At the time of writing, Okko’s Inn has 100% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and 89% audience, after 40 votes.
I liked it too but forgot I was watching it at times. That’s because Okko’s Inn is so well crafted that it vanishes from your focus, like a door that fits into the doorway so snuggly you can’t even see it’s there. In this case, the intended shape that Okko’s Inn wants to fill isn’t a doorway, but the attention of kids. It’s based on the children’s novel of the same name.
I don’t want to say it doesn’t hold your attention, but that’s the risk it takes with its perfectly considered measurements and precise finish.
That’s also not to say that Okko’s Inn is like candy floss that vanishes as you try and consume it. This anime isn’t always sweet and fluffy. It remains kid-safe, but there are brushes with darkness; including the death of Okko’s parents in a car crash at the start. And ghosts.
The death of her parents leaves Okko in a bad place. So bad, in fact, she’s that bit closer to the world of the dead and can see ghosts. The first ghost she can see is the bucktooth friend of her gran, and it’s her gran who ends up looking after Okko.
Since the gran runs an Inn, Okko finds herself helping out. In fact, she’s nudged by the ghosts into volunteering for the assistant inn-keeper position. That’s a claim that adults find adorable but then use to make sure she works to earn her keep.
Enough of the adults already. The real stars of the show are the ghosts. They’re fun and delightfully unique. They’re perfect friends, imaginary or not, for a young girl who needs to distract her mind from a severe family tragedy.
The inn “rejects no one” and that feels like a timely and appropriate message to be introducing our young to as well. It’s not just the distracting ghosts that help Okko to return her attention fully back to the living world around her but acts of kindness and hospitality.
As my introduction suggested, Okko’s Inn is an easy watch. The odd thing is that while each scene is carefully lovely, every frame in the anime good enough to have as wall art, there’s no particular set-piece in the story that’s designed to leave a memory or an impression. As I said; Okko’s Inn is good at vanishing.
I have to wonder whether there was a deliberate intent to this. After the car crash, the whole animation passes like a dream, and then, once the healing is done, you have your full focus back.
On the whole, though, I think Okko’s Inn is just a fraction below Ghibli at his best. That’s high praise, but once again a sight of the shadow the for-kids animation world lives us.
Overall? Got anime-loving kids? Absolutely grab Okko’s Inn in time for the holidays or as a gift. A fan of storytelling made good? You owe yourself a copy of the animation.
Okko’s Inn went on sale in the UK this October, distributed by Manga UK. My copy was provided for review.
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