The Compassion of Kubo and the Two Strings
"Kubo and the Two Strings, the latest concoction from Laika Studios, will blow you away with its gorgeous stop-motion animation. But it will also inspire you with its compassionate story. The movie weaves a rollicking adventure yarn, but it also subverts the expected ending of a hero slaying a monster. Instead, true victory in the movie is portrayed as loving one’s enemy enough to give him a better story to tell about himself.
As the tale begins, Kubo (Art Parkinson) is a budding musician and storyteller, entertaining villagers with his magical shamisen (three-stringed guitar-like instrument) that can bring his origami creations to life. The craft and care of folding origami is an apt analogy for the filmmakers’ delicate stop-motion sculpting that animates Kubo and his fellow characters. Kubo lives with his ailing mother, and wears an eye patch—because, we learn, his grandfather the Moon King took one of his eyes when he was only a baby.
Soon, Kubo is fleeing from his powerful grandfather and his creepy aunts, who want to take his other eye and make him a moon spirit like them. To join them in their cold heaven, he has to be made blind to the goodness of humanity. This is heavy thematic material for a film aimed at children, but the menace and tragedy of the film’s villains is handled well. The immortal side of Kubo’s family want what they think is best for him, but they are unable to see the value of mortal life and how Kubo’s greatest power is exactly what they would take from him—his ability to look on others with compassion."