Time to announce the winners of our Studio Ghibli competition!
As a reminder, what's up for grabs...
What’s in the Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki box-set:
• Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) • Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) • My Neighbor Totoro (1988) • Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) • Porco Rosso (1992) • Princess Mononoke (1997) • Spirited Away (2001) • Howl's Moving Castle (2004) • Ponyo (2008) • The Wind Rises (2013)
Extra features: • Deluxe limited edition collector's box with bonus postcards and a 32 page booklet. • Bonus disc featuring rare early works and Hayao Miyazaki's retirement press conference in Japanese language with English subtitles. • All special features from all special edition versions of the featured films.
Up for grabs...
1st Prize: 1x Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki Box-Set (Blu-ray) Runners-up: 10x Spirited Away (Blu-ray)
And the winners are...
For me, it has to be Totoro. It's a movie that grew up with me, believe it or not. My introduction to it as a little kid was an English-subbed Cantonese dub, and honestly, I simply found it hilarious that the the names of the two girls were different words for toilet paper.
Time went on. My dad fell sick and had to live in the hospital for months. I was staying at a friend's place while my mum made another run to the hospital, and we ended up watching Totoro. Oh man, did it hit me in the gut. I finally understood that fear of losing those you love - the endless, tiring wait in the rain at the bus stop, the empty space in the house when waiting for their mother to recover and Satsuki having to fill that gap, the sheer terror when Mei disappears and Satsuki thinks she might lose someone else she loves. The movie wasn't just about silly names to me any more (though admittedly, the second time was in Japanese, so the names were a moot point).
And strangely, now that I'm old(er) and jaded and settled, the last time I watched Totoro it made me long for the kind of adventurous spirit you see in Mei, who wanders into the forest and keep going even when it's scary. I watch it to rekindle that willingness to wander into the unknown just to see what's there. It reminded me how, when I was a kid, I dreamed of being a pilot, a hotshot engineer, a famous author, and a lot of other things I now dismiss as unrealistic. It actually gave me a kick in the butt and had me thinking of how I might still find a Big Totoro if I'm willing to brave the briars and bushes and chase the little Totoros.
Eh, perhaps I'm doing that English class thing where you read waaaaay too much into something (the curtains are blue because the the author picked a random color, not because they were depressed, dammit!). But even if it's all in my mind, Totoro still means a lot to me.
Picking just one Studio Ghibli movie to be a favourite is a tall order. I think I'll have to go with Grave of the Fireflies.
The film showed the rarely-seen cost of war on ordinary people caught up in the war on 'the other side'. It did a masterful job of keeping its focus on the human story, the tragedy of two children swept up in a disaster they had no say in and no influence over, just trying to survive in a hell created by the pride and ambition of others.
In the west we're surrounded by our own propaganda and local hardships and triumphs, and especially during war time we're practically indoctrinated into believing that 'the enemy' are all monsters that must be stopped and deserve their fates. Grave of the Fireflies showed that the people on the other side really aren't that different to us, and that war and conflict hurt them just as much as they hurt us. It broke down the barriers of nationality and patriotism and showed that we're all humans, and we all suffer.
For me, the movie helped me to be more empathic, to be more thoughtful of the human cost of conflict - any conflict, even just arguments between people - and to break away from the mentality that 'the enemy' are some distant, faceless monster to be feared and shunned. It showed that we are all people, and that maybe if we took more care to remember that and to try to understand each other, we'd end up with a lot fewer tragedies.
Grave of the Fireflies affected me at a personal level and I think it made me a better person. It will always have a place in my heart.
It's Whisper of the Heart. But It's kinda hard to say why exactly. It's just such a lovely story of two children & the dreams within themselves they have to discover together. But I seem to come back to Whisper a lot, I think It mostly just takes me back to a long lost childhood where life just seemed so much sweeter & mysterious. It's a shame we all have to grow up at some point. But it's lovely to be-able to go back to Whisper & remissness about my childhood days, even if it's only feelings deep. But that's the best way I can describe my feelings for this Animated Film I adore. Thanks for letting me share. : )
Princess Mononoke, for a few reasons.
It was my first Miyazaki as well as one of the first animes I ever saw. Excluding Pokemon and Teknoman which I saw before I really understood what anime was.
Beyond that though I still just kind of love the themes present, almost everyone in the story is just trying to do right by their home and their chosen extended family but it often ends in disaster. Ashitaka has his big damn hero moment minutes into the film, saves everything he loves but then is forced to leave it behind only to eventually find a new love and a new home. By the end of the film that home is also irreversibly changed from where he found his place, but this constant cycle isn't shown as a tragedy but rather a part of life... Creation and destruction, mistakes and struggles hopefully eventually creating something better.
Taking that further is the aspect of compromise, the stranger from no land who becomes part of both and the hopes that these two extremist sides can find some place in the middle. If only bipartisan politics worked the same way.
There's always been something comforting in those themes to me, whether it was deciding on a bit of a whim to move across the country... Even if 5 years later I ended up having to move back, or taking a rather unexpected job because I needed to.
Which is why I'll always think fondest of that film and why it will always be the first Miazaki I show to someone else.
I'd have to say Porco Rosso is my favorite Studio Ghibli film. There are a few reasons that it stands out amongst the rest.
Firstly, even though the locations that are depicted in the film are real places, the art style always makes the Adriatic Sea look like a fantasy landscape to me - sky and water than seem to go on forever, with the Hotel Adriano akin to an oasis in the desert.
Porco is my favorite Ghibli character, a classic 'hardass with a heart of gold' who still has flaws, evidenced by his continuing guilt over his cowardice at abandoning his comrades. I also like to think that, at the end, even if everybody else had forgiven him, he couldn't change back until he'd forgiven himself - a pretty heavy theme.
The ending is beautiful, I love that it leaves a lot of threads open to the audience. Miyazaki's love of flight and the planes themselves shines through every frame. I also think that it's a very romantic film in many ways, nostalgic for a time and place that no longer exists in the form the film presents - for reasons I don't know I'll ever be able to put into words it resonates with me. I guess sometimes it's nice to yearn for what feels to us like a simpler time and place, even if World War 1 was anything but.
I could go on and on, but I guess the overall themes that sticks with me every time I watch it are hope and forgiveness - hope that we can make a difference, if not to the world then to the people we care about, and that while it's important to seek the forgiveness of others, we also need to be able to let go of our own guilt, anger and fear otherwise we can't ever become a better person. Maybe that's just me - if you haven't seen it though, check the film out!
Last month, I watched Pom Poko.
My initial expectations were that it was a cute little family film full of friendly raccoons who got in to some disagreements and eventually sorted everything out amicably in the end. However, this was not the case.
Instead, I was subjected to a movie about these homicidal tanukis (raccoon dogs) with oversized testicles (seriously - it's part of their folklore!) who were torn between a state of apathy and a penchant for scaring/murdering the humans nearby destroying their habitat.
I was completely astounded. The raccoon dogs were characters with barely any positively portrayed traits and I was rooting for them to create more fear and destruction against the human race. These creatures had a transformation ability throughout the film, turning themselves in to whatever they wished - humans with no faces, giant ghosts and eerie spectral children. They made the humans' lives miserable through guerilla warfare without guns - scaring them to the point whereby the humans would stop ruining the area and leave (if temporarily). But due to their inherently lazy nature, the tanukis would just then sit back and chill until more humans showed up.
To be the honest, Pom Poko's ending reminded me of the Animals of Farthing Wood. I won't spoil the ending but rarely has a film shocked me completely by trashing my expectations but giving me pause for thought at the end on the advancement of urbanisation at the cost of animal life.
For these reasons, I love Pom Poko. And I doubt I'll ever see anything like it again.
Whilst Castle of Cagliostro was one of my formative anime experiences, Laputa: Castle in the Sky has become one of my ultimate favourite animated movies - not just my favourite Ghibli.
To me it represents the epitome of what makes Miyazaki's work so special; the strong-willed girl thrust to the forefront of the narrative, and her platonic relationship with the boy who must grow to be a man; the protections afforded each other and by their kin without a patronising knight in shining armour; the pastoral origins of the protagonists, in conflict with the post-industrial forces seeking to shape the world as their own; the misguided leverage borne of the treasures of dead civilizations, ultimately bringing about downfall to those who would fail to comprehend their historical significance... also relentless but endearing sky pirates who hold their own distinct neuroses and quirks of character, but will ultimately side with those who do good; understanding the values of inner strength and family, and the needs of the many in times of trouble.
The messages of ecology, family, and the disasters wrought of egotism in power are expressed in parallel to the events of the narrative; informing them without becoming overbearing (unlike the environmentalism of Nausicaa or Mononoke). The story is adapted from elsewhere, but spun into a unique form (whereas Spirited Away and Ponyo seemed a bit too Alice in Wonderland and Little Mermaid respectively). The art and design is also that special flavour of more European-styled steampunk affecting many Miyazaki classics, with an outstanding and catchy soundtrack to lend frame and pacing. The opening credits tell the history of the world so well without exposition, given its own style by which to build the world about to be revealed (the cinematographic ideals of which can be seen in the latter likes of Game of Thrones). My only real issue is that, despite all of this, it somehow ended up with one of the worst-case-scenario dubbing efforts I have ever encountered!
I sincerely recommend watching in the original Japanese with subtitles, and subsequently booing the English voice cast when they scroll over the ending.
Without a doubt, my favourite Ghibli release and Hayao Miyazaki movie is "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind", as it hints at a much larger world and a rich history beyond the scope of its own well told story. Like so many great works of fantasy fiction, such as "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings", "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" focuses in on just a handful of key characters as a means of showing the audience a much bigger picture. It is both personal and intimate, while at the same time being soaked in grand themes of mankind's control over nature and the nature of mankind. Gloriously original visuals and presentation, "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" inspired so many other artists and creators, and is not only my number one Ghibli release, but easily one of my favourite movies in general.
I don't have a favourite, because I have never seen any of them. DON'T JUDGE ME, JUST GIVE ME MOVIES SO I CAN FIX THIS!
Has to be Howl's Moving Castle for me. Brilliant cast of characters, amazing visuals and crazy story combine for a brilliant adventure.
Also, one morning, having watched the movie the day before, my 4 and a half year old daughter drew me the best HMC picture. https://twitter.com/drcurlytek/status/573922958189551617
Well, anyone who has ever read any of my posts wont need to ask that question :o)
Totoro, Totoro, TOTORO!!!!
Something about that movie just speaks to me, and Totoro himself...
He's so CUDDLY!!!!!!
No movie brings out my inner child more than Totoro and I cant wait to introduce my own children to the amazing world of Totoro and Ghibli :o) Getting married this Sunday, off to Japan for the Honeymoon, then who knows, maybe a new generation of Ghibli fans not long after :o)
(I swear right here and right now, if I ever own a mini-bus, Im so painting it as Catbus :o) )
I'll be posting links to pics on TAY of the Ghibli Museum next month as I'll be in Tokyo, and the Ghibli Museum, 15th May :o)
For me it has to be Spirited Away. Probably because it was the first of their movies that I saw. It opened my eyes to non-western animated movies, and was one I just wouldn't stop telling all of my friends about. It probably wasn't the intention, but it really struck a chord with me as my parents were going through a divorce, and I felt like I too was thrown into this entire new world of unknowns. Well.. I was never in the same car with both of my parents at the same time like the end of the movie, but hey, close enough.
Congrats to all the winners, and thanks to the hundreds of people who entered!