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♦ Studio Ghibli Reviews, Articles and Chronology
♦ All Anime Reviews
♦ A List of Personal Favourites
♦ All Sheet Music and Recordings

The Tale of Princess Kaguya Review (Kaguya Hime no Monogatari)


Kaguya-Hime is the first feature film from Isao Takahata in 14 years, and it is his fifth film for Studio Ghibli.  Takahata, who was never the machine that Miyazaki was in terms of production, is the first to admit that this film may also realistically be his last, which means that both of the primary creative founders of Studio Ghibli have now presented what is likely their swan songs (Miyazaki’s earlier Wind Rises being the other).  There have been rumblings …

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Wolf Children Review (Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki)

Mamoru Hosoda seems to have secured a fairly comfortable position in the hierarchy of current anime directors, being given the opportunity to oversee film after film for the past several years, beginning with The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, continuing to Summer Wars, and now to Wolf Children.  Though there were elements to his first two films that I enjoyed, I’ve always considered Hosoda to be a director who had potential but perhaps needed time until he produced …

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The Wind Rises Review (Kaze Tachinu)

Reviewing the film that has been called Miyazaki's swan song was never going to be an easy task.  Trying to approach it in an objective manner is difficult, as the experience will invariably be influenced by the impulse to compare them the greatest films of Studio Ghibli and of Miyazaki himself.  One must accept, of course, that times have changed, people have changed, and it is unreasonable to expect similarity when the circumstances have become so different.  And yet, the comparison can't be avoided.  So I will begin this article by attempting to answer the obvious question: how does Wind Rises compare to Miyazaki's beloved works of earlier years?..... Read more

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Review: Junkers Come Here

Combing through lists of anime films in the hope of stumbling upon overlooked gems is a process which becomes tedious rather quickly, but it is the occasional discoveries of films like Junkers Come Here that continue to push me back on track when the effort becomes tiresome.  While televised anime often build cult followings to keep some semblance of awareness alive, it seems more common for films to fade into history unless associated with a company or famous director, which …

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My Neighbor Totoro Soundtrack Review


(02 - Village in May)

My Neighbor Totoro  was Hisaishi's third score for Miyazaki and a bit of a divergence for the composer.  Compared to his previous two scores for Studio Ghibli, which accompanied large-scale adventure stories, the content of Totoro was far more intimate and called for material which was fairly new territory for Hisaishi.  It was also the last Hisaishi score... Read more

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Mizu Iro Jidai Review

I decided to give Mizu Iro Jidai a look based primarily on its resemblance, on the surface, to several sentimental favourites of mine from the 80s and 90s which follow a group of characters through a given stage in their lives.  Among them are classics like Maison Ikkoku and Touch, which appeal to me primarily for their gentle pace, characterization, and wistful portrayal of bygone decades.  Mizu Iro Jidai doesn’t quite have the same appeal of those series …

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Princess Mononoke Soundtrack Review

Sample: Ashitaka Sekki (Legend of Ashitaka)

A film like Princess Mononoke must surely be every composer's dream - a story with a truly grand scope, powerful conflicts of ideology, several overarching themes and several interesting, recurring characters. Such content would certainly provide an endless stream of inspiration for bolder musical themes, motifs, and avenues for development within a score as opposed to the more intimate, personal works Hisaishi had scored for Ghibli leading up to the mid-90s. The work most..... Read more

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Review: Hotarubi no Mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies)

Hotarubi no Mori e is based on one of the earlier works of Midorikawa Yuki, a mangaka primarily known for her more recent Natsume Yuujinchou – a series that I often hold as an example of commercial success falling upon a work that wholly deserves it.  Natsume Yuujinchou is part of a relatively rare breed in the world of televised anime – a series that can be enjoyed by any viewer of any age and communicates admirable messages about kindness, …

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7 responses so far

Review: Mai Mai Shinko to Sennen no Mahou (Mai Mai Miracle)

Over twenty years ago, amidst the backdrop of a rural Japanese town, My Neighbor Totoro explored both the boundless imagination and the underlying fragility of childhood, setting the standard for the genre.  Mai Mai Shinko to Sennen no Mahou  (released as Mai Mai Miracle in English) takes many cues from that film, but diverges from the established path to present something fresh and worthwhile while simultaneously feeling like a spiritual partner.  The influence of the former thus takes away no credit …

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Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo Review (Children who Chase Stars)

I have always felt a little uneasy when discussing Makoto Shinkai ever since my first viewing of 5cm Per Second, a film which I had watched due to the constant praise heaped upon it by several like-minded acquaintances.  My impression of Shinkai after that film was that he was more of a visual artist than a storyteller – yes, he could beautifully render a certain mood and present a snapshot of an emotion or feeling within a scene , and …

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