Might contain spoilers.
Decent, but carrying muddled messages via a facile plot: a problem appears, the solution immediately presents itself, the problem is solved; rinse and repeat. I quite like the cast—apart from Orion Lee’s strangely disinterested performance as Jin—and I particularly like Abby and Priya. Naturally, James Hong is a highlight as Mr. Gao. I enjoyed the diversity of the ensemble, too. The animation is inconsistent: the blue light on Meilin as the ritual begins is gorgeous, for instance, but other moments are entirely forgettable.
The story is frankly confusing. It’s about letting out the ‘messy’ side, but Meilin does that, she stops just shy of violently hurting Tyler, and one has to wonder whether the rest of the town (and the world, really) is willing to ignore the destruction wrought by these red pandas. What’s more, every other female member of the family still wants her inner panda gone. Only Meilin undergoes the change. Similarly, while the underlying message about the importance of family does resonate, the significant fact that Meilin thinks of her friends, rather than her mother, to calm herself down is never addressed.
There are some nice pieces of fusion in the score, and I enjoyed the combination of the chants with modern music for the last ritual. 4*Town is a hilariously believable parody.
- The chart showing how far they are from the $100,000,000 rebuilding the tower requires is amusing.↩