My daughter and I are huge fans of the studio Ghibli movies (Ponyo, Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, etc), so when I discovered Ni-No Kuni, a PS3 game created by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, I thought it might interest her. It's a beautifully-animated RPG that flows effortlessly between their movie-quality, 2-D animation and the 3-D, in-game engine. The story is nothing short of what you would expect out of a studio Ghibli movie. It's a rich adventure about a young boy, Oliver, who loses his mother, but discovers a parallel universe through which he may be able to bring her back to life with the help of some magical friends. Of course his journey quickly becomes much more than a quest to save his mother, ultimately finding himself to be the only one with the power to save the parallel world and its people from the evils within it. And like any Studio Ghibli story, it is packed with layers of life messages and meanings.
We started the very long journey through this story many months ago, always playing together so that neither of us would miss a second of the story. An hour here, 2 hours there... slowly progressing and soaking up every bit of the storyline possible, including every single line of text and unspoken dialogue which I read aloud to her without fail. We have faced hundreds (thousands?) of enemies, made countless friends and allies, and fought close to 30 monstrous bosses, whose dramatic fights can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a full hour depending on your level. This game has made my daughter gasp, scream, and jump for joy many times over. If you ask her how we became allies with Kublai, captain of the Sky Pirates, or ask her when we first faced the evil and powerful Shadar, or where we can find the lost city of Nazcaa... she'll tell you. She was wholeheartedly passionate about this game, its story, and its characters, as if she were Oliver himself. It has been quite the adventure for both of us.
Well today, 45 hours into the game, having learned the ancient magic named "Astra" and with a stockpile of health-replenishing items in-hand, my daughter cast the last spell, "Arrow of Light," defeating the White Witch and the Zodiarch, saving Princess Cassiopeia and the world, and filling my daughter's heart with so much joy and accomplishment that she was literally in tears, unable to explain why.
When the credits came to a stop, she turned to me still wiping the tears from her face and asked, "Dad, can we start all over?"... "Absolutely."