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The Deer King2022.

Directed by Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji.
Featuring the vocal talents of Shinichi Tsutsumi, Ryoma Takeuchi, Anne Watanabe, Hisui Kimura, Atsushi Abe, Yoshito Yasuhara, Toru Sakurai, Shinshu Fuji, Tomomichi Nishimura and Tesshou Genda.

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SUMMARY:

The last survivor of a group of warriors is enslaved in a salt mine. One night, wild dogs attack and a mysterious disease wipes out everyone in the mine. The warrior escapes with a little girl while a gifted doctor searches for a cure.

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There’s a lot of world building in there The Deer King, much of this at the expense of the vital bond at the heart of the animated feature. The story, co-directed by Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji (along with screenwriter Taku Kishimoto), is set in a fantastical setting involving two warring kingdoms who eventually agreed on a truce because one side (Zol ) was mysteriously unaffected by a global disease. Whether it was just the Aquafa defending themselves against taking over more land remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say the script bogged down in the specifics of these rulers and the specifics of the story.

Elsewhere, a warrior from another faction, The Lone Antlers, is employed in harsh physical conditions in a salt mine. One day apparently rabid dogs attack everyone leaving them bloody and tattered and dead (which is a little unnerving considering the film’s distributor is GKIDS, but I suppose the gist of the film and the messages are family friendly enough ). Meanwhile, the aforementioned van is unaffected and appears to be escaping the Mangle with spiritual powers. He also takes care of a terrified young girl who flees and travels together.

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A doctor is also called in to assess the damage and find out what the hell is causing it. He also turns out to be the most interesting character here, as he isn’t allied with the Aquafa or the Zols. His work is based on science and finding answers. Whether anyone believes the conclusions they reach is up to them. Of course, once he gets wind that Van not only survives but is also immune to the disease (which I think is unique given that he’s not technically Aquafa?), a tracker is hired to locate him and bring him back since his blood holds the answers. Not surprisingly, the heartless pursuer will learn a thing or two about right and wrong.

Along with the non-stop world-building jargon and backstory, we also see the Aquafa leaders plotting against the Zols (btw, it’s impossible to get over the fact that a kingdom whose name is derived from the word “Aqua” is written red as uses her signature color while the conquering villains are decked out in blue). None of this is convincing and continues to detract from the story of Van, a warrior still shattered by a great tragedy who has found a new life taking care of a little girl. The story is so focused on everything else that there is little connection between the two.

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What remains is a tale devoid of wonder and charm; It’s a bootleg from Studio Ghibli. Even The Deer KingThe emotional high points of feel cliche and empty. The cast voice actors try their best and the film is bearable, but there’s nothing short of revamped ideas that you can find better executed just about anywhere.

Flickering Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow mine Twitter or letterboxd or email me at [email protected]

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