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I watched all of Studio Ghibli's movies

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by , 31st December 2012 at 01:22 PM (3860 Views)
It has been some time, but I finally done it: I finished watching all of Studio Ghibli's movies! ...well, if you don't count the upcoming dual movies by the Miyazaki and Takahata duo. I listed down a rough chronological order in which I watched the movies, but I don't fully remember the order of the middle portion of the order. There may be some spoilers, but I will do my best to be spoiler-free. So my thoughts:




Spirited Away

The first movie I watched was also the one that I watched the longest ago. Before I knew what Studio Ghibli is and who Hayao Miyazaki is. I remembered seeing Miyazaki's photo for the first time in a student magazine and thinking that he's a foreigner who's in charge of translation. Then again, I didn't really read the text since I am not a Chinese person myself (that newspaper-sized magazine was in Chinese).

So, the movie. It has a really vast imagination that makes it feel like it's a different movie from the rest (at least when I watched it). The characters are bizarre and diverse like that spirit with a white mask and that baby that becomes something else for reasons I don't remember, so it's a really memorable movie. One thing I have to say is freaky was when Chihiro's parents turned into pigs. That is another thing that makes the movie memorable to me: the fact that Chihiro had to contend with being in another world that she don't know a lot about, but it's great that things turned out alright in the end.

I didn't bother to re-watch this movie again because I don't feel like taking time watching something I watched already, so some things I mentioned here may be incorrect.




The Cat Returns

I rented this movie from a manga rental store near my tuition because I heard some good things from a friend. To be honest, it does have some surreal elements, but it's too bad I didn't remember so much about it, besides that girl who had some transformation into a cat. Looking back at this, I'd say that this is the first catgirl I seen.




My Neighbor Totoro

The third movie I watched is also the first movie I watched this year. It is this time I finally learned what's the fuss with Totoro is about, since he/she is the mascot of Studio Ghibli, after all. While there may not be much of a story, I generally enjoyed the pace of this movie without realising it because the atmosphere is there and the things that are going on in the movie seems realistic, except for the Totoro and that sentient dust-things bit. Still, the magical feel of this movie makes it feel memorable, especially when there's a lot of travelling involved.

If there's one thing I am surprised, it is the movie's length. It was really shorter than the usual 2-hour fare, but that was before I learned that this is a double-feature with Grave of the Fireflies, which makes for an interesting (and contrasting) counterpart to this movie.




Castle in the Sky

To be honest, I wanted to watch Howl's Moving Castle next, so I saw this move and thought it's the same thing, not knowing that this is a different movie entirely. It definitely does look a little on the old side, but there seems to be some 80's anime flair to it, with those detailed watercoloured scenery and the overall character looks (there are closer-to-real looks and some are cartoonish). I quite like how this movie has great characters, like the sky pirates and the folks in the mining area. Even the female lead is interesting. I would also have to say that the castle in the sky is really beautiful! Even though it's not Howl's Moving Castle I thought it would be, I am glad I watched this one.




Only Yesterday

When glancing at movies from Studio Ghibli, some of them have odd titles because I don't quite get the impression that they are from said studio. This is one of them, and you know what? I decided to watch this and see what's it about. After starting this movie, I was surprised for a couple of reasons: 1) The characters have realistic facial expressions, so when someone smiles, it looks a little strange to see their cheeks showing. 2) This movie is non-fictional, which is something I didn't expect out of a Studio Ghibli movie.

One of the most fascinating things about it, as I found, are the flashbacks between this lady and her 10-year-old self. The shifting of focus between the two moments felt seamless, which I really liked. The different things the main character reminisce are varied, including a certain sensitive issue, which I didn't expect them to cover. There was one part about mathematics, which was about fractions, and that got me wondering if Japanese children at 10-years still do fractions at that age, or they moved on to more complex stuff already, like algebra.

Overall, a surprisingly entertaining movie that I recommended to my sisters.




Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Technically not a Studio Ghibli movie, but I didn't know that. However, there are a couple of things going for it: it felt like a Studio Ghibli move, and it's one of the most critically-acclaimed and influential anime film. I didn't take into account about either, because I just watched it.

This is another movie where I thought the characters were interesting, though not everyone was likable, such as that general with a certain smug and that queen from another territory. The atmosphere felt both empty and prosperous. Former because it's post-apocalypse, and latter because the Valley of the Wind felt like a homely community. Another thing that impressed me is the lead character, because she seems like the person who can do anything. The themes of this movie felt satisfying because at least it makes is so that violence isn't the answer, and of course, the environmental message that will be somewhat recurring in future films.

You could say that at this point, I thirst for more Studio Ghibli films.




Pom Poko

The first I heard of Pom Poko was when Satoshi-kun mentioned this in response to a certain PETA controversy that I don't want to name. It certainly sounds like a strange name, but because I found out what it was after that, I already identified it as a Studio Ghibli film.

This film about magical raccoon dogs felt like a documentary at first, which is an interesting approach to the movie, but I also felt that it is rather audacious because of the portrayal of the raccoon's... um... pouches, and their uses. Their transformations are also fun to see, especially a certain segment where the raccoons (I will call them this rather than tanooki because the word raccoon felt more homely to me) worked together with their illusion. Some of the raccoon citizens are also interesting too, like the old man and old woman one, and that raccoon who is interested in human culture. The way the raccoons attempted for survival is nice to see because of their ideas, including using a TV to see what's going on with the outside world.

That was a strange ride but I thought it's cool nonetheless.




Ocean Waves

Here's another movie that has a title I don't associate with Studio Ghibli, and it's even non-fictional too! Even more surprising is this movie's length, because I didn't expect it to be short. Since I didn't watch a lot of anime, unlike some of you here, the boy and girl getting together is something new and refreshing to me. The main character felt likable because he did what he felt was right, even if it could be something that might put him in trouble. It's unique in that it's not ambitious, yet has a story that I really liked (especially the ending).




Porco Rosso

The only thing that felt strange when looking at this film's surface is the lead character. This character literally has a pig face! Sometimes I wonder if we actually get to see the cause of the curse, but it seemed more metaphorical I guess. I heard that this film has all of Miyazaki's passions melded into one, so I can guess it would be his finest work. Asides the silly-looking main character, this film is well-made, with characters that are lovable and the various scenes of different tones, ranging from comedy to times of sadness, to action! This film felt like it is open-ended at some points, but I imagine that it is perfect as a standalone movie.




Princess Mononoke

Before watching this movie, I was surprised that this is the longest movie yet! It definitely felt more dramatic on a common recurring theme, which is the environment. It also felt intriguing because of the main character's quest for a cure for his curse. It's difficult to describe my feelings about this film, because there's something about it that makes it feel like it is very ambitious in its scope. One thing I liked about it is how the women are shown to be quite capable people, even yielding weaponry. Of course, that includes the titular Princess Mononoke too. The special animals also gave this film a mystical feeling, especially because their presence makes the importance with respecting the environment all the clearer.




Grave of the Fireflies

This is the other part of the double-feature. If I knew about this, I probably would've watched them side-by-side. This film is tragic right from the beginning to the end, and while there are some times of comfort, it never felt like things are going to turn around. It's another of those must-watch films, but the tragic outlook of war makes it unlikely for a revisit.




Kiki's Delivery Service

L. O. L.: That's my feeling for this film, not necessarily because of its humour, but because at various points a character will laugh out loud, which felt unnerving to be honest. This title sounds cheesy too, so I didn't expect much out of it. Well, since I am on my quest to watch every Ghibli film, I watched it anyway. I have to admit, even with the two quirks I mentioned, this film is great because the town is great, and the people are great, and the story is great, and of course, the main character is not bad. I don't have much to say about this, so I would just say that contrary to my expectations, this is better than I thought.




Whisper of the Heart

When I looked at this movie's poster, I thought it would be another fictional movie. When it didn't start off with magical elements, I thought that at some point in the film there will be something magical. Unfortunately that's not the case, so I was a bit disappointed. It turns out be more of a love story and following your dreams more than anything else, but the town in which this takes place in felt complacent since it just feels like it's a generally lighthearted kind of place to live at.




Howl's Moving Castle

...and I finally watched Howl's Moving Castle. Because I watched a lot of films by the same studio beforehand, this movie felt like a compilation of the best parts of the previous movies. I can't pinpoint what those elements are, but it felt like that. One thing I didn't expect is for the main character to have some sort of curse quite early, but the moving castle is one thing that intrigues me the most because it felt very magical. Actually, almost everything felt magical that makes it a really sweet ride from start to finish.




Arrietty

I kind of thought that Arrietty has some sort of special physical characteristics that makes up for her size, such as wings like fairies, but it turns out that they are just tiny humans that are vulnerable like humans, except more vulnerable because of their size. I like how this takes place in a quaint cottage, as that allows us to explore the tiny parts of the place, such as the inside of the house for example. The mystique and fantasy that Ghibli films are excellent at are there, which makes it another film I enjoyed. If there's one film that felt like it could have a sequel, it's this one.




Ponyo

The first time I heard about this is on Nostalgia Critic. Not wanting to be spoiled, I watched this film first because seeing what NC had to say about it. What's interesting about this film is the fact that it takes place at the side of the sea, and that there are no actual villains or dangerous situations in this film (yes, Kiki is like this too, but it feels more notable here), no doubt because it's a children's film after all. Ponyo's forms are something of an oddity, but there are two things I thought were eye-catching. One, nobody thinks Ponyo is strange. Two, the mother's driving is reckless, yet she managed to be safe. Even with its safe approach, I also liked this one.




From Up on Poppy Hill

The most recent of the bunch, this is not the last movie I watched. In fact, I am curious as to how they portray the Olympics, since there was mention of it in the summary. Turns out it's more about preparing for it, but there's another package of fun stuff and sad stuff here. Even though this film takes place around the 60's (I think that's the period), the scenery and places felt like it is the present, with no rust or anything to indicate that it's old. I guess you could say that I felt nostalgic for anything that feels like the past even though I don't live in the 60's, because it's a feeling I get when only the good stuff in the past are shown.




Tales from Earthsea

Now, I heard bad things about this move, so I am apprehensive with watching it. I wondered if I should go ahead with it or now, but in the end, I decided I should give this one a go. It's too bad I saw the ratings of the film, because that affected my perception and judgement on this film. After forcing myself to watch it, it's actually not too bad, certainly not a total disaster I thought it would be. I mean, it's not like the movie was 0% in the ratings. While the story does feel a little forgettable, I like Sparrowhawk, and that scenery is extremely gorgeous. Certainly the least best, but my challenge required me to do this, and when it's over, I am glad I went through that.




My Neighbors the Yamadas

I love the artstyle of this movie. It's the simple style combined with great animation that makes it feel like the effort put into it is worth it. In fact, when the characters are in different areas such as sailing in the ocean, then it is breathtaking. As for the actual stories, I can see some typical family humour there, where every member has a flaw, but it's interesting because it's a glimpse in Japanese culture. There's one part where it's not about being funny (that part of the story takes place at night, in fact), which I felt made this film better because family life is not necessarily fun and happy all the time.




Well, that was long. This was quickly put together because it's something I want to get out of the way as soon as I can. Overall, I enjoyed the films Studio Ghibli put out, so I would like to see what the next two films have in store. If you read my opinions on the various films I watched, I really appreciate your time and effort. Even if you only read part of my opinions, that is already very good in my book. I don't imagine that my opinions are that important, since I am not an anime regular. In any case...

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thanks for reading.

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  1. GatoRage's Avatar
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    I've only seen Spirited Away, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Only Yesterday, Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies and Howl's Moving Castle so far. I'll prolly get around to seeing the others sometime, at least Totoro and Porco Rosso.
  2. Niji's Avatar
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    I love Howl's Moving Castle, although the movie completely took out the plot of the book. Calcifer's the coolest. I need to watch Spirited Away soon....
  3. Oswin's Avatar
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    I don't think there is a single Ghibli film that I have seen that I disliked. One of the things I really liked about Grave of the Fireflies is that doesn't blame anyone for what happens, it just shows the negative impacts. Did you know that there is going to be a sequel to Porco Rosso?
    Owain likes this.
  4. 33Whimsicott33's Avatar
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    Grave of the Fireflies was very sobering. I watched it in a time close to Pom Poko too. For that movie, the audacious parts of it didn't seem to bother me much due to that documentary style they had going on (as well as some previous knowledge that the old, old folk stuff of tanuki supposedly involved them having very big testicles). It was still funny to see the reactions around me when I pointed those things out though.

    Me: "Hey, did you notice some things about the way they draw the racoons?"

    Other: "What?"

    Me: "They show their balls."

    Other: "whOA."
  5. winstein's Avatar
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    @FestiveGreen; Well then, here's hoping that the next dual movies are successful, since Miyazaki expressed interest only if his next few movies beyond Ponyo are successful. Taking this into account, the movies could be Arrietty, From Up on Poppy Hill and The Wind Rises (there's also that bamboo princess tale, but he's not involved with that). Mind you, I am not opposed to a sequel, because as I said, Porco Rosso's ending seems open-ended.

    @33Whimsicott33; Yeah, the Japanese are generally OK with showing certain genitals although usually it's the female ones (the manga in Doraemon contains a rare male example). If they show the female's breasts (in the movie, their clothes cover that part), then that would be even stranger.

    Thanks for reading.
  6. Silverwynde's Avatar
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    a certain PETA controversy that I don't want to name.
    Ah, PeTA. Is there nothing you can't ruin? *sighs*

    It was technically Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind that got me drawn into anime; back in the 1980s it was released under the title Warriors of the Wind and had about 45 minutes cut from it. Most fans don't like it and wish it had never been released. But it was also the first real example of Japanese animation I had ever seen in my life.

    I have exceptionally fond memories of Princess Mononoke. This was the first theatrical film that I and my husband watched together and it got him hooked on anime. When it was released on DVD, I grabbed a copy and watched it so often that I had most of the English dub's dialogue memorized. I was also able to grab the Japanese soundtrack when I found it. Like I said, very fond memories of this one.

    I haven't had the chance to see Ponyo or Tales from Earthsea. While Ponyo was in theaters in the US I was too sick to go and Earthsea never got a theatrical release in the States as far as I know. (You can blame the Sci-Fi channel--or Syfy as it's known now--for that one. They produced an Earthsea mini-series and that all but killed the chances of Ghibli's Earthsea film ever getting a real release. Thankfully though it is on DVD.)

    Grave of the Fireflies is something I only watch if I need a cleansing cry. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, makes me cry harder than that movie.
    winstein and Owain like this.

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