In a quiet town down by the seaside, a young woman nicknamed “Miss China” runs an inn that is frequented by all manner of sailors, townsfolk, and local oddballs. Miss China is a shrewd businesswoman, an active member of the local community, and a martial artist capable of single-handedly putting even the rowdiest guests in their place if they threaten to get aggressive. A real powerhouse of an independent woman, but the one thing she can’t effortlessly overcome are her difficult feelings for Jim Floyd; the assistant of the mad scientist who rents a room in her inn.
Spirit of Wonder – Miss China’s Ring is a mixture of science fiction mystery and romance; comparable to the original Steins;Gate. On the one hand it follows Jim and Dr. Breckenridge, two brilliant scientists with the most impossible ambitions and, consequently, a severe lack of funding. Their latest plan involves taking mankind to the moon, which is a remarkable goal considering the 19th century setting of the movie. However, the two claim they have already succeeded at it before and are actually perplexed to discover that nobody else appears to have noticed their achievement. Are they just delusional or is there something more at play?
Mixed in with this scientific adventure is the romantic tension between Jim and Miss China, both of whom are awkward when it comes to love. Jim does a poor job at separating his love for science and his crush on Miss China, while she is under the misconception that Jim has his eyes on someone else and thus constantly misreads his intentions. It’s not traditionally romantic, though it does lead to some sweet moments whenever these two doofuses manage to get on the same wavelength.
The story gets very interesting as Jim and the professor get ever more desperate for people to recognize their achievements, including Miss China who remains skeptical of just how trustworthy Breckenridge truly is. This short movie also benefits from the excellent visuals, which shoots for a more realistic artstyle and character design while still making the characters very expressive. The result is simply exquisite and far nicer than anything you’d normally expect from such an obscure production by a smaller team.
Its comedic science fiction story and the cute romance plot it’s intertwined with are broadly appealing, and the quality of its visuals make Spirit of Wonder pleasant to watch, even by today’s standards.