An orphaned girl finds purpose when she goes to live with her grandmother, the aging innkeeper of a small spa in a country vacation town known for the healing waters of its natural springs, in the lively animated feature Okko’s Inn (Japan, 2018).
Okko, an urban girl who loses her parents in a devastating car wreck, struggles with her grief and resists her new situation, but she finds unexpected help from a pair of child ghosts: Uribo, a playful boy who watches over Okko’s grandmother, and Akino, the sister of Okko’s rival.
Adapted from a series of children’s novels, Okko’s Inn is a simple story that delves into heavy emotions—loss, grief, anxiety—with both seriousness and playfulness. She’s encouraged to help her grandmother as the Junior Innkeeper and finds both satisfaction and purpose in helping the patrons who come to the inn, as well as important life lessons in humility and compassion. Along the way, she gathers the strength to heal and stand on her own.
If that sounds heavy, it’s directed with a light touch by Kitaro Kosaka, a former animator for Hayao Miyazaki at Studio Ghibli. He brings a colorful cast of characters to her odyssey and a fleet pace to the storytelling, dropping in bits of animated slapstick as well as delicate moments of satisfaction, joy, and triumph. And the film’s moral, embodied in grandmother’s motto “accept all, reject none,” is positive without becoming cloying.
Rated PG, with original Japanese and English language soundtracks and optional subtitles
The Blu-ray+DVD combo pack from Shout! Factory offers Japanese and English soundtracks and subtitles, and it includes interviews and a filmmaker Q&A.