Based on the novel of the same name, Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko is another indie feather in the cap of GKIDS and Shout! Factory.
“Brash single mother Nikuko is well-known for her bold spirit, much to the embarrassment of Kikuko, her pensive yet imaginative daughter. In contrast to her mother, Kikuko wants nothing more than to fit in as she navigates the everyday social dramas of middle school. Life in the harbor is peaceful until a shocking revelation from the past threatens to uproot the pair’s tender relationship.”
Yet again, eastern creators show up just how stale and predictable American filmmaking has become and while Disney’s latest critical success is trumpeted from the rooftops, fantastic films like this continue to find favor with critics and viewers alike. Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko is a quirky film that tells a story and is a refreshing change from films that merely document a quest. Centre stage is of course, Nikuko herself. A somewhat tragic, yet irrepressible character; her boundless optimism in the face of adversity contrasts starkly with her daughter Kikuko who is neither as jovial, or as optimistic, yet is perhaps the real adult in the relationship. Their bifurcated relationship is nonetheless strong made with a unique mother-daughter bond.
The story meanders and at one point I was left wondering where things were going but by the end I realised that it’s less about where things are going and more about where they’ve been.
The animation is lively, and watching this film on a full stomach is required lest the stunning depictions of food overwhelm your experience. Pixar spent however many millions in an attempt to create appealing CGI food in Ratatouille and a traditionally animated film like this comes along and proves it was all in vain.
The only shortcoming is to be found in the writing; it’s serviceable but doesn’t do the story or the characters the justice they deserve.
Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko is primarily a retrospective film and how the various episodes and choices in life invariably lead us to places we never anticipated. One wishes that more western animated films could be as bold.
Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko is available on Blu-Ray DVD combo from Shout! Factory now.