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I wouldn't have even heard of Okko's Inn, both the movie and the series, if I didn't lurk on Anime News Network on a regular basis. Curious, I decided to check the series out, since the movie hadn't been released yet. The TV series is cute enough, but ultimately rather generic. It was bogged down by a lot of filler, poorly written concepts and episodes, played things too safe, and it never seemed to know what it wanted to do. Now that I've seen the movie, I can proudly say that it's not only the better adaptation in that it pretty much fixes all of the TV series' flaws and more, but is one of the better kids movies to come out in recent years.
The animation is much brighter, more colorful, more fluid, and more refined than the series. In the show, some of the characters' faces when viewed from the side looked too round or too wonky. None of these issues were present in the movie. Not only that, the movie has a much stronger narrative, and by cutting out the pointless parts the series had and focusing solely on Okko dealing with her parents' deaths, which was merely glazed over in the series, and the Coming-of-Age Story that follows, it has a much tighter structure, never straying from its intended goal. It's still rather cliche, but by doing that and attempting realistic drama, the movie manages to stand on its own and as more than just an alternate continuity.
The characters are all fun and intriguing as well, and while Matsuki got shafted in terms of development in the movie, she was still decent. But the biggest improvement the movie made over the series was Okko's development as a whole. She was rather vanilla as a main character in the series, and it ignored any opportunities they had for developing her further. This is not the case for the movie: The creators went way out of their way to make Okko as realistic, engaging, and three-dimensional as they possibly could by focusing more on her plight and experiences rather than meandering around, and the end result is amazing, especially in the last third of the movie, which is a pretty huge Tear Jerker.
Personally, my only gripes are threefold: Again, Matsuki isn't as fleshed out as she was in the series. The soundtrack is much more obnoxious. I mean, the OST is fine for the Shinto dances, but the music tends to ruin genuinely good moments by blaring wind instruments and having them explode from the speakers, with the rotten cherry being the badly sung J-pop song that plays during the Shopping Montage. Was that really necessary? Finally, while I love the English dub, half the cast couldn't pronounce Harunoya correctly, and Matsuki's English actress seemed to overact at times, along with having some stilted lines and one scene that didn't make sense in translation.
But please, go watch this if you want to see a genuinely sweet, heartfelt, and engaging movie for kids. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
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