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Archive for the 'Studio Ghibli' Category

Karigurashi no Arrietty Review

Studio Ghibli,which for decades has been dominated by the “old crowd” – Suzuki, Miyazaki, and Takahata – has made occasional attempts at cultivating younger talent in the past.  Ocean Waves was initially envisioned as an exercise for younger staff, and occasional films such as The Cat Returns or Tales from Earthsea have all been attempts to bring new directors into the forefront.  However, the studio has never really managed to find a proper spiritual successor to Miyazaki, who is the man …

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Ponyo on the Cliff Review

Ponyo is the most recent work of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli and marks the end of my series of reviews on the works of Studio Ghibli.  Sometime soon, I may get around to doing some sort of summary post.  You may notice that there were no posts regarding Mimi o Sumaseba and Cat Returns, the reason is simply that I've already written reviews of those films in the past, a particularly long one for Mimi (which is a favourite of mine).  Ponyo alludes to.... Read more

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Princess Mononoke Review

Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫) was a project which had been in Miyazaki's mind since at least 1983, when he had written a manga called The Journey of Shuna. Though the plot and characterization in that manga were different from what would become Mononoke-hime, there are some obvious similarities between them. After completing Porco Rosso, Suzuki and Miyazaki had to decide what Miyazaki's next project would be. Suzuki felt that a.... Read more

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Howl’s Moving Castle Review

Though the Ghibli adaptation of Earthsea passed by Miyazaki's hands (due to semi-retirement), he returned to his regular position at the studio soon enough, and the project was an adaptation of another Western novel, Howl's Moving Castle.  Although the author of Gedo Senki wasn't entirely pleased with the faithfulness that Goro showed to the original, I don't know if Miyazaki's hypothetical version would have pleased her either.  The...... Read more

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Tales from Earthsea ( Gedo Senki ) Review

The backstory to Gedo Senki is quite interesting.  The source of the material is a fairly popular series of fantasy books called Tales from Earthsea, written by Ursula K. Le Guin.  In Miyazaki's younger days, prior to making his most accomplished works, he had sought the rights to make a film version of Earthsea, a request rejected by the author..... Read more

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Spirited Away Review

You've heard of Spirited Away.  Everyone's heard of Spirited Away. Released in 2001, Spirited Away soon overwhelmed the Japanese box office and became the highest grossing film of all time, defeated only by Miyazaki's future films.  I try not to be too much of a Japanophile on this blog, but I can't help but think that a country where a film like Spirited Away can break box office records is a country I'd like to be in.  Through the work of Miyazaki fanboy John Lasseter and Read more

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Pom Poko Review

Rounding out the list of Takahata-directed Ghibli films is Pom Poko, an ecological fable starring the tanuki of the Tokyo forests.  Humans are encroaching on their territory and the tanuki must band together and find a way to stop them.  I am actually quite surprised that this was given the full DVD treatment by Disney, as it probably poses one of the greater challenges when it comes to localization.  For one thing.... Read more

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My Neighbors the Yamadas Review

If your only experience with Isao Takahata is his earlier films for Studio Ghibli, Grave of the Fireflies and Omohide Poroporo, My Neighbors the Yamadas(となりの山田くん), for better or for worse, will be a surprise. While those mentioned films were quiet, realistic, humanist dramas, the (at first glance) cartoonish nature of My Neighbors the Yamadas might be off-putting, despite a whiff of Takahata's neorealist-influenced style.  Looks can be deceiving, of course, and while ... Read more

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Ocean Waves / Umi ga Kikoeru / I Can Hear the Sea Review

Ocean Waves (Original title: 海がきこえる or "I can hear the sea") is perhaps the least known of Ghibli's works, and this partially owes to its origins - it was not a feature length film and was conceived as a small project for the younger members of Studio Ghibli.  It was aired on television in 1993, running at 72 minutes,  a length far shorter than most Ghibli films.  Its is spiritually similar to Omohide Poroporo and quite different from the majority of Studio Ghibli .... Read more

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Porco Rosso Review

Porco Rosso was originally intended to be a short movie for Japan airlines, based on Miyazaki's own manga, Hikōtei Jidai, but it grew into a project for a feature-length film, and was released in 1992.  If I were to wager what Miyazaki's favourite film out of his career was, I would assume it was Porco Rosso. It contains a great deal of elements that characterize his work: strong, confident female characters, planes and flight, European-influenced (well, in this case, just European) settings, and also something of a self-portrait in the cynical, pessimistic main character..... Read more

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