Drifting Home 2022 Movie Review
January 26, 2023

Drifting Home 2022 Movie Review

Drifting Home
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Drifting Home 2022 Movie Review

Netflix’s animation slate hit rocky waters earlier this year. Due to a significant drop in subscribers, the streaming company not only laid off key staff but also cut some highly anticipated projects. Thankfully, this flood of troubling news was mitigated by ongoing collaborative efforts with third parties, the result of which being a few notable animated releases, including Drifting Home – an imaginative coming-of-age story set in an apartment complex gone adrift.

Directed by Hiroyasu Ishida and animated by Studio Colorido (Penguin Highway, A Whisker Away), Drifting Home follows the exploits of a group of sixth graders on summer vacation. Not content with club activities and bouts of Super Smash Bros., they decide to sneak into an abandoned apartment complex. Despite rumors of being haunted, thanks to weird sightings and the remnants of old tenants, the building seems ordinary enough – that is, until a mysterious event uproots the complex, placing it and its young visitors in the middle of the ocean.

Drifting Home’s initial conflict hinges on survival. Where the children struggle to cope with this strange predicament, their desire to return home is only eclipsed by the need to find food and water. What anchors the story thematically, though, are the relationships of the cast, most notably between estranged friends Kosuke (Mutsumi Tamura) and Natsume (Asami Seto). Their reluctance to work with one another is wrapped up in an inability to fully process a tragic event. Neither of them can properly articulate their pain and because they both have ties to the apartment complex turned makeshift boat, which acts as a constant reminder of life before the rift in their friendship, efforts to mend fences prove difficult.

It’s these communal bonds that really intrigue. Though the kids have embarked on a grand adventure of sorts, there isn’t much in the way of childlike wonder and exciting mishaps. Rather, the focus is on how the very nature of their relationships tend to manifest in both the literal and metaphorical sense. Delving into past grievances might cause some friction but not being able to let go and move on poses a greater risk. Essentially, instead of just offering a fantastical experience in a foreign “world,” Drifting Home depicts an unusual yet engaging journey through various aspects of grief. The end result is an inventive story that happens to be relatable on multiple levels.

The majority of Drifting Home’s runtime is devoted to its two leads, and we get to experience their growth in real time. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with much of the supporting cast. Two of the kids, Yuzuru Tachibana (Daiki Yamashita) and Taishi Koiwai (Yumiko Kobayashi), for instance, aren’t given much agency at all; both boys are definitely likable and do help in moving things along, but they don’t have much of a backstory of their own. They more or less act as tag-alongs. Haba Reina (Inori Minase) gets a few brief moments to reflect on some poor choices but her overall growth as a person is marred by a lack of screen time. The absence of any meaningful story threads for the supporting characters, despite the importance placed on their relationship with Natsume and Kosuke, leaves a lot to be desired.

This is a shame considering most everything else about Drifting Home works well. The voice acting is solid, the script is reflective of the character’s station in life, and the musical score suits the onscreen happenings well. Plus, the 2D animation is excellent. Besides a few mishaps story wise, Drifting Home proves to be a good film.

Netflix’s Drifting Home presents a harrowing experience for a group of young protagonists, but the going isn’t always tough – there are comedic and heartfelt moments worth cherishing, all of which feel earned. It’s a product of a decent script and solid voice work, not to mention the excellent animation from Studio Colorido. There’s plenty of melodrama (to be fair, the cast is made up of sixth graders) and some of the supporting characters are underdeveloped to a fault. Still, Drifting Home manages to entertain thanks to an imaginative telling of a relatable story.

Drifting Home 2022 Movie Review