Turning Red is set in Toronto, circa 2002 with young adolescent feelings through Meilin (Mel) Lee, voiced by Rosalie Chiang in a witty, silly, through warm-hearted way.
Mel’s stickler mother Ming is voiced by Sandra Oh as the daughter spends afternoons helping out in their Sun Yee ancestral temple. She’s close with a trio of friends – Abby, Miriam and Priya: they’re really into popular boybands 4*Town and are intend in seeing them in concert at their local major venue, Sky Dome.
The red-coiffed girl has quite the metamorphosis (‘poof’) one morning after a little maternal embarrassment from an infatuation. An eight-foot high red panda that she has to keep secret that, for some, has an air of a comedy like Teen World on the distaff side.
Shi, maker of the studio’s acclaimed ‘Bao’, collaborates smartly with playwright and sometimes story editor Julie Cho in the vibrant whirlwind of discovery. With symbolism that could be on the parental track or not.
Of course, the visual detail has that photorealistic acumen that resonates as truth and wryness intersect in Mel’s endearing arc of embracing the kind of messiness that you might expect. As the dialogue clicks in lines that include ‘the re peony’ and ‘my panda, my choice’.
There’s sparkle in the visage of the characters that has that special artisan touch in what may approach the ‘upper echelon of an animation giant that made its first splash with Toy Story. Though unfortunate not to be able to catch this often surprising magical experience on the crafted by siblings Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell.