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Movie Reviews

[Fantasia ’21] ‘Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko’ review: Stunning animation in coming of age story

A meaty watch.

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko is a beautiful anime from Studio 4°C. The story is about the titular mother and her daughter Kikuko. The two live in a houseboat docked in a small fishing village. As Kikuko begins to enter her teen years, her mother continues to make bad choices that affect them both. How long can Kikuko continue to take the embarrassment that comes with her mother? 

The animation is stunning. The characters all have a great look to them. Everyone moves with a fluidity that is hard to find in the best animation. This has the effect of drawing audiences into Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko. There are not just cartoons, but actual people. The world is also gorgeously rendered. They manage to draw the eye of anyone watching without overpowering any of the scenes.

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The titular character will draw much of the film’s ire. The vast majority of the jokes (and the marketing) center around food and how big Nikuko is. It is not so surprising when Japan’s culture of shame is taken into account. What is surprising is that this is supposed to a coming of age movie about the bond between a mother and daughter. In this type of story, the heavy jokes continue until a lesson is learned. That never quite happens here.

That may be the biggest issue of Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko. The animation is stunning and the animation is stunning. There is even some great interactions between many of the characters. The plot is very weak. Aside from a series of fat jokes, there is not much to the story. It is a series of slice of life moments that are sweet but also never come together in one defined story.

The Fantasia Film Festival takes place in person and online from August 5 – August 25

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