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The Hayao Miyazaki Retrospective Thread

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So they didn't even use The Old Man's Deck Brush? Bah!

It's not used in either version of the movie. For some reason Miyazaki chose to have it dialed out. I think it would be interesting to see how that scene would have worked with that song.

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So they didn't even use The Old Man's Deck Brush? Bah!

 

It's not used in either version of the movie.  For some reason Miyazaki chose to have it dialed out.  I think it would be interesting to see how that scene would have worked with that song.

 

Well, there you go:

 

I did two tests with that cue. As I see it, there are two possibilities for where it was meant to go (to me, the second option works better and is the most likely spot for the cue).

 

In the first video, I made the cue start right when Kiki takes off (at 00:25), which I thought made for a logical sync point with the music. I think it works OK, with the percussion hit at 00:42 accompanying Kiki's fall on the roof, then again the bit at 01:52 accompanying her second fall, and finally the cue ending just as the zepppelin is crashing down at 02:18. That being said, I don't find that all this works perfectly, so that's why I made another video (see below).

 

The Old Man's Deck Brush - Test 1

 

 

 

For the second video, what I decided to do was sync the end of the cue with Tombo's fall at 03:39, and see how the whole cue would sync with the picture. And I have to say, I think it works better that way: you have the cue starting at 01:45, just as we cut to Kiki coming to the rescue, the bit at 02:02 showing up as we cut to the shot of the zeppelin, the flying theme returning at 02:49 as Kiki approaches the zeppelin, the changing rythm at 03:01 as Kiki arrives near Tombo, the tense strings showing up at 03:13 as Kiki tries to grab his hand, the music intensifying at 03:24 as everyone is encouraging Kiki and finally, the music stopping at 03:39 as Tombo lets go of the rope.

 

The Old Man's Deck Brush - Test 2

 

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紅の豚 a.k.a Porco Rosso - Hayao Miyazaki (1992)

 

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The adventures of "Porco Rosso", a veteran WW1 pilot in 1930s Italy, who has been cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig.

 

First time watching this one.

 

I was really intrigued by it, as I knew it was Chaac's favourite Miyazaki film, so I expected greatness, and, while I enjoyed it, I still find it felt short on some aspects. A bit like Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind in that regard.

 

The opening scene of the film was easily one of the highlights. The typewriter stuff, with typos and all, made me chuckle. And then... BAM! You have that great action sequence, with mindblowing animation (this film is full of superbly animated moments), great editing, funny characters and propulsive music. It is not really representative of the overall tone of the film, though, which is for the most part a laid-back story, with a few actiony bits. That being said, the film has a perfect pace, with no moments where you feel bored (interestingly, this is the third Miyazaki film in a row that originally was meant to be a short story (under an hour) but ended up being a full-length feature). Throughout the entire running time, you are invested in the story and characters.

 

Talking about the characters, they're really good. The best in a Miyazaki film since Castle In The Sky. The disgruntled but still likeable Marco is a cool main character, who you immediatly care for. His relationship with Gina is an interesting aspect of the film, as you can see him being torn between his love for her and his friendship with Bellini. Gina is a nice character, though we don't see her as much as I would have liked. She definitely would have deserved more screentime, in order to be developed a bit more. Piccolo and his granddaughter Fio are two fun protagonists, who help make the middle part of the film enjoyable, with funny bits like the bills that keep on pilling up during the "building the plane" montage, and the whole Piccolo family coming to help (it's funny to note that Fio is pretty much a rehash of Ursula's design in Kiki's Delivery Service, with some Nausicaä thrown in there too!). Curtis and the pirates are a hilarious bunch of characters, too (the scene where they're trying to coordinate their efforts to attack the boat was a delight!). All in all, the "cast" of Porco Rosso is one of its best aspects.

 

The film also has a lot of great ideas and memorable moments: the characters watching an animated film (clever mise-en-abyme there), Gina remembering her childhood with Marco (for some reason, I thought this scene was terribly effective), the escape-by-the-canal scene (again, great animation there), the white band scene, Fio seeing Marco in his human form... That's the kind of stuff that was missing in Kiki's Delivery Service! The finale, in comparison to what came before, was maybe a tad underwhelming, but that's no biggie. The abrupt ending, on the other hand, was more of a problem for me. Yet again, for the third consecutive time, the climax of the film feels a bit forced (I don't mean the duel between Curtis and Porco, but the arrival of the army). It feels like Miyazaki wasn't sure how to wrap up his movie, and he came up with this mildly satisfying idea in a hurry. I don't know. To me, it feels like it could have been improved upon...

 

Visually, the film fails to impress. Sure, the drawings are just as good as the previous Miyazaki films, but the vistas are far less varied. Since a lot of the film takes place up in the air, what we get to see is generally just a blue sky with some clouds. And sometimes, we get the sea with a few islands. It makes for a visually less varied and less interesting film (I had a hard time finding 5 really cool shots for the review). On the good side, as I said above, the animation is downright stunning (it makes the flying scenes so fucking cool. The scene where Piccolo is testing the new engine is also a good example of the great animation). Easily the best Miyazaki has done so far. It gives an undeniable energy to the film.

 

Hisaishi's score is probably my least favourite of his so far (for a Miyazaki film). There's nothing inherently wrong with it, apart from the fact that, maybe, it lacks a strong identity. The score opens vigorously with The Wind Of Time (When A Human Can Be A Human), a fun and energetic cue which introduces us to Porco Rosso's theme, a bouncy melody that is quite catchy. Unfortunately, after one or two statements here and there in the first half of the score, it seems Hisaishi decided to abandon it in the second half for some reason. It's a bit of a shame, because the other themes are not as solid. The pirates' theme, first heard in Mamma Aiuto and reprised in tracks like Flying Boatmen, is circus-like music that fits the clownish group of characters well, but is not particularly noteworthy. The love theme for Marco and Gina, first appearing in The Bygone Days, feels a bit run-of-the-mill to me. Sure, it gets a nice enough rendition in A Sepia-Colored Picture, but it's still nothing to write home about. There's nothing distinctive about it. Only the Italian-flavoured Piccolo's/Fio's theme, introduced in Fio ~ Seventeen, gives us some pleasant music, especially with the extended treatment it gets in Women Of Piccolo. The score does have a few nice incidental moments to offer too, such as Serbia March, Doom (Cloud Trap), Madness (Flight) (I like how the piano and strings play off each other in this one), the otherworldly Lost Spirit... But overall, it meanders around quite a bit, especially in its second half, which sounds a bit anonymous. This is not a bad score, but this is certainly not Hisaishi's best.

 

Porco Rosso is a fun romp that is a bit rough around the edges and suffers from a rather anonymous score and mundane visuals, but features engaging characters, a story that, even if a bit basic, has some superb sequences to offer (the Marco/Gina flashback, the white band scene...), and absolutely flawless animation. It may not be up there with Miyazaki's finest films, but it's solid entertainment all around nonetheless.

 

6.5/10

 

 

The Wind Of Time (When A Human Can Be A Human)

 

Addio!

 

A Sepia-Colored Picture

 

Serbia March

 

Flying Boatmen

 

Doom (Cloud Trap)

 

Fio ~ Seventeen

 

Women Of Piccolo

 

Madness (Flight)

 

Lost Spirit

 

 

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P.S.: I read that Miyazaki considered doing a sequel to Porco Rosso a few years ago. Hasn't happened yet, will most likely never happen now, and honestly, I don't have a problem with that. This film doesn't need a sequel. None of Miyazaki's films do, really, apart from Nausicaä maybe (and even then, there's not much left to say).

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porco_Rosso

 

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In 2011 Miyazaki said that he wanted to make a follow-up anime to the 1992 original film if his next few films following Ponyo were successful. The film's working name is currently Porco Rosso: The Last Sortie and will be set during the Spanish Civil War with Porco also returning, albeit this time as an old pilot, reflecting Miyazaki's own aging. Miyazaki is writing the film, but Hiromasa Yonebayashi will direct. Due to both Miyazaki and Yonebayashi's departure from Ghibli and the current hiatus of the studio itself, the current status on the proposed sequel remains uncertain.

 

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Porco Rosso has never really been one of my favorite Miyazaki projects, but I do respect that it has a following. It's still a gorgeous movie, though, and surprisingly funny at times. Michael Keaton was a rather strange choice to play the title character, but he manages it surprisingly well, and Cary Elwes, playing against type, is amusingly pompous as Curtis.

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The English dubs I've seen so far have all been completely fantastic.

Hopefully I can continue watching Miyazaki movies starting this Sunday

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Having we moved past pointing out typos yet?

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Damn, all your comments about the English dubs make me curious about them! :P

You may like 'em, you may not. Your mileage may vary. But I genuinely do love them in English. I have nothing against the Japanese versions; I'm cool with people who prefer viewing the movies that way. But I personally feel Disney's done a pretty darn good job with them. There's nothing grating about either of these dubs that would take me out of the movie (except for The Wind Rises; I just felt the dub of that was lacking in some ways).

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Kiki's Delivery Service

My second time seeing this one. Another great one from the master!

It reminded me a lot of My Neighbor Totoro; Small stakes, small scale, focused on a young girl main character, no villain/antagonist, two acts of scene-setting and character intro and development until a random conflict creates a third act that is very quickly resolved, and then the film's over! Like My Neighbor Totoro it was completely charming throughout, too! Unlike Totoro though, which focused on a very small amount of characters in a small amount of locations, the scope is a little bigger here, with Kiki starting at home with her parents, and then arriving at the big city via broomstick and train, where she meets a lot of different characters!

I loved the city, it had so much character. A nice blend of San Francisco and other European cities. I also liked the time frame - in one of the special features, Miyazaki said he was going for a 1950s that never had gone through WW2, which makes sense. I also loved how Kiki meets the characters one by one - first Tombo, then Osono, then Ursula, then the old ladies, etc. And that all have a reason for weaving in and out of Kiki's life.

The voice acting was great again, with Kirsten Dunst as Kiki, Janeane Garofalo as Ursula, Matthew Lawrence (woah!) as Tombo, Tress MacNeille as Osono.... but who really shines in Phil Hartman as Jiji, in what must have been one of his last roles. He was great as the black cat, a wonderful performance.

Overall, Jiji was fantastic, a great Miyazaki character. Would have been fine with even more scenes with him! Ursula was pretty cool too. I'm not sure why Osono was pregnant, since it didn't really play into anything, other than maybe to make her more likely to hire help? Her husband was funny, I thought he'd go the whole movie without talking!

We also get another Miyazaki flying machine of course, this time a bicycle propelled one that Tombo is trying to make happen. It was pretty cool!

I was thinking, that I'd actually enjoy a sequel to this movie! Yes on the one hand, it tells a complete stoy (a girl learns to trust her abilities, overcome self-doubt, begins adulthood, etc), but its a cool world and they could do more with different witches in different places and having to team up, show different areas and more magic, more Jiji, etc. Obviously its never going to happen, but it could be interesting (I have no idea what the future novels the original movie was based on are like).

I learned after watching that Miyazaki originally wasn't planning to direct, that they had assigned some younger members of Ghibli to helm it but it didn't work out, so Miyazaki took over. This kind of makes sense because while it does still have all the Miyazaki charm and feel, it doesn't, ultimately, feel like something he would have been involved with from the start. It's the first one without any fantasy creatures at all!

The score by Hisaishi was great, I liked it a lot.

So now Miyazaki's done two heavier fantasy films in a row (Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky) and then two lighter quasi-real-world films in a row (Totoro and Kiki)..... I look forward to seeing what he does next with Porco Rosso!

After 5 films, I'd rank them:
1. Nausciaa
2. My Neighbor Totoro
3. Castle In The Sky
4. Kiki's Delivery Service
5. 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!)
Bonus Jiji gifs because I can't help myself
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Overall, Jiji was fantastic, a great Miyazaki character. Would have been fine with even more scenes with him!

I liked Jiji too, though I wonder how much Miyazaki brought to the character and how much was already there in the book.

I was thinking, that I'd actually enjoy a sequel to this movie! Yes on the one hand, it tells a complete stoy (a girl learns to trust her abilities, overcome self-doubt, begins adulthood, etc), but its a cool world and they could do more with different witches in different places and having to team up, show different areas and more magic, more Jiji, etc. Obviously its never going to happen, but it could be interesting (I have no idea what the future novels the original movie was based on are like).

Didn't know the book had sequels (no less than 5, I see!). I personally don't think the film needs a sequel. It's a coming of age story, so by the end of it, there's not much left to say: Kiki has learned to live on her own. Sure, they could always come up with some story, but it's still a pretty basic world we are presented with in the film: there's not much to explore or develop.

Liked the "more Jiji" at the end of your enumeration. :P

It's the first one without any fantasy creatures at all!

The second one. The Castle Of Cagliostro didn't have any, either. ;)

Our rankings of the films couldn't be more different! Though I agree they're all quality films.

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紅の豚 a.k.a Porco Rosso - Hayao Miyazaki (1992)

The adventures of "Porco Rosso", a veteran WW1 pilot in 1930s Italy, who has been cursed to look like an anthropomorphic pig.

6.5/10

Well, I managed to read through the whole thing and that doesn't happen very often when it comes to reviews. Excellent work! I'm totally with you on all the points though this being one of my childhood favorites I would give it nothing less than 10. Nostalgia always wins!

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I just recently stumbled across an alternate English dub for Porco Rosso. I have to say without hesitate the Disney dub is better in comparison easily. The other English dub is just plain bad, with everyone involved sounding either detached from their roles, exaggeratedly cartoony, and/or emotionless. It was produced on the cheap for Japan Airlines, and honestly, it shows. Disney's version, while perhaps not my favorite of their dubs, is easily superior to it.

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もののけ姫 a.k.a. Princess Mononoke - Hayao Miyazaki (1997)

 

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On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime.

 

Fourth time watching that one.

 

This feature is quite special in Miyazaki's filmography: not only was it the first one to get a proper release in many countries (people didn't have to wait 10 years for it to be released in their country, unlike Miyazaki's previous features) and thus was for many (myself included) their introduction to the filmmaker, but it's also his biggest film in pretty much every way (the running time, the story, the scope) and his most successful, too. It was also his most mature film yet (more on that below) and one with the most classic story: a hero going on a quest to stop a war, falling in love with a girl, being involved in many impressive setpieces, etc. In a way, it is the most accessible Miyazaki film for Western audiences. Hisaishi's score is also the first one that feels like a 'classic score', as we're used to in many films, with lots of themes used many times (his previous scores did have some themes, but there were not really thematically-driven). To put it simply, this is probably Miyazaki's most conventional film (even if it has a lot of unconventional elements and features all of his trademarks, minus the flying machines. It's the first one which doesn't have any!).

 

The story is, as I said above, as classic as it gets: there's a conflict, with two sides, and a hero in-between. But what's interesting is that, just like in Miyazaki's other films, there are no bad guys. There are just people trying their best to survive and doing what they think is the right thing to do. Which is what makes the story a bit complex: you have, on the nature side, San and the wolves trying to defend the forest but think it is no use to kill humans and ultimately only want Eboshi to die, the boars who want to go to war, and on the human side, Eboshi who wants the head of the Deer God to offer it to the Emperor in exchange for protection, Jiko-Bo working for his own personal gain, Lord Asano who wants the Ironworks, Ashitaka who wants to stop the conflict... There are many parties involved, and they all want something different, which makes the conflict not as clear-cut as it first appears. The richness in characters is one of the aspects the film that make it appealing. The film is full of great characters: Ashitaka, San, Moro, Nago, Okkoto, Jiko-Bo, Eboshi, Koroku, Toki, Gonza... They're all developed well enough and get their moment to shine.

 

So the story here is not only a bit more complex than in Miyazaki's previous films, it's also a lot more violent. When I first saw the film, it didn't particularly shock me, because I didn't have any other Miyazaki films to compare it to, but after having seen all of the films he did prior to that one, I was surprised to see lots of heads and arms being chopped off, lots of people dying (you have some people dying in Castle In The Sky, but it wasn't as graphic as it is here), a lot of blood, etc. Especially after three cute films like My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service and Porco Rosso. It almost feels like a different director. There's an interesting Miyazaki quote about that I found on Wiki, in the section about the themes of the film: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Mononoke#Themes

 

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Dan Jolin of Empire said that a potential theme could be that of lost innocence. Miyazaki attributes this to his experience of making his previous film, Porco Rosso, and the wars in the former Yugoslavia, which he cites as an example of mankind never learning, making it difficult for him to go back to making a film such as Kiki's Delivery Service, where he has been quoted as saying "It felt like children were being born to this world without being blessed. How could we pretend to them that we're happy?"

 

Along with that violence come a lot of action sequences (moreso than in any of his previous films), all of them quite stellar: the attack of the demon god at the beginning (Ashitaka looks badass riding Yakkul during this scene), the wolves attacking the convoy in the rain, the flashback showing Nago going berserk, San's raid on the Ironworks and fight with Eboshi (bloody love that sequence! A highlight of the film for me), Okkoto leading the boars to war, Ashitaka fighting Asano's samurai... All are incredibly well 'shot', edited and animated.

 

The film sure has many action scenes, but it also has many scenes in general. At one point, I just checked the clock to see where I was in the film (not because I was bored, just out of curiosity), expecting to be more than two thirds into the story, because a lot of stuff had happened, and I was surprised to see it was only the halfway point. It really is a massive film, with many, many things happening in it (yet another difference with the previous films, where not a lot was happening). Yet the film has a perfect pace, not too slow nor too fast. And it is chock-full of memorable scenes: I've already mentioned the action bits, but there's also the scene where Ashitaka meets San, the introduction of the Kodama, the scene where Ashitaka first sees the Deer God, the first scene with the apes (love those shadowy figures that make them look like Gollum-like creatures), Ashitaka being shot, his conversation with Moro at night, the scene where San feeds him, the scene where Jiko-Bo's men disguise as boars to have Okkoto guide them to the Deer God (there's something about that 'ghost boars' scene that I absolutely adore. That feeling of uneasiness, the way they move silently, etc. I find it extremely effective), the whole Moro/Eboshi antagonism...

 

If I were to nitpick, though I'd say there are a few things that do not entirely work for me. First, there's the whole Asano subplot. Since we never see him and we don't really know why he wants the Ironworks for himself, it is hard to really care for that subplot, especially when, after Ashitaka warns Eboshi about the Ironworks being attacked, she decides not to do anything about it, which makes it feel like it's no big deal (especially since the film never returns to it). This subplot feels a bit clumsily integrated into the film. There's also the many back-and-forths between the same places (Ashitaka going from the Deer God forest to the Ironworks, then back to the forest, then back to the Ironworks, then back to the forest) that feel a bit repetitive. And finally, there's the ending, which is a bit unsatisfying to me. Eboshi suddenly seems to have changed, but there's no real reason for that, Ashitaka says he's gonna work at the Ironworks, even though he spent the whole film trying to protect the forest... I don't know. It doesn't quite work for me. But really, these are minor quibbles, because overall, I dig the story.

 

While the film has a great story, characters and sequences, what I really love about it though is its atmosphere. Right from the start, you have a great mood setter with the shot of the mountains in the mist (along with the glimpse of Nago). For some reason, this shot is the thing that stayed in my mind long after I first watched the film. Everytime I think of Princess Mononoke, the first image that comes to my mind is that one. Just love it. Of course, the film has other great moments with neat atmosphere: Miyazaki often takes the time to give us slow, lengthy panoramic shots revealing the landscapes, such as when Ashitaka first enters inside the forest of the Deer God, or when Ashitaka and San are looking at the green valley at the end of the film. There's also a great sense of vastness in those shots and others. The world depicted in this film feels BIG. There are some lovely travel montages throughout the film, with superb visuals.

 

Those visuals contribute greatly to the atmosphere of the film. It feels like in this film, Miyazaki put extra care on light, depth of field, etc. Many shots feature multiple layers, like that very first shot I mentioned or during the Deer God's first appearance, which give them a greater sense of depth and a great immersive feel. While the film may not offer really diverse visuals, it does have fantastic shots to offer, with great composition. There's also an interesting visual contrast between the green and lush forest of the Deer God and the more brownish/reddish and austere Ironworks. The animation during the action sequences is also masterfully done (maybe even moreso than in Porco Rosso). It's also interesting to note that this is the first Miyazaki film where they used computer animation on some sequences (it is most apparent in scenes that feature smoke, as well as in the ending, during nature's rebirth where you can see the plants growing are clearly computer generated). It bugged me a wee bit, but since most of the time, it is very brief, it's no biggie.

 

The music for the film is some of Hisaishi's finest for a Miyazaki film. I'd say it was the first great score of the collaboration between the composer and director (the USA version of the Castle In The Sky score wouldn't come until two years later). It's a rich score, with stunning themes, great lyrical moments, solid action material and overall, it's a pretty cohesive work. Ashitaka's theme (first heard in The Legend Of Ashitaka) is one of the best (if not the best) themes of the Hisaishi/Miyazaki collaboration. It is a grand and operatic melody which perfectly captures the heart of the story. Oddly enough, it doesn't appear that much throughout the film (it is heard in The Land Of The Impure, the second half of Lady Eboshi (gorgeous rendition here), The Young Man From The East and... that's it, really). Instead, we have the theme introduced at 00:43 in The Journey To The West which is a much more prominent thematic idea. That theme, which I will call the journey theme, is another damn good melody with a great sense of melancholy to it (lovely statement in San And Ashitaka In The Forest Of The Deer God). Nago also gets a theme, introduced in The Demon God, a menacing motif which gets some interesting workout in the aforementioned hectic action track (it is given an nice elusive rendition in The Land Of The Impure, too). The motif for the Deer God, that gets its first proper rendition in the second half of Kodamas is a great eerie thematic idea, which use some interesting sounds and could have benefited from being developed a wee bit more. The Ironworks/Eboshi's theme, appearing in Evening At The Ironworks, is a lovely, peaceful melody (a bit reminiscent of the journey theme) which Hisaishi turns into a song in The Tatara Women Work Song (a nice touch).

 

Along with these five major thematic ideas are a few more minor ones. The demon power Ashitaka inherits from Nago has a short motif associated to it, which appears in two tracks (The Demon Power and The Demon Power II), though it's a bit trivial. More interesting is the quirky, almost comical motif associated to the Kodama in the first half of the track Kodamas. There are also two motifs found in all three Requiem tracks: the first one is heard at the beginning of each track and is a rather dull string figure, the second one is a more interesting rising figure heard in the middle of the first two Requiem tracks and which is reprised more vigorously during the finale (a death motif?). Rounding off the thematic material is the Princess Mononoke Theme Song, acting as a love theme for Ashitaka and San, even if only appearing once in the film. The score also features cool incidental music, such as the exciting The Furies, accompanying the awesome sequence where San makes her raid on the Ironworks, the percussions in The Battle Drums, the tense The Battle In Front Of The Ironworks, the whirling string figure in the second half of The Demon Power II and the brass figure that follows it, the unsettling synth-ish music in The World Of The Dead and finally the downright awe-inspiring Adagio Of Life And Death (absolutely love that one!). A really great score overall!

 

A fantastic film all around, Princess Mononoke is Miyazaki at the top of his game. Not only it is one of my favourite of his films, it's also one of my favourite films, period. Stunning visuals, superb atmosphere, great score, many memorables sequences, well-rounded story and characters... This film has it all!

 

8.5/10

 

 

The Legend Of Ashitaka

 

The Demon God

 

The Journey To The West

 

Kodamas

 

Evening At The Ironworks

 

The Furies

 

Princess Mononoke - Instrumental Version

 

Adagio Of Life And Death

 

The World Of The Dead II

 

Adagio Of Life And Death II

 

 

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P.S.: A few random trivia bits...

 

- This is the first film after which Miyazaki said he was going to retire. He made four more after this one!

 

- This is the last major animated motion picture to be filmed on plastic animation cels. (Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119698/trivia?ref_=tt_ql_2)

 

- Interesting description of the original idea for the film: http://www.nausicaa.net/wiki/Princess_Mononoke_(FAQ)

 

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Originally, Miyazaki had planned to make "Mononoke Hime" as a story about a princess who was forced to marry a Mononoke by her feudal lord father. You have probably seen a picture of Mononoke who looks like Catbus in Totoro's body and a girl in a Kimono (see the picture below). That is from a picturebook "Mononoke Hime", which compiled image boards Miyazaki wrote back in 1980. Miyazaki tried to make it into anime, but the project never materialized (it was even considered as the second project by Tokuma after Nausicaa, but eventually, Laputa was chosen), and Miyazaki put it in the book.

 

Synopsis of the 1980 book Princess Mononoke

 

Mh_faq_mononoke80.jpg

 

The story of the movie "Mononoke Hime" is completely different from that in the picturebook. Mononoke Hime is a girl who was raised by Mononoke, not who marries one. There is a new character, Ashitaka, as the hero. In fact, Miyazaki even wanted to change the title to "Ashitaka Sekki (The Tale of Ashitaka)".

 

- For those who care about such things: I've compared the Japanese version and the US version of the soundtrack, and while they're basically the same product on the whole, there are two odd differences I noticed. First and foremost, there are three tracks featuring songs on the Japanese OST: The Tatara Women Work Song, and two versions of Princess Mononoke Theme Song - Vocal Version (the version heard in the scene where Ashitaka is talking with Moro at night and the shorter end credits version). The US version of the OST deals with those songs weirdly: basically, The Tatara Women Work Song is left as is, in Japanese, the end credits version of Princess Mononoke Theme Song - Vocal Version is replaced by an English-sung version and the longer version of the track is simply removed from the album. There's no logic to it: why keep The Tatara Women Work Song in Japanese but replace the end credits Princess Mononoke Theme Song - Vocal Version by an English version, and remove the longer version of that same song? Either keep everything in Japanese, or replace everything by English versions. Bah!

 

The second difference is that, while the last two tracks on the Japanese OST (Princess Mononoke Theme Song - Vocal Version and The Legend Of Ashitaka Theme - End Credit) are clearly separated (meaning they have a clean opening and a clean ending), on the US OST, for some reason, there's a crossfade between the two (meaning that the end of Princess Mononoke Theme Song - Vocal Version segues directly into the beginning of The Legend Of Ashitaka Theme - End Credit, without silence between the two). Odd indeed...

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Actually, in the dub of Princes Mononoke (which is really good IMO even with the occasional eccentric casting choices), the "Tatara Women's Song" IS translated. It's just heard so quietly that one wouldn't even notice because it's done very subtly. But Sasha Lazard does indeed sing the extended version of the "Mononoke" theme song.

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Well, that make their choices regarding the US version of the OST even weirder: they had English versions of all three songs, yet they decided only to include one! How odd.

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Well, that make their choices regarding the US version of the OST even weirder: they had English versions of all three songs, yet they decided only to include one! How odd.

I really don't know WHAT the issue was. But anyway, no, they DID translate those tracks for the English version. I think this was the only Ghibli dub that Disney did so (sans Totoro, where they basically recycled the lyrics from the previous dub from Streamline/FOX and just brought in a new singer). Oh wait, I'm forgetting that the Ponyo ending song (the first half) WAS in fact performed by their US voice actors and released separately from the movie on ITunes. Actually, there's two different cuts of that. First is just the song from the credits as is, but then there's an absolutely HIDEOUS techno rap version that unfortunately is tacked onto the second half of the closing credits in the dub of Ponyo. Even as someone who liked the rescore of Laputa and didn't mind the musical embellishments of Kiki, I felt that was overstepping it.

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Princess Mononoke is great. One of my favorite things about it is how balanced it is between the opposing sides. The industrialists aren't depicted scenery chewing, mecha-knife wielding lunatics. They have a clear and understandable motivation, even if what they're doing isn't the right thing.

In regards to the dub, I turned it off after 5 minutes or so. Despite the A-list cast, everything came off as really hammy.

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Oh wait, I'm forgetting that the Ponyo ending song (the first half) WAS in fact performed by their US voice actors and released separately from the movie on ITunes. Actually, there's two different cuts of that. First is just the song from the credits as is, but then there's an absolutely HIDEOUS techno rap version that unfortunately is tacked onto the second half of the closing credits in the dub of Ponyo.

Whaaaa? Seriously? Wow.

Princess Mononoke is great. One of my favorite things about it is how balanced it is between the opposing sides. The industrialists aren't depicted scenery chewing, mecha-knife wielding lunatics. They have a clear and understandable motivation, even if what they're doing isn't the right thing.

Yep. That's one of the strengths of the film. Really like that.

In regards to the dub, I turned it off after 5 minutes or so. Despite the A-list cast, everything came off as really hammy.

Having heard bits and pieces of the dub, I have to agree. Didn't like it at all.

By the way, I'm still waiting for you to watch Miyazaki's other films and share your thoughts on them. ;)

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Princess Mononoke is one of my least favourite Ghibli films.

While i find it a masterpiece indeed aesthetically, I found (both times that I saw it) that it dragged a bit too much!

If it was shorter by half an hour maybe..

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While I had no problem with the running time, I certainly can understand that complaint. Not only is the film lengthy, but there's also a lot happening in it, which can be a bit overwhelming. Still, is that the only reason why it's your least favourite?

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By the way, I'm still waiting for you to watch Miyazaki's other films and share your thoughts on them. ;)

It'll happen soon enough. Perhaps in January-April to cure my January-April blues.

Also, coincidentally, The AV Club just released an article about the "villain" of Princess Monononoke. Goddamn plagiarists... :stick:

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It'll happen soon enough. Perhaps in January-April to cure my January-April blues.

Good, good! I'm looking forward to it! :)

Also, coincidentally, The AV Club just released an article about the "villain" of Princess Monononoke. Goddamn plagiarists... :stick:

Alright, I'm suing them!

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This will sound strange, but my opinion about the Princess Mononoke dub is the complete opposite. I consider it one of the finest dubs made. The real reason being is because of Neil Gaiman's translation. The man clearly put a lot of time and effort into making sure the script flowed smoothly without going too far from Miyazaki's intentions.

I also liked Billy Crudup, Minnie Driver, and even Billy Bob Thornton in their roles. Eccentric though the latter may have been, there was something about his performance that added to the character of Jigo. I HAVE sampled the Japanese version one time, and personally I think it's no better or worse than Disney's dub, only different. Having said that, I think Gillian Anderson is far and away better than the voice for Moro on the Japanese version. It's interesting to hear the differences between the two, but Anderson's performance gives me the impression of a chilly, stern mother with an edge that the Japanese version lacks. And Keith David is just awesome as the narrator and Okkoto. (Yes, they had a brief narration at the beginning of the movie, and honestly, I think it works.) Underused though he may have been, his presence is nothing but a great asset.

Claire Danes as San is probably the only minor weak link; she's decent for the most part, but there are a couple of missed lines.

I honestly don't see anything about this dub that is "hammy" in any way; as far as I'm concerned, it fits the tone of the movie fine.

All in all, though, I consider Mononoke to be a very fine dub, and for a 1999 production it was considered one of the best dubs. I think it's held up considerably well. Honestly, I can't watch this movie in Japanese or ANY of the other Ghiblis. I recognize that there are some who prefer it that way and that's understandable. But if I feel that the dubs were done with obvious care and time as these are, then who am I to turn up my nose and call it a "lesser" way to see the movie. If Miyazaki was OK with it, then why should I say otherwise? I certainly prefer my Anime in English, even though I DO recognize when there is a bad dub. But the Ghibli movies, IMO, aren't among them. Of course your mileage may vary, but as far as I'm concerned, Disney and Miramax have both done a very fine job dubbing them.

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While I had no problem with the running time, I certainly can understand that complaint. Not only is the film lengthy, but there's also a lot happening in it, which can be a bit overwhelming. Still, is that the only reason why it's your least favourite?

It's ONE of my least favourites. But, yes that's the main reason. And like what you said: a lot is going on that it feels even longer that it is! Both times I watched it I thought it would never end!

My least favourite Ghibli is My Neighbors the Yamadas because I don't like the artistic style and i don't like comedies.

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It's ONE of my least favourites. But, yes that's the main reason. And like what you said: a lot is going on that it feels even longer that it is! Both times I watched it I thought it would never end!

Bah! You just can't appreciate greatness! :pfft:

My least favourite Ghibli is My Neighbors the Yamadas because I don't like the artistic style and i don't like comedies.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of that art style, either (haven't watched the film, but I've seen a few stills from it).

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P.S.: I read that Miyazaki considered doing a sequel to Porco Rosso a few years ago. Hasn't happened yet, will most likely never happen now, and honestly, I don't have a problem with that. This film doesn't need a sequel. None of Miyazaki's films do, really, apart from Nausicaä maybe (and even then, there's not much left to say).

Well, if the book is any indication, there was indeed more story to Nausicaa. They wouldn't have made into movies though.

That said really like the atmosphere of the movie.

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The Nausicaa movie is pretty much an adaptation of the first two volumes of Miyazaki's own comic book (the ones he had done at that point).

Yeah, I know that, I mentioned it in my review for the film. ;)

My statement ("there's nothing much left to say") is in regards to the way the movie wraps up the story. From what I've read here and there, the film is a loose adaptation of the first two volumes of the manga: basically, the ending of the film doesn't correspond to the ending of volume two. They came up with some sort of an ending to wrap up the story of the film (at the end of it, the conflict is resolved), whereas at the end of volume two, the story is far from over. So, if you take in consideration only the film, there's not much left for a sequel to explore.

P.S.: It's good to have you back! :)

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20110426100356-NzMxNDQy.jpg

Porco Rosso

Well, I guess this is the first one I didn't outright love. It's unfortunate, because it had as much potential as the others! I had seen it before, but as it turns out I remembered so little. it was like seeing it for the first time.

I loved the setup. You've got this pig (well, human with a pig face) flying a fighter plane, saving people from air pirates in the open seas in 1930s Europe. How can anything go wrong? Well, nothing does for a long while! I love the opening, with Porco listening to the radio on his private beach, and deciding to take flight. Good first air battle against the pirates! The children interacting with the pirates and then Porco was gold! I loved all the setup that follows, as Porco goes to the hotel where the pirates are meeting and Curtis shows up. You got funny dialogue with the pirates, the pompousness of Curtis, and then the great introduction of Gina, her interaction with everyone, then the great scene with her and Porco upstairs.

This is followed by another good aerial battle, with a really nicely drawn ending as Curtis thinks he has shot down Porco, and we start act 2 with Proco hiding in Milan, repairing his fighter. This section was fantastic, with the great character of Mr. Piccolo, who was really funny and original. I loved when his whole family came in to help with the rebuild! I was wondering when the classic Miyazaki old lady would show up :) Around this time I realized that I was watching the first Miyazaki movie since Cagliostro with a male main character; That was probably because when Piccolo's granddaughter Fio shows up, I realized she was the stereotypical Miyazaki lead girl :)

Porco and Fio taking off together was great, but then the film finally stumbles when it has to have its third act. With Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky, I liked their third acts alot, those movies were very solid through and through. With Totoro and Kiki, Miyazaki did something interesting where there was basically little to no third act - he focused almost the whole movie lengths on character building in 2 prolonged acts, and just kind of has a rushed climax to end it all. But it worked in those movies. Here, he follows more of a traditional 3 act structure, but something about it didn't get for me. The air fight between Porco and Curtis seemed too long, and then the fist fight seemed too... weird. The fact that they were fighting over who gets to marry Fio was strange, and just the whole sidelining of the great pirate characters for the most part. I didn't care for the quick wrap-up either; I loved when a similar thing was done for Kiki, but this one wasn't as successful I thought.

Another thing I found odd was the whole Porco human thing. When the movie started and we're introduced to him, I kinda thought it was would just be one of those things that never gets explained, and I would have been fine with it. But then in the Porco/Gina dinner scene, she mentioned that he got turned into a pig via a curse. So now it seemed like there was a little backstory / mystery going on and it would be explained.... and I guess it kinda was, but not satisfactorily to me. The flashback that explains it was actual beautiful to look at, I loved the sequence in and of itself, but it didn't gel with the rest of the movie and seemed kind of shoe-horned in. I dunno.

I loved Hisaishi's score! I noticed a lot of really nice moments. Gotta check these scores out outside the films soon. The Disney English dub was again excellent. Michael Keaton was really good as Porco, and changed his voice nicely (subtlety) for the Marco flashback. Cary Elwes was a nice slimy/arrogant Curtis, and David Ogden Stiers was really great as Mr. Piccolo. Brad Garret was good as the pirate leader, and I don't know who Susan Egan is, but she was fine as Gina.

I hope to watch Princess Mononoke real soon! Hopefully BB can hold off on talking about Spirited Away until I do :)

So my ranking now would be:

1. Nausciaa
2. My Neighbor Totoro
3. Castle In The Sky
4. Kiki's Delivery Service
5. Castle of Cagliostro
6. Porco Rosso
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Porco and Fio taking off together was great, but then the film finally stumbles when it has to have its third act. With Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky, I liked their third acts alot, those movies were very solid through and through. With Totoro and Kiki, Miyazaki did something interesting where there was basically little to no third act - he focused almost the whole movie lengths on character building in 2 prolonged acts, and just kind of has a rushed climax to end it all. But it worked in those movies. Here, he follows more of a traditional 3 act structure, but something about it didn't get for me. The air fight between Porco and Curtis seemed too long, and then the fist fight seemed too... weird. The fact that they were fighting over who gets to marry Fio was strange, and just the whole sidelining of the great pirate characters for the most part. I didn't care for the quick wrap-up either; I loved when a similar thing was done for Kiki, but this one wasn't as successful I thought.

I think the third act of Porco Rosso was one of the most satisfying in a Miyazaki film. The third act in his movies generally feel forced, just to follow the convention that says that a film needs to have a climax, but here, there's actually a build-up to that third act, there's a natural progression to it. And yeah, maybe it's a tad overlong and I agree that the fist fight felt a bit weird for some reason I can't explain, but still: that climax felt better integrated into the story than the previous ones.

Another thing I found odd was the whole Porco human thing. When the movie started and we're introduced to him, I kinda thought it was would just be one of those things that never gets explained, and I would have been fine with it. But then in the Porco/Gina dinner scene, she mentioned that he got turned into a pig via a curse. So now it seemed like there was a little backstory / mystery going on and it would be explained.... and I guess it kinda was, but not satisfactorily to me. The flashback that explains it was actual beautiful to look at, I loved the sequence in and of itself, but it didn't gel with the rest of the movie and seemed kind of shoe-horned in. I dunno.

I thought it was fine. It revealed just enough to make us understand what happened without spelling it out clearly. That wasn't a problem for me!

I loved Hisaishi's score!

Funny. It's the second time you say that for a Miyazaki film where I found Hisaishi's music to be just OK. Great minds do no think alike, I suppose... ;)

I hope to watch Princess Mononoke real soon! Hopefully BB can hold off on talking about Spirited Away until I do :)

I was actually about to post my review, so damn you! :P

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My opinion on Hisaishi's scores could all change when I listen to them outside the film. Since I'm watching these films now either for the first time or for the first time in a decade, I'm focusing all my attention on the movie itself and can't really dedicate a lot of "brain power" to the score.

Back to Porco, you may have mentioned this - I haven't read your review yet, but it was interesting how "adult" the film was. I mean, you have the main character smoking and drinking. And there was a lot of odd dialogue concerning 17 year old Fio. Mr. Piccolo keeps telling Porco to keep his hands off her, the adult American pilot wannabe actor wants to marry her.... kind of odd. Maybe its a Japanese thing?


OK, read your review now. Agreed about the cool typewriter opening. Love all the languages present, and how a few of them needed extra characters at the end the rest didn't.

And yes, the whole opening sequence is probably the best part of the film, and sets up almost a different film than the one we get.

Just read a bit about the film on wikipedia. Interestingly, even though it was a short expanded into feature length, it didn't FEEL it the way Totoro and Kiki did, probably because it had a traditional 3 act structure, and it slowed town and took its time in the whole middle section.

Interesting that its the first film basically set in actual real location and time, with practically no fantasy elements. In fact if Marco was human the whole time, there wouldn't be any!

A sequel... I dunno why out of all the films he'd choose this one, other than his love of aviation. Seems like it told a pretty complete story, with him turning human at the end. I'd rather see a sequel to Kiki or Nausicaa before Porco!

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My opinion on Hisaishi's scores could all change when I listen to them outside the film. Since I'm watching these films now either for the first time or for the first time in a decade, I'm focusing all my attention on the movie itself and can't really dedicate a lot of "brain power" to the score.

Fair enough. ;)

Will be waiting for your thoughts on the soundtracks too!

Back to Porco, you may have mentioned this - I haven't read your review yet, but it was interesting how "adult" the film was. I mean, you have the main character smoking and drinking. And there was a lot of odd dialogue concerning 17 year old Fio. Mr. Piccolo keeps telling Porco to keep his hands off her, the adult American pilot wannabe actor wants to marry her.... kind of odd. Maybe its a Japanese thing?

I didn't really pay attention to the fact that the movie was more "adult", though, yes, you're right, it is. But the difference in tone between this film and the previous ones is not as jarring as the difference between Princess Mononoke and those (which is why I did mention that in my review of this film, but not in the one for Porco Rosso).

As for the Fio-Curtis thing, it didn't particularly felt awkward to me. I didn't see it as "Oh, you're hot! I want to fuck you! Marry me!", more like an innocent flirt with someone that is, yes, younger than him, but not that much younger. It's not like she's 5 and he's 60 or something. And anyway, it's not meant to be taken seriously, it's played for the laughs (a bit like when the pirates are helping Sheeta in the Tiger Moth's kitchen in Castle In The Sky). Curtis is depicted as an inconstant buffoon, who, one moment is pretending to be in love with Gina, and the next minute, is wooing another girl he just met and he finds cute. That's all.

And regarding "keeps your hands off me!", I don't remember such a line, so maybe that was an addition/weird translation for the American dub!

Just read a bit about the film on wikipedia. Interestingly, even though it was a short expanded into feature length, it didn't FEEL it the way Totoro and Kiki did, probably because it had a traditional 3 act structure, and it slowed town and took its time in the whole middle section.

Yep, I agree. Porco Rosso never felt padded to me. The one that felt the most like it was expanded to make it lengthier than it was originally meant to be was Kiki's Delivery Service. I think that one would have been more effective, had it been about 20 minutes shorter.

Interesting that its the first film basically set in actual real location and time, with practically no fantasy elements. In fact if Marco was human the whole time, there wouldn't be any!

Well, there's also the flashback sequence.

And while it is indeed set in a real location and time, it never really felt like it to me. I mean, it doesn't have a huge incidence on the plot, so I never really thought about it.

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Wow really? In the English dub, two or three times Mr. Piccolo told Porco "Keep your hands off my grandaughter!" or something similar. Fio never told him to; She seemed pretty into him.

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