Film Review – MY ONI GIRL (2024): A Cute Coming-of-age Story that Doesn’t Deliver SuperNayr

Kenshô Ono Miyu Tomita Shintarô Asanuma Noriko Hidaka My Oni Girl

My Oni Girl Review

My Oni Girl (2024) Film Review, a movie directed by Tomotaka Shibayama, written by Yûko Kakihara, Tomotaka Shibayama, and stars Kenshô Ono, Miyu Tomita, Shintarô Asanuma, Noriko Hidaka, Mitsuho Kambe, Hisako Kyôda, Satoshi Mikami, Shirô Saitô, Shôzô Sasaki, Tomoko Shiota, Miou Tanaka, and Aya Yamane.

My Oni Girl is a coming-of-age fantasy film from Tomotaka Shibayama about a boy named Hiiragi who forms a sweet friendship with Tsumugi, a self-expressive girl with a horn on her head. She is the aforementioned Oni, and has entered the human world on a mission to find her mother. Together, the two lead characters embark on a journey and, along the way, meet different people and create new experiences. It’s a sweet story with promising moments, but the malaise of our lead character and lack of any discernible character traits other than being a pushover aren’t enough to power this engine for its nearly two-hour runtime.

Hiiragi is a young teen; at school, he lends his homework to students so they can copy it before class. When a girl asks him to pretend to be her boyfriend so she can brag to her friends, he obliges and then apologizes to her when she claims he didn’t sell it enough. Hiiragi is not so much a nerd as he is a wimp, a wussy, and a pushover. That sounds downright mean, saying it about a young, vulnerable character, and he does have a redemption arc later in the movie, but Hiiragi was the weakest part of the film. Bumbling from scene to scene and apologizing his way through the film, I wanted to stand up and shout at my TV screen, “Stand up for yourself, Hiiragi!”

Things become more entertaining when Tsumugi enters the picture. Their relationship is hardly romantic but rather a tender friendship that kindles over time, leading to an eventual love story. Tsumugi likes Hiiragi because she can trust him, and he helps her out at the expense of his own life. What a loser. Hiiragi is also becoming an Oni himself, and Tsumugi is the only one who can see it.

Like many anime films today, My Oni Girl deals heavily with magical realism. Blending human lessons of respect and self-discovery with the other worldly elements of the Oni world and the masked snow god that chases Hiiragi and Tsumugi along on their journey. There is a lot to mine from the subtext of the film, but the problem lies in the text, or our lead character.

The art direction in the film is beautiful. It felt soft and poetic, and it reflected the underlying elements of the story nicely. I especially like the transitions between the different places Hiiragi and Tsumugi travel to. The sunsets, the streetlights, the snowfall. All threaded together to create a refreshing world that invited the viewer along on the journey.

It’s very much a story about “the journey is more important than the destination.” Think about Stand By Me, a film about four boys traveling miles in rural America to find the dead body of a fellow classmate. But what do we remember? The train tracks, the junkyard, and the tall tales around the campfire with your closest friends. It isn’t about where we are going; it’s about how we get there, and this is what spoke to me about My Oni Girl. By the time our characters arrived in the Oni world, I felt most uninterested. What I thought about was the little bed and breakfast that Hiiragi brought Tsumugi to when she fell ill or the tea shop owner who told them stories of where he traveled to when his wife was still alive. It’s the anecdotes and connections that drive the film, not Hiiragi’s heroism or lack thereof.

My Oni Girl is a fine watch, if not a meandering one. After the film ended, I found myself reflecting on the journey of our lead characters and smiling. Perhaps that was the point all along. I just wish I had enjoyed it more while the film was going on.

Rating: 5/10

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