Animation Fantasia Festival

Fantasia Festival Review: ‘Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko’ is a Beautifully Animated and Whimsical Coming-of-Age Tale

September 7, 2021Ben MK

No one ever said being a single parent was easy. But for Nikuko (Shinobu Otake), who's been through four failed relationships and has an eleven-year-old daughter named Kikurin (Cocomi) to show for it, finding the right man has proven to be such an insurmountable challenge that she's all but given up. Luckily for Nikuko, however, she's still able to take pleasure in the simple things in life — though if you ask Kikurin, it's her mom's naive outlook that's her biggest character flaw.

It's been three years since the two of them arrived at the northern port town they now call home, and ever since then, they've lived on a small boat owned by Sassan (Ikuji Nakamura), the owner of the port grill where Nikuko works. Now that Kikurin is almost a teenager, however, it seems that having to share such small quarters is starting to become less than ideal. After all, between the drama at school with her longtime friend Maria (Izumi Ishii) and her interest in a quiet boy named Ninomiya (Natsuki Hanae), who wants to be cooped up inside with their mom? Nikuko, on the other hand, is perfectly happy spending whatever time she can with her daughter, being the kindhearted, larger-than-life personality that she is. However, when Kikurin catches on to the secret Nikuko has been keeping close to her heart all these years, will their relationship ever be the same again?

Directed by Ayumu Watanabe (The Story of Princess Kaguya) and based on the novel "Nikuko at the Fishing Port" by Kanako Nishi, Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko is a beautifully animated and tender tale about growing up in a small community where word travels fast and where neighbors can sometimes be as close as family. Whimsically told and easily relatable, the result will appeal to anime lovers and fans of coming-of-age dramas alike.

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko makes its North American premiere at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 37 min.

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