Leillia didn't even attempt to get out of captivity many times when opportunities presented theselves.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The kids, including Dita, tease Ariel about his "weird" mom and how he still calls her "mommy". Dita later regrets her childish behavior.
  • Last of His Kind: By the end, only one Renato remains, and it too may succumb to the "red-eye" illness eventually. Subverted for the Iorph—Maquia appears to be the Sole Survivor of her village at first, but it turns out many of them survived (and only a few of them die later in the story), and half-Iorphs like Barlow turn up in the outside world.
  • Living Forever is No Big Deal: At least, that's what Barlow seems to think, being a half-Iorph himself.
  • Lost Pet Grievance: When Anora dies, the kids grieve during the burial.
  • Maternity Crisis: Despite what Ariel says about still having time, Dita goes into labor as soon as the battle starts which leaves her to handle the matter on her own. Until Maquia comes along.
  • Mayfly–December Friendship: The entire movie can be read as one from Maquia's perspective, with the twist of "December" having been the one to raise "Mayfly".
  • Murder-Suicide: Krim attempts this with Lelia in the climax. He gets it In the Back before being able to go through with it.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Izol, a Mezarte general who works for the empire despite knowing fully well what his country has inflicted on the others, and seems disturbed at the abuse Leilla has to endure.
  • Never Trust a Title: Subtitle, technically. The English and Japanese versions are somewhat different, but both talk about a "promised flower," and the main plot involves nothing of the sort. A scene near the beginning implies the Iorph have some sort of flower-based romantic ritual, but this never comes up again. It may just be a reference to Anohana (which also doesn't have a whole lot to do with the flower its title mentions).
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Played for Drama. Both the promotional art and the opening scenes (discussion of love and loneliness, leading up to two side characters apparently becoming a couple) imply the story will be a romance, but it focuses primarily on motherhood. The only significant romantic subplot is between Ariel and Dita, after they're both grown up. Lang vaguely offers to marry Maquia, but she turns him down; Leillia's non-consensual marriage falls apart quickly, and she ultimately decides she cares more about her daughter than her somewhat loony original love interest.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: When talking to Izol, Leillia notes how she and the Renatos are the same. Both are capable of flying away but choose to stay and both of them are Too Good for This Sinful Earth:
    "The Renato and I are the same. We're vapors, things only meant to exist and live in memory. The clan that flew the skies, flowers that sung at day break, they were not meant for this world."
  • Parental Incest: Averted. Maquia's own unchanging beauty causes Ariel to eventually develop an actual Oedipus Complex towards her by the time he comes of age in his adolescence. This is what ultimately drives them apart, in 2 stages: Ariel initially tries to shut down his own feelings for Maquia because they fundamentally disturb him (especially since their own Co-workers mistake them for just another teenage couple) by gradually distancing himself from her. Later, things come to a head when the stress of such a struggle finally becomes too much for him and he gets fully drunk for the first time in his life at their employer's bar one night. Upon arriving home, Maquia is shocked at his state and she confronts him over his long-growing distance from her. Ariel responds by clumsily attempting to take their status quo to the next level by making a pass at her when he tries to kiss her. She rejects his romantic advances straight-out by literally slapping him down. This is what makes him decide the very next morning to move away from her and find work as a soldier in the capital. He finally manages to get over his romantic feelings for her — his familial feelings for her still remain intact — but only years later when he is already married to Dita, who is pregnant with their child. To top it all off, Dita reveals to Ariel right before their kid is born that the reason why she bullied him when they were prepubescent children over his "liking his own Mom too much" was because she was always secretly in love with him herself and was thus always jealous of Maquia as she was also always aware of Ariel's hidden feelings for his adoptive mother, even long before he realized it for himself years later when he reached puberty.
  • Parental Substitute: Maquia chooses to be one for Ariel.
  • People of Hair Color: The Iorph present a very narrow range of shades of blonde, making Dye or Die a valid strategy for hiding among ordinary humans.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Maquia cries "please don't go" after Ariel leaves her to join the city guards.
  • Plot Parallel: Outside of Maquia and Ariel, there is also a parallel between Maquia and Leillia's stories, with motherhood being the focus of comparison.
  • Public Secret Message: The system used to write words into Hibiol fabric is known only of the Iorph and those taught by them, so any hiding Iorph who wishes to get information out to other survivors can pull this off as long as they have access to a loom and there is a market for Hibiol.
  • Rape as Drama: Leillia, and possibly a few dozen other Iorph women whose fates are not shown or unmentioned, including the Elder..
  • Really Dead Montage: To cement the tragedy of the experience, we get a whole clip's worth of memories of Ariel's development up to his separation with Maquia just after he dies of old age.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Renatos go rogue at the onset of a "red-eye" illness.
  • Screaming Birth: The act of Dita giving birth to her and Ariel's child comes with a lot of pain and screaming.
  • Society of Immortals: The long-living Iorph, so-called "Clan of Partings/Clan of the Separated", whose body virtually stops aging when they reach teen age. They do not appear to be entirely ageless, just extremely long-lived and slow to mature. Racine, the "Elder" of the tribe and supposedly at least 400 years older than Maquia, is significantly taller, curvier, and has a deeper voice than all the other Iorphs including the males. Half-Iorph children seem to depend on which parent they take after more, rather than being an even split between the traits of both species. Medmel is stated to lack all the classic outward characteristics of Iorphs, but because the Iorph grow and age like humans until their teenage years, there is no way the ministers and officials could possibly have known how long she would live when still just a little girl. At the climax of the film she does indeed look suspiciously youthful for a grown woman in her early 20s, but this may have been simply a side effect of the anime art style. Contrasted to this is Barlow, who describes himself as more or less Half-Iorph and is heavily implied to be the son of The Elder. More overtly Iorph physically, he still appears older than characters such as Krim or the nameless male Iorphs near the beginning. While not significantly changed at the end of the film from the beginning, his much longer hair (including a beard, when no Iorph males are seen to have facial hair) and slightly darker skin might imply that he has "aged" over the course of the last 70+ years more so than the fully Iorph Maquia, who looks completely identical.
  • The Stinger: In the form of an "end card" image, showing Maquia, Leillia, the last Renato, and a few other Iorph back in their homeland.
  • Suicidal "Gotcha!": Leillia throwing herself from the tower at the end to the shock of her onlooking daughter. Moments later she reemerges on the back of the last Renato. It's left ambigious as to how much she knew of this saving grace.
  • Super Breeding Program: Mezarte captures many Iorph women with the purpose of having them bear immortal children for the kingdom's men.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: Both Maquia and Leilla who still look fifteen as immortals while their children look older than them.
    • Maquia gets mistaken for this while passing as both a non-Iorph and Ariel's mother. This is the subject Dita and the village boys use to bully Ariel in his childhood. As Ariel gets older, Maquia has to start telling people she's his sister.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Using your unborn baby as a hostage is a sure-fire justification for the government to prevent you from ever seeing your baby after it was born.
  • Symbolism: The turning wheels of the city's watermills look like giant ticking clocks symbolizing the time ticking away on beloved characters of Maquia's.
  • Tempting Fate: Early on, the village elder warns Maquia to never fall in love because of the consequences of a Mayfly–December Friendship. Guess what happens right after Maquia gets separated from her tribe?
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Weaving clothes is the trade of female Iorphs.
  • That Thing is Not My Child!: Medmel was conceived as an attempt to create an immortal half-Iorph child to inherit the throne. But she ended up a. being a girl, while the king wanted a boy and b. not inheriting any of the Iorphan traits of her mother, making her little more than a burden to her father's family on top of being only half-human. She's despised by them because of it, and isn't even allowed to see her mother.
  • Villainous Rescue: Izol shows up just in time to fatally shoot Krim just as he is about to burn both himself and Leilla to death.
  • Wife Husbandry: Gender-swapped and subverted. Ariel gradually develops romantic feelings for his adoptive mother Maquia but her own feelings for him still always remain just platonic only, and her rejection of his romantic advances towards her is what ultimately drives them apart for over a decade until they manage to reconcile when through a series of fortuitous coincidences, she ends up being the midwife to the birth of Ariel's own child with literally the Girl Next Door who ironically teased him when they were kids because she was jealous of his crush/obsession on his own adoptive mother.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Both Ariel and Maquia deliver a pep talk to each other when they meet after the battle.

 
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Death & Birth montage

While Dita gives birth to their child, Erial dies (supposedly) in battle

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