By Haley Albin
Focus Features and Laika have teamed up to release a brand-new animated summer film. “Kubo and the Two Strings.“ The film tells the story about a young boy named Kubo, who is the son of a legendary and powerful samurai. Kubo’s normal everyday life consists of reciting stories of his late father to his home village. But when an old spirit comes along to repay a vendetta, Kubo’s life completely turns upside down. With only his magical shamisen in tow, Kubo must fight off evil gods and monsters for survival and to claim his legacy.
It is very exciting to see an upcoming movie about samurai and historical Japan, which is very rare to see in animated films. After seeing countless advertisements for upcoming superhero films, seeing a trailer about a hero not wearing spandex immediately peaks my interest. Besides the samurai element, it seems like many other hints of Japanese cultural references will be tied into the film such as the shamisen.
However, what irks me the most about the movie is the casting. Even though it is a story centering in Japan, Kubo’s voice actor, Art Parkinson is not of Japanese Descent. Neither are Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, and Ralph Fiennes, the other voice actors in the film. In fact, the only voice actors of Japanese descent are George Takei and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who are part of the supporting cast. Asian representation still seems to be a difficulty in the U.S. film industry. But nonetheless, it is better to look at future film release from an overall stance rather than picking at the nitty-gritty.
“Kubo and the Two Strings” is set to hit theaters on August 19, 2016.