When Marnie Was There (in Japanese, “Omoide no Marnie”, or “Memories of Marnie”) has the distinction of not only being Studio Ghibli’s latest film, but as current plans stand, of also being their last theatrical film. I’ve watched most of Studio Ghibli’s films, and bidding them farewell is not an easy thing, but should we bid them goodbye, or are they still there for us? I feel that this film deals with that very question.
Before I begin my thematic discussion and analysis of the film, because this write-up will contain numerous spoilers, I’ll cut to the chase and say that this film is my 2nd favourite Studio Ghibli film from the last two decades, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. The film is directed by Yonebayashi Hiromasa who directed The Secret World of Arrietty and is based on a novel by the same name by Joan G. Robinson, first published in 1967, which is set in England.
While it might not seem so at first glance, I hold that When Marnie Was There is a film about growing up. Growing up is also growing past, and beyond this film being about Anna’s journey of growing past her own pains, it is also a film about us growing to leave Studio Ghibli, or at least Studio Ghibli as it is in Miyazaki’s films (as Takahata’s are different in style), behind. And in order to do so, the film that seems much less about the “magical journey”, is anything but.
(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be massive spoilers for the film.)
Well, this was supposed to go out Wednesday, of last week, but I’ve been busy with all sorts of things. I usually split these mid-season posts into “Great”, “Good”, etc., but since things aren’t really looking hot in that aspect, I’m just listing them by how much I like them. Anyway, if you’re thinking of what to pick up at this point into the season, and I hold 5-6 episodes in is exactly when you know whether a show’s worth picking up, welcome to my corner, where my Good Taste Opinions™ will be dispensed.
Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora:
The last arc really delivered on the tears.
Man, this show sure is delivering. Ushio is cool, Tora is becoming more dere and less tsun, and together they kick ass. We’re seeing some elements of old-fashioned machismo, but even if the way the girls had been grouped was a bit eh, and the delivery at the end ran a tad too long, it was not only fun, it was emotionally touching, and this show really knows how to deliver emotionally touching moments, though mostly by pressing pretty hard on the tear-ducts, but the last couple of episodes had delivered slow and long-awaited pay-off. I’m enjoying this episode every week.
Episodes Watched: 20/26. Current Rating:A-. Still not “special”, but a lot of fun, and emotional. This is what I’m looking for out of my shounonsense, though better animation would’ve been nice too.
I think before discussing the theme of the episode I’ll discuss a couple of timeline considerations, then the themes, then what I thought of the episode as a whole.
Timeline wise, this episode had given us the first time that Jiro is set against the Bureu, at year 44 (1969). This is also 4 years before episode 2 where Jiro saved Fuurota from the bug queen, and in this episode he wanted to say he’s not a child anymore, that he grew up – does he still see things as more black and white here? Or is it a result of this episode appearing later than episode 2, even if his personality here is more advanced, rather than less? There’s also the possibility of him being a child here, thinking he’s grown up because he doesn’t want to be treated as a child, and only later, when he’s truly grown up, he realizes how much more growing up he has to do.
This episode is set a month after the Kaiju incident, and involves the same antagonist. Is the Superhuman Bureau the “enemy” because they’re against superhumans, who are weapons of mass destruction (related to anti-war/anti-Atom sentiments of that era/Japan, or perhaps anti-American sentiments?), or is it because they’re kaiju lovers and they want to strike down the Superhuman Bureau who worked against them? It feels neither is true, especially as they make use of their own superhumans, there’s something else going on here, which might be related to how the Bureau is not all that it seems, or to the censorship it employs.
Last week I was busy. Thankfully, most episodes seem to have gone on in a manner that made talking about two episodes at once easier. Since I’m going to be very busy next week, the mid-season post will likely only appear next Friday.
As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst). It’s a bit less organized this time around, because it’s averaging two episodes’ worth of content, and not in any scientific manner.
1) Concrete Revolutio Episodes 4-5:
This series seems to have found its footing with episode 3. I can still see many people don’t and won’t like it, but in episode 3 it had shown what it wants to be about, and has been about it ever since, and also, well, more concrete, if you will forgive my pun. A two-parter, which continuing the theme of episode 3 is about our nature, about who we choose to be, rather than who we were born as. Kaiju, the great monsters of Japanese cinema, what are they here for? What are they to us? And especially to Jiro, and so we explore the questions of the monster within, media control, and tie it to the student revolts of the 1960s. It’s all about lies, and while the “theme” might appear to be with how those in power manipulate others, and even manipulate nature, it seems to all come down to the lies we’re willing to tell others whom we claim to love.
I had the May post in draft for a long while, then I’ve been busy since, so let’s have a several months’ worth of wrap-up again. Only books this time, cause writing it took far too long as is, and I’ve read so much recently that it deserves its own space.
The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi – This book had a better starting position than many other near-future sci-fi books I’ve read simply because the culture it describes is already “ever so slightly alien” to me in its present form. I don’t know a whole lot about many South-East Asian countries, let alone about their daily lives. Thai near-future sci-fi, food shortages, a bevvy of points of view. This was a well-written book. It wasn’t really about the sci-fi and more about the lived-in experience, which the book got across very well, including the rising tensions, the terror of riots, and other such “fun stuff”. It truly did feel like peering into another fully-formed culture. Though Thailand and not Vietnam, it did remind me of some media revolving around the Vietnam War, in terms of atmosphere, that tense “peace” at times.
Shirobako ended in the only way it could, and in the way its narrative arc had outlined from the beginning. Shirobako ended on an optimistic note, and I felt betrayed by it.
Since like many of the best pieces of media out there, Shirobako is about life, and since this post, as is the case with most of what people write, will hinge upon my personal experiencing of it, mediated through my own experiences, I will now get to do what bloggers the world over love doing: Write a bit about myself. Also, that sure was a long sentence.
I’m not an old person, but I definitely fall under the heading of “adult”, and am older than what the average anime-watcher in online communities is. I’ve served three years in the military, and between my B.A. and M.A. had the opportunity (and need) to work for several years, full-time. I’m no stranger to insufferable co-workers, implicit threats of physical violence, burdens heaped upon the capable until they buckle, unlistening leaders, and more. More-over, and this is the salient part, I came into workplaces expecting these things, so perhaps I gave them a larger place in my mental landscape than they objectively took up, but perhaps even that is a comfortable lie. I’m a cynical optimist, and this is relevant to my reaction to the show, and to much of anime’s storytelling in this regard.
(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that rose in my mind as a result of watching the show. There will be spoilers for the entire show.)
All the premieres are behind us, and I’m sort of fine with this season. Nothing is really exciting me yet, and most of the crap had been left behind. I’m still unsure about a bunch of the shows, but it’s not like there’s much else this season to pick up. Slim pickings, but I’m fine with what I’ve got.
As always, the list is ordered by how much I liked the episodes, combined with how good I thought they were, in a descending order (first is best, last is worst). Numbers in parentheses are change from last week.
1) Ushio to Tora / Ushio and Tora Episode 16 (+2):
Our super-cool heroes.
This was a pretty cool episode. It had Ushio being cool and saving everyone, and literally saying a man should come to the aid of crying women when he can, several times, which was a bit cloying, but there you have it with a middle-schooler (he’s literally chuuni) who was raised without his mother and told he should always act for the sake of the dead mother who’s watching over him. Anyway, we had cool action sequences, and self-sacrifices, and it was all gloriously shounonsense in the way I like best, with even the fanservice just sort of being there rather than being made a deal of, and Ushio and Tora being their usually cool self, and all the random monsters saying how great Ushio is.