You must respect the circle of life. This is something that everyone who was raised on The Lion King is familiar with, and yet, one thing that has fascinated people for centuries is changing, interrupting, or influencing that cycle: embalming, funerals, death celebrations, ideas about heaven and hell, Dante’s Inferno, vampires, zombies, Frankenstein, and other fantasy and science fiction works. Death is the one thing that we can always depend on.
Once someone is dead, they are not meant to return to living, and yet, the five stages of grief include bargaining: “Take me instead!” But it’s too late once someone is already dead unless… we are no longer talking about reality.
Children Who Chase Lost Voices is about a little girl who has lost a parent at a very young age, far too young to really understand what “gone to a better place” actually means. It has always been difficult to explain death to children. Adults have invented this coping method (by sending the dead on a permanent vacation) to make the reality that their loved ones are never coming back easier to accept (the 5th stage of grief). But ever since she lost her father, she hasn’t been quite the same. She still attends school with other children, but she also spends a lot of time accompanied solely by a little, orange cat, straddling a picturesque hill, and listening to a little radio that her father left behind.
After being saved from a mysterious beast while roaming alone, Asuna quickly bonds with her rescuer who is also mysterious in his own way. He becomes a quick cure for Asuna’s loneliness, spending lots of time with her listening to her father’s little radio. But, unbeknownst to her, this is a special radio and she has been listening to voices from the underworld. When her savior disappears, Asuna slips back into her solitude, being unable to find him anywhere.
Asuna soon learns that not everyone can recover from a hard loss when she meets her substitute teacher who has lost his wife to a terminal disease. He has since dedicated his entire life to finding a way to bring her back from the dead. In a lucky twist of fate, Asuna owns a piece of clavis (magical key to the underworld) that people looking to get into the underworld come to take from her.