Over the course of Studio Ghibli’s 35 years of movie-making, only seven of its theatrical releases have been directed by people other than the company’s co-founders, Hayao Miyazaki and the late Isao Takahata. While the eighth film of its kind, Earwig and the Witch directed by Miyazaki’s son Gorō, will be released later this year, this summer holds significance in the fact that its been 25 years since the first time such a project was released from the studio. That film is Whisper of the Heart. Continue reading “25 Years of Encouraging Dream Pursuits in ‘Whisper of the Heart’”
After months of anticipation, HBO Max has finally arrived. And while we’re still a year out from Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the latest entrant into the Streaming Wars has a lot to offer, and a few things to work out. Granted, it’s only been available for a few hours, but many of the bells and whistles promised during a WarnerMedia event in October — such as the ability to combine viewing profiles and celebrity-curated recommendations — were not ready at launch.
On this week’s Hard NOC Life, Dominic gets Keith through his very own “flu game” to score all the points on the week in Nerd Pop.
Originally posted at The Anime Complexium
Urbance is a dystopian animated series — complete with sex, drugs, and violence — against a gritty environment. This show has some stunning animation, coupled with its Japanese anime influences and trip-hop music, and comes together to create one trippy ride during the eight-minute Urbance pilot. Written and directed by Joel Dos Reis Viegas and Sebastian Larroude, with Studio Ghibli animator Hiroshi Shimizu, these three create a project that is all-inclusive.
It might be sad commentary that I get my breaking news from my Facebook news feed. I suspect the same is true for millions of others. Earlier this week, I was alarmed when several friends alerted me to an announcement by Studio Ghibli that they will be closing their production division.
Translation: no new Studio Ghibli animated magic.
This summer, When Marnie Was There, the first Studio Ghibli movie in the post-Miyazaki era, will be released in theaters across Japan. Not only will it be the first Ghibli film without the involvement of either studio founder — Miyazaki or Isao Takahata — it will also be the first one to feature an original theme song written entirely in English. (I guess the closest other one would be Whisper of the Heart and that movie’s Japanese cover of the John Denver classic, “Take Me Home, Country Road.”)
So who have they tapped to write this historic theme song? None other than Asian American singer-songwriter Priscilla Ahn.
Up until I was eight, my dad traveled frequently for work, often for weeks at a time. Once, after a long trip to Japan, he returned with a couple of animated movies on VHS: My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Even though I couldn’t understand the dialogue, I watched them repeatedly and reveled in the worlds created by Hayao Miyazaki.
I shared them with my friends and even rewound the cassettes to catch the trailer featuring a dreamy floating castle (I now know this trailer was for Laputa). The characters and art have stuck with me ever since. After three cross-country moves, I can still look to Kiki for support in being a young woman of color figuring out how to make it on her own.
In a conversation with an acquaintance about The Wind Rises, I told her I was already inclined to love it (and I did) because I was already a big fan of Porco Rosso. Miyazaki is a man in love with airplanes and through both movies he imparts that love to his viewers. Both films are reminders that the real magic (and really all Miyazaki movies do this) is not in the world but in your choices and in your will.
(Contains spoilers for The Wind Rises).
In 2008, a character with a two-syllable name captivated a then 4 year-old NOC-in-training as she watched a movie about a fish-girl, magic, friendship, and bringing balance to the world. Many would guess that I’m describing The Little Mermaid, or even the early stages of Avatar or The Legend of Korra. All are fair assessments, but in this case we are referring to the eighth film from the amazing Studio Ghibli: Ponyo.
Now, I have written before about my introduction to anime while growing up in Peru, but it is my brother Diego that is the expert in our family. I remember him saying that I had to watch Princess Mononoke and Spirited Way, but I never got around it. And it wasn’t until one day he came to our house determined to introduce me and his niece to the world of Miyazaki.
Among all the amazing animated movies Studio Ghibli has produced, Totoro continues to be my personal favorite for a few reasons. Aside from the mastery in design, animation, and story telling led by Miyazaki-sensei, My Neighbor Totoro brings me back to my own childhood every time I watch it.
Walking into Satsuki and Mei’s house felt like walking into a dream in real life. Due to countless Totoro screenings, the house seemed extremely familiar, as if I’ve been there before. Walking through it brought back favorite moments and chattering between the characters. Opening up their cabinets and unfolding their clothes felt slightly intrusive, but incredibly surreal. I was more than convinced that people lived there.
Out of all of the Hayao Miyazaki films I have known and loved, only one has remained my favorite over the years: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaä is famous for a number of reasons, not least of which is for being the film that more or less is the reason Studio Ghibli got off the ground, as its success led to the formation of the studio. It is also the first feature-length film that Miyazaki based on an original property, following his entry into the Lupin III series, The Castle of Cagliostro. In Nausicaä, several motifs and themes that would dominate Miyazaki’s work would be established: flying, an inclination toward pacifism and eco-consciousness, a strong female protagonist (and antagonist in the case of this film). All of these things would be featured repeatedly in Miyazaki’s films, but Nausicaä featured them first.
But the most curious thing about Nausicaä is how it has existed in the US. There have been three distinctly different portrayals of the property, each with their own quirks and interests, that have been given to American audiences, and it’s worth examining what each of them represent.
Around 1987 or ’88, I was in junior high and in a funny stasis where my nerd creativity was beginning to grow out of my bookishness (I routinely wrote awful Dungeons and Dragons-type short stories) but before I collided head first into confronting issues like race, violence, and poverty that was all around my world and in my school (I had no idea that my misplacements in advanced math and ESL had to do with my race). Add this to adolescent hormones and — well, to keep it short, it was rough on many different levels.
For whatever reason, one of our shop class teachers wheeled a TV and VCR into class one day and decided to show us a movie called Warriors of the Wind. Some of my friends were absolutely crazy about it. I thought it was cool, but honestly, I didn’t get it.
[Ed. Note: Two Februarys ago, the artist Martin Hsu made a pilgrimage to the famed Ghibli museum outside Tokyo. Since it’s Miyazaki Week, I asked Martin if we could republish the recap of his visit here. So enjoy! —KC]
As a self- proclaimed Studio Ghibli nut, the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo has got to be one of my favorite places in the world. It’s a magical and heartfelt place anyone can enjoy even if you don’t believe in Totoro.
Unlike the usual commercialized theme parks which are built upon revenue, the Ghibli Museum clearly stays true to the visions of Miyazaki-sensei with the sole purpose to inspire, educate, and entertain. The scale of the museum would not be considered large according to traditional standards, but every panel of the wooden floor, every curve of the craftsman metal, and every piece of the stained glass windows is made and placed with precision, intention, and lots of love. It’s very much a reflection of Studio Ghibli films.
Yeah, I said it.
Look, like any good nerd, I normally prefer watching a foreign movie as it was originally intended. When Disney scours Hollywood for top-level talent to overdub their vast catalog of Studio Ghibli titles, I’m not their target audience. And unlike most Americans, I actually don’t mind reading my movies if subtitles are required.
But let me get back to my original point. Of all the Miyazaki movies that have been dubbed in English, I believe Howl’s Moving Castle is the only one that works. Before I get into that, though, I want to talk about what’s wrong with dubbing foreign movies in the first place.
Hayao Miyazaki’s most recent film The Wind Rises was finally released in the U.S. over the weekend. Earning an estimated $306,000 from 21 theaters, Miyazaki’s final Oscar-nominated film has prompted the Nerds to reminisce about some of their favorite Studio Ghibli movies.
So all week, we’ll be hearing from many of the Nerds as they share memories about the movies that affected them the most.
In the meantime, you can get started by checking out some of our past Miyazaki coverage from recent months.
I found the pattern for free on Ravelry. For the stitches I didn’t know how to do, I looked up how-to videos on YouTube, i.e, how to do knit with two colors and decreasing stitches. The pattern was easy once I figured it out: knit stitch (no purls), following the pattern around four times, and then changing over to double-pointed needles for the decreases. You can see the Totoros along the bottom, and above them, the sootballs. Add a puffball at the top, and I had a Totoro hat. Not bad for someone who’s only been knitting for a couple of years now.
My grandmother knits, but I never had the patience to do the large afghans and blankets that she loves to do. It was only when we moved to Wisconsin that I discovered that hats and gloves and scarves are a given up here. I got a Stitch and Bitch book as a Christmas present and thought, well, why not. So far, I’ve knitted scarves, fingerless gloves, and a sort of shawl which could be a poor excuse for a Snuggie. But this was my very first hat, and I’m proud it turned out well.
But that’s not what this post is really about.