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This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to Animation is Film and watching a really cute movie called Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko, which is based on the 2011 novel by the same name. Animation is Film is a festival in Los Angeles where they show anime films from all over the world.
It’s the latest feature film from director Ayumu Watanabe who also directed Children of the Sea and the series Space Brothers. It’s also the latest project from Studio 4°C, known for its stacked library of fantastic works like the surreal Mind Game.
So, right off the bat, this movie has a lot going for it studio-wise.
Cute Slice-of-Life Story
Despite it being named after one of the characters, Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko actually centers around Kikuko, an eleven-year-old girl who lives in a quiet port town. Nikuko is actually her mother, and she’s this loud, over-the-top boisterous woman who loves to eat. The movie is a slice-of-life piece, so it’s more about the daily lives of this mother and daughter duo and the events that transpire in Kikuko’s life.
So right off the bat, the plot in the movie is flimsy. Most slice-of-life anime don’t really have a central conflict that the characters have to overcome like an adventure movie does. It’s more about the vibe and emotional experiences that come with the movie.
I have mixed feelings when it comes to slice-of-life stories, as they can be boring if done wrong. But Lady Nikuko does the genre well and is a fun watch.
Kikuko and Nikuko are the stars of the show and they have this great dynamic between them. Like I said earlier, Nikuko is this loud and fun-loving mom who manages to embarrass her daughter every chance she gets. Kikuko is a lot more serious, anxious, and is basically the straight-man of the partnership. Kikuko having to be mature at 11-years-old leads to some genuinely hilarious moments in the story.
Just watched Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko and y’all gotta watch this movie, it was so good, I loved it to bits pic.twitter.com/uNuVJHNgiC
— DDDDAAAVVVVVVVEEEEEEEE!!!!!! (@scrotumnose) October 25, 2021
These two carry the movie from beginning to end and they have a lot of heartfelt moments. Especially near the end when some personal history is revealed to the audience. And also, the dialogue is fantastic. The kids in the film speak as they should in straightforward and short sentences; they’re shy, yet inquisitive.
The animation is fantastic as well. Studio 4°C pulls together stunning scenery and great character designs. They flex their creative muscle, having scenes of lush greenery referencing My Neighbor Totoro and a dream sequence set in a nightclub. The washed-out browns and neon lights invoke the loneliness the characters feel.
Nikuko loves Scotland ❤️ 🏴 Director Ayumu Watanabe sent us a little message after Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko won the Jury Award this year! pic.twitter.com/BtFzqNKdky
— Scotland Loves Anime (@lovesanimation) October 20, 2021
I will add one more negative thing and say that the characters do feel one-dimensional. They don’t really evolve through any major conflicts or change in any meaningful way. It feels like things just happen to these characters, but most of it doesn’t really matter outside of Nikuko and Kikuko.
But even so, I think that was the feeling they were going for. A sense of listlessness and loneliness when, sometimes, things just end. Either way, I still enjoyed this movie and if you get a chance to watch this, take it.
I give Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko a 7.5/10.