Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli photo
Studio Ghibli

Ghibli film Only Yesterday is getting a new English release on its 25th anniversary


What's old is new again
Aug 24
// John-Charles Holmes
You kids have it so easy with your anime these days-- if there's any show or movie you want to see, it's already up online in a few days with fully fleshed out fan-subs. Back in the day, we only got what the big licensing com...
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Big blu-ray boxset of Hayao Miyazaki's movies headed to Amazon


This boxset isn't a mistake
Jul 31
// John-Charles Holmes
I stand by blu-rays for two types of movies-- colorfully visual movies and animated productions. It goes without saying that the films of Studio Ghibli are some of the best looking to make the jump to HD since the films start...

Review: When Marnie Was There

Jun 12 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]219314:42335:0[/embed] When Marnie Was There (思い出のマーニー)Director: Hiromasa YonebayashiRelease Date: May 22, 2015Country: Japan In the wake of Hayao Miyakazi's retirement, Studio Ghibli has "temporarily" shuttered its doors. There may never be another Studio Ghibli film. There are probably people who are mad at Miyazaki for leaving. When Marnie Was There is a response to those people. It's a response to people who hold grudges and hate themselves and take it out on others. It's a a response to the fundamental negativity that drives much of modern society. And it made me cry.  It's easy to forget that cartoons can make you feel real people emotions if you don't watch many of them. And obviously calling a serious animated film like any Ghibli production a "cartoon" is reductive at best and borderline offensive at worst, but the point is that it isn't just the ultra-artistic works like Ghibli films that can get to you. They're probably about the best example, but it's just another toolset for a would-be filmmaker to use. And one that doesn't get nearly enough credit for the things it can do to you. When Marnie Was There starts in a place where the air is bad. It's a city, and Anna is a girl with asthma. She hates herself and keeps herself isolated from everyone around her. She has an asthma attack and the doctor tells her foster mother that she should be sent to the countryside. A countryside where there is nothing but Anna, nature, and whatever creepy, spirit-related things are going on in the town's abandoned buildings. (So far so Ghibli.) Before too long, Anna runs into Marnie, a blonde-haired girl who lives in the Marsh House, an old abandoned mansion at the edge of town. But, of course, Marnie isn't real. You know that. Anna knows that. The film knows it. Marnie's scenes are hyper-stylized, often dream-like, but knowing that she's not real actually makes everything more intriguing. Because the question isn't, "Is Marnie real?" It's, "Who is she?" Or perhaps, "Who was she?"    But what's never a question is what her role in Anna's arc is going to be. From the outset, it's obvious that Marnie is here to bring Anna out of her shell, to allow her to talk to others and stand up for herself and be brave. She's a self-loathing pre-teen. The world has enough of those. Marnie is there to help her come to terms with everything she's gone through. To give her some perspective. And its ability to put things into perspective without being contrived or annoying is When Marnie Was Here's greatest strength. Even in particularly expository moments, everything comes from a place of honesty in a valiant attempt to get at the fundamental beliefs we all have. A conversation between Marnie and Anna about the role of the parent begins a bit stiff, and I was worried that we were heading down the wrong path, but it ultimately turned into something exceedingly compelling. Whether it was critiquing an aspect of society found in both Japan and America, celebrating it, or simply accepting it is probably up for interpretation, but nothing in the film is skin-deep. It's all in service of these moments of revelation that turn both Anna and Marnie into an extremely compelling pair, even if the latter is "imaginary." But imaginary or not, Marnie's impact on Anna is tangible. As the truths behind Marnie's past become clearer, Anna begins to build up the strength to keep her partner safe from the evils of the world. Because there are always evils, no matter who you are or how you live. And even if you can't always fight them yourself, being able to recognize the plights of others and connect with them will make you a stronger person. Perhaps someone who can help others face their own demons as well. And when it all comes down to it, we're all in this together. Films like When Marnie Was There serve as reminders of just how meaningful life can be.
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All the places you'll go
Every so often, I think about old articles I've written, for Flixist or elsewhere, and wonder how different they would be if I'd written them now. Not from a grammatical or structural perspective. I wonder how my fundamental ...

When Marnie Was There photo
When Marnie Was There

Here's the US Trailer for Ghibli's When Marnie Was There


Apr 17
// Nick Valdez
Since Studio Ghibli is still stuck in purgatory, and haven't announced a new feature since all of that financial weirdness reared its ugly head some time ago, When Marnie Was There might possibly be the studio's final film. ...

Review: The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Feb 24 // John-Charles Holmes
[embed]219012:42246:0[/embed] The Tale of Princess KaguyaDirector: Isao TakahataRelease Date: February 17, 2015 (DVD/Blu-Ray)Rating: PGCountry: Japan The Tale of Princess Kaguya is based on the classic Japanese folktale, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, which tells of a bamboo cutter and wife who find a small girl inside a stalk of bamboo.  The girl, who eventually comes to be named Princess Kaguya, grows very quickly into a beautiful young woman, which is only exacerbated by the bamboo cutter finding a trove of treasures in other stalks of bamboo in the forests.  The bamboo cutter buys his family’s way into the lap of luxury and refines Kaguya from her quaint mountain life into to the extremely restrictive lifestyle of a feudal princess. As Kaguya matures, word of her beauty spreads across the land and in due time, five overzealous suitors show up at the mansion doors.  What follows is a haunting tale of Kaguya’s struggles for independence and freedom as well as an idea of what the definition true happiness is and what it brings to us.  Is it wealth?  Security?  Beauty?  Or something else altogether? Princess Kaguya launches by wearing its folktale trappings on its sleeves.  Most of the characters act as the everyman for all the roles people play in our lives and logic is thrown to the wind in favor of mysticism and bewilderment.  However, once the stage for the story is set, emotion becomes the guiding force for most of the film.  Each moment of the film is driven by these strong moments of expression, ranging from extremes of happiness to absolute depression.  Even when it seems that the film is setting up an eclectic series of events, the narrative constantly takes a back seat to the emotional state of the film, Princess Kaguya, and the audience. The story itself is actually quite simple to digest, but the true star of the film is the unique and striking animation on display.  The film looks unlike any modern Ghibli film, trading in crisp and strong digital lines for very rough, very human brush strokes.  The visuals evoke the imagery of traditional Japanese ink and watercolor paintings.  You could take a still from any moment of the film and hang it up on a wall. It’s not quite clear through why you’d want to freeze-frame the film, though, as the animation is simply stunning in motion.  As lines are redrawn with every frame this motion implies a great sense of breath and life or quietness and weight when lines stand still.  As motion increases and action climbs, the lines get more and more out of control, as if a master artist loosened his grip on the brush.  Little details like moving accent lines to imply light or restrained palettes to direct attention add that extra polish that makes it a true masterwork. Words truly don’t do these visuals justice and honestly might be the most visually interesting film I’ve ever seen out of Studio Ghibli in years—which given their legendary pedigree, is saying a lot.  This is what makes somewhat upsetting when the film falls prey to the same pratfall of the last few Ghibli productions.  The mood and animation silently tells more of the story than the words ever do, but in the final moments of the film, an immediately pressing impetus emerges to give the film a climax that, quite honestly, I wasn’t sure was necessary.  The film seems to revolve around how Princess Kaguya feels at any given moment as well as asking the existential question of what exactly is the true nature of happiness.  Once we actually get some answers near the end of the film, it’s not exactly an answer for those questions the film sets up.  Honestly, I feel like the emotional impact of the film is so strong and so resonant that it managed to carry me through to the film’s eerie conclusion, but I would be quick to understand if audiences (particularly western audiences) found themselves very confused with final moments of the story.  As easy as it would’ve been to simply rely on the imagery of the animation through to the end, this choice probably stems more from the nature of the source material rather than a misstep of the direction of the film. Story issues aside, the film exudes a restrained and haunting air throughout its runtime.  Shots are framed like paintings in a gallery and music punctuates little moments of the film, only making itself heard with hard piano strikes at some of the more intense scenes.  Ghibli films have usually had an incredible eye for minutia, and Takahata exhibits the same mastery in his portrayal of an old, yet legendary Japan. So if you’re already a huge fan of Studio Ghibli, making a point to see Princess Kaguya is a no-brainer at this point, but for everyone else I’d still say this one is worth checking out.  The simple story keeps the film easy to follow, despite some missteps near the end, but even if the folktale isn’t enough to hold your attention, the animation and atmosphere will certainly keep you glued to your seat.  As one of the better Ghibli films of the past decade, Princess Kaguya will go down as a haunting, yet beautiful piece of work, much like the princess herself.
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Little Bamboo, big style
Isao Takahata is one of the directors out of Studio Ghibli that seems to be less discussed by fans in the west.  Takahata is responsible for directing some of the most riveting and eerie films to come from the Japanese a...

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PSA: Save big on Ghibli blu-rays/DVDs at Best Buy & Amazon this week


Somehow Spirited Away still isn't on blu ray yet
Feb 16
// John-Charles Holmes
To celebrate the release of Studio Ghibli's most recent film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, on home media this Tuesday, retailers Amazon.com and Best Buy have rolled out some crazy good prices for previous Ghibli DVDs and blu-...
Princess Kaguya Teaser photo
Princess Kaguya Teaser

US teaser trailer for Studio Ghibli's The Tale of Princess Kaguya


Aug 19
// Nick Valdez
Although there were a few rumblings of Studio Ghibli closing its doors a few weeks back, thankfully none of those rumors came to be as the company's just getting its act together. Case in point, The Tale of Princess Kaguya i...
When Marnie Was There photo
When Marnie Was There

Full Japanese trailer for Ghibli's When Marnie Was There


Jul 23
// Nick Valdez
Studio Ghibli's films are so damn pretty, I don't even need to understand what anyone is saying. That's why this Japanese trailer for their latest film, When Marnie Was There, is perfect for me. In much better quality than t...
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Ghibli's The Tale of Princess Kaguya gets English cast and release date


Jul 17
// Nick Valdez
While I may only like a small selection of Studio Ghibli's films, there's no mistaking their quality. Based on the Japanese tale "The Tale of Bamboo Cutter" and directed by Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies), Princess Kag...
When Marnie Was There photo
When Marnie Was There

Japanese teaser for next Ghibli film, When Marnie Was There


Jul 03
// Nick Valdez
Based on Joan G. Robinson's novel of the same name, When Marnie is There is about a lonely little girl who befriends a ghost. I've never read the book myself, but if it's being adapted by Studio Ghibli, I'm sure it's equal p...
When Marnie Was There photo
When Marnie Was There

Teaser poster and images for next Ghibli film, When Marnie Was There


Apr 25
// Nick Valdez
While I'm not the most well versed Studio Ghibli fan at Flixist, even someone with little knowledge like myself can't deny how beautiful their films are. Based on the book by Joan G. Robinson, and handled by The Secret World ...
The Wind Rises photo
The Wind Rises

Miyazaki's The Wind Rises gets English voice cast


Featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elijah Wood, and Werner F**king Herzog
Dec 17
// Nick Valdez
Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises (which could very well be his final film before retirement) has been inching closer and closer to a domestic release after it's fly through Japan. Shortly after getting the first US trailer for...

Flixist Discusses Review: The Wind Rises

Sep 25 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]216517:40700:0[/embed] The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu | 風立ちぬ)Director: Hayao MiyazakiRating: TBDCountry: JapanRelease Date: November 8, 2013 (NY/LA); February 21, 2014 (Limited); February 28, 2014 (Wide) Alec: I think the way to start this off would be a discussion of exactly what The Wind Rises is. In both of our videos, we referred to the film as a biopic, and to some extent it is: It's the telling of a person's life. But it's not really a biopic in the way that most people think about it. Much more than others, it's a life that has been fictionalized and truncated to the point that maybe "biopic" is just the wrong word. The film is based on a manga made by Hayao Miyazaki, so maybe we should look at it from that perspective? Although I feel like some of my issues (which we will undoubtedly get into later) will be less forgivable if that's the case. Hubert: Well, the film is based on a short story by Tatsuo Hori that was then adapted into a manga, and I'd assume both the short story and the manga also take liberties with the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who helped design the Japanese Zero fighter plane. I think the best way to think of The Wind Rises is as a fictional account of an actual person's life in order to explore the idea of an artist's creative impulses. It's an odd hybrid of history and fiction, and in that way, it reminds me a bit of the writing of Jim Shepard, who's one of my favorite living authors. He's done multiple stories centered around historical figures (e.g., F.W. Marnau, Aeschylus, John Entwistle from The Who, Godzilla special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya) and uses their voices or their situations in order to explore issues of work, loneliness, family, and so on. I think that's what's kind of going on here with The Wind Rises. So in some ways The Wind Rises is just an old-school and earnest (and clunky) biopic like The Life of Emile Zola, but I think it's more like Miyazaki's final statement of artistic intent. In other words, it's a fictionalized telling of the creative life of Hayao Miyazaki wearing a Jiro Horikoshi costume and set in the first half of the 20th century. Whew. It's also bookended by periods of destruction that lead to Japanese cultural reinvention and modernization -- the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 and of course WWII, though the latter is only implied rather than dealt with directly. Alec: You know, I think that last line really sums up The Wind Rises. To some extent, everything "Is only implied rather than dealt with directly," and the few things that are dealt with directly are the result of things that have to be implied. The relationships between characters have to be implied as do character motivations. Nothing is ever really clear, and that is to the film's detriment. Some of the characters appear and disappear without any explanation (that German guy comes to mind), and I was left wondering if I missed something, but I don't believe I did. I think it was just too vague. We talked about whether or not it was a cultural thing, and I don't think so. The Great Kanto earthquake wasn't something I knew about, so that whole thing struck me as odd, but it wasn't really problematic for me, and even if it had been I wouldn't feel good criticizing its lack of context, because the film is for a Japanese audience that at the very least is peripherally aware of that event. I have no doubt that some of the other things I didn't immediately understand would make total sense to the average Japanese viewer, but I don't believe for a second that most people watching that movie in Japan or anywhere else will know who that German guy was supposed to be. Hubert: In terms of the German character, I can't say whether or not he was based on an actual historical figure, but he seems to function as a counterpoint to the Nazis that Jiro meets while he's overseas in Germany. During those scenes in Germany, we see troops barking orders and then chasing after someone whom I can only assume was a Jew or one of the other groups that the Nazis persecuted. The benign German character is by contrast critical of Nazi power and even predicts the horrors of the coming war. The good German made me notice how Jiro himself seems totally detached from any sense of Japanese nationalism, which I imagine must have been pervasive in those days. Caproni, Jiro's creative mentor in this film, also seems apolitical and not particularly nationalistic even though he designed war planes in real life. So you have the good German, Jiro, and Caproni. Notice that they're all representatives of the Axis powers, and yet they are like these progressive characters with post-war mindsets uprooted and made to inhabit a sanitized version of pre-WWII Japan and Germany. Yeah, the trio makes an interesting counterpoint to the atrocities of the Axis powers, but to me the sanitization of the horrors of nationalism in the lead up to WWII makes the film extremely problematic as an historical work. Then again, this can't be taken as a purely historical work. This is a strange metaphorical space and we're really seeing Miyzaki's personality and ideas about artists (and his own opposition to war) inhabiting this era. Yet even then, I'm surprised there wasn't more exploration of Jiro's feelings about Imperial Japan. Jiro's planes are his beloved works of art that his own country will then use to kill people -- the war and any resulting anguish are off screen. Your mention of vagueness made me think of the weird shape of The Wind Rises. I described it to a friend as being like a cloud. It's shifting and never constant, it looks like one thing one minute and another thing the next, it's pushed by invisible imperatives, there are heavy moments followed by wispy ones. For better or for worse, the movie is a cloud in motion across the sky. Getting back to character motivations, I know we both had some big issues with the romance in the film. I think once that thread picks up, the movie came apart for me and never quite recaptured the lyricism of its first half. Alec: Yeah, if I had to pinpoint one thing that bothered me about the movie it would be the romance. It seems like it's there because the film needed a romantic subplot, and it's both the lack of characterization and the ridiculous illness that make it feel that way. Their love comes out of nowhere (a few minutes of throwing paper airplanes hardly justifies anything, especially considering the German guy gets in on that and there wasn't any threesome action that I saw), and her illness comes straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel. I should never be able to seriously compare a Miyazaki film to a Nicholas Sparks novel, but there you go. It happened. And it's really a problem because when everything else gets compressed by the romance. It's such a major part of the film despite its total lack of legitimacy, and if it were removed a lot of the other, more interesting parts of the film could have been better developed. Miyakazi's narrative priorities were really off this time around. Hubert: I actually think the romance between Jiro and Naoko is where there's pertinent thematic material to Miyazaki's overarching narrative, but I don't think it works because it's all so condensed and rushed and presents a major shift in outlook from the first portion of the film. This might be one of those romances that works better on the page since you can compress more emotion and internal thought into text than you can in a few scenes in a film. You bring up Nicholas Sparks, but if this film sticks close to the source material -- whether it's the manga or the short story -- maybe it's supposed to be a bit more like those two side characters in Jane Austen's Persuasion who fall in love simply through proximity and time. As far as what the romance is doing in The Wind Rises, I think on the one hand, the romance and melodrama puts me in mind of those old-fashioned biopics I mentioned earlier, the sorts of stories where love at first sight (or love by accidental reunion) is accepted. In addition to that, love is just what Jiro needs in that time of his life given the professional failure he experiences just before he checks into that summer resort. He's not outwardly devastated, but I think Miyazaki makes it clear that Jiro's not feeling great about his work by using a few choice shots and the weather. It's Naoko who spurs Jiro to create again, which makes her his muse. Just as Jiro is a kind of analog for Hayao Miyazaki in this film, I wouldn't be surprised if Naoko is some sort of analog for Miyazaki's wife Akemi Ota. So this is all a means of addressing the primary concern that many artists face: how to establish the proper balance between your work and your personal life. Serious artists are constantly making sacrifices since their time is so valuable and so limited. And so the combination of major illness and the idea of a brief window of artististic potency are meant to ratchet up the stakes of every decision that Jiro makes, i.e., time is always of the essence. Again, even though I can understand the impulse, I don't think this is handled artfully. This is the over-shaping principle that's common in so many biopics. Give a life too much shape, it feels artificial; too little shape and it meanders. Somehow The Wind Rises manages to do both. Even then, the better scenes between Jiro and Naoko contain a kind of magic -- perhaps hokey, perhaps old-timey, but mostly there's just a childlike joy to it -- that for me felt genuine amid all the extraneous bits, sort of the like a great hook in an otherwise so-so pop song. I'm rambling, but obviously I'm more forgiving of The Wind Rises than you are. A big part of that is because I think Miyazaki consciously made this as his last film and I'm viewing it in that context. Basically I'm reading this film like the overworked final chapter in a novel by Hayao Miyazaki. I couldn't imagine The Wind Rises being a good entry point into Miyzaki's work for a newcomer. Unrelated: the Yumi Matsutoya song during the end credits, "Hikōki-gumo (Airplane Cloud)," is my favorite song to appear in a Miyazaki film. Alec: I see what you mean, and I guess it really is an issue of poor execution here rather than a mistaken intent. The love could have been really good maybe, but it didn't have time to breathe. It just appeared and then the rug was pulled out from under it in exactly enough time to manipulate the audience's heartstrings and without nearly enough effort to justify doing so. I liked the moments with the two of them (the hand-holding while he worked beside her was particularly nice), but it never felt real. But enough about that. You undoubtedly know more about Miyazaki's work than I do, which means I'm not particularly keen on discussing The Wind Rises' place in his canon, but I definitely understand what you mean. I'm not necessarily willing to forgive its faults because he is trying to jam everything into one last statement, but it is what it is. I think it boils down to this: I want The Wind Rises to be longer. Like, a lot longer. I was thinking of that the entire time. At 126 minutes, it's on the long side for an animated film, but it's still far too short. Keep the love subplot because I do understand why it's important (even if I think it's less interesting than most of the rest of the film), but expand everything else and it all becomes a more consistent and logical film to follow. If we look at it as an overstuffed last chapter, it's like he put up a first draft and then instead of expanding it filled in the margins with notes until the pages were completely full and almost illegible. The chapter could have gone on for longer. Hell, it could have become its own separate book (this metaphor fell apart ten sentences ago), and he would have had more room to expand on his last thesis. Because it does seem like he rushed to fill the space, and in doing so he forgot to close the door. Hubert: A three-hour historical film would have been an unexpected way to finish his feature film career. Taken as a whole, I can spot three distinct segments to The Wind Rises that would make for solid hour-long chunks, the middle part being the courtship of Naoko. But if it took five years to make The Wind Rises in its current state, it probably would have taken six or seven to make a longer film. Thinking about it that way, it adds an extra dimension to the idea of time in The Wind Rises and how Miyazaki was concerned with time in real life. With Jiro, every moment he spends with Naoko is precious, but it's also time away from work that he needs to get done as soon as possible; Miyazki probably felt the pull toward family while also feeling an obligation to tell this story as best as he could even though he could have spent more time on it. I guess that's another reason why I see this more as a final statement about being an artist and being Miyazaki rather than just a biopic. Sometimes it's silly to try to find connections between a person's life and that person's creative work -- fittingly, the primary sin of so many biopics is to make easy connections between a person's life and his or her work -- but with Miyazaki getting older, this sort of reflection seems natural. When Miyazaki explained the reasons for his retirement he said, "[In the past,] we could make films in four and five months, but during that time, my staff and I were younger, and we often said that creating these movies was a once in a lifetime event. Now, you can't demand your staff work at this pace forever, because people get older and they have to choose between work and family." Like any overstuffed thing, there's loads of beauty amid the many imperfections. I loved the look of The Wind Rises, especially when Jiro is sketching or writing equations (it put me in mind of Da Vinci), or those dreams that allow Jiro to meet Caproni with his flying machines, or those brief moments where we get to see the inner workings of wings and engines, as if Jiro is slowly understanding the hidden structures of objects that lay just beneath the surface. Whenever there's sky in any shot, it was fascinating to read the character of the clouds and how those helped define the eventual mood of the scene. Maybe my favorite little detail was how there was a human voice incorporated into the sound effects during moments of destruction. The Great Kanto earthquake is this sinister whisper, and a malfunctioning engine is like exasperated breath. The Wind Rises is the sort of movie I'd like to watch again just to enjoy the beauty of it now that I know the imperfect shape of the narrative. If I had to score this first time through, I'd give it a 77 (Good) because its beauty and its best moments are pretty transcendent even if there are some frustrating choices in the film's execution. I'll give you the last word since I've said more than enough already. Alec: You expect me to follow that? Not a chance. I basically agree with you, although I'm less willing to forgive its faults, so my number is somewhat lower (as you can see below). It would be very interesting to see the movie again, though, because then I could focus more on the details (like you, I thought the human element to the sound effects was excellent) and not be surprised by the broader strokes. I expect some of my friends will want to see it (and I will tell them that they should), so I'll probably find out sooner rather than later. [The Wind Rises will screen at Alice Tully Hall on Saturday, September 28th and Friday, October 4th. For tickets and more information, click here.]
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Calm down, Jiro! Now is not the time for fear. That comes later.
After the credits rolled at the screening of The Wind Rises at this year's New York Film Festival, Hubert and I spent the next hour talking about the film, what we liked and didn’t like, where we thought it succeeded or...

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The film opens wide in February 2014 after this Oscar-qualifying run
I'm really excited to be seeing Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises at the New York Film Festival. If you're not attending the NYFF screenings and live in New York or Los Angeles, you'll be able to catch Miyazaki's final fea...

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The Wind Rises will be his last film, and he's serious this time
There was a shock at the Venice Film Festival last weekend when Studio Ghibli president Koji Hoshino announced that The Wind Rises would be Hayao Miyazaki's last feature film. Miyazaki has talked about retirement since 1997's...

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New Releases

New Releases, week of 9/7/13: Sabrina's Cat Edition


Now You See Me, From Up on Poppy Hill, The Lords of Salem and more on DVD/Blu-ray
Sep 03
// Nick Valdez
When the Sabrina the Teenage Witch show aired as part of ABC's TGIF lineup, I thought it was the neatest show (but Boy Meets World had it beat, hands down) since the animatronic cat on the program was named Salem and was voic...
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The Wind Rises delivers new trailer and controversy


Let's watch a trailer and then talk Japanese politics
Aug 15
// Matthew Razak
With Studio Ghibli's The Wind Rises sitting at number one for four weeks running in Japan, and what's sure to be a successful festival tour picking up with the Venice Film Festival one would believe that everything was ...
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Four whole minutes of awesome
We shared a brief teaser of Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) a few weeks ago, but now we have a gorgeous four-minute trailer for the film. It's preceded by some promo material featuring Miyazaki and a few fello...

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Mondo unveils some marvelous posters for SDCC 2013


Jul 11
// Liz Rugg
As we mentioned yesterday, Mondo has some awesome stuff lined up for this year's San Diego Comic Con. In addition to their awesome lineup of six posters by various artists for Guillermo del Toro's upcoming Pacific Rim that we...
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Giant Studio Ghibli mural brings the memories back


Jul 01
// Matthew Razak
We're nearing the Japanese release of both of Studio Ghibli's next films -- Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises) comes out on July 20 and Takahata Isao's Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (The Tale of Princess Kaguya) hits this Fall. T...
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Teaser Trailer: The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu)


A brief first look at the new Hayao Miyazaki film
Jun 25
// Hubert Vigilla
Here is your first very brief look at Hayao Miyazaki's new film, The Wind Rises. The footage aired on Japanese television and reveals a kind of pastoral whimsy and a bird plane. It's not much (about 30 seconds), but it's ver...
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New images for Miyazaki's next film, The Wind Rises


May 28
// Matthew Razak
Reportedly getting a trailer sometime this week, The Wind Rises is Hayao Miyazaki's next upcoming project and like anything he does even a few stills/posters are gorgeous. The film is based off of a manga of the same nam...
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Studio Ghibli

Flix for Short: Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo


F**K YEAH
Apr 25
// Nick Valdez
What do you get when the director of Neon Genesis Evangelion and animator for Nausicaa Of The Valley The Wind, Anno Hideaki, commissions a short film, gets direction by Higuchi Shinji (animator on Evangelion), and a gia...
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Live-action Kiki's Delivery Service film confirmed


Adaptation to be directed by The Grudge director Shimizu Takashi
Apr 24
// Geoff Henao
A few weeks ago, we brought news of a potential live-action adaptation of Kiki's Delivery Service to be directed by The Grudge series creator Takashi Shimizu. Today, Twitch has confirmed the film's production, as well as...
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Whole Hog's UK run of the show is done; next stop for the production is Japan
You may remember that there was a planned UK stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke. Whole Hog, the theater company responsible for this live-action adaptation, turned to Kickstarter to help make the play the ...

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Rumor: Live action Kiki's Delivery Service


Apr 09
// Logan Otremba
Again, this is a rumor coming from Twitch Film. Don’t be too hasty about this being true or not. So Twitch was told that Japanese horror director Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On and The Grudge) has come on board to direct a live...

Review: From Up on Poppy Hill

Apr 08 // Matthew Razak
[embed]215310:39922:0[/embed] From Up on Poppy HillDirector: Goro MiyazakiRated: PGRelease Date: March 28, 2013 Let's get the obvious out of the way: the film is stunning. No one animates as well as Ghibli does, and even when they aren't filling the screen with amazing creatures and monsters their scenes breath a wondrous life. The Japanese Port of Yokohama in  post Korean War Japan is teeming with gorgeous animation and every scene breathes with a wonderful sense of nostalgia and fun. Like all Ghibli films its often the details that make it work and Poppy Hill is just crammed with them in every frame. From a creaky old club building to the downtown streets of the port the animation makes you want to pause each from and note the details or simply watch a quick shot over and over as it unfolds, delighting the eye and making you wish every studio put this much care into creating the world their characters were in. That world is the world of high schooler Umi Matsuzaki (Sarah Bolger), who lost her father in the Korean War and runs an inn at the top of Poppy Hill with her grandmother while her mother is in America studying. Umi develops a crush on Shun Kazama (Anton Yelchin), who is involved in saving the Latin Quarter, an old, rickety clubhouse where different school clubs have resided for years. The house is going to be demolished for a new building as Japan demolishes much of its past to get ready for the 1964 summer Olympics. Umi and Shun along with the rest of the students decide to attempt to save the building all while Umi and Shun's relationship becomes far more complicated as they learn more about their parents and the complications of war. While the film's overall plot is lighthearted it's themes are those of nostalgia and history. A large emphasis is put on keeping the past alive while moving into the future. It's almost the Cars of Studio Ghibli films. While it's a fantastic notion the movie isn't directed well enough to execute its plans. The narrative force of the film is all over the place, and director Goro Miyazaki doesn't seem to have learned from any of the mistakes he made with Tales from Earthsea. There's a lot of great stuff that's touching and fun, but it's mostly derived from the fantastic animation and not the structure or pacing of the film. The story falls flat while the animation does a better job by itself setting the themes of nostalgia and progress.  Something one doesn't usually hear about with a Ghibli film is the soundtrack, but Satoshi Takebe has put together a jazz soundtrack that matches the feeling of the animation almost perfectly. The best scenes in the film are establishing shots and montages when the animation and score are bouncing along wonderfully with each other.  I saw the English-dubbed version, which is actually one of the better Ghibli dubs I'd seen in a while. There's no truly big name stars in it to blow you away, but everyone does an admirable job keeping up. Disney puts effort into these dubs for the most part and it shows off. Would I have rather seen it subtitled? Of course, but when that isn't an option I'd rather have a good dub than a bad one. It's too bad the overall package doesn't live up to Ghibli's usually high standards. There's plenty of fun to be had watching the movie, but it's a let down from their previous work. The sad part is that this may be attributed to the lack of fantastical in the film when really it can be rooted back to a lack of inspiration in its direction. If the story and structure had been executed better you could easily be watching one of the more enjoyable Ghibli films and there isn't a strange creature in site. Instead what we end up with is a wonderfully gorgeous film whose story doesn't live up to its look. For the pure love of the past and the joy of watching it post-war Japan unfold in Ghbili animation it's worth the watch for sure, but it can't be said that their best effort was put forth. 
Poppy Hill Review photo
Could be a better view
The non-fantasy based Studio Ghibli films are pretty limited. In fact if we rule out My Neighbors the Yamadas considering its animation style and tone make it pretty cartoonish there hasn't been one since Grave of the Fi...

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BAM is hosting 35mm screenings of the director's classic films
We all know Hayao Miyazaki is a master of his craft, and if you live in New York, you're in for a real treat. The Brooklyn Academy of Music is doing an eight-film Miyazaki retrospective this weekend and next weekend. BAM will...

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Trailer: From Up on Poppy Hill


Feb 04
// Geoff Henao
Two years after its Japanese premiere, From Up on Poppy Hill is getting prepped for a US release this March. A few days after the film's official poster was released, we have the first trailer complete with US voiceovers. Th...
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New poster for Studio Ghibli's From Up On Poppy Hill


Directed by Goro Miyazaki from a script written by his pops, Hayao Miyazaki
Feb 01
// Thor Latham
I don't think there are really words enough for me to describe the affection I feel towards Studio Ghibli and the wonderful films they create. From Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind all the way up to The Secret of Ariet...

Jenika's Top 5 Animated Movies of 2012

Jan 04 // Jenika Katz
Honorable mention: The Pirates! Band of Misfits [embed]208839:37988[/embed] I love Aardman films. Really, I do. Stop motion is one of my favorite animation techniques, and Aardman does it so well. Pirates! is a very cute movie, and the animation is great. When it came to making this list, however, it took a while to remember I'd seen it at all. The plot is a bit of a jumble, and actually seeing the movie doesn't feel too different from just watching the trailer. Still, it's a lot of fun, and well worth watching for the chuckles and the art style. Read our review of The Pirates! Band of Misfits here. 5. The Secret World of Arrietty [embed]207065:37834[/embed] Studio Ghibli's first film in a couple of years does not disappoint. Despite some odd voice acting and problems with audio levels, the movie is a big, fun adventure in a tiny, dangerous world. The characters are quirky and interesting, as one might have come to expect from this company, and the world they inhabit feels well-developed and just as big as its residents seem to find it. The animation is absolutely gorgeous, and a beautiful return to traditional 2D. Read our review of The Secret World of Arrietty here. 4. ParaNorman [embed]212494:38726[/embed] At a glance, ParaNorman is an amalgamation of successful money-grabs rolled into one movie. Kid that doesn't fit in? Check. Animation? Check. Zombies? Check. Directly following the success of Coraline, it would have a decent crowd right away. I had my reservations, but the result ended up being so much better than I could have hoped. The story has the same video game-y feel that Coraline gave, from the different environments to the final boss, and a similar sense of horror that's hard to find in an animated film. And the stop motion! Oh man, the stop motion. Stunning, smooth animation on intricate figures with detailed backgrounds. The only thing holding this movie back so far on this list is that section in the middle where Norman has to monologue. Monologuing is such a mood-killer. Read our review of ParaNorman here. 3. Wreck-It Ralph [embed]213488:39061[/embed] Speaking of movies with a video game-y feel to them, Wreck-It Ralph was another movie I was pleasantly surprised by. Cinematic odes to video games can go very poorly, and Sarah Silverman's voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me, but none of that mattered in the end. There's a level of heart in the movie beyond just the gamer nostalgia. Digital animation is so common-place that it almost feels detrimental to an otherwise great animated film, but Ralph escapes that feeling entirely. The real magic is in the little details, from the different ways the characters move to the “Aerith lives” graffitti on the walls of Game Central Station. Even Sarah Silverman couldn't ruin the fun of this movie for me. Read our review of Wreck-It Ralph here. 2. Frankenweenie [embed]211059:38476[/embed] Seriously, I don't know how three different companies released feature-length stop motion films this year, but I'm pretty sure it means that there is a God and he's trying to get in my pants. Frankenweenie was one of those movies I felt had no business being remade, and was adamantly opposed to...until I saw the trailer. Stop motion! Black and white! Burton's original style before he started casting Johnny Depp in everything! Still, it was hard not to be cynical. How could a short film about accepting death possibly reach a wide audience, especially such a young one, without being stripped and simplified? What a joy it was to discover that it was, indeed, possible. Frankenweenie delivered the same story, expanded to fit its original intent, with fantastic models and sets that used just enough technology to help the puppets defy gravity in the way they needed to. Best of all, it didn't shy away from the subject matter, and packed an emotional punch without feeling manipulative. Read our review of Frankenweenie here. 1. Brave [embed]210961:38439[/embed] Oh, Brave. One of the original inspirations for the Princess Review series was noting the lack of strong female characters in both Disney films and princess movies in general. Why couldn't there be a woman who could live life without a man? Why did every heroine need to be rescued and get married? My most anticipated film of 2012 had some lofty goals to meet, and it did not disappoint in the least. It feels like Brave took all the worst aspects of movies aimed at children and said, "Nope, not doing that." Merida is a real person, selfish and flawed, and her journey leads her to self-improvement and familial appreciation. The other characters have personal development and are not solely there to make the main character look better. The comic relief is actually comedic and not detrimental to the rest of the movie. The movie remains grounded in its time period and does not throw in pop culture references for a cheap laugh. It's more than just avoiding mistakes, of course. Brave takes a goal to have a strong female lead and accomplishes it, and does so without sacrificing entertainment or quality in the name of reaching a wider audience. The world is beautiful and the character style fits in well, and all of that is just a cherry on top of the rest of the experience. Read our review of Brave here. Read my Princess Review of Brave here.
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Which movies came out on top in 2012?
In recent years, a lot of animated movies have been formulaic and underwhelming, but 2012 brought us the variety and quality that has been missing in the genre for a while. Sure, Disney brought back Beauty and the Beast, Find...

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Posters for Studio Ghibli's two 2013 films


Kaguya-Hime no Monogatari (The Story of Princess Kaguya) & Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)
Dec 13
// Hubert Vigilla
The Studio Ghibli retrospective in New York City is entering its final week now. As that draws to a close, we're getting a small taste of Studio Ghibli's output for next year. Two posters have dropped, one for Hayao Miyazaki'...
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Last week we reported on the theatrical re-release of Grave of the Fireflies, but there's some other news regarding the saddest movie ever made. UK-based Dresden Pictures has picked up the British film rights for a live-actio...

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Grave of the Fireflies will return to theaters next year to commemorate its 25th anniversary. This theatrical re-release is thanks to GKIDS, the group also responsible for last year's touring Studio Ghibli retrospective as we...

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Back in September we reported on a stage adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke, which is being put on by the Whole Hog Theatre in London. Tickets for their April 2013 shows have already sold out, but Whole Hog is ...

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About this time last year there was a great Studio Ghibli retrospective in New York City, which eventually made its way around the country. I'm happy to report that it's back again this year thanks to the IFC Center and GKIDS...

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Talk about ambitious. The London-based Whole Hog Theater company is adapting Princess Mononoke into a stage play, which will be performed next year. The show will run from April 2nd to April 6th at the New Diorama Theater. Ti...

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Trailer: From Up on Poppy Hill


Aug 08
// Liz Rugg
From Up on Poppy Hill is the newest full length movie to come out of Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli. Based on a manga by Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsurō Sayama, Poppy Hill's screenplay was adapted by Ghibli m...
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Miyazaki's next film will be a biopic of Jiro Horikoshi


Jul 23
// Thor Latham
Now here is a man whose works I eagerly anticipate! So as I deliver this news to you I want you to know that my heart is brimming with joy! Acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki's next film will be a biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, the...
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Oh my Glob! Adorable Ghibli, Adventure Time crossovers


Jun 19
// Liz Rugg
Ghibli Time! Come on, grab your friends, we'll go to a very distant land with Cake the Catbus and Fiona the human, the fun will never end, it's Ghibli Time! An awesome artist who just goes by David on his Tumblr has been crea...

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