a.k.a. Yunkaasu Kamu Hia
Nozawa Hiromi is an elementary school student with a dog named Junkers. Junkers is loyal, obedient and… he can talk. Hiromi’s mother helps manage a busy hotel, and her father is often overseas for his own job, so they rarely see their daughter. Hiromi spends most of her days with her nanny and her tutor, but Junkers is the only one Hiromi truly shares her feelings with. When problems between her parents seem to get worse and worse, Junkers tells a distressed Hiromi that he can make miracles happen. Can Junkers make Hiromi’s wishes come true?
summary by Madoka
Highs: Captures slice-of-life for a little girl; great for all audiences
Lows: Runs a little long
The first thing anime fans say after viewing Junkers Come Here might be, “Studio Ghibli didn’t make this?!” The comparison of this film to the high-quality films in the Ghibli repertoire is an easy one to make, with the same attention to characters and themes of family that Ghibli films tend to include. The movie may run a little long, but it captures a slice of the life of a little girl trying to deal with a problem all audiences will identify with: her family.
Even with a talking, genie-like dog that can grant three wishes, this story is grounded more in reality than fantasy. Anyone who is curious about growing up in Japan will be intrigued by Hiromi’s school and home lives. Hiromi is a real and alive character, and this anime perfectly tells her story. Adults and children alike will enjoy the narrative that this film presents, and children will take special delight in the personality and comic antics of Junkers, which balances out the serious nature of the drama. Viewers who come from families with divorced parents may find this story especially poignant and reminiscent of their experiences with their own family lives.
At almost two hours, the movie feels a little long and drawn-out, especially for children with short attention spans. Because there is very little plot, the pacing may be too slow for anime fans who are used to the hustle and bustle of typical anime fare. There are no explosions or busty females to be found here; just the quiet story of a little girl who wants nothing more than to spend time with her parents.
I expected Junkers Come Here to be nothing more than a carefree tale of a talking dog, and to my surprise I found myself engrossed in a touching story that recalled memories of my childhood. Although not a widely popular title, this movie deserves to be in any anime connoisseur’s collection.
Highs: Plenty of genuine, sincere moments; wonderfully intimate; colorful characters
Lows: Lingers unnecessarily at times
The title character of Junkers (pronounced yoon-kers) is a dog. A Schnauzer, to be precise. He’s dominantly featured not just on the front cover of the DVD case, but on the back, as well. Even the description wants you to believe this is a movie about a dog, but it’s not. What this anime really is about is so much better than any involving, say, saving Timmy from the bottom of a well or other such nonsense.
Hiromi is a young girl dealing with feelings of abandonment at home. In today’s “latchkey kid” environment, just that setup alone would appeal to much of its audience. However, it takes more than a familiar setting for a movie to make a real connection with its viewers. Thankfully, Junkers Come Here manages just that, manipulating its characters and environment in just the right way to make us feel we’re at home, too. Hiromi’s house in an upper-class neighborhood is where most of this anime takes place, and as such the backdrops are warm, open and inviting; this is in direct contrast to how the characters can coexist in the same household and yet keep their feelings bottled-up from each other. This contrast is stark and really helps to emphasize the disconnect among family members.
Aside from the deep subject matter, those looking for scenes of a cute dog going about his business (in every connotation of the phrase) won’t be left out in the cold. Fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service will draw many parallels from a lonely girl and her pet with whom only she can speak. Except for the idea of a talking dog, the rest of this anime remains rooted in realism, with its soft facial features and detailed backdrops. The music is muted yet soothing and is never intrusive. No scenes are wasted, as every moment is meant to showcase Hiromi’s gradually increasing frustration with her parents’ ineptitude at juggling careers and family. Yet some of these scenes linger a bit too long for my tastes, though this quibble is minor.
Junkers Come Here is one of those great anime that somehow managed to slip through the cracks undetected amidst all the fan service and epic mecha battles that populate many modern shows. If you enjoy your movies a bit scaled down and dealing with topics grounded in reality, this intimate anime will tug at your heartstrings and prove that all that is needed are a story and balanced characters to achieve critical, if not commercial, success.
Junkers Come Here can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.