Review: The Stranger By the Shore

Just in time for summer, Funimation brings us the heartwarming LGBTQ+ anime film, The Stranger by the Shore, starting July 9th (dub and sub) exclusively on Funimation.

©Kii Kanna/SHODENSHA-Etranger partners

First off, the film is beautiful, and transports you to the island of Okinawa. The colors are lush and you can feel the warm summer vibes. The production company is Studio HIBARI, who most recently worked on Penguin Highway (also a lovely movie), and they did supporting animation for classics such as Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service. It is based on the manga series by Kanna Kii and directed by Akiyo Ohashi.

The film is very sweet with many adorable and funny moments! Yes, there are the times when characters do not say what they are truly feeling but that just makes the moments when they do speak freely that much more precious. 

The story centers on a new queer relationship. There are flashbacks that highlight impactful moments in Shun’s past that cause him to be more hesitant to act upon his love for another young man. However, early in the film he does say, “Romantic interest in the same gender is just that–nothing more. How did it get to be considered so strange?”. Shun has the internal struggle of coming to terms with his feelings juxtaposed with how he thinks society sees him. Though this seems a little odd as he currently lives in an incredibly supportive environment with a super chill aunt, and a lesbian couple that treat him like a brother. Even though he is in a safe space, he still questions if his feelings and desires are wrong. 

Then Shun meets Mio, who is young and alone – his mother recently died. At first, Mio is weary of Shun’s attention, but more because Mio does not want to be pitied and jumps to conclusions about Shun’s kindness. Their developing romance deals with bumps along the way but will their love for each other give them the courage to pursue their relationship. 

©Kii Kanna/SHODENSHA-Etranger partners

While nothing is too graphic, the film does deal with sex, consent, and contraception (though very subtley). While there are many mangas out there that deal with queer relationships, there are very few anime, shows or movies, that feature a queer lead let alone a queer romance. Also worth noting, it is wonderful to see the film have a dub option simultaneously released with the subtitled version. With both options available, the film will be able to reach a wider audience and it shows those involved care about getting this story out there.

Pacing-wise, the film is only 59 minutes, but there are jumps in time that can at first feel a bit abrupt. At one point, three years pass but it is only through the dialogue that you learn that information – the previous scene makes it seem like we are only going ahead to the next day or so. However, those familiar with anime will be used to time passing abruptly. This skipping along gives the film an almost vignette short story feel which adds to the relaxing days of summer vibe. 

©Kii Kanna/SHODENSHA-Etranger partners

So, if you are looking for a sweet summer romantic film, want to support queer stories, and enjoy beautiful animation, then be sure to watch The Stranger by the Shore.

The English dub cast include: Josh Grelle: Shun, Justin Briner: Mio, Morgan Lauré: Eri, Bryn Apprill: Suzu, Amber Lee Connors: Sakurako, Jessica Cavanagh: Auntie, and supporting cast Steph Garrett: Young Mio, Brittney Karbowski: Mio’s Mom, Mary Morgan: Young Shun, Monica Rial: Shun’s Mom, David Wald: Shun’s Dad, Ciarán Strange️: Mimi’s Bar Employee, Brandon McInnis: Wada.

The Stranger by the Shore premieres Friday, July 9th, exclusively on Funimation, dubbed in English and subbed in English, Spanish and Portuguese. 

— Kari Lane

Stranger by the Shore
The Stranger by the Shore follows the love story of Shun Hashimoto, an aspiring novelist, and Mio Chibana, a grieving young man, who both find more than they bargained for during a time of transition. As each day passes, both young men find themselves in an ever-unique, undisturbed voyage of friendship and romance. But self-doubt, family, acceptance, and fear will challenge these young men, as nothing worth fighting for goes without taking chances.

 

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