The best word that could be used to Kubo and the Two Strings is charming. Kubo and the Two Strings (Kubo from now on), which is the latest from Laika (the stop-motion animation studio behind Coraline and ParaNorman), tells the story of a young boy, the titular Kubo, a storyteller, with magic powers, and the quest he goes on to discover his family’s legacy and history.
Kubo is lovingly animated, filled with breathtaking visuals, taking full advantage of the stop motion medium to give us lovable characters in different shapes and sizes, from small origami figurines to giant monsters and everything in between. There’s a real art to Kubo’s design and visual style, a style that is wholly unique to Laika. The villainous witches who appear in the film are particularly memorable, with their wide-brim hats creating distinctive silhouettes that are unmistakably villainous.
The story of Kubo is a small, familial story, but simultaneously manages to feel like a far-reaching and epic quest, bringing in magical beings and companions along the way that accompany Kubo. The story is a familiar one, but has a touch of melancholy and darkness that we don’t typically see in a so-called “kid’s movie”. There’s a real understanding in Kubo of how to maintain appeal to children while simultaneously keeping the story fresh for adults.
Ultimately Kubo and the Two Strings is the type of film that has appeal to all audiences, and the type of film that children today will likely still recall when they’re old.