On Happiness Road 幸福路上 (2018) Review

Most of us are grown accustomed to watching animated features from the US and Japan, but Taiwan? Not so much. Besides, I believe we don’t normally associate with “animation” and “Taiwan” in the same sentence. Which brings me On Happiness Road, my very first exposure in exploring Taiwanese animation.

On Happiness Road centres on the New York-based Chi (voiced by Gwen Lun-Mei) returning to her childhood hometown of Happiness Road in Taiwan following the death of her beloved grandmother. From there, she starts recalling her childhood past while contemplating her current situation.

First thing first, the old-school hand-drawn animation is charmingly simple. It perfectly reflects the simplicity and mundane lifestyle of the fictional Taiwan hometown of Happiness Road.

But I like the plot better, as first-time writer-director Sung Hsin-Yin pays an affecting tribute to his own childhood memories by mixing a heartfelt coming-of-age drama with four decades’ worth of Taiwanese politics and pop culture. Even if you are not familiar with their history, you can definitely relate to the story’s overall universal themes that present throughout the movie. The voice cast is equally top-notch, with kudos go to Gwen Lun-Mei’s moving performance as the main protagonist, Chi.

The major setback here, of course, is Hsin-Yin’s screenplay tends to get all crammed up with too many things going on at once. There are other times that On Happiness Road centres on the New York-based Chi (voiced by Gwen Lun-Mei) returning to her childhood hometown of Happiness Road in Taiwan following the death of her beloved grandmother. From there, she starts recalling her childhood past while contemplating her current situation. gets a little overwhelmed with its multiple time jumps going back and forth.

Despite some of the shortcomings, On Happiness Road centres on the New York-based Chi (voiced by Gwen Lun-Mei) returning to her childhood hometown of Happiness Road in Taiwan following the death of her beloved grandmother. From there, she starts recalling her childhood past while contemplating her current situation. remains a worthy piece of work for a Taiwanese animation.

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