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Archive for December, 2009

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

3 responses so far

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

2 responses so far

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

One response so far

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

14 responses so far

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

2 responses so far

Omohide Poroporo (Only Yesterday) Review

Omohide Poroporo (おもひでぽろぽろ) was Isao Takahata's second feature film at Ghibli, released in 1991, three years after Grave of the Fireflies.  The official translation is "Only Yesterday", but a somewhat literal translation of the title would be more like "Memories trickling down" (though the phrasing of the title is quite hard to represent in a sensible English sentence).  Omohide is the.... Read more

3 responses so far

Piano Arrangement: Credits Song from Kiki’s Delivery Service

As you've noticed, one of my coping methods when I become addicted to a new piece of music, or a song, is to write sheet music, so here I am again.  The song in question is the credits song for Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service, called "Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta nara".  First, here is the original song.... Read more

2 responses so far

Kiki’s Delivery Service Review

A mere one year after the release of Totoro, Miyazaki returned with his next film, Kiki's Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便) (in 1989).  Miyazaki had told epic, adventurous stories in his first two outings, then had settled down a bit for the gentler Totoro.  Kiki continues the more personal tone taken with Totoro, but this time incorporating more of the vivid scenes of flight and adventure that characterized the early Ghibli films.  While Totoro revolved around childhood, Kiki clearly focuses .... Read more

6 responses so far

My Neighbor Totoro Review

As mentioned in my review of Grave of the Fireflies, that film and My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ) were released together as a double feature in theatres in 1988.  The merchandise from Totoro produced enough revenue to keep the studio afloat, and Totoro eventually became a well-known children's icon in Japan the same way that some of the most iconic Disney characters have become in the West.  In 2008, 20 years after Totoro first hit theatres, it was still the 2nd highest selling anime DVD in Japan, easily topping nearly all current anime released that year.  The people love Totoro, and so do I....... Read more

One response so far

Grave of the Fireflies Review

Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓) was released in 1988 as a double feature with Miyazaki's Tonari no Totoro. According to Nausicaa.net, this was because Totoro was seen as an investment risk, so it was paired with Grave, which is based on a well-known autobiographical novel and would have been seen as having educational value.  I personally cannot imagine a pairing that would be worse than Grave and Totoro. This is not because I find either film to be "unworthy" - to the contrary, these are both five-star films that I love very much.    However, the light-hearted tone..... Read more

3 responses so far

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