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The Hayao Miyazaki Retrospective Thread

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I liked what I heard of the score, though wasn't focusing on it TOO much, since I hadn't seen the film in so long, I was mostly focusing on taking the story and world in again. Yea there was some synthy stuff, but no matter. In fact, I'd say the score was completely fine for the film, from what I can recall. Reading through your review of the film now, I didn't notice any of those things you talk about - there being no music for long battles, then stingers at the end, etc. Didn't pick up on that. Seems to me like you may have watched with too much of an "analytical" brain engaged, rather than just a "let me sit back and enjoy this movie" type of brain.

Well, to be honest, I was going into the film with a "let me sit back and enjoy this movie" mind, but then when the first few synthy cues showed up, they stuck out like a sore thumb too much for me not to notice them. And maybe after that, yes, I probably did pay too much attention to the score.

In fact, a lot of your complaints about the film seem to be note related directly to the merits of the film itself! You compare it to Princess Mononoke, which I don't think is really fair; If we're going to watch through his 11 films in order, why not judge each one only on its own merits and what he did before, rather than looking to the future?

Well, as I said above, I'm convinced that if I had seen the film before other Miyazaki productions, I would have liked it more. But as it is, I couldn't help but compare it to Princess Mononoke, given the strong similarities between the two films. But even that was more meant as a sidenote in my review. Even without comparing the two films, I still think Nausicaä falls short on some aspects (the ending for example (more on that below), the use of the score (as was already mentioned), the lack of development of some characters (Asbel, for example)...).

And you talk about the manga and all that stuff; I didn't know about any of that until after I saw the film. I think if I had known that before watching, it would have just been a distraction!

Well, as I said in my review, I learned that AFTER having seen the film. Prior to that, I only knew the film was based on the manga of the same name by Miyazaki. That's all. Then, AFTER having seen the film and feeling the story left me unsatisfied overall, I found out that the film represented only a fourth of the whole story Miyazaki had in mind. So it wasn't a distraction during the film. ;)

Personally, I felt the film did a great job of telling a COMPLETE story! You have the setup where you learn the history, you have Nausicaa discovering the soil and water under the jungle is fine and its the plants using the scorched earth's soil and water that's the problem, through realizing that nature is adapting to the scorched earth by cleaning it and creaturing pure water and new soil, alongside all the battles that happy from the militaristic nation wanting to use the last Giant Warrior as a weapon. It all comes to a satisfying conclusion where the Warrior is destroyed, the insects stop their destruction, and humanity knows how to coinhabitate with the jungle now. In fact, I wonder how much more story the manga even needed to tell for 10 years after that! It's somewhat of an abrupt ending in the film, maybe, but I like the way it ends on the shot of hte new plant growing in the new soil. It's all you need to know about the hopeful future Nausicaa has helped created for everyone.

Well, yes, the structure of the story itself is fine, but I thought the development was a bit lacking. As you said, the ending is a bit abrupt. Just because Nausicaä stopped the Ohmus, suddenly the characters are going to be OK to live in harmony with nature? And what of the war between Torumekia and Dorok? Is this suddenly going to stop because Nausicaä stopped the Ohmus? Then, there's the lack of development of characters like Asbel: he suddenly shows up halfway through the film, Nausicaä and him exchange a few words when they are in the underground forest, and... That's it. After that, we don't learn much about him, nor about any of the Doroks, which I find to be a bit of shame.

Of course, these are not major flaws, rather minor flaws. But to me, there was quite a few of them, and that prevented me from completely enjoying the film. Don't get me wrong: I don't find it to be a bad film, far from it! Just an OK film that could have done with some finetuning.

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In retrospect, I agree with you that Asbel was a bit underdeveloped; He does kind of show up late, seem important, and then, in the end, not do a whole lot. In fact for me, watching the English dub, I believe Shia Lebouf was credited second or so, so when he finally turned up, I expected him to be a major character. However, I was so absorbed in the story, I suppose I didn't even notice that he had a relatively minor role in the end, until you brought it up just now :)

And yes, now that you mention it, there is more to the story to tell; As you said, the war between Tolmekia and Pejite isn't resolved, nor the specifics of how humanity can rebuild their civilization based on what Nausicaa learned. But for me, that doesn't take away from the film; No, in fact I find it a good quality for a film to have, that when its over, you have a sense of resolution and fulfillment, but also wonder what could happen to the characters in the future.

So yea, the more I think about this film, the more I like it ! :)

BTW, when are you watching Castle In The Sky? I watched it yesterday.

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I knew if I included that, you'd reply to that part of my post and not any other part :P

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Jay, now I saw you said you watched the English dub of Cagliostro.

Are you watching all these Miyazaki films with the English dub?

I really think this is wrong and these films should be seen in the original language.

about Castle in the Sky:

the English dub has a new orchestral soundtrack (the original one was synth) and added dialogue lines..

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Yup I'll be watching them all with Disney's English dub. I'll watch them in Japanese for my next run through.

I read about that Castle In The Sky rescore after I watched the movie ; only the DVD had the new music, the blu ray returns to the original music.

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I knew if I included that, you'd reply to that part of my post and not any other part :P

Alright, alright!

In retrospect, I agree with you that Asbel was a bit underdeveloped; He does kind of show up late, seem important, and then, in the end, not do a whole lot. In fact for me, watching the English dub, I believe Shia Lebouf was credited second or so, so when he finally turned up, I expected him to be a major character. However, I was so absorbed in the story, I suppose I didn't even notice that he had a relatively minor role in the end, until you brought it up just now :)

Ha!

And yes, now that you mention it, there is more to the story to tell; As you said, the war between Tolmekia and Pejite isn't resolved, nor the specifics of how humanity can rebuild their civilization based on what Nausicaa learned. But for me, that doesn't take away from the film; No, in fact I find it a good quality for a film to have, that when its over, you have a sense of resolution and fulfillment, but also wonder what could happen to the characters in the future.

That's the problem: I didn't really feel that sense of resolution. I didn't feel much was achieved at the end of the film, apart from the Ohmus being stopped. Nothing led me to believe the humans were going to change their mind on their relation with nature after what happened.

So yea, the more I think about this film, the more I like it ! :)

Well, I have to admit, after due consideration, I'd say maybe I was a bit harsh on the film. I'm sure I'll like it (at least a bit) more with a second viewing.

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Yup I'll be watching them all with Disney's English dub. I'll watch them in Japanese for my next run through.

I read about that Castle In The Sky reacore after I watched the movie ; only the DVD had the new music, the blu ray returns to the original music.

I see.

Well, in my Japanese Bluray the English dub has the new music.

Of course I never ever watch a dub on anything.

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I would never watch a dub on any live action movie, ever. Original language all the way!

But for animation, I don't mind as much, and in particular for these Disney dubs, I'm curious to hear the work of actors I like - Gillian Anderson, Patrick Stewart, Michael Keaton, Phil Hartman, Anna Paquin, etc etc. If they were a bunch of no-names I'd never heard of, I might have gone right for the Japanese dubs.

Again, I want to state again that for live action, I think dubbing sucks and I ALWAYS prefer the original untouched audio.

BTW, filmmusic, why don't you have an avatar?

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Again, I want to state again that for live action, I think dubbing sucks and I ALWAYS prefer the original untouched audio.

BTW, filmmusic, why don't you have an avatar?

well, I still think you shouldn't discriminate between animation and live-action.

I don't care much for avatars.. :P

and even if I did, I can't decide what to use.

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As much as I prefer to watch every film in its original language, when it comes to animation, I don't have THAT much of a problem watching a dubbed version, because in this case, it's not about "changing" the real voice of a real person you see onscreen. Moreover, sometimes, dubbing on animated films/series is generally much better than dubbing on live action films (case in point: the Simpsons, or some Disney films).

That being said, I'm watching all the Miyazaki movies in Japanese. ;)

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That being said, I'm watching all the Miyazaki movies in Japanese. ;)

Thank heavens!

Yes, it's not about the real voice of the person you see on screen, BUT the original director of the film doesn't have any control over the English dub and how the actors will say something.. So..

If someone watches a film with a dub, he actualy watches a re-imagination of the film, and not the actual film!

Sound and dialogue are as important as the picture.

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Yea, exactly. With a live-action film, you're hearing audio actually recorded on the set sometimes, not just in a studio. So the whole audio soundscape changes, you fell less like you are outside with the characters, the whole film sounds like it was recorded in a studio (because it was!) Also, you're watching them give the performance you are hearing. Frankly, its criminal to watch some other actor's voice come out of their voice, the original vocal performance completely gone, just to translate to another language. Subtitles all the way!

But for animation, there's a lot of differences. For one, all the original audio was recorded in a studio anyway, so there's no difference to the new audio there. Then, you're not seeing the people giving the performances anyway, so you don't have that gap of seeing an actor you may know, but now with some other guy dubbing his voice. Right from the start of the film, you associate the dubbed actor with the role.

Plus as I said, I'm curious to hear the big, named actors I like doing these roles Patrick Stewart, Mark Hamill, Cloris Leachman, Uma Thurman, and Chris Sarandon have been great so far!

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Yes, it's not about the real voice of the person you see on screen, BUT the original director of the film doesn't have any control over the English dub and how the actors will say something.. So..

If someone watches a film with a dub, he actualy watches a re-imagination of the film, and not the actual film!

In a way, you are right. You lose something in the process. However, most of the time, the dubbing teams do their best to stay true to the intonation, inflection, etc. of the actor's voice in the original version.

Don't misunderstand me: I always value the original version over the dubbed version. It's just that in the case of animated films, I just don't dismiss the dubbed version as much as I do for live action films.

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For animation I'm in between filmmusic and Jay. I had the option to see The Wind Rises in Japanese with subtitles or the English dub, but I chose the original language to respect that process. Then I later found out who voiced the English dub and kinda wish I saw it that way instead to hear what my favorite actors are doing.

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Yea. I certainly plan on watching the Japanese versions someday, but not this particular time.

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天空の城ラピュタ a.k.a Laputa: Castle In The Sky - Hayao Miyazaki (1986)

 

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A young boy and a girl with a magic crystal must race against pirates and foreign agents in a search for a legendary floating castle.

 

First time watching this one.

 

Well, I liked it a lot! That was definitely an improvement over Nausicaä. It felt like a more accomplished movie overall.


Right from the start, I knew I was gonna like the film: the opening sequence features great action that is well-directed and that serves as an excellent introduction to the film. In fact, all the action in this film is excellent and one of its strong points. The chase sequence between the train and the car in particular is both hilarious and exhilarating, as well as really inventive. Loved it. One of the highlights for me (if not the highlight of the film). The other action sequences (the attack on the army's fortress, the ships inside the Dragon's Nest, etc.) were also well made.


But that's not to say the action is the only thing I liked about Castle In The Sky. The film features a great ensemble of characters, from the fierce Dola and her gang of goofy pirates, to the group of miners, including Uncle Pom, Shiita of course, Pazu... The only character that didn't quite convince me was Muska, who was a rather dull villain. But that's no biggie. While we're on the topic of characters: it's interesting to note that the design of some characters presented here were later reused by Miyazaki in his following films (Kamaji from Spirited Away is basically the mechanic of the Tiger Moth in this film, Yubaba has the same face as Dola, etc.). It's also in this film that Miyazaki started cross-referencing his other works, with the fox-squirrels from Nausicaä having a short cameo when Pazu and Shiita arrive at Laputa.


The film has a really good pace, too. The characters don't arrive at Laputa until two thirds into the film, yet at no point did I think: "Come on! Can they get there already?", because all that happened before they get there was engaging. The fact that the action was good and the characters interesting helped, obviously. There's also the humor that is quite good: the movie has some funny bits, like the miner and the pirate showing off their muscles and tearing their shirts in the process, Pazu trying to fly with the stone, etc. There are also some nice twists and turns throughout the film, like the pirates, who at first, are presented like being the bad guys of the story, but turn out to be not so bad after all (I like this kind of stuff that make you reconsider the whole story halfway through it).


As for the story itself: I liked most of it, though was slightly disappointed by the last act. The climax (the last 20 minutes or so) was a tad underwhelming I thought (especially considering all the great stuff that happened before that), with a lot of shit happening on screen but that didn't make me feel as invested as I was during the rest of the film (you have this weird technology in that orb below the castle, with all the cubes moving... It almost felt like this was all from another movie). I was also at first disappointed that we didn't learn anything about the history of Laputa. I'm fine with not having everything answered, if at least we're given little hints of what could have happened, but there I thought there was nothing. But then I noticed after the fact that the opening credits sequence actually feature a (visual) short history of the castle, which gives us just what I wanted: hints of what could have happened. So in the end I was OK with that!


In terms of visuals, the film looks just as good as the ones that preceded it. If anything, it looks like the Miyazaki trademarks in character design is better seen here: I think this is the film where he finally found his visual style that he would use for the rest of his career. Sure, Nausicaä already had that, but it still felt a bit rough on the edges in some aspects. Here, characters like Pazu, Dola, Shiita, etc. look very much like characters from later Miyazaki films. There are also some great ship designs here (this movie is a flying machines galore!): I particularly liked the Tiger Moth, as well as the ship of Pazu's father, the Flaptors, and a few other ships seen in the opening sequence. The robot soldiers also looked great.


And now it's time to talk about the score.. Now, as most of you already know, Hisaishi was asked to rescore the film for the US release, because the Disney staff thought the movie was too sparsely spotted for a "children's film", and also to update the synthish part. The DVD release featured the rescore, but that's no longer the case now. Now, to clear things up on this business that was mentioned by LeBlanc and filmmusic: the US version of the Blu-Ray has the English dub with the original score, while the International version of the Blu-Ray has the English dub with the new score. All the other dubs (as well as the Japanese version) feature the original score on all physical formats, as far as I know. There is no Japanese version with the new score (which is a bit of shame, because I'd be interested in watching that).


But anyway, to get back to the actual music... I watched the Japanese version with the original score, and I have to say: I don't understand why they asked for a rescore. I thought the score and the spotting were fine in the film. Now, had they asked for a rescore of Nausicaä, I could have understand, because parts of that one sound dated, and the score is sometimes oddly spotted, but here, I didn't feel the film had such problems. Sure, there are some synthish parts, but they do not feel really dated, and the movie is not as sparsely spotted as some people claim (it seems it is often wrongly reported that the movie features only 35 minutes or so of music, but I think people say that based on the OST, which is 35 minutes long, but the movie definitely has more than 35 minutes of music). Anyway, I liked the music. I didn't find the score to be particularly remarkable, but it had a few solid moments (the sweet The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, the bucolic Morning In Slag Ravine, the blood-pumping A Fun Brawl (~Pursuit) (absolutely love the rendition of Dola's theme there) the gorgeous The Collapse Of Laputa...) and felt more cohesive than the one for Nausicaä. That being said, it still didn't feel like great music, just good music.


Then I listened to the US version of the soundtrack. And wow! I loved it! The use of the orchestra really improved the music, and the rescore gave Hisaishi the opportunity to develop his cues and themes a bit more. The thing I liked about it is that he didn't completely write new music for each sequence: he used the cues he had already written, and "upgraded" them. So the new score stays true to the old one, it just expands upon it instead of completely reinventing it. So many great moments in there: Prologue - Flaptors Attack with some solid action writing, The Girl Who Fell From The Sky which sounds even more majestic in this version, Morning In The Mining Village, The Chase (with the statement of Dola's theme at 02'04 turned into a fuckin' awesome crazy waltz. Easily one of the best moments in the score!), Floating With The Crystal, Stones Glowing In The Darkness which offers some interesting textures, Robot Soldier ~Resurrection & Rescue~ which makes a great use of the Flaptors' motif, Dola And The Pirates with its lovely rendition of Dola's theme (I dig how the theme evolves throughout the score from a menacing march to a gentle (and sometimes even comical) melody when the pirates becomes ally to Pazu and Shiita), Confessions In The Moonlight with its piano-led rendition of the main theme, The Invasion Of Goliath, The Final Showdown with a thrilling ending, The Destruction Of Laputa and its choral majesty... The only cue for which I preferred the original version are Pazu's Fanfare (the US version has too much fluff added to it, while the original version was a simple yet effective trumpet solo). I also liked the orginal version of The Destruction Of Laputa just as much as the rescored one. The original version of the score worked fine in the film it was written for, but was particular great music to listen to on its own, while the US version definitely is. A fantastic score with some stellar writing!

Overall, I was really satisfied by the film. Easily the one I liked the most so far during this retrospective. The one that feels the more complete, and solid on all aspects (story, characters, visuals, music...). There are a few nitpicks I could mention, but these were minor overall, and didn't . A fun ride!

7.5/10

 

 

All the tracks below come from the US version of the soundtrack:

Prologue - Flaptors Attack

 

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky

 

Morning In The Mining Village

 

The Chase

 

Stones Glowing In The Darkness

 

Robot Soldier ~Resurrection & Rescue~

 

Dola And The Pirates

 

The Invasion Of Goliath

 

The Final Showdown

 

The Destruction Of Laputa

 

 

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P.S.: If you want to learn more about the writing of the new score: http://www.nausicaa.net/miyazaki/laputa/music.html

 

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The music of Laputa: The Castle in the Sky was composed by Joe Hisaishi back in 1986. Hisaishi is currently (April, 1999) redoing the music for the English version of the film, Castle in the Sky. Disney is considering a theatrical release in the United States, and hence requests him to update and upgrade the music. Disney is considering a theatrical release in the United States, and hence requests him to update and upgrade the music. In an interview in Keyboard Magazine (the Japanese version) Aug. 1999 issue, Hisaishi said the following:
"According to Disney's staff, foreigners (non-Japanese) feel uncomfortable if there is no music for more than 3 minutes (laughs). You see this in the Western movies, which have music throughout. Especially, it is the natural state for a (non-Japanese) animated film to have music all the time. However in the original Laputa, there is only one-hour worth of music in the 2 hour 4 minute movie. There are parts that do not have any music for 7 to 8 minutes. So, we decided to redo the music as (the existing soundtrack) will not be suitable for (the markets) outside of Japan.

"If we just add new music, it won't go well with the music made in 14 years ago. So we completely re-recorded everything. Of course, we can not demolish the melody of Laputa, so I changed the arrangement of it while keeping its integrity.

"The American way of putting music in a movie is basically very simple. They just match the music with the characters. For example, when the army shows up on screen, you hear the army's theme. The music explains the screen images--that is the point of Hollywood music. Until this time, I avoided such an approach, as I felt that it would make music dull, although I understand such an approach. But when I redid (the music of Laputa this way), I learned a lot."

 

There's also a translation of Hisaishi's production diary of the recording of the US version in the link I posted above. An interesting read!

 

On a sidenote: interesting that Hisaishi said he avoided the thematic approach, since the original version of the score definitely had themes already in it (the main theme, Dola's theme, Shiita's theme...). The score was not thematically-driven, though...

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Castle In The Sky

My second time seeing this film. Another winner! One thing I like about all three of Miyazaki's films so far is that they start IMMEDIATELY with a scene in progress, that gets you hooked, and then there's always a nice main title sequence with all the credits. In Cagliostro you had the end of the casino robbery, in Nausicaa you had Lord Yupa investigating another empty village, and here in Castle In The Sky we get this cool airship sequence where we meet Sheeta and she has to escape from her captor when a bunch of pirates show up to steal her amulet, which leads nicely into the opening credits. Good stuff.

Overall, I found a film basically be a great blend of elements from his first 2 movies: You have a villain wanting to use an ancient power for his own gains, personal flying crafts, and a kind of larg-ish scope from Nausicaa, but with a more modern and "realistic" setting, more humor and light-hearted nature, and more streamlined and "straightforward/simple" plot style from Cagliostro. Not to mention that little squirrel thing from Nausicaa returns for some reason?

The story is instantly engaging; After we meet Sheeta in the cold opening, we meet Pazu after the main credits, a kid working for a miner in a town, and he's great - good hearted, full of adventure, wants to build a plane to find Laputa, a hidden castle in the sky his father once saw and hasn't been seen since. Early on there's a great sequence where Pazu and Sheeta have to outrun both the pirates and then men (led by Muska, who had her captured in the beginning) on a series of railroad tracks - it was great! The lead pirate, Captain Dola was awesome, a great character - the kind of old lady type that Miyazaki woudl use in a lot of his movies.

The film moves along at a perfect pace - we don't even get to the titular Castle In The Sky until late in the film, but it all seems right, the story always unfolding naturally. The animation is superb, both the characters and the great backgrounds. And since the story takes us to a bunch of different places, we get to see lots of new backgrounds and characters throughout. I really liked the style of the Laputa robots!

The Disney/English voice cast was once again very good! A pitch-shifted James Van Der Beek sounds a little goofy at times as Pazu, but Anna Paquin made a great Sheeta, and man, Cloris Leachman was great as Dola! Mark Hammil was a fantastic villain as Muska, and Jim Cummings, Andy Dick, Mandy Patinkin, and Tress MacNeille have small parts as well.

I enjoyed the score in the film, synth based as it was. I learned after that originally Disney hired Hisaishi to re-do the score with an orchestra for the first Disney DVD release; I wish I had known that, because I sold off my DVD when I got the Blu Ray (which reverts to the original score). Oh well.

So far, all 3 Miyazaki films have been terrific, A+ movies. If I had to rank them, I'd go

1. Nausciaa

2. Castle In The Sky

3. Castle of Cagliostro

But all are really great.

Next up: My Neighbor Totoro, which I've never seen!

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Turns out we agree on pretty much everything here, though my ranking of the films so far would be different than yours:

01. Laputa: Castle In The Sky

02. Lupin III: The Castle Of Cagliostro

03. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind

And it's a shame Disney didn't include both versions of the score on the Blu-Ray (they should have included that as an option for people to choose between the two).

Next up: My Neighbor Totoro, which I've already seen once!

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They're all great movies. I really enjoyed Castle In The Sky. It was a great middle ground between the "serious" Nausicaa" and the "comedic" Cagliostro. And MIyazaki's obsession with flying continues to grow :)


Just read your review, now. I'm surprised you say you thought Muska was a dull villain; As Mark Hamill played him, he was terrific! It was a bit... "sudden" that he was also a descendant of Laputa like Sheeta was, but that wasn't that big of a deal.

I wish I could comment on the music more, but really when I'm watching a film for the first time (or in this case the first time in a very long while), I am just focused on taking in the story and don't really notice too much about the music. Maybe I'll start listening to Hisaishi's scores outside the films some time.

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They're all great movies.

I can agree about that with Cagliostro and Laputa, though Nausicaä falls a bit short of being great. ;)

I really enjoyed Castle In The Sky. It was a great middle ground between the "serious" Nausicaa" and the "comedic" Cagliostro.

That's a good way to put it. That's the main reason why I liked it so much.

And Miyazaki's obsession with flying continues to grow :)

Yep. Though funnily enough, My Neighbour Totoro is devoid of that, from what I remember.

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And Miyazaki's obsession with flying continues to grow :)

Yep. Though funnily enough, My Neighbour Totoro is devoid of that, from what I remember.

Not wholly devoid. They don't CLIMB up to those treetops! (And while the Catbus can be more like an elevated train than a plane, it hits some of the same exhilarating notes.)

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I've seen Spirited Away (loved it) Princess Mononoke (first half is slow but loved the second half) and Naussical (did not love). Where should I go next? Preferably in order from best to not-best.

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I've seen Spirited Away (loved it) Princess Mononoke (first half is slow but loved the second half) and Naussical (did not love). Where should I go next? Preferably in order from best to not-best.

I would suggest to see all Ghibli films (and not just the Miyazaki ones), in chronological order.

If you want just Miyazaki, since you loved Spirited Away, maybe you should go to Howl's Moving Castle (his 2nd Oscar nomination, with the 3rd being The Wind Rises)?

Although it may feel a bit disjointed to many people.

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And Miyazaki's obsession with flying continues to grow :)

Yep. Though funnily enough, My Neighbour Totoro is devoid of that, from what I remember.

Not wholly devoid. They don't CLIMB up to those treetops! (And while the Catbus can be more like an elevated train than a plane, it hits some of the same exhilarating notes.)

Ah, yes, I remember now! The umbrella flight...

I've seen Spirited Away (loved it) Princess Mononoke (first half is slow but loved the second half) and Naussical (did not love). Where should I go next? Preferably in order from best to not-best.

Here's how I'd put it (from best to not-best):

1. Castle In The Sky

2. The Castle Of Cagliostro

3. Howl's Moving Castle

4. My Neighbor Totoro

The rest, I have yet to see.

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となりのトトロ a.k.a My Neighbor Totoro - Hayao Miyazaki (1988)

 

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When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wonderous forest spirits who live nearby.

 

Second time watching that one.

 

And I actually remember liking this film more than I did when I rewatched it.

Right after his biggest film to date (in terms of length, number of characters, locations, etc.), Miyazaki made his smallest feature yet: only 87 minutes long (and it was originally meant to be only 1 hour long), only about 6 characters, just one main location... This one is quite different from his previous pictures: it's not an epic adventure, rather a slow, low-key story with not a lot happening. The first 20 minutes of the film are basically devoted to the girls just becoming familiar with their new home. And Totoro isn't introduced until 30 minutes into the film (so a third into the film)! And I have to say: that turned out to be a problem for me. Now, I don't have a problem with a film being slow: a lot of films I like are rather slow. But there has to be something that keeps me interested in order not to have a problem with the pace. Here, the first third of the film didn't have much to keep me engaged: you had just the girls running around and yelling (I didn't remember there was so much yelling in this film! There were moments when it was downright annoying). It's not until the fantasy element comes into the story that I felt drawn back into the film. But damn, those first 30 minutes left me a bit bored. The thing is, had the two main characters be likeable, I would have been OK with that, but while Satsuki is fine, Mei is often irritating (yet again, the incessant yelling...). Now, as I said, once we enter into the second third of the film (basically when Totoro is introduced), things get more engaging and from there on, I liked what I saw more.

 

But again, it's not a story-driven film, more of a "slice of life" film, so in the end, it all comes down to the characters and the atmosphere. As I said above, I didn't really like Mei. I take it she's supposed to be a cute, but she turned out to be more of a nuisance than anything else. Satsuki is a better character overall, even if not really developed much. It turns out that my favourite character was probably Kanta. The remaining characters (the father, the mother and Granny) are not particularly remarkable. As for the creatures, of course, Totoro is the highlight of the film (though, surprisingly, he's not in the film for long. He must be in it for less than 20 minutes!). All the best scenes involved him: the hilarious bus stop sequence (gotta love his cheerful face when the raindrops fall on his umbrella), the moonlight flight sequence, the growing tree scene... He's such a loveable creature! And iconic too (he's basically the Japanese Mickey Mouse). The two smaller Totoros are quite funny too. And then there's the catbus: what a great crazy idea that creature is (the mice serving as tail lights was a nice touch). Love it! It's also interesting to note the first appearance of the sootbballs that'll later reappear (and have a larger role) in Spirited Away.

 

The atmosphere of the film is also top-notch: I love its dreamlike quality, that is complemented by great visuals, probably the finest in a Miyazaki film yet, though unfortunately much less varied than in his previous films. We basically only get trees, trees, and more trees! But of course, this goes with the main theme of the film, which is our relation with nature (Totoro being some kind of guardian of the forest). This is probably Miyazaki's most environmentally-oriented film, and it is, along with the dreamy atmosphere, one of the biggest strengths of the film.

 

Hisaishi's score is good but not particularly memorable (much like his previous two, if we put aside the US version of the Laputa score ;)). The song didn't do much for me (the opening one in particular I found to be grating, and the Ending Song was too run-off-the-mill, even if quite catchy), but the score itself has a nice pastoral quality (heard for example in The Village In May), and while it may be a bit too cutesy at times to my liking, it's still a good fit for the movie. There is some nice soothing material in there, such as Evening Wind, and the gorgeous Mei Is Missing (surely the highlight of the score). Hisaishi also gives us some nice variations on the main theme (especially in A Little Monster, which plays a bit like a suite for that theme), with a great rendition in the second half of Moonlight Flight, as well as in I'm So Glad. Also noteworthy is the funky Catbus, which adds to the fun of that sequence in the film. Then there is a more kiddie-oriented (for lack of a better term) side to the score, with tracks like in A Haunted House! or Let's Go To The Hospital, which is less appealing. The music for the Totoro character offers some interesting textures (like in the eponymous track or The Path Of Wind) but doesn't make a lasting impression. Yet another Hisaishi score I wouldn't call great, even if you can feel his writing style kept on getting better and better with each new assignement. And still not a bad score by any means.

 

In the end, this is a kind of film I have to be in the right mood to enjoy. It is well-made, there is no denying, with great visuals, a good enough score on the whole, a neat atmosphere, and fantastic creature design... But the lack of an actual story and characters that are just OK for the most part make it a bit difficult for me to totally enjoy it. I guess that, depending on the day, I would give it a higher rating than I do today. Better luck next time, I suppose!

 

6/10

 

 

The Village In May

 

Evening Wind

 

A Little Monster

 

Moonlight Flight

 

Mei Is Missing

 

Catbus

 

I'm So Glad

 

 

ZFrVgt7.pngf5gpyj5.pngTmwJwGv.pngeE97eud.pngXMhIkmm.png

 

 

P.S.: A funny thing I noticed is that the poster for the film depicts the bus stop scene, but without Mei or Satsuki! Rather a girl that looks like a mix of Satsuki and Mei's designs.

 

my_neighbor_totoro.jpg

movietotoro.jpg

 

And it's explained here why: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096283/trivia

 

Quote

Hayao Miyazaki originally conceived the characters Satsuki and Mei as a single girl. He wanted to add suspense to the latter half of the film, and he felt it wouldn't work with just a single girl, so he split her into two separate girls. The original girl had features of both Satsuki and Mei, and was 7: halfway between the ages of Satsuki (10) and Mei (4).

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Then I listened to the US version of the soundtrack. And wow! I loved it! The use of the orchestra really improved the music, and the rescore gave Hisaishi the opportunity to develop his cues and themes a bit more.

As a huge fan of Castle in the Sky, and especially its rescore and dub, I am very pleased to hear this rave review of this reworking. It's rare to find fans of the rescore. Many, many purists at the time (2003) excoriated the new score, declaring that it was "a crime against all humanity" that "utterly butchered the film", even declaring the Disney dub to be unbearable. Today, some people still do. I myself never agreed with that and always believed the Castle dub to be excellent, and quite frankly, underrated. As much as I loved the performances, it was the rescore that really sold the dub for me. I have nothing against the original Japanese version; it's still beautiful, but this new score just breathes a lot of color and richness into an already beautiful work. I've since stuck with this new score and never looked back. Bravo to see someone acknowledge this unfairly maligned reworking as a work of art in its own right. Kudos!

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My Neighbor Totoro

My first time ever seeing this! I think it took so long because Fox had the rights for so long while Disney had all the others, so I never bought the crappy Fox DVD and jut waited for the Disney release. I'm so glad I finally saw it because its just excellent!

Immediately you know you're in for a movie different than Miyazaki's first three when the film doesn't open with an exciting pre-credits sequence; In fact, there's no pre-credits sequence at all! Overall, the film has a comparatively microscopic scope compared to the other films, featuring just 3 main (human) characters and just focusing on personal struggles (that they get a little outside help for). It was great!

For a film with no real villain and barely a conflict, its amazing that its as effective as it is! In fact, I guess in a way Miyazaki probably set out to prove you don't need a traditional villiain, or even any kinds of guns or violence, to tell a compelling story. And he succeeded.

Miyazki is a master of pacing. He first introduces us to our 3 characters, and our setting - but just the house at first. Other characters meet them there, then the girls begin to explore around the house, and more is revealed, then Mei meets Totoro, and more is revealed, etc. It all unfolds so deliberately, but never in a slow or boring way.

I'm sure some have criticized this film for its length and abrupt ending - more or less, it features 2 acts then then suddenly we're at the end of a short climax, and its over. But I thought it was fine. Just enough time was given to any aspect of the story. If I can any questions about the film, it was the character of the neighbor boy. His motivations were kind of unclear to me, since he didn't speak much. Did he have the hots for Satsuki? Or was he slow or something? He was kinda weird and I felt like they were going to reveal something about him at the end, but then didn't.

The voice acting was once again spectacular. Dakota and Elle Fanning were perfectly cast as Satsuki and Mei, and Tim Daly was great as their father. Frank Welker played an interesting Totoro and Catbus, though I'm kind of surprised they even recast those since they don't REALLY speak, ya know?

I also LOVED the score to the film! Hisaishi's score was great! I think it probably repeated the same two themes throughout, but I noticed the score often, and for the first time it really made me want to check it out outside the film. I might just do so soon!

So after 4 films, I'd rank them:
1. Nausciaa
2. My Neighbor Totoro
3. Castle In The Sky
4. Castle of Cagliostro
It's actually really hard to rank them since they're all so different (and all so good - we're talking four A+ movies here!)
Jon Turner likes this

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Once again, we disagree a bit, although, this time, I can totally understand why you liked the film, as it is indeed a fine feature. Not sure I understand your criticism of Kanta's character, though. I thought he was OK. Just someone who had trouble expressing his emotions. That's all.

I find it funny that you said this was the first Miyazaki film where you noticed the score, as I thought the previous two also had noticeable moments (especially Laputa. Again, I cannot stress enough how you guys should listen to the US version of that one!), even if a bit lacking in some aspects.

My ranking of the film is quite different from yours. ;)

1. Laputa: Castle In The Sky

2. Lupin III: The Castle Of Cagliostro

3. Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind

4. My Neighbor Totoro

While I'd say My Neighbor Totoro is the superior film compared to Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind in almost every aspect (visually, musically, the atmosphere, etc.), I think that the latter, no matter how flawed it is, is more compelling.

Then I listened to the US version of the soundtrack. And wow! I loved it! The use of the orchestra really improved the music, and the rescore gave Hisaishi the opportunity to develop his cues and themes a bit more.

As a huge fan of Castle in the Sky, and especially its rescore and dub, I am very pleased to hear this rave review of this reworking. It's rare to find fans of the rescore. Many, many purists at the time (2003) excoriated the new score, declaring that it was "a crime against all humanity" that "utterly butchered the film", even declaring the Disney dub to be unbearable. Today, some people still do. I myself never agreed with that and always believed the Castle dub to be excellent, and quite frankly, underrated. As much as I loved the performances, it was the rescore that really sold the dub for me. I have nothing against the original Japanese version; it's still beautiful, but this new score just breathes a lot of color and richness into an already beautiful work. I've since stuck with this new score and never looked back. Bravo to see someone acknowledge this unfairly maligned reworking as a work of art in its own right. Kudos!

:thumbup:

While I can understand why the purists prefer to have the movie retain its original score, I can't understand why anyone would reject the score just because it's replacement music, and not based on the actual quality of the music. Moreover, the new score is very faithful to the original. It's not something completely new: all the music that was in the original score is there, plus some more.

If people prefer to have a version of the film with the original score, fine. But it's just dumb to dismiss the new score entirely, even as a separate entity, because it's damn fine music.

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I guess I mis-typed there - I shouldn't have said it was the first one where I noticed the score, I mean that it was the first one where I was REALLY compelled to go out and listen to it outside the film right away. It was really good!

I'm sure they're all good, but all I can comment on currently is how I noticed them in the film, and since I'm watching all these films for either the first time or the first time in a decade, I'm not paying much attention to the scores.

I read your review now (I don't like to read them until after I've seen the movie in question) and yea, that whole bus stop sequence was so cute! Pure Miyazaki magic.

Interesting that this the first Miyazaki film that actually takes place in Japan! I didn't even think about that until after. It's kind of funny seeing actual Japanese text (like on the catbus, and the letters) since I think they avoided that in the last two films (since they took place in made up lands).

I watched most of the special features on the BD afterwards. Crazy how long it took Miyazaki to realize his vision after he had it, how it wasn't going to be a film for so long, how he originally didn't have separate characters for the sisters! The two sisters were a great part of the film, they were very realistic and relatable characters (if you can remember being that age!)

Such a magical film.

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I guess I mis-typed there - I shouldn't have said it was the first one where I noticed the score, I mean that it was the first one where I was REALLY compelled to go out and listen to it outside the film right away. It was really good!

I'm sure they're all good, but all I can comment on currently is how I noticed them in the film, and since I'm watching all these films for either the first time or the first time in a decade, I'm not paying much attention to the scores.

Well, if you're interested in checking Hisaishi's music, I'd recommend so far:

- For Nausicaä And The Valley Of The Wind: the Symphonic Poem from the album Hisaishi Meets Miyazaki Films (the original soundtrack is a bit meh. The Symphonic Poem includes most of/all the highlights from the score).

- For Laputa: Castle In The Sky: the US version of the score (includes all the music from the original Japanese score, but this time it's fully orchestral).

- For My Neighbor Totoro: the original soundtrack.

Interesting that this the first Miyazaki film that actually takes place in Japan! I didn't even think about that until after. It's kind of funny seeing actual Japanese text (like on the catbus, and the letters) since I think they avoided that in the last two films (since they took place in made up lands).

Yeah, I noticed that too. It also feels like the most personal film he has made (he even drew inspiration from his own childhood).

Also, something I forgot to mention in my review: a really interesting theory regarding who Totoro could actually be.

http://kotaku.com/the-scary-theory-that-totoro-is-the-god-of-death-5926248

More info on that: Scary Truth Behind "My Neighbor Totoro"

I honestly don't think that's what Miyazaki had in mind at all, but it still makes for an interesting interpretation of the film, and makes you look at it in a very different way!

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Yea definitely don't agree with that.

Miyazaki clearly set out to make a smaller, more intimate flick, with no guns or violence, while showcasing both the beauty of Japan and nature in general.

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While I can understand why the purists prefer to have the movie retain its original score, I can't understand why anyone would reject the score just because it's replacement music, and not based on the actual quality of the music. Moreover, the new score is very faithful to the original. It's not something completely new: all the music that was in the original score is there, plus some more.

If people prefer to have a version of the film with the original score, fine. But it's just dumb to dismiss the new score entirely, even as a separate entity, because it's damn fine music.

Regretably, that's just what a lot of purists did. And besides it could have been worse. Remember how Ridley Scott's Legend dropped Jerry Goldsmith's richly orchestral score for Tangarine Dream's ill-fitting pop soundtrack? It would be one thing if the new score was ill-fitting rap/techno, but in this case it was done by the original guy.

I don't know if you saw the movie with the Disney dub and the rescore, but for me, it really made the picture for me. That and the performances of the cast. On another note, it's unfortunate that one of the cast members from the dub of Laputa has recently passed. That man is Richard Dysart, who played one of my other favorite characters from the movie, the kindly Uncle Pom. I really loved his performance and especially his opening line: "I can't see you clearly yet goblin, but you sound like Pazu." That always makes me chuckle.

The voice acting was once again spectacular. Dakota and Elle Fanning were perfectly cast as Satsuki and Mei, and Tim Daly was great as their father. Frank Welker played an interesting Totoro and Catbus, though I'm kind of surprised they even recast those since they don't REALLY speak, ya know?

The new dub of Totoro is a dub that many, many, many Ghibli fans absolutely abhor, calling it a complete travesty that "ruins" the movie. But that's mainly because they grew up with the previous version from FOX which featured a dub from Carl Macek which was actually quite good for its time. I do have a soft spot for it. However, that is not to say that I think the Disney version is inferior by comparison. On the contrary. I think it too is a great dub. The only thing I think the FOX dub handles better is the OP/ED songs, but otherwise both dubs are on par IMO.

Unfortunately, many other fans do not have such thoughts; I've seen many trash the new dub quite undeservedly, especially on Amazon, I've seen people scream "I want the REAL TOTORO. THE NEW DUB IS TERRIBLE" yadda yadda. I understand the frustration of not being able to have that version in HD, but the backlash against the newer dub is very undeserved.

Castle in the Sky received a similar atmosphere not just with fans of the original Japanese version (which is nullified anyway because they can see it in Japanese), but with the few who saw a previously dubbed version that Disney didn't do. Although small in number, these fans insist that the older non-Disney dub is "SOOOOOOO much better than the ******* Disney dub" and that the older dub is "absolutely perfect". Unfortunately, the older dub of Laputa is not anywhere nearly as good as they hyped. In fact, Carl Macek himself was not particularly fond of it, and for good reason. Even with the arguments that Disney's version makes Pazu and Sheeta sound a bit more mature than their Japanese counterparts and takes some liberties with their translation (although they still are faithful to the story overall), the quality of the voices and acting in that older version are just embarrassing compared to the Disney version.

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/voice-compare/Laputa-Castle-in-the-Sky/Sheeta/

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/voice-compare/Laputa-Castle-in-the-Sky/Pazu/

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/voice-compare/Laputa-Castle-in-the-Sky/Louie/

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/voice-compare/Laputa-Castle-in-the-Sky/General-Muoro/

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/voice-compare/Laputa-Castle-in-the-Sky/Muska/

Now to be fair to the older version, it doesn't take as many liberties as Disney's dub does and the leads don't sound like teens, but those two plusses are cancelled out by both the hideously robotic acting and the even worse writing. The writing sounds choppy and stilted, not at all like how a dub is supposed to flow. And yet some people insist it crushes Disney's version. Go figure. I personally can't stand it. The Disney dub, for my vote, is the better of the two by far. Now people are entitled to their preferences, and I respect that. But it's hard for me to take any arguments in favor of this older dub seriously.

Now with Totoro the argument in favor of the older dub is understandable because as I said, it's quite good for a 1989 dub. But as with the older dub of Laputa, much of the backlash against the newer dub comes from nostalgia for the older version.

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/voice-compare/My-Neighbor-Totoro/Satsuki-Kusakabe/

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/voice-compare/My-Neighbor-Totoro/Mei-Kusakabe/

http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/voice-compare/My-Neighbor-Totoro/Tatsuo-Kusakabe/

Because of all this controversy, it pleases me to see people giving these dubs a fair chance and evaluating them without being overly attached to the original versions they saw first, which granted is a human thing to do, but still.

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Yea definitely don't agree with that.

Miyazaki clearly set out to make a smaller, more intimate flick, with no guns or violence, while showcasing both the beauty of Japan and nature in general.

What you have to remember though is that the Japanese have a different relation to death and spirits than we do in (most) Western cultures (just look at how happy the characters are to be living in a haunted house, then consider what you think of a haunted house...), so if Totoro was indeed the God of death, that wouldn't necessarily make the film a grim story.

The reason I'm saying I don't think that it's the case is because Miyazaki is the one who made the film, and knowing his other films and the themes in them, I don't think that's it's something that was in his mind when making that one.

Had this been another filmmaker, I would have actually thought that maybe that theory was correct, though.

Regretably, that's just what a lot of purists did. And besides it could have been worse. Remember how Ridley Scott's Legend dropped Jerry Goldsmith's richly orchestral score for Tangarine Dream's ill-fitting pop soundtrack? It would be one thing if the new score was ill-fitting rap/techno, but in this case it was done by the original guy.

Exactly! Disney could have asked some random composer to rescore the film, but they asked Hisaishi to do it, and that at the very least should be appreciated.

I don't know if you saw the movie with the Disney dub and the rescore

Nope. Watching the movies in Japanese. ;)

Though I'd love to watch a version of the film with both the Japanese dialogue and the new score!

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gC28K2r.png

 

魔女の宅急便 a.k.a Kiki's Delivery Service - Hayao Miyazaki (1989)

 

Quote

A young witch, on her mandatory year of independent life, finds fitting into a new community difficult while she supports herself by running an air courier service.

 

First time watching that one.

 

This film is quite similar to My Neighbor Totoro: this is a small, slow, and (mostly) uneventful feature that basically follows the daily routine of our main character, and ends with a climax that feels a bit forced (it's there because, well, "a movie needs a climax", more than because of the story's natural progression). But unlike Totoro, Kiki's Delivery's Service lacks the whimsical atmosphere which made that one quite a unique film. Here, the atmosphere feels a bit more mundane, mainly because of the environment (a nondescript European city). That's not to say the movie doesn't have a certain charm, because it does, but it still feels a bit less special compared to previous Miyazaki films. It's interesting to note that this is the first Miyazaki film that is not an original story (it's an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Eiko Kadono).

 

One of the strengths of the film is its protagonists. They're all likeable and have a role to play in the story (none feel useless). Kiki is a lovable main character and is well developed throughout the film (moreso than any main character in previous Miyazaki films). It's quite interesting to follow her on her journey to start her business and learning the ropes. Jiji makes for an amusing sidekick and gives us some good scenes (that sequence with the dog was pretty funny). He's also an important part of the plot, too, and so is Tombo, another cool character. The rest of the characters form a nice ensemble (Osono, her husband, Ursula, etc.). Yep, I had no problem with that aspect of the film.

 

I had more of a problem with the story (or lack thereof). Once again, much like Totoro, the film does not have much of a plot. Kiki leaves her family house to go to town and start her own business. There, that's your story. I'm fine with that, as long as the few events that happen onscreen are engaging one way or another. And for parts of the film, it all looked OK to me: Kiki arriving to town, trying to get used to her new life and environment, etc. But then we got to that overly long herring and pumpkin pot pie sequence, and my patience started to wear thin. That particular moment felt too drawn-out, to me (the pay-off, with the granddaughter acting like a bitch, made up a bit for that). There were a few other moments like that throughout the film, thankfully not as long as this one. I understand that this was what Miyazaki was trying to do: just show us the daily routine of the characters, and while I get it that some people can find enjoyment in watching stuff like that (as I did during parts of the film), sequences like the whole pie business have just zero interest for me (worth mentioning is the fact that originally, the film was going to be only 1-hour long. Well, I can see which parts they extended! ;))

 

The film has a bit of an odd structure, too. Basically, the first two-thirds of the story consist of Kiki arriving to the city, starting her delivery service, and then going on various assignements. Then, suddenly, the films turns into a story about puberty, as Kiki loses her powers and must find a way to get them back. Then, we have the climax coming out of nowhere, Kiki rescuing Tombo and, seconds after that, the end credits. It felt like everything was happening too fast, here. The transition from act 2 to act 3, in particular, was quite abrupt. It did give us a nice scene where Kiki suddenly realizes she doesn't understand Jiji anymore, though. A touching moment for sure. And that's where I want to mention something regarding the dub that I find inexcusable: in the Japanese version, Jiji still doesn't speak at the end of the film (which shows that Kiki is now fully grown up), while in the first dubbed version, they made Jiji speak again at the end, which totally changes the ending of the film. Now, I think this was fixed in Disney's latest release of the film, but still... That's an inexcusable change, if there ever was one!

 

In terms of visuals, the film is, like any other Miyazaki film, extremely well-drawn. It's possibly, along with My Neighbor Totoro, the best-looking Miyazaki film in that regard. That being said, the visuals themselves are a bit mundane (when compared to Miyazaki's previous films). After the post-apocalyptic world of Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind, the diverse locations in Castle In The Sky or the lush forests in My Neighbor Totoro, the vistas in Kiki's Delivery Service look too ordinary. I mean, the town in which most of the film takes place is your average European port town. The best visual aspect of the film remains the flying sequences. The way they are "shot", edited and animated is top-notch. Fantastic stuff there. I particularly loved that moment where Kiki is flying near gooses and they are swept away by the wind (superb animation). That was so well done, it made me go "Wow!". You could also add to that (even if it isn't a flying scene) the propeller bicycle scene. Highly energetic, and again, really well animated and edited. It reminded me of the car chase in The Castle Of Cagliostro. Miyazaki really knows how to direct those sequences!

 

Hisaishi's music is, much like the film, pleasant but not particularly exceptional. The score features varied music: you have tracks with some European flavour (A Town With An Ocean View, Rendezvous On The Deck Brush), tango-like music (Helping The Baker), material that sounds like saloon music (the piano-led Substitute Jiji), synthish music (Propeller Bicycle), etc., but still feels cohesive overall. The score also has many cues that work well in the film, but make no lasting impression whatsoever, unfortunately (such as Departure (nice eerie music at 02:08 in that one, though), the kiddie-like Starting The Job, Late For The Party, Propeller Bicycle). The rest of the incidental material is still pretty solid, nonetheless, like the anxious I Can't Fly, the moody Heartbroken Kiki, the relaxing A Mysterious Painting or the urgent The Adventure Of Freedom - Out Of Control. The opening and ending songs aren't bad, either.

 

While the score offers diverse music, it's not thematically rich. There's only like four themes, really, and none of them developed much. Kiki's theme (introduced in On A Clear Day) is a nice melody, though clearly not one of Hisaishi's best. It gets a few variations throughout the score (in Flying Delivery Service, in Jeff (superb second half in that one), To Ursula's Cabin and in Rendezvous On The Deck Brush), but isn't that much present. The flying theme is the highlight of the score, to me, even if unfortunately only heard in two tracks: A Town With An Ocean View, where it gets many variations (I particularly like the bridge section at 01:24 in that track) and in the blood-pumping The Old Man's Deck Brush, which features kick-ass action renditions of that theme (if there's only one track you need to listen to, it's that one! Unfortunately, it went unused in the film...). There's a theme which I think is for the town (heard in the last 30 seconds of A Town With An Ocean View and in Very Busy Kiki), and another theme that is hard to define (maybe a "growing up" theme) heard in Departure and Osono's Request, but both sound a bit ordinary.

 

Apparently, this film, like Castle In The Sky, got the rescore treatment. However, unlike Castle In The Sky, the rescore was not made by Hisaishi, but by an american composer, Paul Chihara, and he actually only wrote and recorded additional cues, he didn't remake the whole score (so it's more of an "additional music score" than a rescore, really). The opening and ending songs were also replaced by two English-spoken songs. Now, as far as I know, this score has not be released on any album, so I can't really speak about it, though based on what I read here and there, it's not really substantial: just a few piano cues here and there, and other small bits just to "fill in the gaps" (that is to say, to put music in scenes where there was no music). It also doesn't make references to Hisaishi's theme, so the added material doesn't blend well with his score (I'd be interested in listening to it, though). As for the two new songs (which can be found on some rare album apparently, and are on Youtube), they're quite good. A nice replacement for their Japanese counterparts.

 

So, what we have here is yet another well-directed film, with no major flaw (maybe a score that is a tad run-off-the-mill). It's just not the kind of film I find captivating. It is pleasant, but I need more than just "pleasant" to be engaged in a film. Better luck next time!

 

5/10

 

 

On A Clear Day

 

A Town With An Ocean View

 

Flying Delivery Service

 

Jeff

 

Very Busy Kiki

 

I Can't Fly

 

Heartbroken Kiki

 

The Adventure Of Freedom - Out Of Control

 

The Old Man's Deck Brush

 

Rendezvous On The Deck Brush

 

 

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P.S.: Did anyone understand why Kiki decided to hide from the baker as she was coming out of of the restroom? What was up with that? What was the point of that scene? A weird moment, for sure.

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Kiki's Delivery Service was the first Ghibil movie I ever saw, and it was Disney's dub that was my first exposure.

But yes, I can also confirm that Jiji's last line from the Disney dub was indeed dialed out of recent re-releases. The rescore by Chihara, which is pleasant but nowhere nearly as richly memorable as Hisaishi's Laputa score, although certainly not offensive, is also gone, as is most of the added in dialogue.

Unfortunately, these two things come with a price: the Disney dub of Kiki, like any of the studio's dubs for Ghibli, is really good, but the sound mix on the 2010 DVD and 2012 BD is awful. The voices sound like they're being passed through a filter, and as such, they come across as grating. This is especially noticeable during Kiki's lines, which sound like they're running through a fan. Faithful or not, I cannot watch this revamped dub of Kiki without wincing at the bad sound quality. Which is why I prefer the original version of the Disney dub. Sure, it's guilty of altering the last part of the movie, but there's still a charm to it. Likewise with Laputa, I can't watch the revised Disney version without the rescored music because it makes the dub feel… empty to me.

Then again that's just my opinion.

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Talking about the score, there's a trend I started noticing in Miyazaki's films: he likes to have the climax (mostly) unscored. All his films so far (minus My Neighbor Totoro) had little to no music during their climax. I first started to notice that with Castle In The Sky, then again with Kiki's Delivery Service (as I thought it was a shame he didn't use Hisaishi's cue The Old Man's Deck Brush) and then I started thinking about the previous films and realized the same thing happened with them.

It's quite different from how the music is used in most films' climax (well, at least in Western films, where the climax is generally scored wall-to-wall). I'm a bit ambivalent about that. While I think this worked/didn't bother me in some films (The Castle Of Cagliostro, Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind), for others (well, the two for which I noticed there was no music), I think the lack of music caused a lack of momentum during the climax, and they could have used at least a bit of music (they didn't necessarily have to be scored wall-to-wall, though).

Jon, since you've seen it, do you remember if in the version of the film with Paul Chihara's added score, there was music during the zeppelin sequence?

Jon Turner likes this

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For anyone that loves Totoro, there is the sequel short film Mei and the Kittenbus.

This is a Ghibli Museum short, so no chances of ever being released, but of course there are "ways" of seeing it! ;)

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Talking about the score, there's a trend I started noticing in Miyazaki's films: he likes to have the climax (mostly) unscored. All his films so far (minus My Neighbor Totoro) had little to no music during their climax. I first started to notice that with Castle In The Sky, then again with Kiki's Delivery Service (as I thought it was a shame he didn't use Hisaishi's cue The Old Man's Deck Brush) and then I started thinking about the previous films and realized the same thing happened with them.

It's quite different from how the music is used in most films' climax (well, at least in Western films, where the climax is generally scored wall-to-wall). I'm a bit ambivalent about that. While I think this worked/didn't bother me in some films (The Castle Of Cagliostro, Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind), for others (well, the two for which I noticed there was no music), I think the lack of music caused a lack of momentum during the climax, and they could have used at least a bit of music (they didn't necessarily have to be scored wall-to-wall, though).

Jon, since you've seen it, do you remember if in the version of the film with Paul Chihara's added score, there was music during the zeppelin sequence?

There was indeed additional music added into the dub. Sustained strings during the bit where Tombo dangles on the propeller, synthesized tones when Kiki flies again, then we hear "I Can't Fly!" as the dirigible approaches the clock tower and crashes. After that, it's silent again.

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