Summary: The central character in the movie is a "kappa" who is taken care of by a family in Japan. Kappas are Japanese mythical creatures. They are small sized, with frog like features and stand upright like humans. A kappa's father is killed in the Edo era. Immediately thereafter, there is an earthquake and the kappa falls into a giant crack in earth. Hundreds of years later, a Japanese boy breaks open the shell that held the kappa together, bringing him to life! The movie shows how the boy's family adopts the kappa, what happens when the world learns of its existence, the boy's friendship with a girl who is rejected by everybody else, and what happens to the kappa eventually. There are reflections on death, reverence for ancestors and a critique of modern lifestyle that wipes out natural dwellings of other creatures.
On the whole, a beautiful movie! Aimed at older kids and adults. A tad slow at a few places and long at 138 mins. Storyline is excellent, there are no loose threads.
The movie is relatively unknown in the West. Amazon doesn't even have a DVD. A good review is here.
Watch online: English sub-titles — other choices. The sub-titles are high quality. When a reference to Japanese towns or mythical creatures comes up, there is an explanation of what that word means in full sentences.