If you fall in love, you will become truly alone."
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)
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:
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: 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.
- 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.
- Always a Child to Parent: What the teenage Ariel thinks of Maquia's treatment.
- Bait-and-Switch: 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.
- 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.
- 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 inevitability of losing Ariel and non-Iorphs she came to care for all in her lifetime. But on the other hand, 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": Not dragons, "Renato."
- 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.
- Coming-of-Age Story: One for both Maquia the parent and Ariel the child.
- 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 choose her daughter over him, which caused him to finally snap.
- Distant Finale: The film ends with Maquia visiting 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.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: And boy did Maquia and Ariel fight for it.
- 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.
- 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 the fact that female Iorph are not supposed to let their hair grow beyond a certain length unless 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.
- 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.
- 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, choose 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 20: It's actually fifteen for the Iorph, but still a straight case of the trope.
- Interspecies Adoption: Maquia, who's from a race of immortals, adopts Ariel, a human boy.
- 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.
- 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.
- Rape as Drama: Leillia, and possibly a few dozen other Iorph woman whose fates are not shown or unmentioned, including the Elder..
- MayflyDecember Friendship: The entire movie can be read as one from Maquia's perspective, whith the twist of "December" having been the one to raise "Mayfly".
- 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 seem disturbed at 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).
- Parental Incest: Averted.Maquias 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 employers 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 Ariels hidden feelings for his adoptive mother, even long before he realized it for himself years later when he reached puberty.
- Parental Substitute: Maquia choose 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.
- 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 the have access to a loom and there is a market for Hibiol.
- Society of Immortals: The long-living Iorph, so-called "Clan of Partings/Clan of the Seperated", 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- That Thing Is Not My Child!: Medmel to her father and grandfather.
- Theme Tune Cameo: In one scene, Maquia hums the melody from the main piece of background music.
- 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 Ariels 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.