Kubo and the Two Strings

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Short takes

Not suitable under 9; parental guidance to 10 (violence, disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Kubo and the Two Strings
  • a review of Kubo and the Two Strings completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 August 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 9 Not suitable due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 9-10 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 11 and over Ok for this age group but parents may wish to discuss the movie's themes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Kubo and the Two Strings
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and violence, some scenes may scare young children
Length: 102 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Kubo and the two strings is a beautiful and melancholy animated adventure set in a mythical Japanese landscape. It tells the  story of a young boy's quest to protect himself from evil ancestral spirits.

Kubo (voice of Art Parkinson) lives with, and cares for, his ill mother (voice of Charlize Theron). He makes a living by entertaining the local villagers with enchanting and exciting stories.

One evening, Kubo makes the mistake of staying out past sunset and as the darkness descends, a dark and evil force is awakened; it is the spirits of his mother's demonic sisters (voice of Rooney Mara), come to wreak vengeance and to capture Kubo. Forced to run, Kubo is joined by Monkey (voice of Charlize Theron) and Beetle (voice of Matthew McConaughey) and together they must find a magical suit of armour that was worn by Kubo's late father. Finally, Kubo comes face to face with his evil grandfather, the "Moon King", and must battle to remain mortal and human.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Loss of a parent; magic; the power of storytelling; ancestor worship; reincarnation and death

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There are many scenes of violence and peril in this movie including:

  • Kubo's mother is caught in a stormy sea and as her boat capsizes she is thrown against a rock where her head is cut open. Her face is scarred and she suffers brain damage as a result.
  • There are several scenes of fighting in which the characters use various weapons such as swords, chains, blades and bow and arrows to attack one another. They also use martial art style kicking.
  • During a fight, Monkey is struck with a blade attached to a chain and has a deep and bloody cut in the side of her body. Eventually this causes her to weaken and die.
  • Kubo, Monkey and Beetle enter a dark tomb and must fight a giant skeleton with glowing red eye sockets and a gaping mouth. The skeleton grabs Monkey and Beetle in its hands and is about to eat them.
  • Beetle is stabbed in the back and dies.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • At night when Kubo's mother is dreaming, inanimate objects rise up and fly around the room.
  • Kubo's mother has some kind of brain damage, causing her to behave in a vacant, confused and depressed manner. Kubo seems to be her carer.
  • Kubo possesses magical powers that allow him to make paper origami come to life.
  • Kubo is distressed that his father died and he never got to know him. He tries to talk to the spirit of his dead father by lighting a lantern - it doesn't work.
  • Two demonic spirits appear. They are extremely scary female characters (witch-like) with vacant and eerie faces. They levitate and float through the air and are extremely menacing and threatening. They attempt to lure Kubo into coming with them.
  • The demonic spirits send out a kind of dark smoke monster to chase Kubo through the forest and to destroy the village where he lives.
  • Kubo's village is destroyed and he believes his mother has been killed.
  • Kubo dives down into a lake where there is a forest of giant eyeballs. The eyeballs seek to hypnotise him and drown him. Beetle rescues him.
  • Kubo discovers that Monkey is actually his mother and Beetle is actually his father. Then they are both murdered by one of the demonic sisters. They die happy in the knowledge that they have reunited as a family.
  • The Moon King appears before Kubo as an old man. When Kubo refuses to join him in the realm of the immortal, the Moon King transforms into a fantastic and terrifying dragon/serpent monster that terrorises Kubo and the other villagers. This scene is resolved when Kubo uses magic to turn the Moon King into a mortal old man.
  • Kubo summons the ghosts of his dead mother and father so they can reunite and say goodbye to each other.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed or scared by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern for this age group, however parents may wish to discuss the themes.

Product placement

Nothing noted in the movie but there is associated merchandise.

Sexual references

There are some mild sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Kubo's mother tells the romantic story of how she met and fell in love with Kubo's father.
  • There is some mild flirtation between Monkey and Beetle and she gives him a massage.

Nudity and sexual activity

None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • One of the villagers smokes a pipe.

Coarse language

There is mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Mild insults such as 'stupid', 'weak', 'idiot'.
  • Beetle says 'Oh foot!' as if he is swearing.

In a nutshell

Kubo and the Two Strings is a moving film that explores very deep themes, such as death and spirituality, with humour and beauty. Although it is quite dark and edgy, there are moments of pure, magical delight. There are many positive role models, particularly the character of Monkey who is a brave, kind and assertive character. The violence and disturbing scenes and themes make the film unsuitable for children under 9, and parental guidance is recommended for children aged 9 to 10.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • The importance of family.
  • Everyone has his or her own special story.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • courage, bravery and teamwork
  • respect for elders
  • the power of storytelling.