Set in a fabulous fantasy world, the lives of the virtually immortal Lorph are fine and content, as they weave their tapestries, there’s little to trouble them. Until that is they are attacked by another kingdom, looking for the secret of their longevity. Fifteen-year-old Maquia escapes the attack and ends up on Earth. All alone she comes across an orphan baby in the arms of his dead mother; she can’t just leave him and Maquia adopts him, naming him Erial.

Also, running alongside this is the continued hunt for Maquia by the other kingdom looking to consolidate their position. Also, despite the Lorph being scattered they do occasionally run into each other. Also, there are various other stories and inter-kingdom spats that clutter the overall narrative.

The core of the film, however is the relationship between Maquia and Erial, as they make their way through life. This is both metaphorical and literal as Maquia cannot stay in any place for longer than it takes to really settle, lest questions are raised about her, her son/companion. So, they are all but damned to wander experiencing life’s trials and tribulations.

This doesn’t trouble Erial until he starts to get older, and the complexity of their situation and relationship starts to become clear. Soon he's all too aware of the differences between them. It’s not just the advancement of time and the complications, it is also the terrible inevitability of their future which, while unspoken, underlies the story. Erial’s relationship with his mother frays and decisions have to be taken.

This is writer and director Mari Okada’s debut and it’s a fine one. The animation is beautiful; crystalline, gleaming, towering spires though also the grimness of cities and the violence of battle. It may be a little long and it has several endings. However, the story has a powerful emotional charge as Okada delves into the intricacies of love, commitment and loneliness. Maquia had been warned that to fall in love with a mortal would only leave her truly alone. This is a terrible burden to carry, which she does to an ending that is deeply moving, and ultimately uplifting.

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