When Marnie Was There – Farewell to Studio Ghibli

When Marnie Was There / Omoide no Marnie anime movie posterWhen 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.)

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Wolf Children Ame and Yuki – Sometimes It Isn’t Ghibli Time

Ookami no Kodomo Ame to Yuki / Wolf Children Ame and Yuki film posterWolf Children Ame and Yuki (Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki) is  beautiful movie by director Hosoda Mamoru, the director behind The Girl Who Leapt Back Through Time and Summer Wars, which are two other films that are worth watching. This movie is worth watching as well.
I am going to post spoilers about the movie from here on out, it’s just impossible for me to discuss it properly without going into spoilers right from the beginning. But long story short – movie is definitely worth watching.

The movie deals with nature a whole lot. The movie begins as the story of Hana, a young college student who meets a boy whom she discovers is a werewolf, they become a couple, have two kids, and then he dies. From then on out the story becomes Hana raising the children, and then the children’s lives, Hana’s life, and how they affect one another. The children are werewolves too. They don’t really go hulking man-wolf smash mode, but they can choose to be either in human form or in male form, for the most part.

The movie really does revolve about the relationship of its characters with nature; after being uanble to live in the city with the children who can’t control the shape they’re in, the costs, and other hardships, Hana takes the children to an abandoned house in a small rural town next to a mountain, and creates that as her home. Hana “Returns to nature” – she grows her own vegetables, she lives next to a mountain occupied by wildlife, she has to ride her bicycles for 30 minutes before encountering her neighbours, and other classic markings of such an act (it’s also the town where her husband the werewolf had been raised). Towards the end of the film she also joins the wildlife preservation group as a ranger, more or less.

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Spirited Away, A Children’s Tale.

Spirited Away

I know many people may find it hard to stomach, but I was far from impressed with Hayao Miyazaki‘s Spirited Away. Well, to be honest, while I’m a fan of Miyazaki’s films, his last several films have left me less than impressed (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo). I did enjoy Spirited Away slightly more on re-watching it.

 My problem with Spirited Away was quite simple, that it was a children’s story. Sure, a lot of Miyazaki’s films are aimed at a younger audience, or can be enjoyed by children and adults alike (such as how ten year olds whom I’ve known enjoyed the superb Princess Mononoke), but while I could enjoy My Neighbour Totoro for instance, which was unabashedly childlike but also charming, aside from its art, Spirited Away had left me both cold, and made me feel as if someone were paternalizing me.

This is a “Things I Like” post, and as such, it’s not a review per-se, but my thoughts on the series. Spoilers should come as no surprise, this post will have very small amount of spoilers.

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