Veteran Studio Ghibli animator Yoshiyuki Homose set out on his own with this directorial debut. Ninokuni is a fantasy adventure about two friends trying to save the life of the girl they both love.

High school kids Haru and Kotona are a couple, with Haruís best friend, the wheelchair bound Yuu, in tow. When Kotonaís life is put in danger, Haru and Yuu find themselves somehow transported to an alternate universe where the Princess Astrid, an exact double of Kotona, lies dying of a curse. The lines and ties of people in both universes are somehow connected. In what way, Haru and Yuu cannot be sure. But as they pass between the two worlds, they must save one life or the other, or can they save both?

The story tends to keep changing directions, so you really have no idea exactly what the climax will be. When Haru and Yuu are forced to cross swords, will it be the end of their friendship Ė or lives? It does keep you guessing, but the post credit scene (donít leave during the credits) will wrap up any doubts you may have.

Being directed by a Studio Ghibli veteran, the artwork looks very familiar, and somewhat comforting. Though the quality of the animation does at times seem a fraction below Ghibliís standard, it is close enough. Actually, there are some brilliantly animated moments.

Ninokuni is worth a look. It is currently on Netflix Streaming.