Wolfwalkers ★★★★

As if we needed any reassurance, WOLFWALKERS further solidifies Cartoon Saloon's stake as one of the most exciting animation studios in the world. It's a bright and bold adventure, and very likely the studio's most experimental film yet, at least in terms of its visual aesthetic. Instead of THE BREADWINNER's sharp, clean lines, WOLF's characters are composed like loose bristly sketches which - combined with the film's smudgy watercolor backgrounds - creates not only a flowing expressionism that reminded me of films like THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA and THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES, but maybe the coziest animated atmosphere since FANTASTIC MR. FOX.

Thematically, it's closest to THE SECRET OF KELLS although there's some heavy influence from Miyazaki's PRINCESS MONONOKE. Although it doesn't quite have the ambiguity that helped make the latter so compelling (particularly in the way that so few of Miyazaki's characters, Lady Eboshi especially, fit into straightforward hero and villain molds), its characters are clear and precise, and if nothing else, the film makes up for it in sheer visual imagination.