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BloodBoal

The Hayao Miyazaki Retrospective Thread

272 posts in this topic

I don't know who Susan Egan is, but she was fine as Gina.

She was Belle in the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast. She also voiced Meg in Disney's Hercules. She's had several credits to her resume regarding Disney over the years, but these two are her most famous roles. She also gets to have a role in another Ghibli dub: she's Lin in Spirited Away.

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Reminder: The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray is being released today

Miyazaki1.jpg

And a few problems that this set may have: http://forum.blu-ray.com/showpost.php?p=11112233&postcount=41

Assuming that Disney just re-packages the existing discs from the previous single-film releases, these five movies' BDs will have major problems:

Lossy Japanese audio:
Ponyo

Burnt-in dub credits:
Nausicaa

Dubtitles:
Laputa (Castle in the Sky)
Kiki's Delivery Service

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Reminder: The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray is being released today

Miyazaki1.jpg

And a few problems that this set may have: http://forum.blu-ray.com/showpost.php?p=11112233&postcount=41

Assuming that Disney just re-packages the existing discs from the previous single-film releases, these five movies' BDs will have major problems:

Lossy Japanese audio:

Ponyo

Burnt-in dub credits:

Nausicaa

Dubtitles:

Laputa (Castle in the Sky)

Kiki's Delivery Service

Actually, from why I've read, the problems have been resolved on this BD set as far as the subtitles go.

AFAIK, Laputa and Kiki are no longer dubtitled in this box set, and neither is Mononoke. Nausicaa also has the Japanese credits unaltered. I don't know about Ponyo, though.

My only hope is that the rescore is brought back to Laputa's dub so that people can at least experience the dub with it.

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Actually, from why I've read, the problems have been resolved on this BD set as far as the subtitles go.

AFAIK, Laputa and Kiki are no longer dubtitled in this box set, and neither is Mononoke. Nausicaa also has the Japanese credits unaltered.

That's good to know!

My only hope is that the rescore is brought back to Laputa's dub so that people can at least experience the dub with it.

The best thing they could have done is include an option to watch the film either with the original score or the new score. Though that's never gonna happen.

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Forest-Spirit-Princess-Mononoke.jpg

 

Princess Mononoke

 

Wow! After a stretch where Miyazaki put out 5 films in 9 years, there was 5 long years off between Porco Rosso and this. And boy, does the time off really show! This film is absolutely gorgeous to look at from the first shot to the last. There must have been an improvement in technology too, as so many fantastic effects are used: fog, rain, translucence, I don't even know what else. Beyond the tech side, the animation is someone improved over the greatness of the last five films. Everything is completely smooth and fluid and just LOOKS great. The film has a nice visual style.

Storywise, it's almost a re-do of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, isn't it? It preaches the same things and has the same themes, at least, though different characters are used. In fact there's elements of Castle in the Sky too, with the warring villages. But that doesn't even matter, because this story is better than both of those stories.

 

The voice cast was great again. Billy Crudup as Ashitaka was neither here nor there, but everyone else excelled: Claire Daines was really excellent as San, especially in her more emotional scenes. Minnie Driver was a nice snarly Eboshi, effectively the villain but played her other side well too. Billy Bob Thornton was so good as Jigo, I loved how he talked a mile a minute, like he had to fill up every lull in every conversation. He had a nice soft side too. Gillian Anderson and Keith David were great as the Wolf and Boar spirit leaders too, I loved the way their voices were processed to sound like animal gods. Just great all around.

 

One thing I loved was the characters and that there were no 100% good guys and no 100% bad guys. Ashitaka was basically good but flat out killed a bunch of people (ok, it was the demon infection, but still), not to mention he interfered with many people's intentions without always thinking through the consequences. Eboshi was effectively the villain, but even she had a good side saving the woman of the village and ultimately deciding to work with nature. And I loved that Jigo was seemingly a pure good guy for half the film, then ended up being a big dick before suddenly changing his mind back again.

 

The themes of destroying nature vs working with it are not new to Miyazaki, but as I said I thought they were explored here better than ever before. I loved the way nature was represented, from the adorable little white wood spirits to the big Wolf and Boar leaders, to the freaky little apes, to the gorgeous Forest Spirit in its deer-like form. Love the transformations it goes under too.

 

The film starts with a great attack sequence with the rampaging boar infection by the demon. I loved the animation of all of that. I was instantly reminded of the ohms from Nauscaa, and the rampaging boars later reminded me of that too. There was so much other great animation as I mentioned before; how about the chases on elk-back, the scenes with characters half-underwater, the rifles and cannon things, the bombs and explosions, the forest vistas, so much good stuff.

 

One thing I was surprised by was the increasing "adult-ness" of Miyzaki's films - this film is flat out not for children. I was quite shocked when Ashitaka chopped of arms and heads when he meets the first villagers! I never saw that coming after the first 6 Miyazaki's, half of which were super-light G rated fares! I think its great that he shoes that level of violence so early, though, because it puts you in a state where you expect things to be more adult and serious than you might have though. I also noticed that the Iron Town women (who always were bathrobes from some reason?) were actually drawn with cleavage, another thing I wasn't expecting!

 

In case you couldn't tell, I loved this film - it's Miyazaki doing what he does best, with superb, top notch animation throughout. Great film!

This was my second time seeing this since I saw it in college; I dunno why I waited so long!

 

So my ranking after 7 films is

1. Princess Mononoke

2. Nausciaa of the Valley of the Wind

3. My Neighbor Totoro

4. Castle In The Sky

5. Kiki's Delivery Service

6. Castle of Cagliostro

7. Porco Rosso

 

 

giphy.gif

 

 

Oh hey! No aviation at all in this one! :)

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Well, all I can say is I agree with most of what you said!

Just two things:

Billy Bob Thornton was so good as Kobayashi, I loved how he talked a mile a minute, like he had to fill up every lull in every conversation.

And I loved that Kobayashi was seemingly a pure good guy for half the film, then ended up being a big dick before suddenly changing his mind back again.


The character isn't called Kobayashi: that's the name of the guy doing the character's voice in the japanese version.

The character is called Jiko-Bo (Jigo in the English version).

Eboshi was effectively the villain, but even she had a good side saving the woman of the village and ultimately deciding to work with nature.


And she helps the lepers too!

Never saw Eboshi as a villain, really ("antagonist" would be more appropriate ;)). She took care of ex-whores and lepers, and does everything in her power to protect them, and that's the reason why she wants the Deer God's head. So that doesn't make her evil to me.

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That my point, nobody was fully evil or fully good.

 

But come on, she was trying to murder the wolf god and the deer god, and tear down all the forest to make weapons. That's some villainous shit!

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But come on, she was trying to murder the wolf god and the deer god, and tear down all the forest to make weapons.

Yes, but again: the only reason she wants to kill the deer god was to gain protection from the Emperor. And the reason she wanted to kill Moro (the wolf) is because she kept on attacking her people. And the reason she tear down the forest was to get the iron ore, in order for her people to make a living. So none of that is "villainous shit", at least not to me. Of course, these are not good actions, but they're not villainous either, because the intention behind them isn't to cause harm for the sake of causing harm.

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You're proving my point! The film is full of characters neither pure good or pure evil :)

 

Every character has two sides, and makes you think about their actions and decisions and what you would do.

 

Great stuff!

 

Btw, you didn't talk about it too much, but wasn't the animation truly remarkable, a step up from what he had already accomplished before?

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Well, if you mean animation as in "motion", the movements of the characters, etc., I think it was great of course, but not a huge leap forward compared to Porco Rosso (which is the film where I thought there was a big difference with what came before). But yes, all the action sequences had super fluid animation. Particularly like the duel between Eboshi and San as well as the short fight between San and Ashitaka in that regard.

giphy.gif

tumblr_n69kdannHw1sujz4so1_500.gif

And if you mean animation in a broader sense (as in the the drawing style, the overall visuals), then yes, I think it was a huge step up compared to his previous films, definitely. The film looks absolutely stunning. Many shots look like paintings you could easily put in a museum! Gorgeous film all around.

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Well, I meant both, I guess. And I completely agree with everything you just said.

 

BTW, I just realized I didn't mention the score. I noticed it only a few times, I was so absorbed in the story. I did notice a few spots where it was scored oddly, like there was a vista shot that was held at the end of an intense sequence, and the music swelled, there was a bit of silence, then the movie moved onto the next scene. Kind of felt like a commercial break, honestly!

 

I also noticed a few spots that sounded synth?

 

Regardless, as I said I didn't pay attention to the music enough to really comment, but I did like some stuff I heard, and if I were to check out the OSTs to these films, I'd probably start with this one!

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BTW, I just realized I didn't mention the score. I noticed it only a few times, I was so absorbed in the story. I did notice a few spots where it was scored oddly, like there was a vista shot that was held at the end of an intense sequence, and the music swelled, there was a bit of silence, then the movie moved onto the next scene. Kind of felt like a commercial break, honestly!

Hahaha!

Not sure which scene you're referring to.

I also noticed a few spots that sounded synth?

Yep, there are a few synt-ish moments in the score, though nothing really obstrusive, unlike, say, the synth stuff in Nausicaä, which I found to be more jarring.

Regardless, as I said I didn't pay attention to the music enough to really comment, but I did like some stuff I heard, and if I were to check out the OSTs to these films, I'd probably start with this one!

Yep, that's probably the best Hisaishi score to start with, as it's his most accessible (in the sense that it's a more traditional score, like the ones we're used to).

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I do plan on checking them all out, but there's so much other music to listen to right now!

 

Alright, onto Spirited Away!

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Actually, from why I've read, the problems have been resolved on this BD set as far as the subtitles go.

AFAIK, Laputa and Kiki are no longer dubtitled in this box set, and neither is Mononoke. Nausicaa also has the Japanese credits unaltered.

That's good to know!

My only hope is that the rescore is brought back to Laputa's dub so that people can at least experience the dub with it.

The best thing they could have done is include an option to watch the film either with the original score or the new score. Though that's never gonna happen.

I know. It would have been a cool idea, though. It WOULD be interesting to see the original movie w/Japanese performances with the rescore. It certainly would be interesting for those who prefer the Japanese VAs but are in love with the rescore.

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QAZmzw1.png

 

千と千尋の神隠し a.k.a Spirited Away - Hayao Miyazaki (2001)

 

Quote
During her family's move to the suburbs, a sullen 10-year-old girl wanders into a world ruled by gods, witches, and spirits, and where humans are changed into beasts.

 

Fourth time watching that one.

 

This is probably Miyazaki's weirdest film, but also his most accomplished. It almost feels like all his previous films were leading up to this one. The universe presented here is really rich and well-developed, with many references to Miyazaki's past projects as well as all the themes that are generally found in them. This is a film where you can see that Miyazaki's creativity was at its maximum: a lot of outlandish ideas, crazy creatures designs, a weird atmosphere... And that's where the real strength of the film comes from: a lot of mysterious stuff is happening, but there's not a lot that is actually explained, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Which means that not only each viewer can take something different out of the film, but also that you can see the movie in a different light with each viewing. One time, you'll watch it, maybe thinking that the bathhouse represents Chihiro's psyche, with each character representing one aspect of her personality, one of her emotions, or whatever... (Interesting article about that here: https://circleofmeditation.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/spirited-away/). Another time, you can interpret the bathhouse as being a brothel ;) (more on that at the end of this post). Or you can just take everything at face value and see it as nothing more than just a bathhouse for spirits! The same can be applied to other aspects of the film, like the train journey at the end of the film or the Faceless spirit. Yep, the many possible interpretations of the story/universe are really the most fascinating aspect of the film.

 

Of course, that's not the only thing it has to offer. The characters in the film are a fun bunch, all memorable in their own way: the grumpy Kamaji, the sinister Yubaba, the mysterious Haku, the hilarious three green heads, the kind Zeniba, Yubaba's crow and her baby (those two deserve their own film!)... Another colourful collection of characters we get there (once again, though, you can notice a few character designs from previous Miyazaki films being reused here: the engineer from Castle In The Sky being turned into Kamaji, Dola being turned into Yubaba, some of Moro's facial features are reused for Haku in dragon form). What I really like here is that they all get a proper, lengthy introduction scene: the whole nighttime sequence for Haku, the boiler room scene for Kamaji, the entrance into the bathhouse for Rin, the whole contract scene for Yubaba... So you get to really spend time with each of them before moving on to the next character. That's also part of another thing I like about the film and more specifically its first act: how we are gradually introduced to all the various parts of the bathhouse and its surroundings: first the "amusement park", then the exterior of the bathhouse, as Chihiro has to make her way down to the boiler room, then the boiler room, then the ground floor, then the second floor and finally the top floor with Yubaba's office. I find that it's a clever way to slowly deliver information to the viewers and make them familiar with the main location of the film without them being overwhelmed by everything. The whole first act is masterfully done in that regard. And still on that aspect of the film: love how each part of the bathhouse is its own little universe with its own characters and mood. You have the rough boiler room with Kamaji and the sootballs, the busy ground floor with Rin, Aogearu, the bathhouse workers and the spirits and finally, the gloomy and mysterious top floor with Yubaba, her baby, her crow and the three green heads. So you have just one location in the film, but still get a lot of variety in it, which is great!

 

Another strong aspect of the film is the atmosphere. Right from the start, as Chihiro and her parents are exploring the amusement park, there is a great sense of foreboding that is subtly done and works terribly well. Then after that, you get the nighttime sequence, which is probably my favourite moment in the entire film: a great combination of fantastic visuals and superb music (I particularly love the shot of Yubaba's crow flying above the amusement park, for some reason). And once that fantasy element is introduced, the atmosphere just keeps on getting eerier and eerier. Just like Chihiro, you're left wondering "What the hell is going on?", but not in a way that you feel uninvested. On the contrary, it keeps on making you wonder what will happen next. First, you have Kamaji's introduction, where you're not sure if he's a bad guy or not, and you get a certain sense of uneasiness. The sootballs then come in (a nice reference to My Neighbor Totoro), and the atmosphere gets lighter, and keeps on getting lighter with the entrance into the ground floor, where it feels like it's not all bad after all... And then, BAM! We arrive at Yubaba's office, and suddenly, it's all looking grim... The atmosphere and mood of the film keeps on switching from one scene to the next, but it never feels jarring. It's all done smoothly. And while you keep on learning new info throughout the film, there is still a lot of unexplained stuff that participates in maintaining the dreamlike atmosphere, such as the water level that keeps on changing from one day to the next for whatever reason, or the Kaonashi character with his unexplicable mood swings... You never really get a good grasp of the logic of the world, but it's all for the best, really, as that's part of what makes the film so special.

 

Visually, the film looks stunning. The colours in particular look really vibrant, more than they ever have in a Miyazaki film. I love the contrast between the various locations and sequences in the film: the warm colours of the ground floor in the bathhouse, the more brownish boiler room, the blue of the ocean where the train station is, Yubaba's greenish office.. There's a shitload of great shots too, especially of the bathhouse (we basically see it in every angle imaginable)! I love that location. Miyazaki really managed to breathe life into it, by not only showing every single room in it, but also showing how lively each one is (each shot is full of people doing something, going somewhere. It's so dense, every single frame has so many things going on). It's probably the visually busiest Miyazaki film! It's also worth mentioning that this is the first digital film he did, and it shows. There is absolutely no grain to be found on the picture. And while on the whole, it doesn't bother me as it doesn't make a huge difference, especially when it comes to the backgrounds, I do think it affects a bit the drawings of the characters. The lack of grain makes it look a tad too sterile to my liking, and as a result, too run-off-the-mill. It may seem like a lame complaint to you (because it is a subtle difference, I admit), and maybe it is, but that's how I feel. I felt he grain added a little something to the look of the films that was lost here. There's another small problem I have with the visuals, and that's the use of some subtle 3D effects: there are quite a few shots that combine 2D drawings with 3D elements, and I find that they don't mesh well, and would have preferred if they had stick to doing it completely in 2D. Still, this is just a minor complaint (just like the one regarding the lack of grain), as it is limited to just a few moments in the film, and thus doesn't bother me that much. But wanted to adress that nonetheless!

 

And then there's the music. Hisaishi's score for the film features some of his best melodies, going through a great range of emotions, and offers some really satisfying musical sequences. It's interesting to note that this film is almost scored wall-to-wall, which shows quite a progression compared to the first few films Hisaishi did with Miyazaki, which were sparsely spotted (it's the first Miyazaki film with some tracked music, and a fair share of unreleased music, too!). Also, while it does contain quite a few themes, the score is not as thematically driven as Princess Mononoke was (most themes appear twice or three times, tops), Hisaishi often resorting to incidental music when thematic material could have easily been used. The score opens with Chihiro's theme in One Summer Day, a sweet melody which is often played on the piano throughout the film. This is the main theme of the score, even though it doesn't appear that much through it (basically, it is only found in four places: One Summer Day, The Empty Restaurant, Day Of The River and The Return). I know many people are not fond of it, but I find its simplicity to be quite effective. The sootballs theme (first appearing in the aptly titled Sootballs) is a fun, Gershwin-like tune that perfectly encapsulates the little creatures, and is one of the highlights of the score. Another cool thematic idea is the one for the spirits, introduced in Procession Of The Spirits, which is probably the most memorable cue in the score. It's an uplifting march which offers a nice contrast to the more dissonant theme for Yubaba (heard in the eponymous track), the darkest theme in the score often accompanied by a little motif for her son (a nice little tune played on a glockenspiel(?)). The bathhouse also gets a theme, introduced in It's Hard Work, and while that idea sounds a bit mundane, it does get an awesome glorious rendition in the second half of The Stink Spirit. Finally, there's the theme for Kaonashi (given a lengthy treatment in Kaonashi (No-Face)), which is easily my least favourite melody in the score. It's an Eastern-flavoured theme that is not particularly pleasing, and funnily enough, it's one of the most prominent ideas in the score!

 

While on the whole, I find the thematic material in the score to be solid, I think there's a clear lack of a narrative arc that is a bit unsatisfying. Basically, many tracks on the album/cues in the film feel like small concert presentations of themes, so basically, you get Chihiro's theme covering most of One Summer Day, then the sootballs theme forming the whole of Sootballs, then Procession Of The Spirits consisiting only of the spirits theme, then Yubaba's theme forming the bulk of the track of the same name... There's no connective tissue between these segments: it just goes from one theme presentation to the next, but those themes rarely get to interact with each other. They're for the most part limited to their own cue, which I find to be a shame. Thankfully, most of the incidental music that pops up in many places makes up for that. The atmospheric A Road To Somewhere contains great ambient music which plays a big part in making the scene in which it appears work. Nighttime Coming has always been a favourite of mine (probably my favourite Hisaishi cue) with its lovely harp melody for Haku taking care of Chihiro, followed by ominous music for the appearance of Yubaba's crow, and finally the exciting orchestral outburst for the run through the amusement park. The Dragon Boy is another great track that conveys quite well Chihiro's disorientation as she sees the spirit world coming to life. Bathhouse Morning has some nice gentle music to offer. The melancholy conveyed in The Sixth Station works to great effect in the film. We also are given great lyrical music in The House At Swamp Bottom, and of course in the amazing Reprise (easily THE highlight of the score, and one of Hisaishi's finest cues). It's also the first Hisaishi score where I not just like, but love the end credits song, Always With Me. The rest of the musical material is not quite as satisfying: tracks like The Empty Restaurant, Sen's Courage or The Bottomless Pit all feel a bit inconsequential (the suspense and action material are the weakest aspect of the score). But on the whole, there's a lot to like in the score, and while it may not be a great listen from start to finish when taken on its own, its work wonderfully well in the film. So kudos to Hisaishi for that!

 

Spirited Away was my favourite Miyazaki movie when I had only seen four of his, and it still is, after having watched more than two thirds of his filmography. It easily is one of his finest works, if not his finest. And let's not be afraid to say it's also one of the finest animated films all around! From the visuals, to the music, including the atmosphere, the characters, the story... Everything just works. Bravo, Miyazaki-san! Bravo!

 

9/10

 

 

One Summer Day

 

A Road To Somewhere

 

Nighttime Coming

 

The Dragon Boy

 

Sootballs

 

Procession Of The Spirits

 

The Stink Spirit

 

The Sixth Station

 

Reprise

 

The Return

 

 

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P.S.: Interesting trivia bits (source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245429/trivia?ref_=tt_ql_2):

 

- The cleansing of the river spirit is based on a real-life incident in Hayao Miyazaki's life in which he participated in the cleaning of a river, removing, among other things, a bicycle.

 

- When Chihiro arrives at Zeniba's house, the jumping lamp with sound effect is a nod to the Pixar logo.

 

- The song over the closing credits ("Itsumo Nando Demo"/"Always With Me") was intended for a Hayao Miyazaki film that was never made. Miyazaki played it relentlessly while making this film and decided to include it in the end credits.

 

- First Studio Ghibli film produced in full digital process with DLP technology.

 

- It is said that this movie refers to prostitution and many signs of that can be seen throughout the film, for example; The sign above the bathhouse has the sign "yu" which means hot water (bathhouse), and during the Edo period bathhouses were often associated with brothels, places where men and women would exchange sexual favors. The women who worked at these kinds of brothels were called "Yuna" while the madam working at the brothel would be called "Yubaba" which, coincidentally enough, is the name of the witch running the bathhouse. Another noticeable thing is that Chihiro has to sign a contract in which she changes her name (to Sen) which was also very common in these bathhouses. Also, "No face" tries to buy Chihiro with gifts and money, representing an obsessive client wanting to own her. Another noticeable point that could be speculated about is that the dirty spirits visiting the bathhouse is how these women view their costumers.

 

- The biggest difficulty in making the film was to reduce its length. When production started, Miyazaki realized it would be more than three hours long if he made it according to his plot. He had to delete many scenes from the story, and tried to reduce the "eye-candy" in the film because he wanted it to be simple (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirited_Away#Development).

 

Would love to know what some of those deleted scenes consisted of!

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I don't consider Spirited Away my favorite Miyazaki film (Princess Mononoke and Laputa both hold that honor for me, although that really wouldn't be fair for me to say, as I generally like a lot of them), but it is indeed a beautifully animated movie. Thank goodness it won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature here. Otherwise we'd never see the rest of Miyazaki's work released here in America.

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Haven't watched SA yet, but I remembered something else about Mononoke I forgot to bring up

 

So at the end, Eboshi shoots off the Forest Spirits head, and then it roams around looking for it while its locked up in a box, until finally Jigo agrees to give it back.... but then the spirit dies anyway! So what did that accomplish? Jigo said it'd be day in the daylight anyway? What would have happened if the head hadn't been returned? What would have happened if it had never been shot off to begin with?

I probably missed something that explains this

 

Also, it was probably mentioned before, but the discs in the new Disney collection of all his films drop all the special features from the individual releases, and only contain a simple menu with language and subtitle selections. What's up with that?

 

http://nerdist.com/the-collected-works-of-hayao-miyazaki-blu-ray-review/

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I don't consider Spirited Away my favorite Miyazaki film (Princess Mononoke and Laputa both hold that honor for me, although that really wouldn't be fair for me to say, as I generally like a lot of them), but it is indeed a beautifully animated movie. Thank goodness it won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature here. Otherwise we'd never see the rest of Miyazaki's work released here in America.

Yep. Moreso than Princess Mononoke, I'd say this is the film that made people want to see more of Miyazaki's work, and led to all his other films to be released.

Haven't watched SA yet, but I remembered something else about Mononoke I forgot to bring up

So at the end, Eboshi shoots off the Forest Spirits head, and then it roams around looking for it while its locked up in a box, until finally Jigo agrees to give it back.... but then the spirit dies anyway! So what did that accomplish?

That's a good question.

I'd say that what is accomplished is that it made the humans realize they have to live in harmony with nature: they're the ones willingly giving the deer god (representing nature) his head back, so it's a symbolic way of showing they realized the error of their ways. So, basically, in my opinion, the deer god didn't really die, he just "left": he was the protector of nature, but now that the humans have learned their lesson, he's no longer needed. The humans will take care of nature from now on.

I'd say that's a possible interpretation, but I just came up with that right now, without really thinking this through, so maybe it's completely off the mark! :P

Jigo said it'd be day in the daylight anyway? What would have happened if the head hadn't been returned? What would have happened if it had never been shot off to begin with?

I'm not sure what you mean with your first question. Basically, Jigo says that, when the sun will rise, the deer god will return to his initial form (a "regular" deer, and not the gigantic ectoplasmic form we see when he first arrives to heal Ashitaka's wound) and basically die. The only reason he didn't die when Eboshi shot him is because night had already started falling, and he had already started his transformation into his ectoplasmic form.

Of course, you could say: "But he died anyway, even with his head back!", in which case we go back to the question I answered to above.

As for what would have happened if it had never been shot off to begin with... Well, nothing.

Also, it was probably mentioned before, but the discs in the new Disney collection of all his films drop all the special features from the individual releases, and only contain a simple menu with language and subtitle selections. What's up with that?

http://nerdist.com/the-collected-works-of-hayao-miyazaki-blu-ray-review/

Well, that's disappointing.

All the separate releases of the films just have one disc, with both the film and the extras, right? So the explanation can't be that they wanted to keep the number of discs to a minimum, to offer the box set at a low price?

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Yes, the individual releases already have the special features on the same disc as the film, so they could have just simply repressed those!

 

Maybe they didn't want to because they start playing trailers to random Disney movies when you put them in, and that would be odd in a box set situation. But they could have kept the special features!

 

This is just Disney being lazy.

 

And I like you interpretation above :)

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Finally watch this video. Good stuff!

I particularly liked the explanation Miyazaki gives regarding why Jiji doesn't speak at the end of Kiki's Delivery Service. It was also interesting to learn that Miyazaki rarely plans the ending of his films, and generally prefers to make up the story as he goes along.

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Actually, from why I've read, the problems have been resolved on this BD set as far as the subtitles go.

AFAIK, Laputa and Kiki are no longer dubtitled in this box set, and neither is Mononoke. Nausicaa also has the Japanese credits unaltered.

That's good to know!

Yes it is! Unfortunately a lot of the uncertainty stemmed from some Amazon reviews which people were inexplicably allowed to submit months ago, way before anyone new any true details of the release. Assumptions were made, confusion spread. I ended up buying the blu ray of Spirited Away because it's my favorite Miyazaki film (Princess Mononoke isn't far behind!) and because I didn't think I would be getting the box set due to the reported problems.

I started doing a bunch of research into buying the Japanese blu rays which are costly. This changes everything. I have to save up a bit but I think this'll be a Christmas present to myself!

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I ended up buying the blu ray of Spirited Away because it's my favorite Miyazaki film (Princess Mononoke isn't far behind!)

Great minds think alike!

I have to save up a bit but I think this'll be a Christmas present to myself!

And then we'll be waiting for your thoughts on each film! No excuse will be accepted!

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Spirited Away

I saw this movie in theaters back in 2002 and instantly fell in love with it. It was my #1 movie of the year and insured I'd watch his whole back catalog at home and see any new movies he made in the theater. Well I saw Howl in the theater but missed out on Ponyo and Wind Rises theatrically. Luckily I've been making up for that by watching all his films on the great Disney blu rays at home. Thanks again to BB for inspiring me because otherwise I dunno how long I would have gone before seeing Spirited Away again. And boy am I glad I did!

This film is a masterpiece of cinema, and the crown jewel of Miyazki's output. It's just perfect. The story is compelling, the characters are varied and nuanced, the animation is stunning, perfect, and so unique and thought provoking, and the music is great too.

 

I don't even know what to say about this. Right from the start you are instantly hooked on the story, as Chihiro is being moved to a new home (shades of My Neighbor Totoro) and is upset by that. Then her parents want to explore a tunnel after taking a wrong turn, and she's upset by that too. We're only 5 minutes into the movie and there's already a great sense of mystery and exploration that I loved. I dunno how he came up with the idea of a hidden bathhouse for the spirit world but its such a great one! It lead to so many great little scenes and situations.

 

The animation in this film is SO damn good. Princess Mononoke was already a big leap forward from his earlier films, and this film is another step forward from that (though not as big a leap as before). This film also uses CGI at times, and its almost perfectly integrated (the one time its obvious is a shot during the sequence where they free the river spirit and the water rises). Another aspect I noticed in Mononoke was that the foreground elements were better integrated with the backgrounds. In all the cartoons I watched as a kid, and even Miyazaki's early movies, it was always obvious. Which is fine of course, that's just how it was. But with Mononoke the line between foreground and background started to blur, and here in Spirited Away its blurred even more. They did really, really impressive work here in that regard!

 

Another thing great about the film is its imagination. The movie keeps presenting these awesome new ideas and characters throughout, like no other movie I've seen. It's just so impressive how many fantastic ideas he had for characters, creatures, places, things, etc in one movie. Beyond that, almost every shot has something super impressive in it, something off to the side or in the background going on that's really clever.

 

This is Hisaishi's best Miyazaki score yet, at least in regards to what I've noticed in the films. There is a really great main theme, and its used as the center of attention in key scenes. And I noticed in the end credits he played the piano himself - he did great!

 

I watched the English dub, and for the first time, they chose not to use a bunch of huge, pre-established stars. I wonder why? Perhaps because it was in US theaters a little over a year after its Japanese premiere? I don't know, but whatever the reason, it was great. Not recognizing the actors (actually, I was pretty sure I heard Ratzenberger) draws you into the story more.

 

I don't know what else to say. Great film, 10/10, A+.

 

Rankings so far

1. Spirited Away

2. Princess Mononoke
3. Nausciaa of the Valley of the Wind
4. My Neighbor Totoro
5. Castle In The Sky
6. Kiki's Delivery Service
7. Castle of Cagliostro
8. Porco Rosso
 
 
Only 3 more to go :(

And I know I've already seen the best. Spirited Away seems to be what his whole career was leading up to. Really, it contains elements of a lot of his prior work, but all redone to the best possible version, with the best animation.

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Once again, I've nothing else to say except I agree with you on everything (except regarding the use of 3D elements, and maybe the animation too, where I didn't notice any major difference with previous films)!

Ah, something I forgot to mention in my review: one thing I wasn't a big fan of during the ending was the use of the hair tie to make it clear what happened to Chihiro was real. I would have preferred they hadn't introduced that element, and left it to the viewer to decide whether all that happened was real or just a dream, or whatever. As it is, everything leading up to the ending is rather vague in that regard, but then, right before the end credits, the emphasis is put on that hair tie, which I find to be a bit of shame. It doesn't ruin the ending or anything, but I think having a more ambiguous denouement would have made for a more interesting conclusion to the story.

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Only 3 more to go :(

And I know I've already seen the best. Spirited Away seems to be what his whole career was leading up to. Really, it contains elements of a lot of his prior work, but all redone to the best possible version, with the best animation.

Well, I hope you watch the non-Miyazaki Ghibli films too!

Although I have a hunch that you may not like some of them if you're used to the fantasy/adventure of the rest.

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And I've read your review BB and I basically agree with everything you said. Except for all that crap in the beginning about multiple interpretations.. wtf? A brothel? No. It's clearly just a bathhouse for the spirits. Simple as that. All those other interpretations are really stretching!

 

It is great how each character and room is introduced one by one, yes. And I didn't notice anything about a difference in grain or whatever. All the Disney Blu Ray looks flawless.

 

A 3 hour version of this would have been way worse. The great pace of the final film is one of its strong points.

 

Somehow I missed the bit with the hair tie at the end! Woops!

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And I've read your review BB and I basically agree with everything you said. Except for all that crap in the beginning about multiple interpretations.. wtf? A brothel? No. It's clearly just a bathhouse for the spirits. Simple as that. All those other interpretations are really stretching!

I don't think they are (except the brothel thing. Yeah, that one is REALLY stretching it!). In fact, I'd find it less interesting if the film was just to be taken at face value, a "what you see is what you get" kind of flick. To me, there's definitely more to it than meets the eye

A 3 hour version of this would have been way worse.

Oh, I'm not saying I would have wanted the film to be longer! But I would have been interested in knowing what was some of the stuff Miyazaki decided to remove nonetheless.

Somehow I missed the bit with the hair tie at the end! Woops!

Towards the end of the film, Zeniba gives Chihiro a hair tie, which we see again in the final scene, right before Chihiro goes into her parents' car.

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Yes, I of course remember the scene where Chihiro gets the hair tie, I simply didn't notice that it was in her hair at the very end of the film.

 

I have no problems with movies that are ambiguous, and can sustain multiple interpretations, etc. But I don't think Spirited Away is one of them - it's pretty cut and dry what happened, IMHO. Especially when you look at all Miyazaki had done before; There's not a hint of ambiguity in any of his prior films. It'd be odd for him to suddenly do one now.

 

I think its a story that starts in the real world and then involves fantasy elements, like Totoro.

 

Have you watched Howl yet? I might watch it tonight if you have.

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But I don't think Spirited Away is one of them - it's pretty cut and dry what happened, IMHO. Especially when you look at all Miyazaki had done before; There's not a hint of ambiguity in any of his prior films. It'd be odd for him to suddenly do one now.

Doesn't mean a damn thing. There are plenty of examples of directors that did something in a movie they had never done before in all of their previous works.

Spirited Away strikes me as a film that is very open to interpretation. But I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that!

Have you watched Howl yet?

Yep. Haven't written the review yet, though, and probably won't until a day or two.

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Kewl.

 

Spirited Away is just magical. I definitely won't go 13 years between viewings again!

(Actually, I might have watched the DVD when I got it in '03 or whenever it came out... perhaps in the original Japanese audio [since I saw it in theaters in English]. Can't remember now.)

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ハウルの動く城 a.k.a. Howl's Moving Castle - Hayao Miyazaki (2004)

 

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When an unconfident young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch, her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a self-indulgent yet insecure young wizard and his companions in his legged, walking castle.


Third time watching this one.


This film is the one I was the most looking forward to rewatch (along with Princess Mononoke), not because it was my favourite or anything, but because I remembered so little about it, yet what I did remember was some memorable imagery (the moving castle in the mist, Howl in bird form flying over the battlefield, Howl in his weird cavern...), and I also remembered it was a rather dark film (which is quite unusual for Miyazaki). So, yeah, basically, I didn't remember anything regarding the story, except those striking, dark visuals, which also led me to wonder how Hisaishi's score would sound like... Simply put: I was quite excited to revisit that one!

 

Now, to put things into context, I always had a weird appreciation of that film. When I first watched it, I had only seen Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away from Miyazaki, and I remember I didn't like the film at all, thinking it was too dark, too weird, the plot too confusing, too different from the other two films I had seen... Then, I watched it again a few years later, and, knowing what I was getting into this time around, I appreciated it more, even if I felt it had some shortcomings. But weirdly enough, after having seen it twice, I still couldn't remember anything from the plot! And now, here's that third viewing... How do I feel now? Well, I'm not entirely sure, actually! There's definitely a lot to like in the film, but there's also a lot of it that doesn't work (which, oddly enough, is stuff that generally Miyazaki has no problem with in his films). There are two things worth noting regarding that film. Firstly, this is the second time, after Kiki's Delivery Service, where Miyazaki didn't write the original story, but adapted a book. And secondly, it is a rather dark film (even if it has some lighthearted moments), which probably has to do with the tone of the source material. I think that both those things explain most of the problems with this picture. Miyazaki isn't known for making dark films. Quite the contrary: most of his filmography consist of lighthearted films, with just a few dark elements here and there. And I believe that trying to do a dark film (something I'd say he's not comfortable with) is what led him to "fail" (for lack of a better word).

 

To explain that more clearly: I think the main problem with this film is that Miyazaki didn't write the story (originally, he wasn't even going to direct the film!). If you look at Miyazaki's filmography, you'll see that the stories of all his previous films (minus one) were written by him, so they were very much his own thing. And in the case of Kiki's Delivery Service, while he didn't write it, the original story was quite similar in terms of tone to his previous films. It was something that felt like a good match for him. But in the case of Howl's Moving Castle, it feels like the tone of the original story doesn't match Miyazaki's own universe. Now, I haven't read the book, but I've read the plot summary, and while it doesn't look like a really dark story, it's certainly not as lighthearted as Miyazaki's  films. And I think the consequence of that is an inconsistent tone in the adaptation. You have some dark moments in the film that I think are probably true to the original story (Howl in bird form in his cave, Howl fighting the wizards in monster form...), and then you have lighter stuff that I think probably comes from Miyazaki (Suliman's goofy dog, old Sophie cleaning up the castle, Markl and his magic cloak), and it feels like it doesn't mesh well. Basically, the film is often on the verge of being a really dark tale, but it never goes full steam in that direction, and instead is often interrupted by lighter stuff, which can be frustrating at times. It's a shame, because, based on what I read from the original story, it sounds more compelling than what we got in the film. And everything seems better explained in it, too. In the film, some stuff isn't really explained, but unlike in Spirited Away, where the unexplained stuff was a part of the film's charm, here, it just makes the story feel confusing. For example, Sophie sometimes becomes a young woman again, but then goes back to being an old woman, then a young woman again, etc... And when you think you finally understand the logic behind those sudden changes in appearance, it happens in another scene for no reason. It often feels random. There are other examples. I'm not sure why Sophie decides to destroy the castle at the end of film, only to rebuild it again right after that. The time travelling scene is another problematic sequence: how exactly does Sophie get to travel in time by going through the door? How exactly does she understands the contract that binds Calcifer and Howl just by seeing what she sees there? And I'm not even sure what that contract was all about. And finally, there's the whole Turniphead deus ex machina. What the hell was that? How did the prince ended up being turned into a scarecrow? Who did that? How? It all just felt like a convenient way to end the conflict and have a happy ending. It didn't feel Miyazaki-like (even if apparently, that wasn't in the book, so that was something he added himself), it was too abrupt and didn't work well with everything that came before that.

 

There's also a problem with the way Miyazaki dealt with the characters. The best example of that is the Witch Of The Waste, who seems like a bit of an unecessary character in the film (she doesn't do much apart from turning Sophie into an old woman), yet her book counterpart sounds like a much more fascinating character. I don't know why Miyazaki decided to turn her into this old helpless woman by the end of the film, but it doesn't feel like an interesting change. And because of that, she's not a very engaging character (she's actually a very unpleasant one. That scene where she's climbing the stairs of the royal palace... Oh my, that was one uncomfortable scene to watch). In fact, that's a problem the other characters have, too. Sophie is a bit of a bland lead (she's sometimes funny as an old woman, but I never really cared for her). Suliman is not a charismatic villain (we don't see her long enough for her to make a lasting impression, anyway, and again, the character is too different from her/his book counterpart). Calcifer is OK I guess, but is part of what makes the tone of the film feel inconsistent. Howl is an interesting character, though his random mood swings are sometimes a bit annoying. In the end, I only really liked Markl and his cool magic cloak, and Turniphead (probably my favourite character!).

 

Despite all this, the movie still has nice moments to offer nonetheless: the scene where Sophie meets Howl and they escape the Witch Of The Waste's henchmen and start flying above the town was a lovely bit, with great music to accompany it (it happens a tad too early in the film, in my opinion, though). The whole scene leading up to Sophie's arrival at the castle is also awesome: love the twilight as she is walking up the hill, followed by Turniphead (great work on colors there), then the castle reveal (I would have preferred if this was actually the first scene in which we would have seen the castle, actually. I think it would have made it even more powerful). The magical door sequence is another memorable moment: the idea itself is quite fun, and the inner workings of the castle are well explained during that scene. As mentioned above, I also really dig the scenes with Howl flying over the battlefield and fighting the wizards, as well as the scene where he comes back at the castle in bird form, and rest in front of the fireplace. Then of course, there's that scene where Sophie goes into the weird cave and sees Howl in monster form at the end of it. Superb stuff right there! If there's only one image to remember from the film, I'd say that's the one. And finally, there's the time travelling scene, which, even if a bit confusing, still works and makes a big impression thanks to Hisaishi's breathtaking music and the stunning visuals.

 

The film is also visually striking. As I said in the first few paragraphs, the only thing I remembered from the film after watching the film twice were particular shots, so surely it means something! Just like the story is probably the darkest in any Miyazaki film, so are the visuals in it. One just has to look at the screencaps I posted below my review to see that. Of course, there are many scenes and locations that are more colourful (like the royal palace or Howl's secret garden, for example), but overall, this has to be the Miyazaki film with the gloomiest visuals during its entire duration. But that's far from a bad thing because, wow, do these visuals look splendid! Every scene taking place at night, or on a cloudy day, or during sunset is a joy to look at. Another thing I liked about the film was that there were less 3D elements used this time around, and the computer graphics were integrated more smoothly into the picture. In terms of production design, there is excellent stuff, and then there is rather average stuff. The castle itself looks fantastic. A great crazy design (love the fact the castle actually has facial features), both on the outside and on the inside. Sophie's town also looks good, and so does Howl's secret garden. When it comes to the creature design, I'm particularly fond of the Witch of the Waste's henchmen, more specifically the palanquin carriers. The wizards are another cool design, even if often only glanced briefly. Howl in bird form looks badass. Calcifer is the one design I'm not fond of, as he really feels out of place compared to all the rest. It feels like he's from another film! Then there's the Witch of the Waste, which to me, has an awful design (again, that scene where she's climbing up the stairs was absolutely disgusting to watch and went on for far too long). The rest of the characters look fine (was anyone else confused by the fact that both Sophie's sister and her mother looked so much alike, though? That confused me at first, when it was written in the subtitles it was her mother in the scene she appears in, as I thought it was her sister). And of course, as usual in Miyazaki's later films, you can see a few stuff from his older works being reused: here, we have the Flaptors from Castle In The Sky (though maybe that was in the book), the boy working for Suliman looked very much like a blonde Haku, and the war ships' design is reminiscent of the ones found in Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind.

 

Hisaishi's score is another strong aspect of the film. It was, as I said above, one of the main reasons why I was really excited to rewatch the film, as I didn't remember anything from it, but was intrigued regarding how he treated the darker material of the film. Well, it turns out the music isn't that dark, actually! It is for the most part a pretty joyful score, with lots of upbeat moments, which I found surprising. But I really dig it! There is a lot of material I absolutely loved. In fact, I think it may be my new favourite Hisaishi score! It starts in a rather ominous manner with the track Opening - The Merry-Go-Round Of Life, with an organ playing the first few bars. But it's actually not representative of the tone of the score at all, as it is quickly replaced by gentler music leading directly into the main theme of the film, a waltz-like dreamy melody that is quite prominent throughout the entire film. The first big rendition the theme gets is heard in Stroll Through The Sky, accompanying the scene where Howl and Sophie are flying over the town. The theme then reappears in many places throughout the score: Heart Aflutter, Spring Cleaning, To The Lake Of Stars, Quiet Feelings, In The Rain, Vanity And Friendship, The Flower Garden, Love Of War... It's all over it! If one has to be honest, though, many of those statements are quite similar to one another, and the listening experience would benefit from having a few of those cut out (as it does get repetitive after a while). That being said, the theme does get an interesting lenghtier treatment in Wandering Sophie, where it is given some cool pastoral sounding variations. But the best renditions of it are heard in the second half of the score, starting with A 90 Year Old Young Girl, where the first heroic statement of the theme is heard, and later expanded in Suliman's Magic Square - Return To The Castle (probably the best rendition of the theme). We get a few more similar energetic statements of the theme in tracks like Run!, and the triumphant Sophie's Castle.

 

Apart from that theme, there's not a lot of thematic material. The Witch Of The Waste gets a small motif heard in The Witch Of The Waste, The Indelible Curse and Vanity And Friendship, a sinister melody played by woodwinds: it's nice but not particularly memorable. A third theme in the score is the one for Sophie. It is introduced in Moving, and reappears in Family. It's a lovely melody with a great whimsical second phrase played on glockenspiel, which would have deserved to show up more in the score. The last thematic idea, which is easily the best thing from the score, can be associated to Howl. It is first heard in fragments in The Secret Cave and is then given a full blown-out rendition throughout most of The Boy Who Drank Stars. A grand majestic and lyrical theme which is, to me, the single best melody Hisaishi came up with (at least, based on everything I've heard from him)! It's awe-inspiring. Gorgeous stuff. The incidental material in the score ain't bad, either. Bloody love the militaristic fanfare in The Courageous Cavalry, a pompous buyoant march for the scene where the army is going to war. A highlight of the score for me! The Magical Door is another pretty cool moment in the score: it is basically based around one little melody, which is given many variations throughout the track. There is some nice woodwind writing in the first half of To The Lake Of Stars too. The whole first half of Suliman's Magic Square - Return To The Castle is another great moment, giving us terribly effective tense music that keeps on building and building until it explodes into a wonderful statement of the main theme. Finally, there's Love Of War or the second half of Sophie's Castle which offer cool action material. All in all, this score is a wonderful work, which really elevates the film it was written for.

In the end, Howl's Moving Castle is a pretty flawed flick: the tone is not very consistent, most of the characters aren't really engaging, the story is a bit all over the place... Most of it has to do with the fact Miyazaki didn't manage to appropriate the story and make it his own. Still, the film has some redeeming qualities: absolutely gorgeous visuals, a killer score, and a few memorable sequences. And you can't help but admire what Miyazaki was trying to achieve, even if he didn't quite succeed (well, in my opinion anyway). It's not a bad film, rather an imperfect one... Still worth watching, though!

6.5/10

 

 

Opening: The Merry-Go-Round Of Life

 

The Courageous Cavalry

 

Stroll Through The Sky

 

The Magical Door

 

The Indelible Curse

 

In The Rain

 

Suliman's Magic Square - Return To The Castle

 

Moving

 

Love Of War

 

The Boy Who Drank Stars

 

 

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P.S.: Here's an interesting comparison between some elements of the book and the film:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howl's_Moving_Castle_(film)#Differences_between_film_and_novel

 

Quote

The film is very different from Jones' original novel. The plot is similar, but it is flavored with Miyazaki's familiar style and characters, as well as several missing or drastically altered key plot points from the book. The plot is still focused on Sophie and her adventure while cursed with old age. The movie retains the novel's original story line of how Sophie gradually grows from thinking of herself as a plain, ordinary girl who pales in comparison to her popular and beautiful sister Lettie to ultimately coming to accept herself for who she is and thinking of herself as a beautiful woman. However, the main action of the film's story takes place during a war, and its plot is chiefly concerned with Howl's refusing to help both kings and sabotaging both armies' materiel for pacifist reasons. Also, the relationship of Howl and Sophie differs between the novel and the movie in that the two gradually develop their relationship through lots of bickering and quarreling in the novel while the movie does not portray this aspect as much.


Sophie herself is different in the film and in the novel. For instance, Sophie's personality is a little more irate in the novel; she also possesses magic, unlike her counterpart in the film.


In contrast, the novel is concerned with Howl's womanizing and his attempts to lift the curse upon himself (discovering later how his lethal predicament is entangled with the fates of a lost wizard and prince) as well as running from the incredibly powerful and beautiful Witch of the Waste, who is the story's main villain and not at all the old yet harmless character she plays on screen. Also in the book, the Witch of the Waste was later killed by Howl while the anime film keeps her alive in an old age. Another noteworthy difference is that Sophie, in the book, is herself an unwitting sorceress totally unaware of her power, with the ability to "talk life into things" like the hats she makes and her own walking stick; objects take on a life of their own the more attention Sophie gives to them.


The book detours for one chapter into 20th-century Wales, where Howl is known as Howell Jenkins and has a sister with children. This glimpse into Howl's complicated past is not shown in the film, but one of Howl's aliases is "The Great Wizard Jenkins".


In addition, Sophie has two sisters in the book, Lettie and Martha, not just one. Markl is called Michael in the book, is 15, and is in love with Sophie's youngest sister, Martha (in the novel, Howl also courts Lettie for a while). Suliman is actually a man from Wales whose real name is Ben Sullivan, not a woman as portrayed in the movie. The film conflates this Suliman as a powerful wizard in his own right who has gone missing after a confrontation with the Witch of the Waste, with Mrs. Penstemmon, the Professor who taught Howl sorcery and gives Sophie clues as to how to free Calcifer and Howl from their contract. Neither is an enemy of the heroine in the book. Besides Martha, several other characters were left out.

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Howl's Moving Castle

 

Well, this was the first Miyazaki movie I kind of didn't like :( I saw it in the theaters when it came out, but had retained no memories of it (or even how much I liked/didn't like it). I probably appreciated it more at the time, since it was probably my 3rd or 4th Miyazaki movie I had seen. Watching it now, in sequence after recently watching everything he did before, it really didn't play too well for me.

 

The biggest problem is the storytelling. This is by far his most complex and hard-to-follow plot (not that I'm saying it's literally hard to follow, but it is the MOST like that). It starts off perfectly fine, I loved the introduction to Sophie, when she escapes from the blobs with Howl, her curse and then ending up in Howl's castle, etc. But then when it starts getting into Howl's angst and how he doesn't want to live if he can't be beautiful, etc the film really started to lose me. I thought it was kind of interesting that the film does a switch on you, with you thinking the Wicked Witch of the Waste is the villain when its really Suliman, but that didn't get explored too well (Suliman is barely in the movie!) and the politics of the war and the motivations of most characters are pretty muddled.

 

No problems with the animation though, it was pretty great. Not as perfect and stunning as Mononoke and Spirited, but still very good. The CGI was perfectly integrated with the hand-drawn animation. I quite liked the look of Howl's Castle, from how it moved (reminded me of Monty Python) to how it reconfigured and the various permutations it goes through.

 

Hisasaishi's score was great, I really enjoyed everything I heard. Sounds like it could be the most accessible score yet.

 

I watched the English dub, and really enjoyed Emily Mortimer and Jean Simmons as Sophie, Billy Crystal as Calcifer, Christain Bale as Howl, and Lauren Bacall as the Witch. I saw later that pre-puberty Josh Hutcherson played Markl.

 

So not a great film - not terrible by any means. In a vacuum, I'd probably enjoy it more - especially if it was, say the first Miyazaki movie I had scene (because its full of so much great animation, creatures, fantasy elements, and just random cool stuff). Turnip Head is a great character! But for me the storytelling suffered, and I'd put it behind all his other films.

 

So now I'd rank them

 

1. Spirited Away
2. Princess Mononoke
3. Nausciaa of the Valley of the Wind
4. My Neighbor Totoro
5. Castle In The Sky
6. Kiki's Delivery Service
7. Castle of Cagliostro
8. Porco Rosso
9. How's Moving Castle

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Howl's Moving Castle

Well, this was the first Miyazaki movie I kind of didn't like :( I saw it in the theaters when it came out, but had retained no memories of it (or even how much I liked/didn't like it).

Interesting you didn't remember anything from the film either, just like me. It's a bit weird, because even if the movie is far from perfect, it does have some memorable moments.

The biggest problem is the storytelling. This is by far his most complex and hard-to-follow plot (not that I'm saying it's literally hard to follow, but it is the MOST like that). It starts off perfectly fine, I loved the introduction to Sophie, when she escapes from the blobs with Howl, her curse and then ending up in Howl's castle, etc. But then when it starts getting into Howl's angst and how he doesn't want to live if he can't be beautiful, etc the film really started to lose me. I thought it was kind of interesting that the film does a switch on you, with you thinking the Wicked Witch of the Waste is the villain when its really Suliman, but that didn't get explored too well (Suliman is barely in the movie!) and the politics of the war and the motivations of most characters are pretty muddled.

I agree that the story is a bit confusing at times, though I blame it more on the way Miyazaki adapted the story than on the story itself. I read a summary of the book, and the story doesn't sound as disconcerting as it is in the film.

Hisasaishi's score was great, I really enjoyed everything I heard. Sounds like it could be the most accessible score yet.

It is a good score indeed. Very European/classical-sounding, so maybe it's easier for our Western ears to connect to it.

So not a great film - not terrible by any means. In a vacuum, I'd probably enjoy it more - especially if it was, say the first Miyazaki movie I had scene (because its full of so much great animation, creatures, fantasy elements, and just random cool stuff). Turnip Head is a great character! But for me the storytelling suffered, and I'd put it behind all his other films.

I agree the film suffers a bit from the comparison from Miyazaki's previous works but that there's still some quality stuff to be found in it. It's a pretty fair assessment of it.

So now I'd rank them

1. Spirited Away
2. Princess Mononoke
3. Nausciaa of the Valley of the Wind
4. My Neighbor Totoro
5. Castle In The Sky
6. Kiki's Delivery Service
7. Castle of Cagliostro
8. Porco Rosso
9. How's Moving Castle

Well, this is interesting. Quite different from my own ranking (which has changed a bit after having seen Ponyo and after reconsidering what each film has to offer). Will post it when I'm done with the last two films!

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I might rethink my whole ranking once I've seen all 11 and marinated on some. For now I've just been inserting each new one into the existing list where I felt it belonged. But looking at my list now, I already have more fond memories of Kiki than a lot of films I have higher, for example.

 

Btw, is Howl considered by the general public to be among Miyazaki's top or bottom of his output?

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I might rethink my whole ranking once I've seen all 11 and marinated in some. For now I've just been inserting each new one into the existing list where I felt it belonged. But looking at my list now, I already have more fond memories of Kiki than a lot of films I have higher, for example.

I honestly can't understand all the love Kiki gets (I'm not referring just to you), many people calling it one of their favourite Miyazaki films. I mean, sure, it's not a bad film, but what it does it have to offer, really? There were no major moments that really stood out, to me.

Btw, is Howl considered by the general public to be among Miyazaki's top or bottom of his output?

I think most people consider it to be his weakest film (or one of his weakest), and I can see why: it's rather dark, some characters are just downring unpleasant (I'm looking at you, Witch Of The Waste!), as you said, the plot is hard to follow, etc.

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Ok good, glad I didn't just zonk out and miss something everybody else loved.

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