“If you must blink, do it now.”

“If you must blink, do it now.”

“Kubo and the Two Strings” is the latest stop-motion movie from Laika, which also produced “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” and “The Boxtrolls.” Set in ancient Japan, this movie has a wonderful sense of style as well as fun, engaging characters and an interesting, lore-filled world.

Kubo, a young boy with one eye, lives with his sickly mother on the outskirts of Sun Village. Using origami figures and his mother’s magical shamisen (a kind of Japanese guitar), Kubo earns a living by telling stories to the villagers about the adventures of the samurai Hanzo and his battles with the Moon King and his minions. But one night, the Moon King finds Kubo and comes for him. With the help of a no-nonsense monkey and forgetful beetle warrior, he must follow in Hanzo’s footsteps to find safety once again, all while discovering the secrets of his parents’ past and his own destiny.

While the overall story is nothing new, “Kubo” spices it up with the way the story is told. From the beginning, the audience is treated to stellar stop-action animation that feels (and sometimes actually is) larger than life. Kubo’s constant use of the shamisen gives the movie a unique musical flavor that combines modern riffs with ancient acoustics, which feels more real because a character is making the music.

“Kubo” also has a great balance between action and character development. Every side character has great personality, and each gets more than a few laughs. Though perhaps a little dialogue-heavy at times, the characters have a way of playing off each other so that their banter is never boring.

While I think children and adults alike will enjoy this movie, there are a few moments that might be too intense for some kids — Kubo’s mother escaping a storm and the first appearance of the Moon King’s daughters come to mind.

Overall, I recommend “Kubo and the Two Strings” for any audience.

— Josh Arnett for the McPherson Sentinel Editorial Board.