Mune: Guardian of the Moon (2015)

“Mune: Guardian of the Moon” draws obvious influences from the likes of Studio Ghibli and Laika, and it’s a rather entertaining gem of an animated fantasy that I couldn’t help but enjoy with a wide smile. After “The Emoji Movie,” it’s very calming to know that there are still studios out there trying to deliver quality family animated entertainment. Dubbed over from the original French track, “Mune” translates well for domestic audiences, and I didn’t have a very tough time following what is a pretty nifty premise based around mysticism, nature, and the like. It also sports the classic hero’s journey trope, which isn’t so bad when it’s handled subtly.

In nature there are two mystical guardians, both of whom are tasked with bringing the sun and the moon to the world. One supplies the world with warmth and light, while the other helps inject dreams and calm. The guardians that handle these massive beasts have to have a specific skill and are chosen by their predecessor in a grand ceremony. When the heir apparent for the moon guardian, Leeyoon, is passed over, the Guardian role is given to the smaller fawn Mune, a forest faun who has a lot of growing up to do. Angered that he has to take on the role, he begins realizing that it’s so much tougher than anyone ever mentioned. But the lord of the underworld Necross, a corrupted ex-guardian, takes advantage of Leeyoon by corrupting him and manipulating him in to stealing the sun from the cocky Sohone, so he can rule over the light once again.

Meanwhile Leeyoon plans to take the moon from Mune, to prove that he can guard it better. Now with a spunky wax like young girl named Glim, the trio has to venture through the land to find the sun and restore the moon, before the world is thrown in to pure chaos. The dub for “Mune” is very well done with sharp performances from Rob Lowe, Patton Oswalt, Joshua J. Ballard, and Nicole Provost. The characters are all well fleshed out and engaging, with the writers presenting them as flawed beings, all of whom have to overcome their insecurities and downfalls along the way. Glim is a particularly interesting heroine, as she’s written as a mixed race individual whose race becomes an advantage rather than personal drawback.

The animation is also quite breathtaking and often time absolutely stunning, with the character designs presenting original and unique elements. Directors Alexandre Heboyan, Benoît Philippon even manage to change up the tone by switching to hand drawn animation mid-way, helping to emphasize the vast difference between the land of dreams and reality. “Mune: Guardian of the Moon” is a gem, it’s entertaining, it’s complex, and imaginative, and builds a wonderful array of heroes and villains that suck us in to this mesmerizing world.

Playing in English in Select Theaters Today.