Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: Okko's Inn

GKIDS brings a complex and quietly beautiful work of Japanese animation to local screens.




Photo courtesy GKIDS
 

In “Okko’s Inn,” a charming work of animation from director Kitaro Kosaka, the titular junior innkeeper is a determined grade-school student. She’s learning the hospitality trade in a small lodging — we’d call it a B&B on this side of the Pacific — from her kindly grandmother, Mineko. She’s a quick study; we watch Okko charm and befriend a stylish fortune teller, bring a defiant teen out of his shell and invent a signature dish in the inn’s kitchen.

Why is Okko such a dedicated worker? A ghost insisted on it. Uribo, a mischievous spirit frequently found gently rotating in mid-air, was a boon companion to Mineko in childhood; he’s hung around the inn since. The innkeeper is approaching old age, however, and he knows she’ll need a protege. Okko fits the bill. There’s another ghost around, too: Miyo, the sibling of Okko’s bratty schoolhouse nemesis.

And why can Okko see ghosts? Her parents just died in a tragic car crash.

She was in the car, too, thrust through the windshield, only to land on the roof of another car, miraculously unharmed.

“Okko’s Inn” is about grief. It’s an undeniably moving and difficult tale, tracing Okko’s acceptance of death through dreams and visions of her late parents as well as her bond with Uribo and Miyo. There are parallels between the two pairs — Mom and Dad, Uribo and Miyo. It could be read that the loyal spirits are manifestations of Okko’s grief, the thing she must hang on to until she’s ready to let her parents go.

Yet that tale is mostly told in the space between scenes and sequences. The action of the film is that of the inn; navigating menu requests, cleaning the floors. Okko becomes a minor celebrity after a magazine article enumerates the inn’s charms, including the bright-eyed and attentive junior innkeeper.

Her small bit of fame shores up the hotel’s finances, making for a curious structure. There’s no conflict in the stories of the hotel, which the movie is about; the conflict exists in Okko’s struggle with grief, which the movie is not about. It’s a disarming and interesting way to tell a story, reminiscent of the indelible “My Neighbor Totoro,” which bears clear influence on “Okko’s Inn.” This film does not quite achieve the magic of the best Studio Ghibli masterpieces, but bears a similar easy — and very watchable — charm.

My Rating: 7/10

“Okko’s Inn” is making its area premiere as part of the Pittsburgh Japanese Film Festival. The festival, which takes place at Row House Cinema, opens March 29 and runs through April 11. Select local theaters will also host screenings of “Okko’s Inn” on April 22 and 23.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Sharing Knives Grows into Sharing Farms

For its third season, the collaborative dinner series at Ace Hotel will celebrate the region’s growers.

A Slice of Pizza Kept Sean McDowell Going in the Early Days

After 41 years in the business, the legendary rock DJ on WDVE has announced his retirement.

This New App Will Help You Track Upcoming Cicada Swarm

Follow Brood VIII, which is expected to have three species of periodical cicadas emerging from the soil as early as this month, on the Cicada Safari App.

Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2019

Our annual roundup of Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants covers a lot of ground. The list of 30 includes everything from fine dining at a resort hotel to a scrappy, farm-to-table breakfast and lunch counter in Bloomfield.

This Restless Pair are Pittsburgh Restaurateurs of the Year

Together, Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik of the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group form the Pittsburgh restaurant world's most dynamic duo.

Our 50 Years: The Best Restaurants of 1999

Twenty years later, nearly everything about our best restaurants list is different. But our picks for the best of 1999 hint at the great leap forward that was on the horizon.

How Pittsburgh's Homeless Teens Escape the Mean Streets

For homeless Youth, living on the street can end up being worse than what they’re running from. Gaining their trust and guiding them to safety is a long and painful process, but local agencies are making progress.

Announcing our Scenic Photo Contest Winner

There were 682 photos submitted to our Scenic Vistas photo contest, which ran during the month of April. Art Director Chuck Beard picked a winner and two runners-up.

Braddock Brewery Brew Gentlemen Turns Five

A deliberately slow fermentation has the young brewers primed for a big expansion.

Claudy Pierre is Non Stop

The owner of Arnold’s Tea spends his time connecting communities and working to empower a new generation of Pittsburghers.

Daytripping: Enjoy Comedy History 3 Hours from Pittsburgh

The national comedy center in Jamestown, N.Y. takes the whole comedy thing kinda seriously (just kidding)

Remembering Some of Mister Rogers' Famous Houseguests

A world renowned French pantomime artist, an astronaut, a TV news anchor and a beloved chef are among the notable visitors to Mister Rogers' neighborhood.

Perspectives: Call of the Wild

Award-winning journalist Sally Wiggin explains the evolving role of zoos, including the Pittsburgh zoo, to save endangered species from extinction.

Pirates’ First Quarter Record Defies Logic if Not Description

The 21-19 record the Bucs took to San Diego doesn’t add up given all they’ve had to overcome. Perhaps there’s more to this team than meets the eye.

The 400-Word Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum

Keanu Reeves returns, and Halle Berry arrives, as the action series broadens its scope.