Studio Colorido’s Drifting Home: Unmysterious mystery meets clichéd characters [Review]

Drifting Home’s MCs Kosuke and Natsume (front) and Noppo (background). Pic credit: Studio Colorido

Studio Colorido’s latest anime film Drifting Home (雨を告げる漂流団地, Ame wo Tsugeru Hyōryū Danchi) premiered on Netflix on September 16, 2022. Many anime buffs were looking forward to the release, their eagerness riding on high expectations.

It’s fair to say that Colorido did more than decent work on their previous releases, notably on A Whisker Away, which — albeit not being overly original in its premise— still pulls at the heartstrings. The quality of the animation is satisfactory, the sentiment easily relatable, the soundtrack emotional.

Each element complements the other two perfectly, painting an idyllic image of what would otherwise have come down to a typical “shōjo meets Alice in Wonderland” kind of story… the leitmotif of way too many anime.

What’s more, the elements of surprise and suspense are perfectly balanced out. Managing to seamlessly pass such a demanding plot as the ordinary course of events is true mastery… Obviously, there’s more to Studio Colorido than meets the eye.

Instant gratification fails

It’s no wonder, then, that many fans expected that Drifting Home would present them with a similar sense of instant gratification.

It tried… and failed… miserably.

There’s that thing about expectations: if they fail to deliver, you’ll be disappointed. Fortunately, I learned a long time ago that having no expectations whatsoever is the only path to happiness. Hence, the fact that Drifting Home has nothing special to offer doesn’t make me disappointed.

In all honesty, the film isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just that it’s undeserving of Studio Colorido’s reputation. I imagine a 10-year-old looking for a tear-jerker might find it stunning, but for experienced anime fans, it’s just another film with an interesting premise that trails off to a cliché.

With a 2-hour-long running time, Ame wo Tsugeru could have been… no, should have been more genuine. While it’s true that some of the characters may pass as likable, stereotypes run rampant nevertheless.

The Drifting Home plot leaves much to be desired [Spoilers ahead]

Plotwise, the two main characters or MCs, Kosuke (Kōsuke) and Natsume, are childhood friends with certain misunderstandings. Nothing new there. Reina, a spoiled girl with a crush on Kosuke who never misses a chance to spit on Natsume out of unfounded jealousy can be so annoying at times that her actions are more likely to drive younger viewers to unspeakable fits of violence than to sympathy. The other kids (friends of the MCs’) serve as a comic relief, producing an occasional witty remark.

The group finds itself stuck in an old building — Kosuke’s and Natsume’s former home — which, true to the anime’s title, goes adrift… quite literally.

So far, so good. Reconciliation is likely to follow; we’ve seen it many times in anime.

Sadly, at this point, things begin to turn messy. A mysterious character, Noppo, whose original purpose was no doubt intended to enlighten the audience, is so artificially peculiar that even the 10-year-old mentioned above would have no difficulties guessing at his true origins.  

By the end of the dragged-out drama, Kosuke, Natsume, and Reina come to the expected conclusions and the story comes to the expected end (nothing unexpected happens meanwhile, in case you’re wondering).

Kind of reminds me of Murakami’s overrated novel “South of the Border, West of the Sun,” which cites “mystery” to cover up for the lazy plot.  

An ignoratio elenchi at its finest.

In conclusion, if you’re intending to watch Drifting Home in hopes of experiencing Studio Colorido’s trademark creativity anew, better skip it.

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