Drifting Home is a fantasy-drama anime film that follows a group of high school kids who find themselves mystically transported to a sea along with an entire apartment building. It is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Kosuke Kumagaya is struggling to reconnect with Natsume Touchi. The two spent their childhood together, but after the death of Kosuke’s grandfather, Yasuji Kumagai, Natsumi’s mother took her back to her home.
The old apartment building they lived in is considered haunted now. One day, Kosuke, Taishi Koiwai and Yuzuru Tachibana search the building for ‘ghosts’.
To their shock, they find Natsume hiding in the house she and Kosuke used to live in. She claims there’s another child there, named Noppo.
Looking at them on the terrace, Reina Hama, a girl who’s infatuated by Kosuke, rushes there along with her friend, Juri Ando. Jealous of Natsume and Kosuke’s history, she always finds a way to criticise her.
Kosuke starts scolding Natsume for refusing to let the place go. He finds that she has his grandfather’s camera, and wants it back. She refuses to return it, and in the scuffle, she falls off the terrace.
Suddenly, a humanoid figure conjures an immense amount of water, engulfing the entire building. Instead of falling to her death, Natsume is underwater, and the entire complex is now floating with the neighbourhood nowhere in sight.
The six kids are stuck in the middle of the sea. They find Noppo there, who turns out to be real. Natsume reveals that this has happened to her before but whenever she wakes up next, she is back to the real world.
However, this instance turns out to be different and they’re fast running out of food. Kozuke and Natsume spot another apartment building from their childhood drifting close by and attempt to acquire something to eat.
In the process, they have a conversation about their time together and sort out their difference. The others locate an island nearby.
Natsume decides to give the camera to Kosuke. It was always meant to be a birthday present from her and Yasuji, but he passed away on that day, and she couldn’t get herself to part with the camera, until now.
Noppo is undergoing a change that Kosuke catches a glimpse of. There are plants growing on his arm. Noppo reveals that he has been in the apartment since it was first created 60 years ago.
What caused the rift between Kosuke and Natsume is also revealed. When Yasuji was hospitalised, Natsume was about to give him the camera.
However, he hurt her feelings by suggesting that she doesn’t need to be worried about Yasuji as he isn’t her real grandfather. Hearing this, she left. Yasuji heard this and quickly told Kosuke to apologise to Natsume.
Reina and Juri also get closer after the latter promises to become stronger and stop hiding behind her and the former acknowledges her as her best friend.
Later, they find a department store drifting close and decide to enter it. Natsume sees stuffed toys that remind her of her childhood pain as her parents always kept bickering.
The department store starts to collide with their complex and Juri finds herself dangling from the building. To save her, Natsume risks her life and falls into the sea. Kosuke dives in recklessly to save her.
On the bottom of the ocean, a mystical entity is trying to devour everything in sight. It is about to capture Natsume, but Noppo saves her. It does manage to take away Noppo’s foot.
Natsume tells Kosuke that she didn’t like the stuffed toy when Yasuji gifted it to her. It was always alongside her and Kosuke during everything they did, and that attached memories to it, further mending their bond.
Kozuke figures out that Noppo is still hiding something. When confronted, he reveals that he is a spirit that always watched over Kosuke and Natsume when they lived with Yasuji and he was one with the apartment.
Noppo tells them that they aren’t supposed to be in this sea, and it was actually a place only for him to visit. He accidentally transported them and doesn’t know how they can escape now. He suggests leaving the apartment building in a raft or they’ll die.
They prepare to leave, but Natsume isn’t willing to let Noppo behind, despite his own wishes. Kosuke agrees. After building a raft together, they are about to leave. But Noppo doesn’t board the raft.
Unwilling to let anybody go after Yasuji, Natsume leaves the raft and returns to the building. Kosuke swims after her but they are magically separated, with the building nowhere in sight.
Drifting Home ending explained in detail:
How does Kosuke find Natsume again?
Noppo tries to convince Natsume to leave without him but she refuses to budge. Kosuke and the others find the opportunity to return to their world but he doesn’t want to go back without Natsume.
They find a Ferris wheel floating and form a plan. With no hope of escape, Natsume thinks it’s good for everybody if she disappears but she is still scared.
The day at the hospital, Kosuke chased after Natsume. Yasuji’s condition worsened and he died, without him being able to say goodbye to him and she still blames herself for this. In the present day, a miracle occurs.
The rest of the group is transported to the building’s location on the Ferris wheel, which has its own spirit, like Noppo. She has a connection with Reina, who had fond memories of the amusement park. She had looked over her when she came with her father.
Kosuke uses a rope to reach Natsume and confesses that he wants her to be in his life even though he couldn’t openly say it before. She reciprocates the feeling.
They try to escape together but before they can return, the rope is severed, leaving the building at the mercy of the storm.
What happens to Noppo?
The mysterious black entity that tried to capture Natsume earlier engulfs both her and Kosuke. Noppo realises that it’s time to let them go and that what’s important is to save their lives.
He uses his fantastical powers to protect them. Having survived, they find the Ferris wheel next to them, with all those aboard safe as well. They return atop the building, with the storm now subsided. Reina thanks the Ferris wheel spirit for everything.
The island they spotted before turns out to be the home of spirits such as Noppo. He bids Kosuke and Natsume farewell, now satisfied that Kosuke will take care of her and they will stride forward together.
How do Kosuke, Natsume and group return to their regular lives?
Just before leaving the floating building, Noppo leaves sparks of his power. They transport everyone back to their world.
Natsume’s mother finds her. Natsume asks her if it’s okay to live with her, as her childhood still scarred her. But her mother loves her deeply, and tells her she can be as vulnerable as she wants with her.
The apartment building is demolished as Kosuke and Natsume look at their home together. He says that they all went back to their regular lives, and sometimes wonder if it was all a dream. But it couldn’t possibly have been one.
Whatever the incident was, it brought him and Natsume close again. They look back at the photos clicked by the camera and see Noppo in one of them, proof that it all did happen.
They did go on an epic adventure that helped them unravel their pent-up emotions and be honest with each other.