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Do you love Studio Ghibli films? Summer Days with Coo is not a Ghibli film, but it reminded me a lot of one. It’s a great family-friendly feature length anime that kids and adults can enjoy together.
It has a lot of cute characters and a heartwarming story. It’s pretty obscure with only 2,300ish “watched” on myanimelist and 600 watched on anime planet. Hopefully if you haven’t heard of it yet, this review will inspire you to check it out for yourself.
Title: Summer Days With Coo
Genre: Family / Fantasy Adventure
Release Date: 2007 (Japan) as far as I know as of the time of this review, it has still not been licensed in North America
Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
Where to Watch: If you know Japanese you can buy the DVD from Amazon here. Otherwise, you will have to find a torrent or watch it on an anime streaming site thanks to fansubs.
Story: 10/10 My Summer with Coo is a feature-length family film about a young “baby” Kappa. Kappas are mystical creatures in Japanese folktales which are thought to lure humans into the river to kill them. You can read more about Kappa here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kappa_(folklore) It’s really interesting, especially after having watched the movie.
It starts out about as tame/innocent as Totoro or other Ghibli films, but then it gets really dark. (Still family friendly though).
The movie begins hundreds of years before the events of the main story. Coo (the baby Kappa) is with his daddy in the river, when some drunken samurai come walking by. Kappa are curious in nature and when Coo’s father approaches the samurai, he startles them which provokes an attack. Coo is too young to survive on his own, and unable to return to his river.
He “Dries Up” and then our main story begins, when a young human boy in modern times uncovers his fossil one day on his way home from school. He takes the fossil home, and his family are surprised to discover it is a kappa. They nurse him back to health with food, water, and kindness. Kappas can speak Japanese, so Coo becomes a very close friend to everyone in the house.
Eventually, despite their efforts to hide Coo, it is discovered that the family is hosting a real Kappa. This draws much attention from the media and changes the lives of the family who begin to lose sight of what’s best for Coo.
Characters: 10/10 Coo (and Kappa in general) are what is referred to as Busukawaii or Ugly-Cute. This is a trend that’s gaining popularity the last few years in Japan. Something that’s so ugly, it’s actually kinda cute. I love all of the characters in this anime. Even the family’s pet dog has a really unique personality and big impact on the story and family and on Coo. It’s the characters and the look into their family that makes this anime so enjoyable that I’ve watched it 5 times now.
Graphics: 2/5 I’m not a fan of the character designs. I like more “anime” looking characters, big eyes, white dazzling skin, blue or pink hair, etc. lol. This is more like what I would think disney would do if it were to make a movie about Japan (very true-to-life looking characters, dark hair, dark skin, small eyes, etc). Coo is cute, but he’s also pretty ugly lol. Just kinda a hard movie to “watch” because it’s so out there and different from “mainstream” anime techniques.
Music: 5/5 I really love the music in this film. It ranges from peaceful, playful tracks reminding you of your summer vacations, to dark, depressing, or even aggressive sounding tracks when the mood of the film shifts later on in the story.
Voice Acting: 4/5 – Some of the voices didn’t seem to match the characters in my opinion, but the main characters all delivered their lines with a lot of emotion, and since it’s such an emotional rollercoaster of a film, the voice acting really aided with the immersion.
Overall: 38 / 45 84%