Moana meets Pocahontas in this tale of Ainbo and Zumi, best friends who, despite their opposing personalities, have to overcome challenges to help protect their tribe. In a traditional Amazonian ceremony, Zumi is appointed as chief of the tribe when her father declares he is no longer well enough to lead. As a gift to Zumi, Ainbo offers the protection and guidance from her two spirit animals, Dillo the armadillo and Vaca the giant tapir. When Dillo and Vaca fail to show up at the ceremony, the tribespeople mock Ainbo and tell her the spirit animals aren’t real. In a bid to prove them wrong, Ainbo runs away and starts an adventure of her own.
It is believed their land is cursed by an evil spirit, one that causes the elders to fall sick and kills their food supply. Ainbo believes there is a way to end the curse and, with the help of Dillo and Vaca, she sets off on a quest.
The two girls face threat from all angles throughout the film; Zumi suffers when trying to prove herself as a leader when the tribes mother passes away and she has to find her feet alone, and Ainbo comes face to face with fear when she encounters DeWitt, a traveller and scientist who’s motives aren’t always as they seem.
There are side stories that don’t bring much to the main plot but do help to pad out the 90 minute run time. Despite the writing being clearly influenced by other well known animated films, Ainbo manages to hold its own in other ways. The characters are incredibly likeable and thanks to the comedic value of the spirit animals, it manages to hold the attention of the viewer. The story itself takes a while to get off its mark, but by the time the main threat is introduced, it soon picks up and we go on an exciting adventure with Ainbo and her friends.
The over-all look of the film is pleasant, the animation is really attractive and of a high quality, which can sometimes be rare when lesser known animation studios release big budget films. The colours and visuals help to tell the story, setting the tone of each scene, particularly from the wide landscape imagery. The scene when Ainbo encounters a giant turtle in the mystical cave is stunning, fluorescent light illuminates the water pool and creates a magical colour palette, which beautifully enhances the general aesthetic.
As the story progresses it falls a bit flat towards the end, with it’s predictable plot points and cheap tricks, like a lava lamp loving giant sloth. However, it’s clear from the outset that this film is aimed for a young audience and will likely be a triumph to the right crowd.
Following both young girls as they learn about themselves and overcome the adversity handed to them from their tribe, Ainbo: The Spirit of the Amazon is an enjoyable tale about strength and family, a sure fire hit for younger audiences.
Ainbo: The Spirit of the Amazon is now in cinemas in the UK.