Kubo and the Two Strings is a stunningly gorgeous film, both in its touching tale and in its visual grandeur. The film is an action adventure, a samurai epic — a story that requires an ambitious scale rarely, if ever, achieved in stop-motion.

It’s got sword fights and treacherous journeys across stormy seas and and all sorts of monsters.

Kubo is “not the kind of story you typically see being told in our medium, in stop motion, and there’s a reason for it, because it’s really hard,” director Travis Knight told reporters during a visit to the Kubo set in June.

The film ultimately achieved that epic scale by marrying both stop-motion and digital animation methods, as Oregon-based studio Laika has done on all its films since Coraline, its first feature. On both the handcrafted stop-motion side and the digital side, there’s an impressive amount of attention to detail.

Much of the style of those details is influenced by Japanese art and culture for the movie set in a fantastical ancient Japan. Kubo took inspiration from contemporary fashion designer Issey Miyake and Kiyoshi Saito, a 20th century woodblock artist from Japan. The art form perhaps most commonly associated with Japan, origami, gets magically brought to life with young Kubo’s powers, and we get to watch some crowd-pleaser animated origami shows in the film, which opens in theaters on August 19.

Among the voice cast is Star Trek alum George Takei (who does get to utter his trademark “Oh Myyy!” in the movie). In the HitFix-exclusive featurette below, Takei, Knight, and more of the Kubo creative team discuss the Japanese influences on their epic story and give you a peek behind the scenes of the meticulously crafted film.

Kubo and the Two Strings opens in theaters on August 19, with a voice cast starring Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, and George Takei.

An enthusiast of time travel stories, film scores, avocados and Charades, Emily Rome is an alumna of Loyola Marymount University and a native of beautiful Washington State. Emily’s writing has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyNRome.