Samuel Beasley’s review published on Letterboxd:
I got the chance to see this in a theater today and being that me and my mom are going to LA next week and going to The Academy Museum and will see the Miyazaki Exhibit I thought, what a better time to show her a Ghibli movie. Now normally this wouldn't be the first Ghibli film I show to someone who is a "casual movie-goer" just because it's weird and kinda long. I would probably start off with Castle in the Sky or My Neighbor Totoro, but this was the only one in theaters.
I'll be honest, even though I think this is a perfect film, I was a bit worried that my mom wouldn't enjoy it. But as it went on my mom laughed at some jokes, squealed at some of the violence/gore, and loved Yakul. After the movie I asked her what she thought and she said, "Well it was definitely different." She later went on to say how it was weird how violent and gory the movie was. Saying that animation is for kids. I tried explaining how animation isn't just for kids and Japan has had far more films and shows for adults and stuff way more adult than this. She kept saying animation is kids stuff but couldn't explain why. My heart broke.
My dream is to write and direct an animated film. One that can hopefully break the barrier in the west of this demeaning label, and to have my mom indirectly write it off was crushing. I've said for a while that even when films like Spider-Verse or Soul existing animation still won't be treated any differently because those films having complex messages and mass appeal they are still PG. I've said in order to break the barrier we need PG-13 and R-rated animated films from major studios with big budgets on a blockbuster scale. But honestly, will that even change peoples minds? Or would they just pass it along as weird? I love weird. Not everyone does. Not everyone has too. I respect animation as an art form. Not everyone does, But everyone should.