Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have magical powers, perhaps powers that help you arrow the bull’s-eye every time? Or better yet, have you ever seen a beetle shoot archery? Well, now you can in the new, stop-motion animated movie “Kubo and the Two Strings.” This film’s use of archery is both mystical and meaningful, proving that magic and archery are two elements that easily go hand in hand. After all, there’s no feeling more magical than the feeling you get at full draw.
“Kubo and the Two Strings” tells the story of a boy who is gifted in the art of storytelling. When he plays his shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed lute), he can bring origami paper to life, creating anything his heart desires. Kubo uses this gift to tell stories, but one day finds himself immersed in a real-life version of his tales that takes him on a journey to discover and connect with his past. Though Kubo’s mother had told him stories of where he came from his whole life, his adventures make him a bigger part of the story than he ever thought possible. This film is about family, love and, yes, archery.
Kubo is voiced by Art Parkinson, who some may know as Rickon Stark on “Game of Thrones.” Those who watch “Game of Thrones” know that Rickon’s experience with archery was less than pleasant. (Spoiler alert: Rickon dies a gruesome death by an arrow at the hands of the resident villain, Ramsey). Kubo’s experience with archery, however, is decidedly better.
During his adventures, Kubo joins a personified beetle – aptly named “Beetle” – who uses archery to defeat his enemies – or to at least try to defeat his enemies. In one scene, Beetle wields his simple traditional bow in battle with a giant skeleton monster, but to no avail. His archery skills might not defeat the skeleton monster, but archery does save Kubo from falling to impending doom when Beetle lands an arrow through Kubo’s shirt and pins him to a wall. How’s that for accuracy, Hawkeye?
Later in the movie, Beetle uses his bow and arrow to catch fish in the ocean during a sweet scene with Kubo. Beetle begins by drawing back his bow and letting his arrow fly into the water, nailing a fish. It is then pointed out to him that he might need something attached to the arrow in order to reel-in the fish, so he ties a string to the arrow. Needing a way to reel-in fish is common knowledge to a bowfisherman, but not so common for a beetle. Kubo seems to find joy in bowfishing because it brings him closer to his friend. This scene is a touching representation of how archery and archery-related activities can bond individuals.
At the end of the movie, it is implied that the “two strings” in the title represent Kubo and his family. The strings are a literal manifestation of Kubo’s mother’s hair, and the string of his shamisen. Another string to be used in the metaphor could also be the string of the bow. Not to give away any spoilers, but viewers later learn that someone in Kubo’s family used the bow, so the familial metaphor is strong here. The bow saved Kubo’s life and his family’s life as well.
Featuring beautiful imagery that highlights the wonderful ancestral and folklore elements of Japanese culture, “Kubo and the Two Strings” is a family driven animated movie that is sure to quench your archery craving. Catch Kubo in theaters now.