The role-playing action/fantasy video game “NiNoKuni” earns an amusingly nonsensical screen “origin story,” thanks to Netflix.
It’s faithful enough to the game — one supposes — to merit the interest of fans, and as it was directed by a “Spirited Away” animator, it has anime bonafides that might warrant the attention of genre fans.
As a stand-alone movie, it’s both representative of the genre-medium, and a bit of a shrug. All anime is not created equal, and this derivative cosplay-oriented eye-candy is a “meh” of a movie.
Three friends in Tokyo get tangled up in the interrelationship between two worlds.
School jock Haru and winsome Kotona are teen sweethearts. Yu, confined to a wheelchair since childhood, can only pine for her.
Then a mysterious, masked red-eyed wraith stalks her and stabs Kotona. Yu and Haru, trying to save her, are whisked — in a moment of peril — into this other world of dog men and dragons and elvish pole dancers (Hah!), magic daggers and translucent flying boats and giant edible mosquitoes.
“It must be a dream, right?” “Some kind of high tech theme park?”
But “It’s too real for cosplay!”
The lads try to save the Kotona look-alike, Princess Astrid. Only Yu can prevent Princess Deaths by Curse. Apparently.
He can walk in this world, and the princess is ever-so-grateful. Get that girl into a swimsuit! You know, for the magic “spell-blocking” dance in the water. Totally logical and justified.
The guys bounce back and forth between the worlds, contending with every fresh threat to Kotona or the princess as they do.
And in the fantasy world, a war is coming and anybody over the age of six will spot who the enemy spy is in the Magic Kingdom.
There isn’t much to this nonsensical “game” movie for adults, but as Netflix “originals” go, some effort was made and it’s passable background video noise or a suitable mobile device distraction for the kids if you’re waiting for a plane.
But nothing more.
MPAA Rating: TV-14, action violence
Voice Cast: Depends on which language you watch it in.
Directed by Yoshiyuki Momose, script by Akihiro Hino. A Warner Brothers/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:46