This is a spoiler-filled feature for Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms.
Though the ending to Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms was rather straightforward — Maquia accepts loss as a part of life, and though sad, celebrates the time spent with Ariel — the very final shot after the credits leaves room for speculation. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’ director and writer, Mari Okada, at Anime Expo to get some of my biggest questions cleared up and learned some other interesting information about the film and Okada too.
Who are the characters in the final shot of the film?
After the credits roll, an image of Maquia, Leilia standing next to the Renato, and a number of other people near the Iolph people’s original home is shown. A woman with red hair stands out most. According to Okada, these other people are all descendants of the Iolph.
[It’s] many, many years later.
“[It’s] many, many years later. The Iolph people were attacked and they left their home and came back. Before they were attacked, they were always trying to protect their own world and keep it secluded, and that’s also why their long lives were preserved for such a long time as well,” Okada said. “But because they were attacked and left and started interacting with others, children were born, so they are the descendants of the Iolph.“
This scene was not originally planned to be in the film, but Okada asked the team to include it. She also said this image was meant to represent Maquia’s growth in learning to continue on with her life.
“At the end, Maquia sort of states that she’s going to keep meeting new people even though she’s going to have to say goodbye every time, and that’s the representation of that,” Okada said.
How long was Maquia locked up?
Okada said Maquia was held captive by Krim for approximately 10 years.
Why did Krim kind of turn evil?
Okada said she draws from real life when creating her stories. Krim’s story was important in not only showing a different challenge for Iolph living among other people, but also to help explore the challenges the Iolph face with time.
“Time was a big theme in this film. Krim felt like Leilia and Maquia were speeding up time. Not only the race like the Iolph who live for a long time but also just normal people like you and me, the same sort of thing happens,” Okada said. “If one person is sort of able to leave the past behind and go forward a little faster than this other person, then that kind of hurts, and that’s what I wanted to depict. It’s fantasy, but it’s real. It’s situations we can relate to.”
What was cut from the film?
“At first we had these titles said how many years later, how many years later, just because it was kind of hard to get how much time had passed, but I said I don’t want to do that,” Okada said. In our review, I wrote how though the time jumps can be a little disorienting, they ultimately are a good reflection of Maquia’s agelessness and potentially how Maquia herself feels time pass.
Okada also told me about a big scene that was cut from the film.
“There was a really big cut of one scene where Maquia can’t sleep. She’s got insomnia, basically, thinking about all the Iolph people, and Ariel sort of saves her from this difficulty,” Okada said. “When I was writing the script I felt like if I didn’t include this scene, then it would come across as if she doesn’t really care about the Iolph people or she’s not worried. That sort of thing, or she’s just moving on with her life. But her expression ended up being drawn in a way that, even if she’s laughing, there’s a sort of a sad side to her look. And that was really what we decided to go with in terms of communicating that. Her little interactions with other women and everything sort of signaled that she was thinking about the Iolph people, so it felt okay to delete that scene.”
What’s next for Mari Okada?
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms was Okada’s directorial debut. The film is, as of this writing, sitting at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and already won the Best Animation award at the Shanghai Film Festival. With such critical acclaim for this film and Okada’s other work, my final question was whether or not Okada would like to continue directing, and, of course, what’s next?
“I feel like I was a little bit too fortunate in this situation as a first time director with so many resources and so many things offered. I had a great staff and they put everything they had into the film,” Okada said. “Horikawa-san, our producer, [announced Maquia] is his final work directly in production as a line producer. This was such an exploration. It was such a strong and meaningful experience for me personally, so the question for me is how do I do the next thing? I need a little time to figure that out. There were a lot of meeting and separations in the actual script and in our personal lives as well.”
And though this is not necessarily for what’s next for Maquia’s director, Okada said she’d like to write a feature-length film geared toward children sometime in the future.
If you haven’t already, be sure to read our review of Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms and for more information on its theatrical run, be sure to visit the official website.
In other anime movie news, My Hero Academia: Two Heros received its North American theatrical release date, and the first Dragon Ball Super: Broly dubbed trailer was shown off at San Diego Comic-Con.
Miranda Sanchez is a senior editor at IGN. You can chat with her about video games and anime on Twitter.