With themes of bullying, death, assault, and more, “Lonely Castle in the Mirro” is an immensely emotional experience.


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With themes of bullying, death, assault, and more, “Lonely Castle in the Mirro” is an immensely emotional experience.

Director(s) Keiichi Hara
Screenplay By Miho Maruo
Based On Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura
Date Released (Film Festival – New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival) March 11, 2023
Genre(s) Drama, Fantasy, Young Adult, Non-English (Japanese)
Duration 1 Hour 56 Minutes
Content Rating Not Rated
Noted Cast
Kokoro Ami Tôma
Moe To Be Determined
The Wolf Queen To Be Determined
Rion Takumi Kitamura
Aki Sakura Kiryu
Ureshino Yûki Kaji
Fuka Naho Yokomizo
Masamune Minami Takayama
Subaru Rihito Itagaki

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text in this post may contain affiliate links which, if a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company.

Film Summary

Kokoro has been faking sick or outright avoiding going to school for quite some time. Her mother is worried, her dad is too busy to care, and the one friend she had, Moe, was seduced by her bully and may not be her friend anymore. But then, one day, in her room, her mirror glows, and Kokoro decides to touch it, and before she knows it, she is sucked into a world where there are six other kids.

Together, they were brought here by a being who identifies as “The Wolf Queen, “who will give them until March, nearly a year, to find a key and room which will grant them one wish. But, despite the promise of granting one wish, the kids, who all share not liking or going to school, amongst other issues, find themselves more so bonding with each other than worried about the key. At least until a rule is broken, which makes that key being found and used a matter of life or death.

Things To Note

Why Is “Lonely Castle in the Mirror” Not Rated

  • Dialog: beyond the use of the word damn, there is nothing notable
  • Violence: we see one character after being beaten up
  • Sexual Content: there is a sexual assault attempt
  • Miscellaneous: suicidal ideation

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Kokoro

Kokoro is a young and shy girl who stays to herself but begins to be bullied when it is learned that her bully’s boyfriend, when they were in elementary school, liked her. Thus leading to a level of torment that made school feel unsafe, and even Kokoro’s home to a point, for the bully showed up at her house.

Moe

Before the bully got to her, Moe was Kokoro’s best friend. She was a transfer student into books, and all Kokoro could ask for. But now she is someone who drops off letters or something in Kokoro’s mailbox, but neither have spoken to each other in months.

The Wolf Queen

The Wolf Queen is the one who chose seven kids, all with some issue at school or home, to play a game where the winner would be granted one wish.

Rion

Rion is a boy Kokoro’s age who goes to school in Hawaii on a soccer scholarship and lost his older sister when he was younger.

Aki

Aki is one of the oldest of the seven who is going through some very unfortunate things at home, ranging from her guardian dying to someone trying to take advantage of her.

Ureshino

An advocate for his mother’s baked goods, which he often uses to try to buy friendships, and a relationship if he could, Ureshino struggles with having genuine connections not based on what he can give.

Fuka

A talented pianist, Fuka is on the shy side, but, like many shy people, once she is comfortable, a slightly different side to her comes out.

Masamune

Masamune is a big-time gamer who, with being on the shorter side and trying to bolster himself in ways his height doesn’t, doesn’t have the best reputation at school.

Subaru

Subaru is either adopted or doesn’t live with his biological parents, and it makes his home life uncomfortable. Especially since his self-expression is criticized.

Review

Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Highlights

It’s Going To Make You Cry

While most of the film focuses squarely on Kokoro and what she is going through, it is more than enough initially. It is hard to watch her deal with a charismatic bully who has their teacher wrapped around her finger. So as they begin presenting everyone else’s challenges, it’s like a series of soft jabs.

But then comes learning about Rion and the background behind his wish. There is learning about Ureshino being bullied and you getting to know him better, and the deeper your connections become, the more tears you shed as you get a montage of what everyone is going through. Not just a select few.

On The Fence

It Doesn’t Reveal What Everyone Went Through Till The End

Unfortunately, regarding their backstories, all seven kids don’t get equal storytime. It’s Kokoro, Rion, and then Aki who get any real-time. Ureshino tells us what happened, and we see him bandaged up after he gets beat up, but everyone else we learn about their trouble through a montage.

Mind you, the little glimpses we see don’t destroy the emotional impact. If anything, you are so hooked that learning about Masamune’s issues at school and home, seeing Subaru’s seemingly adopted parents not like his fashion choices, or watching Fuka struggle with living up to her mother’s and her own’s expectation is a treat. It is like that moment when you get to see beyond the porch of your friend’s house and are let inside, meet their dog and their parents. It removes the façade you had of them.

Though with that said, it is hard to not wish we got more than a few minutes of getting just enough to have a gist of what almost half of the kids were going through.

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The Cast of Lonely Castle in the Mirror
Lonely Castle in the Mirror (2023) – Review/ Summary
Overall
“Lonely Castle in the Mirror” will leave you in tears as it explores the difficulty that is not only going to school but growing up while dealing with things that, no matter what year it is, still happens to kids around the world.
Highlights
It's Going To Make You Cry
Disputable
It Doesn't Reveal What Everyone Went Through Till The End
82

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