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A letter to Momo is a beautifully presented story of this little girl ‘Momo’ who has very recently lost her father and this leads to a whole lot of changes in her life. It all starts when the mother and her move from Tokyo to a remote island and it feels like a cloud of sadness and strangeness moved with her. She finds a letter in a drawer which was written by her father but the letter only says ‘Dear Momo’ and the emptiness of it makes her furious inside and a whole lot curious as to what was it that her father wanted to write to her but didn’t. At the same time she is deeply emotional about their move to what appears to be a dull island where she has no friends and will have to live with aged relatives.
The Strange Adventures in ‘A Letter to Momo’ Begin
On her first day on the island she visits the attic of the house with her old aunt, where she comes across a photo book with many characters that catches her eye. The images from it stay etched in her memory for a while and soon after she begins seeing these creatures around her to which she starts thinking if she’s gone crazy? After a few strange events later she somehow ends up having a comforting yet weird talk with her uncle, whose attic she found the photo book in.
And he tells her how if someone sees a goblin, they must not tell a single soul about it, but he also describes his feelings about goblins, and how he finds them funny rather than scary. So a few shared words later she realises she’s not all crazy.
Momo soon learns to tolerate the three weird looking figures that seem to be around her a-lot, the bizarre trio are ‘yokai’ which basically means goblin or monster. Mame is a bug eyed homunculus, Kawa has a frog like face and Iwa is the one with the large head and a mouth full of golden teeth.
Soon enough she learns that they were actually sent down here to look out for her till the time the spirit of her father doesn’t reach heaven. After a wild veggie hunt incident she realises they’re not evil or scary, they are funny and mischievous.
They even have absurd super natural powers – strange super natural powers if I may say so where one of them can fart the stinkiest farts which well seemed to smell like poison, which ends up driving away the boars during the veggie hunt.
The time spent with them not only makes her fond of the trio, but also opens up her heart towards the island as she starts to notice its beauty.
While Momo’s mother finds her solace and peace by burying herself in work, Momo finds an emotional outlet and a way to make peace with her fathers passing through her newly formed, slightly confusing friendship with the goblin trio.
The movie goes to show very deep moods and emotions but I like the simplicity of it and how it is so beautifully light and funny despite the sentimental story. Whats surprisingly fun to watch is the way these characters, although not aesthetically pleasing are such a pleasure to watch.
How this one time they cause a havoc in the house, eating all of Momo’s share of food, doing the funniest dance moves, using the hair dryer in her bathroom to blow-dry their hair. It’s around this funny and accepting energy that Momo seems to find the space to be expressive in a way that she couldn’t be around anyone in the town, not even her own mother.
A letter to Momo in a sense asks us to open up to the world, not be so short in judging tough exteriors, because beneath the rough and tumble outlook, the trio of goblins have hearts of gold.
Also how towards the end of the movie, they break a few rules, knowing very well that this could land them up in trouble. It goes to show how they truly are good with hearts of gold as they help Momo find a doctor during a storm as her mother gets a severe asthmatic attack.
The characters that seem to act around like funny clowns or slightly self absorbed to say turn into these extremely sentimental creatures towards the end. One evening at what they call the ‘Bon’, which is a time to celebrate the souls of the dead Momo realised how much her mother had to go through and their bond strengthens as does her affection for her whimsical friends.
And like other superior excursions into fantasy, A Letter to Momo gives life to spaces we have never been but now need to visit.