Children Who Chase Lost Voices (星を追う子ども, Hoshi o Ou Kodomo; lit. "Children Who Chase Stars"), known as Journey to Agartha in the UK, is a 2011 Japanese anime film created and directed by Makoto Shinkai, following his previous work 5 Centimeters per Second. This film is his longest animation film to date and is described as a "lively" animated film with adventure, action, and romance centered on a cheerful and spirited girl on a journey to say "farewell". The film was released in Japan on May 7, 2011. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan on November 25, 2011. The film has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks and was released on DVD and Blu-ray in November 2012.
Asuna is a young girl who has been forced to grow-up quickly due to the death of her father, while her mother, a nurse, works long shifts at a hospital. Asuna spends her solitary days listening to the mysterious music emanating from the cat's-whisker receiver her father gave to her as a memento.
One day, while walking to her clubhouse across a bridge, she is attacked by a fearsome creature and saved by a mysterious boy who calls himself Shun. Asuna treats Shun's wound from fighting the creature and later they both listen to Asuna's radio. Shun tells Asuna he is from another country called Agartha and that he came to this place to find something. He then gives Asuna a blessing in the form of a kiss to the forehead. Asuna leaves hurriedly and tells Shun she'll be back tomorrow. Shun, now alone, looks up at the stars and falls from the ledge to his death.
The next morning, Asuna hears from her mother that a boy was found dead in the river, but refuses to believe it's Shun. In school Mr. Morisaki, a substitute teacher, is giving a lecture on a book which grabs Asuna's attention when he mentions Agartha, the land of the dead. After school, she visits Morisaki and asks him about Agartha. Morisaki explains that long ago when humankind was young, it needed the guidance of Quetzalcoatls (keepers of the dead) until humans matured and no longer needed them, so they went underground along with a few humans who joined them.
Afterwards, Asuna goes to her hideout to find another mysterious boy who looks like Shun standing on the ledge. Just then, a group of armed men who the boy calls the Arch Angels, appear and attack the both of them. The Arch Angels' commander captures Asuna and uses a crystal called the clavis to open a gateway to Agartha. The commander and Asuna enter the gateway followed by the boy. Once inside the commander reveals himself to be Morisaki and the boy also reveals himself to be Shin, Shun's younger brother. Morisaki tells him that all he wants is to bring back his late wife from the dead. Shin leaves Asuna and Morisaki.
Morisaki tells Asuna that she can go back but she decides to accompany him. They both go into the realm via an underwater entrance. Once inside they go on a journey to the Gate of Life and Death which can bring the souls of people back from the dead.
Upon arriving in his village, Shin is told that he has failed in his mission to retrieve that clavis, because Asuna has unknowingly returned with a fragment of one. Shin re-embarks to stop Asuna and Morisaki from wreaking havoc in Agartha.
Along the way Asuna is kidnapped by a race of monsters called the Izoku. In their hideout she meets a young girl named Manna and they both try to escape. In their escape attempt, they encounter Shin who helps them but is wounded by an Izoku. Morisaki finds Asuna and Manna down the river as well as Shin. Shin tries to retrieve the clavis crystal that belongs to Asuna. However, he is too weak to put up a fight and Morisaki easily defeats him. Asuna convinces Morisaki to take him with them while Manna leads them to her village.
Once there, the villagers are, at first reluctant to help the "top-dwellers" but the village elder convinces them to let them in. The elder allows them to stay one night at the village. Meanwhile Asuna checks up on Shin but Shin yells at her telling her to leave him alone.
The next morning Asuna and Morisaki depart from Amaurot. Shin wakes up later and after hearing the villagers riding away to kill them, decides to follow in order to protect Asuna. Morisaki and Asuna are walking towards a steep cliff when they are attacked by the villagers but they are saved by Shin. Asuna, being too scared to climb down, stays while Morisaki continues, leaving her.
Meanwhile Shin is fighting the villagers and is about to be killed when the villagers sense that the clavis crystal has reached the Gate of Life and Death and leave Shin to wander aimlessly, having betrayed his country.
Asuna is walking aimlessly and asking herself why she came to Agartha and finally accepts that she came to Agartha because she was feeling lonely. She is then attacked by the Izoku but saved by Shin. Asuna and Shin return to the cliff after seeing the Ark of Life descending. They encounter a Quetzalcoatl who is about to die. Before he dies, Quetzalcoatl offers to take them to the bottom of the cliff.
At the bottom of the cliff, they both find the Gate of Life and Death and enter it. Inside they find Morisaki who tells Asuna she shouldn't have come and she is soon possessed by Lisa, Morisaki's late wife. However Shin is able to destroy the crystal Morisaki has used to make his wish. Before she leaves Asuna's body, Lisa tells Morisaki to find happiness without her. Asuna is now back to her normal self but Morisaki is devastated and asks Shin to kill him but Shin tells him that he must live. Asuna heading back to the surface and making her farewell to Shin and Morisaki, who stay behind. The film ends with Asuna,looking out her window at the cliff side where she had met Shun and Shin. She then says her goodbyes to her mother as she hurries to her graduation ceremony as an older teen.
- Children Who Chase Lost Voices at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia.
- Children Who Chase Lost Voices at the Internet Movie Database
- The Anime Review
- "Children Who Chase Lose Voices Renamed Journey to Agartha". Anime News Network. May 26, 2012. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2012-05-26/children-who-chase-lose-voices-renamed-journey-to-agartha. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- "Distant Star's Shinkai Posts Images for Next Anime". Anime News Network. December 24, 2009. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-12-24/distant-star-shinkai-posts-images-from-next-anime/. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
- "Makoto Shinkai's Hoshi o Ou Kodomo Film Dated for 2011". Anime News Network. November 6, 2010. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2010-11-06/makoto-shinkai-hoshi-o-ou-kodomo-film-dated-for-2011. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- "『星を追う子ども』公式サイト／新海 誠 最新作". CoMix Wave Films. September 4, 2011. http://www.hoshi-o-kodomo.jp/top.php. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
- "Sentai Filmworks Adds Shinkai Children Who Chase Lost Voices". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2012-06-14/sentai-filmworks-adds-shinkai-children-who-chase-lost-voices. Retrieved June 15, 2012.