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Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko Review • Anime UK News

By Ayumu Watanabe the director behind Children of the sea, after the rain and Komi can’t communicate and Studio 4°C comes the new movie Fortune favors Lady Nikuko. Sure, there’s plenty to get excited about with the names attached, but does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out!

The story follows single mother Nikuko and her daughter Kikuko who live together on a boat in a small seaside town. Kikuko’s life with Nikuko has been full of upheaval as her mother tends to fall for useless guys, only to end up all alone in the end. Even where they live now is a byproduct of a failed relationship – though this one introduced Kikuko to the world of literature, due to the man’s love of books, so she at least grateful!


Due to her mother’s tendency to get carried away with her feelings, Kikuko takes it upon herself to be responsible for both. She juggles between school and household chores like shopping and sometimes cooking, while her mother works as a waitress to keep the two afloat. However, now that Kikuko finds herself on the cusp of her teens (she’s nearly finished elementary school when we meet her), she’s beginning to feel some strain in their relationship. Especially in the fact that she doesn’t want her classmates to know that she’s the daughter of the chubby, carefree waitress in town who she looks nothing like.

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I’d love to say there’s more to the movie than that, but there’s not. Most of the runtime is spent showing us the daily lives of these two as well as how they interact with those around them. For example: Nikuko’s boss who speaks little but watches over the two and Kikuko’s classmates who are often a source of stress for her. The story is definitely about those two characters, but I think overall we get to spend more time with Kikuko, whereas her mother is often comic relief and not much more. Her most important moments are at the beginning and end of the film and anything in between is irrelevant to Kikuko’s struggles most of the time.

Because most of the movie doesn’t have any real conflict or solid overarching plot, I had a hard time getting into it. Nikuko and Kikuko are quite interesting, but there’s nothing narrative to hold onto until the end, at which point I’m afraid a lot of viewers have tuned out. There’s nothing wrong with focusing more on a slice of life, but I think it undermines the messages the story is trying to convey across both tracks most of the time. The focus just isn’t on any of the smaller conflicts long enough to give satisfaction on their resolutions.

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I also think it’s unfortunate that a lot of the humor surrounding Nikuko stems from the fact that she’s a big eater and quite overweight. I never found the comedy to be mean, but it definitely walks a fine line and may still offend some viewers, depending on how they feel about this kind of humor. The fact that Nikuko isn’t ashamed of her looks herself goes a long way in keeping the jokes from cutting too close to the bone at least.

A little story, I really liked the animation of Studio 4°C (Children of the Sea, Princess Arete) here. The animation isn’t too bright but it isn’t boring either, it uses a more grounded palette that suits the mood of the story. It’s also to complement Nikuko who is drawn in a very different style to the rest of the characters in the series, again as a way to use her for comic relief more than anything. What’s perhaps most impressive here is how the animation captures very normal everyday actions and manages to convey them in a realistic and eye-catching way. The subtle movements of the characters are also worth watching as their body language often conveys unsaid in the dialogue. As children of the sea, animation is one of the best aspects of Fortune favors Lady Nikuko.

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The film’s music was handled by Takatsugu Muramatsu (Lu Over the Wall, When Marnie Was There, Mary and the Witch’s Flower) and the soundtrack, like the animation, doesn’t particularly stand out but I wouldn’t say it’s bad. I can understand that the soundtrack isn’t intrusive and just helps to emotionally lift scenes here and there when needed. It’s more like Muramatsu’s work on Mary and the Witch’s Flower that read on the wallwhich was also quite underrated.

There is no English dub for the film, so it is only available with Japanese audio. The main actors are Shinobu Otake (Charlotte in Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Homily in Arrietty) like Nikuko and Cocomi like Kikuko who is in her first movie role and does a wonderful job. I think having Otake and Cocomi together works well because, like their characters, they come from very different places in their lives and they play one well because of that. Fine ears will also notice Natsuki Hanae (Tanjiro in demon slayer, Ken Kaneki in Tokyo Ghoul) among the actors who plays one of Kikuko’s classmates.

Globally, Fortune favors Lady Nikuko doesn’t have a lot of substance, which is a shame because the characters are very interesting and are coupled with excellent animation. If you’re interested in a mother-daughter relationship story, this is definitely worth a look, provided you’re ok with her sense of humor and there isn’t any kind of storyline that changes the world.

Book your tickets for 10 August 2022 at UK cinemas here

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