BloodBoal

The Hayao Miyazaki Retrospective Thread

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Finishing reading @nightscape94's reviews with... Princess Mononoke!

 

On 23/01/2017 at 10:04 PM, nightscape94 said:

Princess Mononoke (1997)

 

Miyakazi's love of nature, and his use of it as a theme, reaches its apotheosis with Princess Mononoke.  It feels like a life's work finally advancing to its inevitable peak.  If he were a lesser writer and director, he may have been perfectly satisfied shoving this message in our collective faces without a hint of creativity.  But in the hands of a master storyteller who puts considerable emphasis on characters and motivations, it comes truly alive.  This is a masterpiece.

 

:thumbup:

 

One of my favourite movies of all time!

 

On 23/01/2017 at 10:04 PM, nightscape94 said:

We are treated again to the majesty of landscapes as Ashitaka makes his way west after being tainted with a curse.  During this trek to discover certain truths and change his fate, Ashitaka sees a war-torn countryside, establishing the idea of civil unrest, and also showing us a higher level of violence than we were previously exposed to in these films.  Limbs and heads are brutally but neatly severed, soldiers mercilessly attack villagers; it's all quite startling, but necessary, as there is an increased level of rage and anger saturating moment to moment.

 

Were you surprised seeing that much violence in a Miyazaki movie after having watched them all in chronological order? Had forgotten how violent it was, and when I rewatched it after having seen My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service and Porco Rosso, it made for a really startling experience, basically going from kid-friendly stuff to seeing a guy having both his arms cut off by an arrow!

 

On 23/01/2017 at 10:04 PM, nightscape94 said:

However, Eboshi is not innocent, and in many instances she is painted as deceptively kind.  In order to steal authority for herself she has collected a motley crew of people who are almost guaranteed not to rebel if shown a modicum of kindness: Women purchased from slavery, but then put to labor. Lepers taken in, but then put to labor.  These groups feel such a debt that Eboshi can easily exploit this. They all express such unmitigated gratitude for this false freedom as to hope to be the eventual benefactors of their own labor.

 

Interesting. Never considered that. Don't remember, though: do the women say it was Eboshi who put them to work, or did they decided by themselves to help her?

 

On 23/01/2017 at 10:04 PM, nightscape94 said:

Joe Hisaishi is someone who I haven't spoken much of in my reviews, but here his music has developed a symbiotic relationship with the material.  I feel like he rose to the challenge and provided a beautiful score from start to finish, highlighting the mood perfectly without detracting from it.   San has a beautiful theme, later set to song, and the theme for both Ashitaka and San that ends the movie is presented in glorious serenity during those closing passages.  Everything else in between is just as lovely.

 

Yeah. As I said in my review of the film, this is the first Hisaishi score that feels like a "proper" film score, so to speak (that is to say, the kind of score we're used to, with lots of themes, each developed, setpieces, etc.). While his previous ones were nice, they didn't make a huge impression and went mostly unnoticed. Here, the music truly stands out and really enhances the experience.

 

On 23/01/2017 at 10:04 PM, nightscape94 said:

Japanese/English Dubs:

 

The differences in the dubs are relatively minor, things like calling the Oracle "wise woman" in the English, but the most conspicuous one is felt right off the bat, when the opening is actually narrated by Okkoto and stretches on much longer.  This is not entirely effective as it trades away the music and canvas being created on screen for more information.  We get everything we need as the characters speak throughout the movie.

 

Wow, seriously? Narration? That sucks. Must really kill the atmosphere of the film (especially during the opening).

 

On 23/01/2017 at 10:04 PM, nightscape94 said:

One of the funnier changes is in the scene when Ashitaka is leaving his village.  The Oracle says, in both versions, that their laws forbid the townspeople from watching him leave.  And then, in the Japanese version, finishes with a simple "Farewell."  In the English, she says, "You're dead to us forever".  It was so awkwardly vulgar given the relative politeness of the discussion up to that point that I actually burst out laughing.

 

lol! This is ridiculously hilarious.

 

They might as well have had her say: "OK, now fuck off!"

 

On 23/01/2017 at 10:04 PM, nightscape94 said:

Princess Mononoke charges confidently to the top of the list.  It is a nearly flawless experience that takes place at the dawn of a new era of industry and shows how people attempt to tame the natural setting around them instead of working cooperatively to share and grow within certain bounds.  Miyazaki personifies the forest, giving it legs, teeth, and a voice so it can defend and answer for itself.  This is essential, since people have a tendency to think of nature as a lifeless thing that is meant to be controlled, and our efforts to maintain domination instead of balance is at the heart of it.  This world is not ours alone, we are part of this world, and not acting in accordance with this proposal will result in total annihilation.  In the end, it is Nature that takes away life, and gives it back.

 

:thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

 

Well said!

 

An absolutely stunning cinematic experience with a powerful message perfectly delivered by Miyazaki-san!

 

So, did you notice how similar to Nausicaä that one was?

 

On 23/01/2017 at 10:04 PM, nightscape94 said:

1) Princess Mononoke

2) Laputa: Castle in the Sky

3) My Neighbor Totoro

4) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

5) Kiki's Delivery Service

6) Lupin III:  The Castle of Cagliostro

7) Porco Roso

 

Not a bad list, though I'm sad to see The Castle Of Cagliostro so near the bottom of the list!

 

 

OK, I'm up-to-date now. Time to post your Spirited Away review!

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On 3/27/2017 at 4:40 AM, BloodBoal said:

It's funny, because when I watched the film, I didn't pay attention to the fact the witch she meets had ended her expedition, and I thought she was going to turn into some sort of rival for Kiki (not like a true evil villain, but you know, kind of an annoying, condescending peer) and that was to be her introduction scene, because this is generally what we would get in most coming-of-age movies: some character appears who is condescending to the hero, and then as the story unfolds this become the main antagonist, the hero's rival. But this scene isn't actually about that witch: it's all about Kiki, who, as you said, isn't sure who she is. It's interesting to see how a simple scene might lead you to expect the kind of story structure you're used to, but Miyazaki instead goes in a completely different direction (which is part of what makes his movies special).

 

Miyazaki films have conditioned me not to expect the expected.  Not all background characters are supporting characters, but sometimes they can support a moment.

 

On 3/27/2017 at 4:40 AM, BloodBoal said:

No reaction to the fact Jiji actually speaks at the end in the English dub? ;)

 

Oddly, I don't recall that happening.  I'll have to go back and watch!

 

On 4/20/2017 at 9:33 AM, BloodBoal said:

Well, continuing on commenting @nightscape94's reviews, even if he refuses to comment my comments!

 

I comment as fast as I write reviews ;)

 

On 4/20/2017 at 9:33 AM, BloodBoal said:

I think there's more beneath the surface than what is revealed through the story and dialogue. The way the characters act and look at each other (Marco and Gina, especially) convey a lot about their past history.

 

Most definitely, and their first interaction and dialogue at the bar provided some nice early moments that the rest of the movie didn't live up to, in my opinion.  For the most part I enjoyed their scenes together.

 

On 4/26/2017 at 5:26 PM, BloodBoal said:

Were you surprised seeing that much violence in a Miyazaki movie after having watched them all in chronological order? Had forgotten how violent it was, and when I rewatched it after having seen My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service and Porco Rosso, it made for a really startling experience, basically going from kid-friendly stuff to seeing a guy having both his arms cut off by an arrow!

 

Yes, despite having seen the film before, but now viewing them like this, with the man's career progressing and unfolding, it is a bit jarring.  But not jarring in context.  However, there is a sense that he's consciously turning much more serious with this story.  Not that his family-friendly stories are not seriously told, but I mean serious as in tone.  He is not masking the violence, whether it's human on human, human on animal, or animal on human.  Or even in the appearance of wounds.  Everything is graphically illustrated.

 

On 4/26/2017 at 5:26 PM, BloodBoal said:

Interesting. Never considered that. Don't remember, though: do the women say it was Eboshi who put them to work, or did they decided by themselves to help her?

 

I don't quite recall the exact detail, but I seem to remember that the women claimed to have been "saved" or "freed" or something akin to that.  I think part of the the brilliance of how Miyazaki writes is that you don't really know a ton about her.  Information is there to guide us along in terms of where Eboshi is in life, the type of people she envelopes around her, and how her character is defined through specific actions.  It's the impression I had that she always takes advantage of a situation, even though on some level she deeply cares for those help she exploits, to gain power to clinch her ultimate freedom from the world of men.  She takes time to grieve the loss of a soldier, or how she speaks of creating advantage for the women she's taken in, or how she speaks so gently to the lepers who need to feel included after being ostracized by society. 

 

Then again, you never know where the manipulation starts and where it ends.  She talks to each group in different ways to maximize her effectiveness.

 

On 4/26/2017 at 5:26 PM, BloodBoal said:

So, did you notice how similar to Nausicaä that one was?

 

Somewhat.  There is the inescapable Nature theme, but beyond some surface-level Miyazaki-isms I didn't feel they were too similar.

 

On 4/26/2017 at 5:26 PM, BloodBoal said:

Not a bad list, though I'm sad to see The Castle Of Cagliostro so near the bottom of the list!

 

Every now and then I still think of flipping Cagliostro and Kiki.

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On 27/04/2017 at 1:47 AM, nightscape94 said:

I comment as fast as I write reviews ;)

 

It's still faster than LeBlanc!

 

On 27/04/2017 at 1:47 AM, nightscape94 said:

Yes, despite having seen the film before, but now viewing them like this, with the man's career progressing and unfolding, it is a bit jarring.  But not jarring in context.  However, there is a sense that he's consciously turning much more serious with this story.  Not that his family-friendly stories are seriously told, but I mean serious as in tone.  He is not masking the violence, whether it's human on human, human on animal, or animal on human.  Or even in the appearance of wounds.  Everything is graphically illustrated.

 

Oh, yeah, as you said, within the film itself, it doesn't feel jarring, the violence doesn't feel gratuitious, but within the director's filmography, you can feel a sudden shift in tone with that one, the movies becoming a bit darker than they were before (especially something like Howl's Moving Castle).

 

On 27/04/2017 at 1:47 AM, nightscape94 said:

I don't quite recall the exact detail, but I seem to remember that the woman claimed to have been "saved" or "freed" or something akin to that.  I think part of the the brilliance of how Miyazaki writes is that you don't really know a ton about her.  Information is there to guide us along in terms of where Eboshi is in life, the type of people she envelopes around her, and how her character is defined through specific actions.  It's the impression I had that she always takes advantage of a situation, even though on some level she deeply cares for those help she exploits, to gain power to clinch her ultimate freedom from the world of men.  She takes time to grieve the loss of a soldier, or how she speaks of creating advantage for the women she's taken in, or how she speaks so gently to the lepers who need to feel included after being ostracized by society.

 

Then again, you never know where the manipulation starts and where it ends.  She talks to each group in different ways to maximize her effectiveness.

 

It's really an interesting way to look at it. I don't know if that's something intended by Miyazaki or not, but yeah, it can definitely be interpreted that way and adds another layer to Eboshi as a character and the story as a whole too. Nice analysis, mr. nightscape!

 

On 27/04/2017 at 1:47 AM, nightscape94 said:

Somewhat.  There is the inescapable Nature theme, but beyond some surface-level Miyazaki-isms I didn't feel they were too similar.

 

I think there's a bit more than that. Nausicaa is of course reminiscent of San, a young "princess warrior"-like character trying to protect nature, then you have Asbel who feels like a proto-Ashitaka trying to stop the conflict between everyone, Kushana is similar to Eboshi in some ways, Kurotawa shares some traits with Jigo... The two movies of course have many differences, but they also have many similarities. To me, it really feels like Miyazaki was doing a remake of sorts of Nausicäa with Princess Mononoke.

 

On 27/04/2017 at 1:47 AM, nightscape94 said:

Every now and then I still think of flipping Cagliostro and Kiki.

 

Now would be a good time to do that! ;)

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Spirited Away (2001)

 

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Spirited Away is, simply put, a transcendent film experience from beginning to end.  When I saw it for the first time in 2002 I thought it was one of the greatest things I'd ever seen.  Re-watching it again this week has solidified that opinion.  Every scene works, there is no waste.  I love every frame.  It uses silence so effectively that it becomes meditative in a few spots and you get enveloped within its borders.  The lead character, Chihiro, convinces you to go on this journey of discovery, and you couldn't be happier to allow this world to unfold around you.  Aesthetically, it's one of the most colorful, vibrant, inventive, and imaginative films in existence.  If Princess Mononoke is a masterpiece then this is Miyazaki's magnum opus.  It's common territory for a Miyazaki film to contain an amazing amount of small detail threaded throughout, and Spirited Away has some of the best facial acting I've seen in an animated film.  My admiration can be summed up by describing one particular moment.  Chihiro is gathering her shoes, puts them on without socks, struggles briefly with one of the heals, and then taps the top of the other shoe against the wooden floor a couple of times to hammer it on, just like anyone might do unconsciously, since that's just how people are.  It's a glorious detail, reflecting accurate behavior.  This is all the more amazing when you realize that there is just a basic framework for a story, but it's all in the delivery and artistry on display.  You get so caught up in watching it, actually watching it, that you lose yourself.  Miyazaki doesn't reinvent himself as much as he simply intensifies the mystical and abstract elements which makes this still feel fresh, even given what's come before.

The structure is very basic, with a straightforward opening sequence that places a young girl named Chihiro in a car with her parents as they make their way to their new home and town.  After a wrong turn puts them on course through an old windy and abandoned road, they arrive at the mouth of a mysterious tunnel where they then find themselves traipsing around a bankrupt and seemingly deserted amusement park.  This beginning is important because in such a brief time span it tells us all we need to know about Chihiro, showing how nervous and anxious she is, constantly clutching at the shirt or arm of her mother and father.  This is an interesting inverse of what her parents seem to be like, as they show a youthful eagerness to explore the unknown.  Within just a handful of minutes we already find ourselves in a spirit world that Chihiro is forced to confront and navigate.

She encounters a young boy named Haku who immediately comes to her aid, giving her some quick advice.  He feels drawn to her somehow, but this isn't explored any further until the very end when they're history comes full circle.  We are very much introduced to this world the same way that Chihiro is, which is through a bombardment of sensory experiences where nothing is immediately explained.  It's supposed to be jarring as Chihiro tries to manage this overload of new information.  In continuation of this, we are introduced to several major players very shortly, such as the boilerman Kamaji, a bathhouse attendant named Lin, and the proprietor the business, who is also a powerful witch, named Yubaba, who controls the town.  When Chihiro meets this witch it to save her own life by obtaining work in her bathhouse.  Through insistence, charm, and a bit of luck, she is able to successfully procure a position, but not without Yubaba changing Chihiro's name by removing some of the kanji lettering to form the name Sen.  It's a means of control and Yubaba's calculating plan is to have ownership over her workers where she rules through fear, making them unquestioning slaves afraid to move beyond.

Haku's past and present are not clearly defined.  We know enough to place doubt in our minds about the integrity of his character; being the henchman and apprentice to Yubaba, he goes around stealing other's magic in order to gain power.  The movie is told purely through Chihiro/Sen's eyes.  The world is so new and confusing, and she's thrust into it so violently, with everything being taken from her, that she doesn't so much adapt to her new environment as skirt through it delicately maintaining a strong desire to escape.  As a result, certain aspects of this world float by her rapidly without her having much time to question it, like when she sees what appears to be a dragon drifting through a blue sky shortly after an early morning meeting with Haku.  She looks upon this in quiet wonderment, internalizing and tucking away her thoughts.  Haku himself is a mysterious figure, just as inexplicable as his surroundings.  His intentions turn out to not be as malicious as the company he kept when we find out he too was being controlled by Yubaba, and he was exercising a way to escape as well. 

Lin, Sen's caretaker at the bathhouse, even expresses her dreams of going to a far off place.  She is a great character, full of sarcasm, humor, attitude, bite, while being motherly toward Sen.

Miyazaki films have all have Love as an important component.  Not always romantic, sometimes familial or bonds of friendship, but love as a concept is as essential to his storytelling as anything else.  He's just never been explicit or overt in his use of the idea.  It's always an innocent but indispensable ingredient.  In Spirited Away, Love is played up more than in any of his other films, and the connection between Sen and Haku is established bit by bit, showing they have a shared past, even if neither can quite remember it.  Their love for each other breaks Yubaba's spell, redeems Haku, and gives Sen the confidence to get through it all.  It would be interesting if Miyazaki ever embarked on a candid romance just to see what that would look like through the lens of this gifted man.

The Bathhouse itself is a character.  It's hard to completely dismiss what a setting like that represents historically.  Even more, the character of No Face is the most mysterious because we don't initially know its motivations after noticing Sen on the bridge, later following her to the bathhouse, then drawing attention to itself by flaunting gold in order to showoff its mighty stature, and at the height of its arrogance forcefully and threateningly demanding the presence of Sen.  There is a steady escalation in its behavior.  This is the brilliance of Miyazaki by putting what constitutes very adult themes in what is a movie basically aimed at a younger audience.  After cleverly leading it outside, when Sen tells Lin that the bathhouse is driving No Face crazy you can't help but understand that an environment that is so testosterone-fueled would have a negative affect on its once-relaxed nature.  Even though the spirits appear sexless, everyone and everything is contaminated by what is unmistakably an unchecked male-centric atmosphere serviced by female attendants.  No Face is corrupted, and Sen is utilized here as the purifying spirit.  She has an indirect but positive influence on everyone and her sense of right and wrong is very strong and focused.  The idea that No Face was capable of these things is right on point.

Preceding this is a set piece involving a spirit covered in sludge and foulness.  This is a well-constructed and nicely animated series of events where we find out it's actually a river spirit that has been infected by human vileness and garbage.  This is actually an extremely important piece of information from a design standpoint.  When we see the newly cleansed spirit it intentionally reminds us the dragon that Sen saw a passing glimpse of earlier.  This sequence now establishes what a river spirit, in their true and pure form, can look like.  It subtlety implants that idea in our minds so when the flying dragon returns, Sen is at first skeptical about what she is seeing, but then intuitively makes the connection and understands that it's Haku without further debate.  When we see his green eyes, we know for sure.  This comes back nicely in the end when Sen remembers Haku's name, and he finally reaffirms his identity.

Unlike My Neighbor Totoro, there is no question that these events really happened since, not only does Chihiro still have her handmade and friend-fashioned new hair tie, but the entrance to the tunnel is completely overgrown with grass and weeds.  Significant time has clearly passed.  In a way, it would have been interesting to see what came next, but the story here is finished, and nothing more needs to be said.

There are two scenes I'd like to mention that are absolute treasures.  The first one comes after we meet Yubaba's twin sister Zeniba and Sen removes her stolen seal from Haku's stomach.  After confronting No Face and purging him of impurity of spirit, they meet up on better terms in the calmness of daylight and both board a train in order to visit with Zeniba and beg forgiveness on Haku's behalf.  This whole section of them traveling through the flooded rail line brought me close to tears.  There is a beauty and haunting sadness as it rolls along to the sound of gentle music with day changing over to night.  Without a single spoken word, both Sen and No Face sit quietly next to each other as other ghostly spirits depart one stop at a time until they are alone, awaiting their own inevitable stop.  It's difficult to put into words how affecting this is, and it's hands down one of the best scenes in any Miyazaki film.  The other scene occurs shortly after and is the very summit of this breathtaking film as Sen and Haku embark on one of the most magnificent flying sequences in cinema, accompanied by one of my favorite musical cues ever.  It's exhilarating, liberating, rapturous in its vision and realization, bringing the thematic material of the story to its destination, which is the importance of knowing more about yourself and to expose those locked away secrets of our personalities that we're sometimes too afraid to confront; the truths about ourselves as we grow into adulthood.  At least for now, in this brief moment, there is simplicity and enchantment as they fly onward through the sky, hand in hand, together.
 

1) Spirited Away

2) Princess Mononoke

3) Laputa: Castle in the Sky

4) My Neighbor Totoro

5) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

6) Kiki's Delivery Service

7) Lupin III:  The Castle of Cagliostro

8) Porco Roso

 

Post #10,000

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Addendum:

 

I didn't want to clog up my love letter to Spirited Away with anything sour, so I'll just add a couple of remarks here on the dub.

 

Overall, I don't have any serious qualms with it, and it's pretty well done in terms of acting.  There isn't much in the script to truly mess up.  I've noticed that the more problematic translations tend to be the more story-heavy ones, such as Princess Mononoke or Castle in the Sky, when actual plot is involved.  This movie is more about a streamlined experience, much like My Neighbor Totoro, which is probably why that dub is extremely well done, and my actual preferred version of that movie.  That's something that I don't anticipate will be replicated, but I'm always open to possibilities.  The problems here have more to do with filling in empty space that doesn't need to be filled because the dub supervisors seem to be scared the audience won't get certain things if they're not spelled out.  For Spirited Away there is one very poor decision, and a couple of missteps:

 

The timing of the realization that Haku is the dragon.  This is one of the few moments where the way in which the information is doled out plays an integral part in how we enjoy the story.  As I more or less outlined above, in the Japanese version there is a nice eventual realization that takes place over several scenes.  After meeting Haku on the bridge early in the morning, where he then takes Sen to see her parents, they part ways.  Then something catches her eye in the sky, and she sees a flying dragon snaking away in the distance.  There is no one to speak to, so she doesn't speak, and we see it play out on the curious expression on her face.  Even later there is hesitation when she see the dragon again, but finally she just knows.  This is a wonderful way to arrive to this recognition, and the audience shares in this "ah ha" moment.  In the English dub, after parting from Haku on the bridge, she literally says, in all of its clumsy and insensitive glory, "Haku?  I didn't know he was a dragon."  Firstly, it inserts voicing where there is none (it's spoken over the shot of the sky) but it hammers the information at us right away without any tact.  This drastically lessens the second scene since the surprise is ruined.

 

The dialogue during the flying scene is altered pretty heavily to be more explicit in Haku being a river spirit and wrapping things up about him being a good person, as though we didn't quite get the point.  I know that English speaking audiences, especially American audiences (this dub was supervised by Disney), culturally don't have the same ingrained understanding of spirits, but I would like to see them give our youth more of a fighting chance.  Children understand quite a lot without parents having to explain it.  Miyazaki isn't exactly a nebulous storyteller, he's generally direct with his meaning and dialogue.  The absence of people speaking is highly effective when the screen is already so busy, and he knows when, why, and how to use it in particular places.  To willfully taint this designed mood for the sake of adding a verbal crutch is insulting.

 

At the very end, the same thing.  As the car drives away, silence.  In the English dub, not only is there more dialogue, but it's there to further supplement the theme of Chihiro's growth when it's not needed.

 

 

 

 

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Great review, nightscape! I'm afraid there isn't much I can say about it except that I agree with everything you said. I'll still try to comment on a few things you mentioned...

 

On 03/06/2017 at 8:53 AM, nightscape94 said:

Miyazaki films have all have Love as an important component.  Not always romantic, sometimes familial or bonds of friendship, but love as a concept is as essential to his storytelling as anything else.  He's just never been explicit or overt in his use of the idea.  It's always an innocent but indispensable ingredient.  In Spirited Away, Love is played up more than in any of his other films, and the connection between Sen and Haku is established bit by bit, showing they have a shared past, even if neither can quite remember it.  Their love for each other breaks Yubaba's spell, redeems Haku, and gives Sen the confidence to get through it all.  It would be interesting if Miyazaki ever embarked on a candid romance just to see what that would look like through the lens of this gifted man.

 

Interesting. Never thought about that (I mean, apart in Princess Mononoke, where it's the most obvious). Could definitely be interesting to see a Miyazaki movie revolving around a romance. It would clearly not be your usual romantic movie!

 

On 03/06/2017 at 8:53 AM, nightscape94 said:

Unlike My Neighbor Totoro, there is no question that these events really happened since, not only does Chihiro still have her handmade and friend-fashioned new hair tie, but the entrance to the tunnel is completely overgrown with grass and weeds.  Significant time has clearly passed.

 

How did you feel about that, by the way? Would you have preferred the ending to be more ambiguous, leaving it to the viewer to decide if all that happened was "real", or "imagined", or something else... or are you fine with the movie giving a rather clear answer?

 

On 03/06/2017 at 8:53 AM, nightscape94 said:

There are two scenes I'd like to mention that are absolute treasures.  The first one comes after we meet Yubaba's twin sister Zeniba and Sen removes her stolen seal from Haku's stomach.  After confronting No Face and purging him of impurity of spirit, they meet up on better terms in the calmness of daylight and both board a train in order to visit with Zeniba and beg forgiveness on Haku's behalf.  This whole section of them traveling through the flooded rail line brought me close to tears.  There is a beauty and haunting sadness as it rolls along to the sound of gentle music with day changing over to night.  Without a single spoken word, both Sen and No Face sit quietly next to each other as other ghostly spirits depart one stop at a time until they are alone, awaiting their own inevitable stop.  It's difficult to put into words how affecting this is, and it's hands down one of the best scenes in any Miyazaki film.  The other scene occurs shortly after and is the very summit of this breathtaking film as Sen and Haku embark on one of the most magnificent flying sequences in cinema, accompanied by one of my favorite musical cues ever.

 

:thumbup::thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

 

The first scene you mentioned stayed with me long after I had seen the film (and whenever I think of the film, it's probably the first scene that comes to my mind. Wonderfully atmospheric).

 

On 03/06/2017 at 8:53 AM, nightscape94 said:

Post #10,000

 

So, you were waiting to reach that number to post your review, weren't you? ;)

 

On 04/06/2017 at 9:19 PM, nightscape94 said:

The timing of the realization that Haku is the dragon.  This is one of the few moments where the way in which the information is doled out plays an integral part in how we enjoy the story.  As I more or less outlined above, in the Japanese version there is a nice eventual realization that takes place over several scenes.  After meeting Haku on the bridge early in the morning, where he then takes Sen to see her parents, they part ways.  Then something catches her eye in the sky, and she sees a flying dragon snaking away in the distance.  There is no one to speak to, so she doesn't speak, and we see it play out on the curious expression on her face.  Even later there is hesitation when she see the dragon again, but finally she just knows.  This is a wonderful way to arrive to this recognition, and the audience shares in this "ah ha" moment.  In the English dub, after parting from Haku on the bridge, she literally says, in all of its clumsy and insensitive glory, "Haku?  I didn't know he was a dragon."

 

lol. This is ridiculous. Not only is there no need to reveal that at this point since it is revealed pretty clearly later on (as you said), but that line sounds pretty bad.

 

On 04/06/2017 at 9:19 PM, nightscape94 said:

The dialogue during the flying scene is altered pretty heavily to be more explicit in Haku being a river spirit and wrapping things up about him being a good person, as though we didn't quite get the point.  I know that English speaking audiences, especially American audiences (this dub was supervised by Disney), culturally don't have the same ingrained understanding of spirits, but I would like to see them give our youth more of a fighting chance.  Children understand quite a lot without parents having to explain it.  Miyazaki isn't exactly a nebulous storyteller, he's generally direct with his meaning and dialogue.  The absence of people speaking is highly effective when the screen is already so busy, and he knows when, why, and now to use it in particular places.  To willfully taint this designed mood for the sake of adding a verbal crutch is insulting.

 

At the very end, the same thing.  As the car drives away, silence.  In the English dub, not only is there more dialogue, but it's there to further supplement the theme of Chihiro's growth when it's not needed.

 

 

Fuckin' Americans! Always ruining things! We hate them!

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22 minutes ago, BloodBoal said:

How did you feel about that, by the way? Would you have preferred the ending to be more ambiguous, leaving it to the viewer to decide if all that happened was "real", or "imagined", or something else... or are you fine with the movie giving a rather clear answer?

 

I have no issues with the lack of ambiguity, except now I feel bad for them.  Hope they still have a house!

 

22 minutes ago, BloodBoal said:

So, you were waiting to reach that number to post your review, weren't you? ;)

 

Once I got within reach of a certain post count I kinda sotra timed it that way. ;)

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Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

 

howls-moving-castle-disneyscreencaps.com

 

Interestingly, in my previous review, I had mused what it might've been like if Miyazaki tired to tackle a more traditional love story.  I suppose Howl's Moving Castle is the answer to that question, but now having asked for it, I only wish he had supplied us with a more satisfying response.

 

One of the pleasures of any Miyazaki film is that when you enter any of his worlds, you don't immediately know what the rules are.  The opening is nicely done, where we see the titular moving castle lumbering along a sloping country side.  We then see a young woman named Sophie busy at work in a shop, looking concentrated while sewing ornaments onto a hat, but there is a twinge of sadness in her face.  We realize quickly that this is a land filled with political unrest with soldier's lining the streets and military parades gathering onlookers and supporters.  Sophie avoids the hustle and bustle of this flashy show and is confronted with what is probably the scariest thing in the film.  Two soldiers accost her in the back alley where she is on her way to meet her sister.  They aggressively and suggestively stop her and eye her up.  A mysterious man moves in and uses a spell to send them away, and he inexplicably says to Sophie, "they're harmless".  Well, they didn't look harmless.  When this was played off in such a joking fashion it made me uncomfortable.  When the two of them are attacked by globule creatures they launch upward together and walk across the air.  When Sophie finally sees her sister, their conversation solidifies what we guessed, which is that they inhabit a world full of magic and sorcery, witches and wizards.

 

After nice setup, once Howl's character arrives it never really recovers a strong foothold with the story.  Howl's Moving Castle is plagued with pacing issues, wrong turns, and characters that could be interesting that plod along uninterestingly.  There are pieces here that work, a love story that could have been successfully pulled off, but when you put the available pieces together they do not form a coherent picture.  The Witch of the Waste's motivation is to capture the heart of Howl, whom she loves.  When she sees him with Sophie, she goes after him through her.  As such, the witch casts a cruel spell turning Sophie's appearance into that of an elderly woman.  Sophie never thought of herself as beautiful and lacked confidence in her appearance.  This spell has the reverse affect and acts as a catalyst to gain confidence since it removes her outward appearance from the equation.  As for the castle itself, it is creativity assembled, fun, containing a magical door that offers entrances to various ports throughout the kingdom.  It's one of the very best things about the movie.  Markl's presence is never explained or even touched on except we get the idea that he's some sort of apprentice, but I found him perplexing and not adding much to the story. 

 

As everything unfolds, we see the war torn world but it's not particularly integrated into the story well, especially considering how utterly important it is to the plot and to the development of Howl's character.  The outline of this conflict should have been much better defined since it plays such a vital role in his actions.  I didn't feel any real connection to the issues that faced the country or its people, or why the war was being waged to begin with.  While it didn't feel out of place it was mostly underdeveloped as a legitimate concern that deserved our attention.  The overall story should have been tighter.  For someone like Miyazaki who understands so well the importance of world-building, and has done so before effortlessly, this is a rare failure on his part to stitch the sections neatly side by side for a balanced and effective story.

 

Aside from the castle, the actual best thing about the movie is Sophie's aging being influenced depending on her mood.  It's something you might not catch right away, but when you do it's really effective.  There is one scene, when Howl creates a larger room to accommodate his growing family, and he's replicated Sophie's hat shop, where she actually gets slightly younger with just a turn of the head in the same animated movement.  This is one of the better stretches of the movie where he proceeds to show her a flower-enriched lakeside meadow.  I had the growing desire to see more of this type of enchantment.   However, with so little of this to go around, I never really bought her growing love for Howl and by the time she blurts out her declaration of love it wasn't nearly as impactful as it could have been.

 

While it's normal for his films to have nontraditional villains, the source of conflict here is still all over the map.  And although it's also normal to have even nontraditional conflicts in his movies, this story of "love interrupted" begged for one to be better established.  The Witch of the Waste seemed like the perfect foil; an old witch who tricked a young wizard into her heart but got away.  That set up turned out to be a dud.  Then we meet Suliman, Howl's old teacher, and the King's royal sorcerer, and you think maybe she'll come back as a serious force later, but doesn't.  Then you start thinking the King, who we meet once, will somehow materialize as something more threatening to be reckoned with, since he's responsible for one of the warring sides, but doesn't.  Even the armed forces are seen obscured at a distance and are nothing more than a background conflict in order to put our main characters at an inconvenience.  The story strolls along in a jerky zig zag pattern and we never get to settle into a comfortable rhythm.  This could have been resolved a bit with the Scarecrow character, whose ending felt tacked on and sudden.  If they had set up that the war was started because the Prince was missing or one side accused the other of kidnapping, then these events would have had more weight and it would have made the twist that he was the Scarecrow all along that more effective.  Instead it was a random miscalculated reveal, and when Madame Suliman sees our hero's happy ending and requests a conference with the King to "put an end to this foolish war", I didn't really care.  This was a far too violent and wide-ranging war to come to such a screeching and grindingly peaceful resolution for what are non-perceived or earned reasons.

 

Howl's Moving Castle feels like it's being pulled in several conflicting directions at once, while not taking the time to look far enough down any of those roads.  This is where Miyazaki's habit of not planning his stories in advance comes back to bite him, which is all the more baffling since it's based on published source material.  This smacks of ill-planning.  While not an entirely lifeless endeavor, and even though there are qualities to savor, this was a big step backward.

 

1) Spirited Away

2) Princess Mononoke

3) Laputa: Castle in the Sky

4) My Neighbor Totoro

5) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

6) Kiki's Delivery Service

7) Lupin III:  The Castle of Cagliostro

8) Howl's Moving Castle

9) Porco Roso

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Well, that was fast! Yet another nice review, with which I agree on almost all points (it's annoying really! Makes it harder to comment on it!)

 

22 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

Markl's presence is never explained or even touched on except we get the idea that he's some sort of apprentice, but I found him perplexing and not adding much to the story.

 

While I can't disagree he doesn't feel essential to the story, I still found him to be the most fun and likeable character of the lot. The rest of them lack a little something to make them compelling.

 

22 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

As everything unfolds, we see the war torn world but it's not particularly integrated into the story well, especially considering how utterly important it is to the plot and to the development of Howl's character.  The outline of this conflict should have been much better defined since it plays such a vital role in his actions.  I didn't feel any real connection to the issues that faced the country or its people, or why the war was being waged to begin with.  While it didn't feel out of place it was mostly underdeveloped as a legitimate concern that deserved our attention.  The overall story should have been tighter.  For someone like Miyazaki who understands so well the importance of world-building, and has done so before effortlessly, this is a rare failure on his part to stitch the sections neatly side by side for a balanced and effective story.

 

Definitely agreed. By the end of the film, you're still not quite sure who was fighting who or why, and suddenly the reappearance of the prince is supposed to solve everything for some reason... It really feels like vital information (which is apparently in the book) is missing here, information which would help the audience understand the conflict better and thus feel more invested in the story

 

22 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

Aside from the castle, the actual best thing about the movie is Sophie's aging being influenced depending on her mood.  It's something you might not catch right away, but when you do it's really effective.  There is one scene, when Howl creates a larger room to accommodate his growing family, and he's replicated Sophie's hat shop, where she actually gets slightly younger with just a turn of the head in the same animated movement.  This is one of the better stretches of the movie where he proceeds to show her a flower-enriched lakeside meadow.  I had the growing desire to see more of this type of enchantment. However, with so little of this to go around, I never really bought her growing love for Howl and by the time she blurts out her declaration of love it wasn't nearly as impactful as it could have been.

 

I think the reason for this is that the love story wasn't really what interested Miyazaki. He was more interested in Sophie and her growth as a character. At least, that's how I see it, and that's why I never really considered this film to be about a romance. There's a romance in it, of course, but it's not the main focus.

 

22 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

While it's normal for his films to have nontraditional villains, the source of conflict here is still all over the map.  And although it's also normal to have even nontraditional conflicts in his movies, this story of love interrupted begged for one to be better established.  The Witch of the Waste seemed like the perfect foil; an old witch who tricked a young wizard into her heart but got away.  That set up turned out to be a dud.  Then we meet Suliman, Howl's old teacher, and the King's royal sorcerer, and you think maybe she'll come back as a serious force later, but doesn't.  Then you start thinking the King, who we meet once, will somehow materialize as something more threatening to be reckoned with, since he's responsible for one of the warring sides, but doesn't.  Even the armed forces are seen obscured at a distance and are nothing more than a background conflict in order to put our main characters at an inconvenience.

 

Never really thought about that, but damn, this is spot-on. It's a big problem of the film indeed (though again, that problem goes back to the original novel. But of course, Miyazaki could have tried to find a solution to that during the adaptation process). If you don't have a main villain, then you don't really know what the conflict is about, thus you don't know where the story ultimately is going.

 

22 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

This could have been resolved a bit with the Scarecrow character, whose ending felt tacked on and sudden.  If they had set up that the war was started because the Prince was missing or one side accused the other of kidnapping, then I would these events would have had more weight and it would have made the twist that he was the Scarecrow all along that more effective.  Instead it was a random miscalculated reveal, and when Madame Suliman sees our hero's happy ending and requests a conference with the King to "put an end to this foolish war", I didn't really care.  This was a far too violent and wide-ranging war to come to such a screeching and grindingly peaceful resolution for what are non-perceived or earned reasons.

 

Yep. Solving the conflict in such a way makes it feel like it was no big deal in the end, and kind of cheapens all that happen prior to the reveal. There's definitely some set-up missing that would have helped make that ending more satisfying. From the summary of the book I've read, the plot felt more well-rounded there than in the film.

 

22 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

Howl's Moving Castle feels like it's being pulled in several conflicting directions at once, while not taking the time to look far enough down any of those roads.  This is where Miyazaki's habit of not planning his stories in advance comes back to bite him, which is all the more baffling since it's based on published source material.  This smacks of ill-planning.  While not an entirely lifeless endeavor, and even though there are qualities to savor, this was a big step backward.

 

Good job, buddy. One more review, and you'll have caught up with @Jay! Hell, you'll probably end your retrospective before him (and he started his two years ago)! This is ridiculous!

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16 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

I think the reason for this is that the love story wasn't really what interested Miyazaki. He was more interested in Sophie and her growth as a character. At least, that's how I see it, and that's why I never really considered this film to be about a romance. There's a romance in it, of course, but it's not the main focus.

 

It's a bit of a shame, really.  This is, at its core, a love story.  There is a great movie to be salvaged from this material, but the story's natural inclination is toward the romantic.  In my opinion, you build the entire movie around that bud and let it bloom.

 

You have a female lead who is insecure about her looks whose career revolves around making hats designed to accentuate beauty in other people, the thing she doesn't see in herself.  There's something psychologically interesting about that.  Then you have Howl, a vain man who is obsessed with true beauty after being tricked by a witch, but he still has a moral compass, and is still very kind and considerate.  The stage is set between them.  They both have an emptiness and the whole story should be about filling that emptiness with the love they eventually find for each other.  It feels right for this to have been a slow burn.  Howl quite literally gets his heart back at the end, given to him by Sophie.  If Howl was less allusive, perhaps made clearer over time through his interactions with Sophie, maybe reinforce the subplot with the missing Prince, create a more static antagonist with the Witch of the Waste still yearning for his heart, then you might have something.  There are way too many subtle parts to have not meticulously planned the details in the dialogue and structure.

 

Part of the genius here is The Witch of the Waste, who was an old woman pretending to be young to seduce Howl, puts Sophie in the exact opposite position, which is to take a young woman and make her old so she appears less desirable.  It's the witch's way of creating the absolute insult, but it doesn't have the result she was hoping for.  After all, beauty is more than your age and looks.  Howl is able to see through to the beauty of Sophie's heart and spirit right away, and is never once convinced otherwise.

 

It sounds like I'm being much harder on this film than needed.  It's actually not a bad movie, but it's that squandered potential for the same greatness that Miyazaki has offered so many times before that makes me judge it a bit harsher.

 

16 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

Good job, buddy. One more review, and you'll have caught up with @Jay! Hell, you'll probably end your retrospective before him (and he started his two years ago)! This is ridiculous!

 

And to think that if I had stuck to my original plan of reviewing one film every two weeks I would have finished a year ago.  In a weird way I feel like I'm savoring the experience more by living with it for so long.  It'll be a sad day when I have no other Miyazaki films to watch and review.  I'll have to move onto other Ghibli films, as suggested by filmmusic, like Grave of the Fireflies, and films I haven't seen like Only Yesterday, When Marnie Was There, Arrietty, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, etc.

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35 minutes ago, nightscape94 said:

It's a bit of a shame, really.  This is, at its core, a love story.  There is a great movie to be salvaged from this material, but the story's natural inclination is toward the romantic.  In my opinion, you build the entire movie around that bud and let it bloom.

 

You have a female lead who is insecure about her looks whose career revolves around making hats designed to accentuate beauty in other people, the thing she doesn't see in herself.  There's something psychologically interesting about that.  Then you have Howl, a vain man who is obsessed with true beauty after being tricked by a witch, but he still has a moral compass, and is still very kind and considerate.  The stage is set between them.  They both have an emptiness and the whole story should be about filling that emptiness with the love they eventually find for each other.  It feels right for this to have been a slow burn.  Howl quite literally gets his heart back at the end, given to him by Sophie.  If Howl was less allusive, perhaps made clearer over time through his interactions with Sophie, maybe reinforce the subplot with the missing Prince, create a more static antagonist with the Witch of the Waste still yearning for his heart, then you might have something.  There are way too many subtle parts to have not meticulously planned the details in the dialogue and structure.

 

Good points. The love story indeed needed to be more fleshed out in order to make everything work better: the characters (who would have been more likeable), the themes of the film (which would have been clearer), the story itself... That way, the film would have also felt more focused. As it is, you have a love story, but this isn't really the main focus of the film. There's also a war, but it also isn't the main focus of the film. There's a Witch Of The Waste antagonist, but she isn't the main focus of the film... Too many threads, all going in too many different directions. Either some elements should have been removed, or they should have been more fleshed out and better woven together.

 

35 minutes ago, nightscape94 said:

It sounds like I'm being much harder on this film than needed.  It's actually not a bad movie, but it's that squandered potential for the same greatness that Miyazaki has offered so many times before that makes me judge it a bit harsher.

 

I don't think you sound hard on the film. It definitely has problems: nothing major, nothing that would make it bad, but definitely stuff that make it less than what it could have been, given the director. But as I said in my review, I think the book maybe simply wasn't a good choice for a Miyazaki film. Too different from his own style in terms of tone and atmosphere.

 

35 minutes ago, nightscape94 said:

And to think that if I had stuck to my original plan of reviewing one film every two weeks I would have finished a year ago.  In a weird way I feel like I'm savoring the experience more by living with it for so long.  It'll be a sad day when I have no other Miyazaki films to watch and review.  I'll have to move onto other Ghibli films, as suggested by filmmusic, like Grave of the Fireflies, and films I haven't seen like Only Yesterday, When Marnie Was There, Arrietty, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, etc.

 

I actually plan on doing a Studio Ghibli retrospective at some point in the future (wanted to do that since I've finished doing the Miyazaki retrospective).

 

In fact, there are actually many other retrospectives I'd like to do (of big movie franchises (Alien, Rocky, Planet Of The Apes...), of famous directors (Tarantino, Kubrick, Kurosawa...)). Doing this Miyazaki retrospective really made me interested in doing more of those!

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Ponyo on the Cliff (2008)

 

ponyo-disneyscreencaps.com-5518.jpg

 

Or, how Miyazaki Got His Groove Back.  Artistically, it's a departure from his most recent work.  The opening scenes are intentionally exaggerated and loose, appearing more cartoonish, with their designs not trying to resemble a reality consistent with the outside world.  This works especially well with the underwater setting but it took a bit getting used to.  Oddly, something more realistic would have felt less believable since there is an immediate feeling that is geared toward a young audience, inviting you in and instantly heightens the sense of curiosity.  Even the first frame looks more like an impressionistic painting, and then we are absorbed by the vast ocean, passing a myriad jellyfish and other brilliant aquatic life as we catch a glimpse of an unknown man working magic, creating new sea life.  Ponyo is a simple story directed at children about the likewise-named little fish girl who aims to become a human after finding a warm and common bond with a boy named Sosuke.  The essential conceit is not an original idea by any stretch, but handled here by Miyazaki and his team, he makes a mostly joyful and interesting movie that avoids being entirely masterful due to some contradictory plot elements.  Still, the result is quite pleasant, and a nice rebound after Howl's Moving Castle.  I found the moments between the two children so infinitely watchable that it almost independently makes up for a murky story otherwise.

 

Miyazaki does wonders with silence, and here again we have a scene where so much is said without saying anything.  The entire beginning section gives us a confident impression of a young fish surreptitiously escaping her father's home-bound prison, where even in her basic design with limited facial range, we can see her anticipated delight of an unknowable adventure. 

 

There are some interesting themes at work here.  Most notably, at its center there is the father, Fujimoto, who continually works to exert power over his child, triggering several scenes where he attempts control her direction, her dreams, and defines what he believes are "innocent and pure" characteristics.  This is the parent's viewpoint about what it means to be a perfect child in their own mind instead of thinking of what the idea means to the child; the need to project their desires onto the child instead of letting them naturally become their own person though their own decision-making.   There is an idea of accepting for who you are and to greet and build relationships with those who we perceive as different by not thinking of those differences as roadblocks or some type of prejudicial obstruction.  Children, more often than adults, tend to overlook things that myopic adults miss or dismiss after a lifetime of conditioning and jaded worldviews.  When I watched it the first time I thought Miyazaki made a mistake in making the children so young.  After all, Sosuke is only 5, yet either ventures off entirely on his own, or is left alone several times.  Then there is the ever-important idea of Love (there it is again!) between Sosuke and Ponyo.  But this should be understood more as the love a child has for their parent or for a friend, which is innocent and pure, stripped out outward complexities, just like Fujimoto demanded of his daughter.  With the obsessiveness that he exhibits in his life, the distractions that he's brought on himself, it didn't occur to him that that Ponyo could maintain this type love while still being someone different than what he envisioned.  This general idea was more effective during my second watch.

 

Even the Nature theme makes an appearance with several scenes, some more subtle than others, but none of them obtrusive or distracting.  It actually feeds directly into Fujimoto's goals, which I'll get into later.  In fact, it's telling that the way Sosuke meets Ponyo is by saving her from being stuck in a discarded open glass container.  As he hesitantly approaches her, the surround rocky bank is also littered with trash.  After he cuts his thumb by breaking the jar open, Ponyo licks the wound closed through her magic.  The taste of blood affects her DNA which starts the process of transforming her into a human.  I would be interested in knowing the further metaphorical implications, if any, meant by Miyazaki here since there is a buried concept of becoming something on merit, by assuming its qualities, and through a willful internal acceptance and, additionally, external acknowledgement; that we're not strictly tied to our biology.  In a sense it expands on his previous Nature theme by taking it beyond just our surroundings, and brings it to a more intimate setting.  However, ultimately, it's more or less a setup to tell a simple parable.  Anything beyond that could be an interesting discussion, regardless of whether it was conceived that way.

 

I feel I have to discuss the story, because there's an actual plot in here, it's just underachieving with how it's told.  When I watched the Japanese version first, Fujimoto's motivations were confusing.  The way I understood it, over time he had amassed elixirs representing different oceanic decades and even stretching back several Periods containing ancient creatures.  In one scene he concurrently expresses regret by saying "I almost upset Nature's balance" and then immediately spells out his goal of wiping out humankind so he can usher in a new era of dominant sea life in a worldwide ocean by distilling the tides so it swallows the earth.  Ponyo spoils this plan by prematurely filling the elixir well with seawater, causing it to spill over and start a chain reaction much earlier than intended.  As such, it prevents widespread catastrophe but provokes a massive localized tsunami.  After the shipping ports swell and flood the entire area the story from Fujimoto's viewpoint shifts to his concern for Ponyo, and her wish to become human.  When he meets his wife, Gran Mamare, the Goddess of Mercy and the ocean, he again expresses fear of upsetting the balance of the world even though he was very clearly working to unbalance it.  I'm not sure if this contraction is intentional or just poorly formed, but it's never clarified.  Also, the moon approaching the earth isn't mentioned explicitly until close the end, and even then it's not explained.  In the English language version, it's fleshed out better during that same scene with Gran Mamare, when Fujimoto offers an explanation that Ponyo's actions have influenced reality itself, and that the Earth's gravitational pull is drawing the moon closer.  This is all tied to Ponyo because she cannot exist as both a human and a child of magic.  This doesn't resolve the opposing conflict of Fujimoto's initial plan, or his actions, but it helps understand the basic story, but it very well could be a subtitling issue.  Secondly, it's possible that his later regret was triggered by his sudden understanding of Ponyo's care for humans, her ability to see their goodness, as well as her ability to detect their sincere and strong love for family and the strength we feel in solidarity and community, but this is in no way clear.  I feel like I'm forcing an explanation so it makes sense.  In some way it felt like the movie got so caught up in the magic of the characters and situation and lovely scenes between Ponyo and Sosuke that it forgot to tell a coherent story.  In this way, I would actually recommend the English language version more, my first such recommendation since My Neighbor Totoro.  The scripting otherwise doesn't change many important details, though you do lose cultural quirks like Sosuke calling his parents by their first names.

 

It might have been interesting to see Fujimoto be more of a major player given his ambitions, and to actually see him be on the verge of realizing his dream, only to have Gran Mamare set things right, taking a more active role, teaching a lesson, while also assuming the Blue Fairy role in this broad Pinocchio-esque story.

 

Some odds and ends:  The Tsunami sequence is extremely powerful, simultaneously depicting the terrifying and awesome display of devastation while also containing a lot of energy with Ponyo bouncing from one wave to the next as she tails Sosuke with uninhibited and gleaming joy, desperately seeking to be reunited with him and his green pail.  Joe Hisaishi's music channels Ravel to an obvious degree, especially in the oceanic moments, but that is not a criticism.  It seems very intentional.  The music supports and strengthens all of the varying elements and ties it all together nicely.  The traditional orchestra helps to ground us, as is usually case with his later collaborative efforts with Miyazaki.  I also very much liked the detail of Ponyo reverting back to more of a fish form, even partially, when she has to use magic.  If I had the opportunity to remove one, just one, thing from the film it would be the strange fascination with Lisa's driving ability, or lack thereof.  Actually, at one point, she appears to foolishly risk both her and her son's safety when she disregards the crossing guard's advice as a massive wave and ship freighter threatens the throughway.

 

Ponyo is a brightly colored project that is filled with youthful exuberance which made me smile constantly.  It gets tangled in some of the uneven storytelling snares that Miyazaki can sometimes get tripped up on, but it stretches its legs across the finish line with conviction.   Ponyo, the character, is confident and strong-willed in the face of adversity, even more important when that opposition is a parent.  She heedlessly seeks out her dreams, knows exactly what she wants, and teaches us to pursue those endeavors to the very full extent of our being.  On the journey of discovering yourself, you may just help push others to discover themselves along the way.

 

 

1) Spirited Away

2) Princess Mononoke

3) Laputa: Castle in the Sky

4) My Neighbor Totoro

5) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

6) Ponyo on the Cliff

7) Kiki's Delivery Service

8) Lupin III:  The Castle of Cagliostro

9) Howl's Moving Castle

10) Porco Roso

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You finally did it! You finally caught up with @Jay! Just one more review, and you'll overtake him!

 

On 23/06/2017 at 7:23 AM, nightscape94 said:

There are some interesting themes at work here.  Most notably, at its center there is the father, Fujimoto, who continually works to exert power over his child, triggering several scenes where he attempts control her direction, her dreams, and defines what he believes are "innocent and pure" characteristics.  This is the parent's viewpoint about what it means to be a perfect child in their own mind instead of thinking of what the idea means to the child; the need to project their desires onto the child instead of letting them naturally become their own person though their own decision-making.   There is an idea of accepting for who you are and to greet and build relationships with those who we perceive as different by not thinking of those differences as roadblocks or some type of prejudicial obstruction.  Children, more often than adults, tend to overlook things that myopic adults miss or dismiss after a lifetime of conditioning and jaded worldviews.  When I watched it the first time I thought Miyazaki made a mistake in making the children so young.  After all, Sosuke is only 5, yet either ventures off entirely on his own, or is left alone several times.  Then there is the ever-important idea of Love (there it is again!) between Sosuke and Ponyo.  But this should be understood more as the love a child has for their parent or for a friend, which is innocent and pure, stripped out outward complexities, just like Fujimoto demanded of his daughter.  With the obsessiveness that he exhibits in his life, the distractions that he's brought on himself, it didn't occur to him that that Ponyo could maintain this type love while still being someone different than what he envisioned.  This general idea was more effective during my second watch.

 

Interesting. Didn't interpret it that way myself. To me, it felt like Fujimoto simply didn't like/trust humans and thus didn't want Ponyo to have anything to do with them (plus, apparently it could lead to catastrophic consequences for some reason, too). However, he didn't strike me as someone trying to control everything she did or decide who she should become (note that I don't remember all the specifics of the film, though). Of course, you could say preventing her from having any relationship with humans is already being too much of a control freak...

 

On 23/06/2017 at 7:23 AM, nightscape94 said:

Even the Nature theme makes an appearance with several scenes, some more subtle than others, but none of them obtrusive or distracting.  It actually feeds directly into Fujimoto's goals, which I'll get into later.  In fact, it's telling that the way Sosuke meets Ponyo is by saving her from being stuck in a discarded open glass container.  As he hesitantly approaches her, the surround rocky bank is also littered with trash.  After he cuts his thumb by breaking the jar open, Ponyo licks the wound closed through her magic.  The taste of blood affects her DNA which starts the process of transforming her into a human.  I would be interested in knowing the further metaphorical implications, if any, meant by Miyazaki here since there is a buried concept of becoming something on merit, by assuming its qualities, and through a willful internal acceptance and, additionally, external acknowledgement; that we're not strictly tied to our biology.  In a sense it expands on his previous Nature theme by taking it beyond just our surroundings, and brings it to a more intimate setting.  However, ultimately, it's more or less a setup to tell a simple parable.  Anything beyond that could be an interesting discussion, regardless of whether it was conceived that way.

 

I'd say the nature theme is perhaps a bit more clumsily tackled in this one than in previous Miyazaki films. A lot of the stuff having to do with that isn't presented and explained particularly clearly.

 

Regarding Ponyo turning human: I think there's probably soomething about the coming-of-age theme, growing up and all that. I considered puberty at one point, but then the character is too young for that (though puberty is something Miyazaki already tackled, in Kiki's Delivery Service). And of course, there's the tale that inspired him for this film (more on that below).

 

On 23/06/2017 at 7:23 AM, nightscape94 said:

I feel I have to discuss the story, because there's an actual plot in here, it's just underachieving with how it's told.  When I watched the Japanese version first, Fujimoto's motivations were confusing.  The way I understood it, over time he had amassed elixirs representing different oceanic decades and even stretching back several Periods containing ancient creatures.  In one scene he concurrently expresses regret by saying "I almost upset Nature's balance" and then immediately spells out his goal of wiping out humankind so he can usher in a new era of dominant sea life in a worldwide ocean by distilling the tides so it swallows the earth.  Ponyo spoils this plan by prematurely filling the elixir well with seawater, causing it to spill over and start a chain reaction much earlier than intended.  As such, it prevents widespread catastrophe but provokes a massive localized tsunami.  After the shipping ports swell and flood the entire area the story from Fujimoto's viewpoint shifts to his concern for Ponyo, and her wish to become human.  When he meets his wife, Gran Mamare, the Goddess of Mercy and the ocean, he again expresses fear of upsetting the balance of the world even though he was very clearly working to unbalance it.  I'm not sure if this contraction is intentional or just poorly formed, but it's never clarified.  Also, the moon approaching the earth isn't mentioned explicitly until close the end, and even then it's not explained.  In the English language version, it's fleshed out better during that same scene with Gran Mamare, when Fujimoto offers an explanation that Ponyo's actions have influenced reality itself, and that the Earth's gravitational pull is drawing the moon closer.  This is all tied to Ponyo because she cannot exist as both a human and a child of magic.  This doesn't resolve the opposing conflict of Fujimoto's initial plan, or his actions, but it helps understand the basic story, but it very well could be a subtitling issue.  Secondly, it's possible that his later regret was triggered by his sudden understanding of Ponyo's care for humans, her ability to see their goodness, as well as her ability to detect their sincere and strong love for family and the strength we feel in solidarity and community, but this is in no way clear.  I feel like I'm forcing an explanation so it makes sense.  In some way it felt like the movie got so caught up in the magic of the characters and situation and lovely scenes between Ponyo and Sosuke that it forgot to tell a coherent story.  In this way, I would actually recommend the English language version more, my first such recommendation since My Neighbor Totoro.  The scripting otherwise doesn't change many important details, though you do lose cultural quirks like Sosuke calling his parents by their first names.

 

Yeah, I adressed that in my review as well: Fujimoto's motivations really are not clear. It seems he keeps on changing his mind every second. First, he says he wants to wipe out the human race and he wants the oceans to cover the planet, then, when something like that happens, he's alarmed, and by the end of the film, he's OK with humans for some random reason.

 

To me, the film really suffered from Miyazaki's habit of not planning the ending of his films in advance, preferring to see where the story leads him and eventually coming up with an ending whenever he feels he has nothing left to tell. In his other films, that was also a problem, but to a lesser degree. Here, it really feels clumsy, like: "OK, we need to wrap this up somehow. Let's just say that suddenly, everything is fine and everyone gets along. The end."

 

Maybe a reason why not a lot of things are explained or seem to happen too conveniently is because the movie is clearly aimed at a really young audience, and Miyazaki thought there was no need to make a really explanatory and perfectly logical story (since it wouldn't matter to the viewers), rather simply offer an interesting audiovisual experience for them.

 

On 23/06/2017 at 7:23 AM, nightscape94 said:

It might have been interesting to see Fujimoto be more of a major player given his ambitions, and to actually see him be on the verge of realizing his dream, only to have Gran Mamare set things right, taking a more active role, teaching a lesson, while also assuming the Blue Fairy role in this broad Pinocchio-esque story.

 

Interesting you mention Pinocchio, because there's another, much more obvious fairytale that inspired Miyazaki (can't believe I didn't realize that until I read a review which mentioned it): The Little Mermaid. This movie is basically Miyazaki's take on that tale!

 

But yeah, it would have been nice for Gran Mamare to play a bigger role, because as it is, her character definitely feel underdevloped.

 

On 23/06/2017 at 7:23 AM, nightscape94 said:

Some odds and ends:  The Tsunami sequence is extremely powerful, simultaneously depicting the terrifying and awesome display of devastation while also containing a lot of energy with Ponyo bouncing from one wave to the next as she tails Sosuke with uninhibited and gleaming joy, desperately seeking to be reunited with him and his green pail.  Joe Hisaishi's music channels Ravel to an obvious degree, especially in the oceanic moments, but that is not a criticism.  It seems very intentional.  The music supports and strengthens all of the varying elements and ties it all together nicely.  The traditional orchestra helps to ground us, as is usually case with his later collaborative efforts with Miyazaki.  I also very much liked the detail of Ponyo reverting back to more of a fish form, even partially, when she has to use magic.  If I had the opportunity to remove one, just one, thing from the film it would be the strange fascination with Lisa's driving ability, or lack thereof.  Actually, at one point, she appears to foolishly risk both her and her son's safety when she disregards the crossing guard's advice as a massive wave and ship freighter threatens the throughway.

 

Lisa's crazy driving was hilarious. Loved that, even if I'm not sure what was the point of it. And yeah, the tsunami sequence is excellent. One of the clear highlights of Miyazaki's career.

 

By the way, on an unrelated note: did you understand what the scene with the baby was all about? That was really weird, and I wonder if there may be some hidden meaning behind it (or something like that) I may have missed, because else, it felt totally unnecessary!

 

On 23/06/2017 at 7:23 AM, nightscape94 said:

Ponyo is a brightly colored project that is filled with youthful exuberance which made me smile constantly.  It gets tangled in some of the uneven storytelling snares that Miyazaki can sometimes get tripped up on, but it stretches its legs across the finish line with conviction.   Ponyo, the character, is confident and strong-willed in the face of adversity, even more important when that opposition is a parent.  She heedlessly seeks out her dreams, knows exactly what she wants, and teaches us to pursue those endeavors to the very full extent of our being.  On the journey of discovering yourself, you may just help push others to discover themselves along the way.

 

An interesting take on the film. Never thought the opposition parent/child was a big component of that film. The only thing Ponyo really does is go against her father's wish not to deal with humans. Apart from that, I don't remember her being really "confrontational" with adults.

 

 

But anyway, good job again, @nightscape94! One review left!

 

By the way, edited the first post of this thread to add links to all the reviews found in it.

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7 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

You finally did it! You finally caught up with @Jay! Just one more review, and you'll overtake him!

 

Maybe this weekend!

 

7 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

I'd say the nature theme is perhaps a bit more clumsily tackled in this one than in previous Miyazaki films.

 

Definitely.  When Fujimoto is chasing down the whereabouts of Ponyo and trash is literally hitting him in the face...Miyazaki has rarely been so unsubtle.

 

7 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

Regarding Ponyo turning human: I think there's probably soomething about the coming-of-age theme, growing up and all that. I considered puberty at one point, but then the character is too young for that (though puberty is something Miyazaki already tackled, in Kiki's Delivery Service). And of course, there's the tale that inspired him for this film (more on that below).

 

Most definitely.  I have a tendency to overanalyze, but it was just an interesting analogy to use that initially made me feel like they were more than just the basic layers. 

 

7 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

Interesting you mention Pinocchio, because there's another, much more obvious fairytale that inspired Miyazaki (can't believe I didn't realize that until I read a review which mentioned it): The Little Mermaid. This movie is basically Miyazaki's take on that tale!

 

The Little Mermaid is the more obvious, and something I was very aware of.  I actually meant to mention it in my review but forgot.  There are many universally understood elements that are similar are shared in several fairy tales.

 

7 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

To me, the film really suffered from Miyazaki's habit of not planning the ending of his films in advance, preferring to see where the story leads him and eventually coming up with an ending whenever he feels he has nothing left to tell. In his other films, that was also a problem, but to a lesser degree. Here, it really feels clumsy, like: "OK, we need to wrap this up somehow. Let's just say that suddenly, everything is fine and everyone gets along. The end."

 

As a storyteller, he certainly has some 3rd Act Blues.

 

7 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

Maybe a reason why not a lot of things are explained or seem to happen too conveniently is because the movie is clearly aimed at a really young audience, and Miyazaki thought there was no need to make a really explanatory and perfectly logical story (since it wouldn't matter to the viewers), rather simply offer an interesting audiovisual experience for them.

 

While I'm inclined to agree, it's not really an excuse for inconsistent content.  Either simplify the story (which could have been done easily) or more clearly define your intentions.  Miyazaki is too talented and seasoned as a director not to put love and care into the script.

 

7 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

By the way, on an unrelated note: did you understand what the scene with the baby was all about? That was really weird, and I wonder if there may be some hidden meaning behind it (or something like that) I may have missed, because else, it felt totally unnecessary!

 

I figured it was there to show Ponyo continuing to discover the beautiful wonders of the world outside of her little ocean bubble.  In a way, it's a more poetic and pensive version of her reaction to all the new gadgets in the house, but this time she looks deep into the child's eyes and becomes captivated by it.  Beyond that, I'm not sure it was there with any serious in-depth second-level meaning.

 

7 hours ago, BloodBoal said:

An interesting take on the film. Never thought the opposition parent/child was a big component of that film. The only thing Ponyo really does is go against her father's wish not to deal with humans. Apart from that, I don't remember her being really "confrontational" with adults.

 

I don't think I implied that she was confrontational with adults, if I did, it was unintentional.  It really just boils down to her relationship with her father.

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23 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

Maybe this weekend!

 

Maybe LeBlanc was waiting for this moment to suddenly post his review of The Wind Rises! Right? Right?!

 

23 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

While I'm inclined to agree, it's not really an excuse for inconsistent content.  Either simplify the story (which could have been done easily) or more clearly define your intentions. Miyazaki is too talented and seasoned as a director not to put love and care into the script.

 

There's also the possibility that Miyazaki didn't want to explain a lot to let the viewers interpret things the way they want. Or... I don't know. I think there's definitely something special about Ponyo in Miyazaki's filmography. Even his other movies aimed at children first, such as Totoro are leaner, clearer. Maybe there's something "lost in translation" (so to speak) in this one in particular or something like that that could explain why some things that may appear obscure to us Westerners are in fact easily understood by Japanese viewers.

 

23 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

I figured it was there to show Ponyo continuing to discover the beautiful wonders of the world outside of her little ocean bubble.  In a way, it's a more poetic and pensive version of her reaction to all the new gadgets in the house, but this time she looks deep into the child's eyes and becomes captivated by it.  Beyond that, I'm not sure it was there with any serious in-depth second-level meaning.

 

The reason I asked is because this scene really stood out to me when I watched the film. It felt Miyazaki attached some importance to it, given how it unfolds, so that's why it made me wonder if it could have some hidden meaning.

 

23 hours ago, nightscape94 said:

I don't think I implied that she was confrontational with adults, if I did, it was unintentional.  It really just boils down to her relationship with her father.

 

Ok, I reread what you wrote about that, and now I understand better what you meant. And yeah, I agree, so it's all good!

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The Wind Rises (2013)

 

22900638346_4dd6d9740d.jpg

 

As I arrive at the end of my journey, I find a different type of film in the Miyazaki catalogue; something of a biopic, something of a historical drama, and rather boring.  A movie that is imbibed and fueled by Miyazaki's unadulterated love of aviation.  Despite this ingredient, in what should have been a recipe of great success, when the curtain goes down on the original final statement of his career, the completed work is both spotty with life and spotty with lifelessness.  After an effective opening act, leading up to a marvelous earthquake and aftermath sequence, the film loses its way, introducing us to scene after scene of things happening, but nothing that feels coherent.

 

The Wind Rises follows sporadic moments in the life of the brilliant aeronautical engineer Jiro, the real-life Mitsubishi chief engineer who helped design several planes for the Japanese Navy, specifically the Zero, which is only shown at the end.  Jiro is an interesting man who is presented in an uninteresting way.  Although, it was refreshing seeing that he is not shown to be some wunderkind who is miles above everyone else; there are other intelligent engineers, and in one scene Jiro hands over a meeting to another production designer.  We see him at work often and interact with people but I walked away without any true sense of his personality.  He's probably the most flavorless main characters I've come across in a Miyazaki film.

 

There are some nice small character touches with Jiro, like the way he always seems to have a desire to be outside in the breeze; whether it's sitting between train cars, leaning out of an open train window evading claustrophobia, stepping out onto the balcony of the hotel, or taking long walks.  He finds comfort in the wind and the majestic openness of the sky.  The wind itself is a character, bringing people together.  It's responsible on two separate occasions of pushing Jiro toward Naoko, who would become his wife.

 

There is a man named Castorp who is oddly pointless.  Other than being an audience observer who can give commentary about events, I gained nothing by his presence and he adds nothing to the narrative.  He's in and out.

 

The act breaks come in the form of apparent shared dream sequences between Jiro and the Italian engineer Caproni.  Caproni continues to ask him if the wind is still rising.  This pertains to an artist's creative period, and whether Jiro is still being inspired and motivated in the right way to create works of art.  In these dreams, Jiro senses and predicts the horrors of war; the fires of burning cities reflected on his thick glasses, but then seems indifferent to them as he works dutifully on the next design.  Although his inner-consciousness appears aware of the horrors to come, and the cataclysm that awaits Japan, he and his associates continue to objectively comment on plane aesthetics, such as when they visit a German plant and see industrialized full metal planes.   As his friend Honjo complains about Japan being 20 years behind, Jiro remarks that wooden planes could be just as good; Jiro is still thinking about the pure beauty of planes, even as he still looks for improved modern techniques.

 

We briefly meet Naoko earlier in the movie, but by the time Jiro reconnects with her, it's over an hour into the movie, and the tonal shift isn't very successful.  The Wind Rises is filled with many short scenes, and many of these scenes work on their own, jumping from one to next quickly, especially compared to many of his other movies where there are extended set pieces.  The longest stretch that takes place in the same location is the mountain resort where the two of them fall in love, where the movie suddenly takes its time.  Perhaps part of the issue is that it tries to take too much of this man's life so you end up with a diluted piecemeal approach to his storytelling.  It may have been preferable or more effective to simply tell one specific segmented part of this man's life.  We see bits of his youth, schooling, passing years, planes are built, the impending war is discussed cryptically, the secret police are mentioned, Jiro meets and marries his Naoko, more planes are built, and that's about it.  That might be a crude summation, but it was a divided and inconsistent experience, leapfrogging from bright to dull.

 

There are a few times throughout the film where Jiro is faced with a philosophical crisis about what his aircraft will be used for, such as when Caproni says that planes are not tools of war or moneymaking.  His responses are generally bare or absent, and reaffirms that he's in it to build beautiful planes.  He easily accepts his role and removes any responsibility he may have with the outcome and uses his position at Mitsubishi as simply a means to an ends.  He has the access to build planes, so he does.  And although he sees the flames of falling planes and burning cities in his dreams, Jiro seems indifferent to it in his waking life, and goes about his work with reckless steadfast abandon.  There doesn't seem to be much of a lesson here, and his abject disinterest in politics doesn't lead us anywhere.  Perhaps that's the point, that regardless of Jiro's detachment, these planes, and all of his hard work, ultimately went into tools of war no matter how much he tried to convince himself otherwise, like how he not-very-jokingly talks about removing the guns to lighten a certain design-in-progress.  Early in the film his mother lays the groundwork, "Fighting is never justified."  In the last scene, his final dream, Jiro stands outside the ruins of a burned city, in a graveyard of twisted plane wreckage, and meets Carponi for the last time as they both watch as the Zero flies on; there is reverence of this marvel with the hint of the destruction and terror that it caused during the war.

 

With reports of a forthcoming film, and Studio Ghibli officially reopening production offices, perhaps I'm not quite done with Miyazaki yet, but I have loved beyond proper words my experiences of soaking in the images and messages of his films in this way.  Their individual beauty, imperfect as some of them may be, stay close to me long after the last colors fade from the screen.

 

Final tally:

 

1) Spirited Away

2) Princess Mononoke

3) Laputa: Castle in the Sky

4) My Neighbor Totoro

5) Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

6) Ponyo on the Cliff

7) Kiki's Delivery Service

8) Lupin III:  The Castle of Cagliostro

9) The Wind Rises

10) Howl's Moving Castle

11) Porco Roso

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the-wind-rises-reelgood.jpg

 

The Wind Rises

 

I loved this!

 

I actually have watched it twice now;  I watched it a while back at the end of my run of watching all his movies in order for this thread... then never wrote about it here, for whatever reason.  Then, so much time passed, I actually watched it again a little while ago so it would be fresh in my mind to write about it.  Well, that was months ago now, and I'm just finally writing about it now!  And for some reason, I can't find any of the notes I took during my last watch, so I'll probably forget to mention some clever observation I had back then.  Oh well!

 

This film is both very different, and very much the same as all Miyazaki's previous films!  All his prior films had major fantasy elements, either being historical fantasy stories, or about modern day people who find themselves in fantasy worlds or situations.  This is basically a biopic of a real person (Jiro Horikoshi who designed airplanes for the Imperial Army), but the brilliant angle Miyazaki takes to it is to feature these great dream sequences where Jiro imagines his and other creations, and has wonderful conversations with Italian plane designer Giovanni Battista Caproni (who is played to perfection by Stanley Tucci in the English dub).  These dream sequences are all the most fun sequences in the film, no surprise at all considering Miyazaki's love to aviation!

 

Another really fascinating sequence is the train derailment from the earthquake of 1923, there was so much detail in the animation, and it was clearly aided by computers, but in a good way (like his other 2000s films, he uses is to enhance the animation is the perfect subtle ways).

 

After these early sequences (Jiro's childhood, and meeting Nahoko), the rest of the film follows Jiro working for Mitsubishi, and the film follows a nice rhythm of juggling scenes of him at work, him with his wife, and more dream sequences.  I have a feeling a lot of viewers probably won't like the love story as much as everything else (in fact, some might only like the dream sequences and be bored my the main story perhaps), but for me, everything worked!  

I really enjoyed watching Jiro and Kiro as they work through problems, keep failing, but keep trying and eventually have success.  Their boss (played by Martin Short in the English dub) was SO funny!  I loved his character.  The love story was well-handled I thought.  The fact that she is sick and eventually dies isn't the most interesting part to me, it was more about the struggle Jiro faced of balancing his work life with home life ( I had a more profound thought on that at one point, but its gone now).  A lot of the side stories were near too, like the anti-Nazi German guy Jiro meets, when he had to hide from the Japanese police in his boss's house to do work, etc.


But the heart of the film is really Giovanni and his message of humanity being made better for having airplanes, despite their use in wars.  Clearly a depiction of Miyazaki's own ideals!

 

The score... I wish I could remember anything about it right now, but what I do remember is loving it within the film.  Perhaps more than any of all the Miyazaki scores, it most made me want to go listen to it outside the film.  I haven't yet, but now that I've finished watching all the movies, now's a good a time as any go check out all the scores!

 

 

So here's my final ranking!

 
1. Spirited Away
2. Princess Mononoke

3. The Wind Rises

4. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
5. My Neighbor Totoro
6. Castle In The Sky
7. Kiki's Delivery Service
8. Ponyo
9. Castle of Cagliostro
10. Porco Rosso
11. Howl's Moving Castle

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The Wind Rises was the perfect last film for Miyazaki to end his career on. the audio design is so creative and the film itself is basically an animated biopic, which is pretty wild. I can't imagine this new caterpillar movie is gonna be better.  

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Interesting to see the two VERY contrasted reviews of The Wind Rises by nightscape and LeBlanc (will comment those in more detail later).

 

Also interesting to see nightscape beat LeBlanc to the finish line!

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I have about two pages of commentary to catch up on, I'll try to do that tomorrow. 

 

We BB started this thread, I didn't get we'd get another Miyazaki film. 

 

I actually think I'll re-watch these all again just before that comes out in what, 2019?

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The Wind Rises is such a beautiful film, and definitely one of Miyazaki's best films, though that's really saying a lot. BTW just started reading the retrospective & it's great. My favorite Miyazaki film is Princess Mononoke, which is an obvious choice, but I'm a fan of most.

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8 hours ago, Fancyarcher said:

The Wind Rises is such a beautiful film, and definitely one of Miyazaki's best films, though that's really saying a lot. BTW just started reading the retrospective & it's great. My favorite Miyazaki film is Princess Mononoke, which is an obvious choice, but I'm a fan of most.

 

Yeah I honestly love them all.  My favorite will always and forever be Nausicaa, though.  Kiki is the only one I'd maybe put over it, depending on my mood.  Those are definitely my two sentimental favorites, though.

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8 hours ago, Disco Stu said:

 

Yeah I honestly love them all.  My favorite will always and forever be Nausicaa, though.  Kiki is the only one I'd maybe put over it, depending on my mood.  Those are definitely my two sentimental favorites, though.


I love Kiki too, rewatched it a month back as well. Such a simple story, without a 'big villain", but told so-well.

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I mentioned this a couple of months ago, but no one responded.  I'm curious to see if anyone else is catching some of the Miyazaki re-releases for the Ghibli Fest.  They're showing them about once a month throughout the rest of the year.  Saw Castle in the Sky last night with subtitles, and it was glorious!  Totoro was wonderful, but I decided to skip Kiki in July.  Nausicaa is up next in September and absolutely cannot wait until October for Spirited Away.

 

They added Cagliostro to the list recently.

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I've actually expressed similiar sentiments, but I'll get out there for Miyazaki.  By the time this year is out I would have seen more re-releases than new releases.  The aforementioned Miyazaki films, as well as Wrath of Khan and E.T. (upcoming).

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So I have a friend who is a huge Miyazaki fan...Spirited Away is her favourite movie and she's watched it and the rest of them countless times.  She actually just loves Japanese anime in general, but hasn't watched as much as she'd like b/c she's always busy. Anyway, for the next month she's going to be stuck at home recovering from pretty serious surgery, and I want to help her find some more anime to watch to pass the time.  

 

She's mostly into science fiction/futuristic anime, and with more adult themes. I know she's watched and enjoyed all of Ghost in the Shell, Full Metal Alchemist and Psycho-Pass.  Since anime really isn't my thing, I'd be grateful for any suggestions you lot have for things she might enjoy along these lines, either movies or even better series. 

 

Cheers & thanks in advance.

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36 minutes ago, Nick1066 said:

She's mostly into science fiction/futuristic anime, and with more adult themes. I know she's watched and enjoyed all of Ghost in the Shell, Full Metal Alchemist and Psycho-Pass.  Since anime really isn't my thing, I'd be grateful for any suggestions you lot have for things she might enjoy along these lines, either movies or even better series.

 

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the three most unoriginal words I can mention here for this description, followed by Cowboy Bebop. Then... I dunno, Planetes? Serial Experiments Lain? Eva counts as the -1 in sci-fi hardness with massive downer moments and mindfuck, and Planetes as the surprisingly hard but lighthearted one.

 

I haven't seen a lot of movies, actually. Paprika?

 

Funnily enough, I'm also hoarding anime for a friend's surgery recovery, lol

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6 hours ago, Nick1066 said:

She's mostly into science fiction/futuristic anime, and with more adult themes. I know she's watched and enjoyed all of Ghost in the Shell, Full Metal Alchemist and Psycho-Pass.  Since anime really isn't my thing, I'd be grateful for any suggestions you lot have for things she might enjoy along these lines, either movies or even better series.

 

Hope she recovers quickly.  In the interim, here're some TV series she can digest while convalescing that might be of interest based on the genre and tone you're looking for:

 

Ergo Proxy

Kara no Kyokai

Death Note (not the Netflix movie)

Steins; Gate

Erased

Serial Experiments Lain

Attack on Titan

 

And possibly these, but the tone can vary.

Code Geass

Full Metal Panic! (borderline, it has some teen romcom stuff that can get annoying if she hates that genre)

Future Diary

 

 

 

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