Author Topic: Studio Ghibli  (Read 9044 times)

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Lottery

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Studio Ghibli
« on: April 08, 2014, 12:06:42 AM »
+6
So I really, really, really dig Studio Ghibli.

In the past, I was mainly a Pixar dude. But my brother said a few months back that he thinks Ghibli is better than Pixar, I think I've shared that feeling that way for the past year or so as well.

Anyway, Ghibli. Home of masterful animation and enchanting stories. Founded by director Isao Takahata, producer Toshio Suzuki and director Hayao Miyazaki. While Miyazaki is often praised as the single godlike face of Ghibli, the studio wouldn't be anywhere without the other two either. Ghibli has had about 7 feature directors on their stuff. 4 recurring, 3 one-timers (though the late Yoshifumi Kondo had signed for another before he died). An incredibly hard-working team based on pure integrity and imagination.

At this stage I only have The Cat Returns, The Wind Rises, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya left to watch. For the ones I have seen, I'll give them rough rankings and provide quick, poorly-written blurbs. I know there are a few Ghibli fans here and it would be cool to see some opinions and lists. I'm including Nausicca too. So this list is loosely ranked because I feel so strongly about them at different times. Really, a lot of it is interchangeable.

Also, before you read this, you should realise this is just me heaping on praise for a thousand words.

1. Princess Mononoke
An epic adventure which draws heavily from old Japan and forges its own mythical identity, which remains unmatched in quality and depth. A number of interesting and likable characters are present (except San maybe), especially Lady Eboshi who is arguably one of the most complex characters in the Ghibli Canon. The finest action-adventure there is.

2. Spirited Away
An enchanting folk fairytale, beautifully created. Absolutely delightful. A typically fantastic score by Joe Hisaishi. Brimming with originality. Hyperbole, hyperbole. This one scores high points on its setting alone. Like other Ghibli films, it features a young female protagonist coming to terms with the events around her as well as her own nature. There have been few film worlds rendered with such individuality and visual brilliance as Spirited Away.

3. Porco Rosso
Lean and fun. While it features the typical Miyazaki charm, Porco Rosso features more serious thematic power to it than it first appears. While Porco is a cool badass, his character is informed by some serious happenings. The ring of pilots sequence maybe one of the most powerful moments in a Ghibli film. It features all the classic hallmarks of Ghibli films and can be experienced as pure entertainment or something deeper.

4. My Neighbours the Yamadas
My personal favourite from Isao Takahata. Different from other Ghibli works, it does not follow a typical plot, it explores middle-class Japanese family life in the form of vignettes. Sharp and very funny, it really puts across the absurdity and wonder of family life. A fantastic selection of characters. Like most of Takahata's works, the whole spectrum of emotion is felt throughout the experience. It's one of the most visually different and gorgeous Ghibli films.

5.  Kiki's Delivery Service
A charming and heartwarming film about a young witch finding herself. There is no antagonist, no opposing force to the main character. It's just about self-discovery. This is another Miyazaki work where one simply just falls in love with the setting. There is just something so warm and loving about this film.

6. Howl's Moving Castle
Pure over-the-top Ghibli magic which is endlessly entertaining. The writing doesn't maintain its high quality towards the end but it doesn't even matter much as the execution is so superb and sincere. The English dub for this one is fantastic. Miyazaki at his most extravagant.

7. Only Yesterday
One of Takahata's adult dramas. A film that feels so real and honest. There's a sad sense of nostalgia throughout the film- the sense of a confusing and disconnected childhood or the feeling of looking back on the happy moments from so long ago. Also present is the uncertainty and confusion of adult life. The back and forth between the protagonist's present day life and her childhood past works well, especially with the distinction between art styles (ultra-realistic for present day and slightly stylised and washed out for the past). A sensitive and beautiful film.

8. Castle in the Sky
An ultra-compelling action adventure which features a great blend of humour and intense action. One of the few Ghibli films with a conventional antagonist. Fantastically structured and paced. Another great show of world-building as well, from the small towns etched into cliff-sides to Laputa itself.

9. Grave of the Fireflies
The most sombre and serious of Ghibli's films. Takahata claims that it isn't an anti-war film but the effect is undeniable. It's difficult to watch the despair and death these children face as their relationship and their actions are rendered with such a sense of truth and reality. Seeing the spirits of the children bathed in the red glow may be one of the most haunting things I've ever seen on screen.

10.  My Neighbour Totoro
A delightful film speaks for Ghibli as a brand and as an idea better than any other. Another Ghibli film where the drama is light or mostly amps up near the end. Much of enjoyment is felt in exploring and feeling the environment that is portrayed which such love and detail. Lovely characters and a pleasant setting. It actually improves on subsequent viewings. Great atmosphere, aided both by the art and Hisaishi's great score.

11.  From Up on Poppy Hill
Goro Miyazaki proves that he is a worthy successor to masters Miyazaki and Takahata by delivering his post-war drama From Up on Poppy Hill. The film is done in a formal style, full of restraint and elegance- somewhat like Ozu's work (I'm pretty sure I saw some pillow shots too!). The story takes a surprising twist at the midpoint which puts the relationship of the two main characters into question but the film resolves itself in a mostly satisfying way. This film makes me excited about the future of Goro Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

12.  The Wind Rises
Hayao Miyazaki's final feature film, a meaningful and mature addition to the Ghibli canon. The film brings together many of Miyazaki's interests as well as aspects of his personal life, to create a film which feels original and touching. There is a sort of finality to the work but also a sense of hope, the urge to continue living, an idea which is central to the film. The film, while decidedly taking on a different approach to Miyazaki's earlier works, still feels distinctly Miyazaki. He even manages to incorporate a fantastical element to the film, which in no way detracts from the straightforward realism. Above all, I admire the way the film evolves into a true love story, because it feels heartfelt and it's handled differently to all other Ghibli films. I don't think Miyazaki could have finished his career with a more appropriate film.

13. Whisper of the Heart
The only directorial effort by Ghibli veteran Yoshifumi Kondo, who unfortunately died 3 years after its release. Whisper of the Heart is a drama which stays rooted in reality but the story itself is wonderful. The protagonist of the film is unique and prone to self-doubt, leading her to be quite an interesting central figure. The film features that typical Ghibli pleasantness which makes the actual emotional nature of the film even more powerful. There is a romantic element film to this film but it does not take the main stage as it focuses its attention on other ideas such as the will to prove oneself and the need to find an identity, making it a thematically rich feature. John Denver makes things a little awkward though.

14. Ponyo
Arguably the cutest Ghibli film. Pure entertainment that presents its themes at a kid-friendly level. The rise in drama isn’t entirely compelling but the focus on the colourful characters and the story-world is largely appealing. Visually stunning.

15. Pom Poko
Takahata's foray into fantasy, something more commonly associated with Miyazaki's works. Despite its superficially happy styling, this one has some dark themes and implications to it. In terms of the fantastic, it's clear that Takahata can stand up to Miyazaki. There's a central sequence in this film which is almost absurd with how brilliant it is, easily one of the best Ghibli fantasy sequences. This, like all of Takahata's films, demonstrates his range and willingness to experiment- he takes far greater risks than Miyazaki. The story is told in a fairly interesting manner, the sense of community to the events and the focus on a number of different characters makes it distinct. It's also the most bizarre Ghibli work, you won't see more magic scrotums in any other animated film.

16. Nausicaa of the Valley of The Wind
Solid action fare. A favourite of most Ghibli fans but I think Miyazaki has greatly surpassed this film- heck, he surpassed it on his next project (Castle in the Sky). Miyazaki was already accomplished by this stage but I feel he was still a little undeveloped here. This is a serious work and it shows the beginnings of 'True Ghibli Miyazaki'. Almost seems like this could share the same universe as Castle in the Sky. Though I have not read it myself, I hear the Manga is the more accomplished version of the story.

17. Ocean Waves
This is probably the most unheard of Ghibli film. Made for TV by Ghibli's younger staff, it's a short drama focussed on a few highschool students. It’s a surprisingly mature effort, I wish it could have been longer. It really depicts how confusing love can be and how we can't even understand how we truly see and feel about people. Probably the most grounded of Ghibli's work. The visual style is realistic, light and appealing and it is complemented by a unique soundtrack. People are complicated.

18. The Secret World of Arrietty
Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s first directorial effort. Visually perfect. A somewhat weak screenplay by Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa but it's interesting enough. It's very clear that Yonebayashi could do something incredible with a stronger, more daring script supporting him. A modest but enjoyable adventure.

19. Tales of Earthsea
Goro Miyazaki's first attempt at the directing job without any prior experience. It almost works. There is no doubting the level of quality in the craft but the film becomes rather disengaging as it continues. It's disappointing, as the early parts of the journey are greatly intriguing. It hints at a stunning world and a grand adventure but for half of the film we're bogged down at a farm and a grey castle. The characters aren't particularly interesting and the protagonist is a very, very confused and confusing lad. Far too on the nose at times.


I'll be updating this thread with all Ghibli-related stuff except trivial lame merch (unless it's really, really cool).



-add Kaguya atsp.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2015, 01:09:59 AM by Lottery »

N

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2014, 10:13:02 AM »
+2
7. Only Yesterday
One of Takahata's adult dramas. A film that feels so real and honest. There's a sad sense of nostalgia throughout the film- the sense of a confusing and disconnected childhood or the feeling of looking back on the happy moments from so long ago. Also present is the uncertainty and confusion of adult life. The back and forth between the protagonist's present day life and her childhood past works well, especially with the distinction between art styles (ultra-realistic for present day and slightly stylised and washed out for the past). A sensitive and beautiful film.

Spoilers

I just finished this now, your description is fantastic. I'm about to commence gushing.

The film's structure works perfectly. You can barely recognize 10-year old Taeko in her grown up face. I'd love to say more about this but the words aren't coming tonight, I'll sleep on it.
The transitions, along with the art style create a vivid sense of nostalgia. This reminds me of Koreeda's Still Walking in that respect. They differ in context, but the themes certainly overlap. Still Walking builds a touching story and it's sense of nostalgia around the subsequent effects of a past tragedy over time. On the other hand, Only Yesterday has no tragedy other than time itself. That may be incorrect and it definitely doesn't do justice to the films, feel free to correct me if I'm completely wrong.

The characters are so human it feels like you've known them all your life. I found myself actually becoming emotionally attached to them, which is a rare thing for me. It could take me days of writing to find the right words to describe Only Yesterday so I'll keep the primitive analysis as short as I can. The ending was incredibly sweet, which reminds me of another film you could compare it with: Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress, particularly in regards to it's handling of time.

Glad you made this thread, I'll be stopping by to discuss others that I watch/have watched in the future, unless I die or something.
Thanks.

tldr;
I really enjoyed Only Yesterday.

Lottery

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2014, 11:03:24 AM »
+2
Good, good. They've got an extraordinary catalogue which is most certainly worth checking out. Have you seen any others?

I do like what you mentioned about time in regards to both this and the Kon film. The unavoidable catalyst.

There such a strong sense of 'direction' and 'filmmaking' in Only Yesterday. It's entirely natural but I think it really makes Takahata stand out as strictly a 'director' unlike Miyazaki, the animator/director auteur. It's hard to describe but the film is so distinct and emotionally resonant, played out in Takahta's sense of human logic. There are some creative ideas and flourishes in the film which just seem so 'spot on' in that moment. The movie is based on a manga but it was actually Takahata's idea to have the entire adult Taeko aspect. It's hard to imagine the story without that dual-structure, there would be no point really.

Also, the film has one of the best main themes ever.


A little pissed off because a while ago I watched a making of documentary thing for this film and I can't find it (streaming) with English subs anymore. It was really interesting, it went on to discuss more than the film. Stuff about early Ghibli as well the curious working relationship between Miyazaki and Takahata (it's actually really fascinating, in this particular instance they don't talk to each other during production even though they're working on the same film- which is reflected in Goro Miyazaki's and his father's working relationship on From Up on Poppy Hill).
Anyway, Spanish subs here. Still an interesting watch.




Lottery

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2014, 07:15:57 PM »
+1
What's always cool about the Ghibli Museum is that they don't just have a focus on past films (indeed, Miyazai's intent for the place includes "Not a procession of artwork from past Ghibli films as if it were "a museum of the past") but they always have cool new concepts and ideas. Accompanied by, of course, brilliant art.

Anyway, the new exhibit at the Museum now is "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" Exhibit. Great promo art.



http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2014/04/05/studio-ghibli-museum-introduces-the-nutcracker-and-the-mouse-king-exhibit

A bit of background:
Quote
...I worried that Miyazaki had soured completely on fantasy so his next words came as both a relief and a revelation. "As a matter of fact," he said "I spent all New Years holiday reading The Tales of Hoffman."Apparently, Miyazaki had become fascinated by Tchaikovsky' s Nutcracker Ballet, especially the weird and enticing image of the nutcracker itself, a doll that metamorphoses from a small wooden plaything to a human size soldier and finally into a handsome prince. Inspired by the ballet, he had gone back to the original source, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,written by E.T.A. Hoffman, the nineteenth century German writer known for his vivid and frightening fantasies.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-j-napier/interviewing-hayao-miyaza_b_4602791.html

Lottery

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2014, 07:17:07 PM »
+4
Might as well post these too, Ghibli's new year's cards. Drawn by Miyazaki (usually if not always?).










Lottery

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2014, 08:09:56 PM »
+1

Goro Miyazaki's future at Ghibli



I believe that if Goro Miyazaki perseveres, he really might stand out as a major force in animation. Someone needs to take the effort to do something different at Ghibli because Hiromasa Yonebayashi seems to be following Hayao Miyazaki- and with Takahata approaching the end of his career, there really needs to be a lot of variety at the studio, that's always been one of their strengths (the West isn't entirely aware of this). Goro has that TV show coming soon which will be a further look at his developing style but a new feature film would be really welcome. And assuming if it hasn't been cancelled in the last two years, Goro should be working on a samurai film set in the Tohoku region of feudal Japan. That sounds pretty awesome.
For some reason, I'm pretty willing to put my money on Goro. Recently in some poll in Japan, he was voted most promising animation director by a huge margin, which really surprised me.

If Yonebayashi becomes the next H Miyazaki, then Goro must become the next Takahata to keep the balance. Ideally, they should present themselves as unique an interesting filmmakers while still maintaining the values and level of quality as their predecessors.


Here's some stuff to drool over, some of Goro's work on a Ghibli exhibit. He wanted to make a film based on these ideas at some point.
Quote
4th of April, A SPECIAL ON MIYAZAKI GORO'S "ROJOU NO HITO" AND "TEIKA TO CHOMEI": It has been a while having last heard of Miyazaki Goro, director of Gedo Senki, former managing director of Ghibli Museum and son of Miyazaki Hayao. Reason enough for a special looking back at some of his recent works, the first being Ghibli Museum's special Rojou no Hito exhibition which will end this coming Monday.

Rojou no Hito exhibition - Some time ago Studio Ghibli had an exhibition called Hotta Yoshie Ten: The Troublous Time Depicted by Ghibli. Its first part was the introduction of Hotta with his notebooks, handwritings and so on and it was followed with a second part exhibited by Studio Ghibli which was titled Trying to make a plan on filming Hotta's work. Numerous image boards were made and displayed and one of its themes was Rojou no Hito (A Person on the Road) which has been given a special exhibition at Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.

Rojou no Hito follows its main character Yona De Lotta, a vagabond who lived in Europe's early 13th century. Before nations were formed Yona traveled around Europe earning his living as a servant of knights, monks and traveling entertainers. During his traveling, he saw lots of things like poverty, bandits, the church's irreducibility, apostate priests, pure devotions, heretics, the brutality of the crusade and so on and so on. Seeing them made Yona think "Why?" and in that sense Yona, who watched the facts from the street, was just like Hotta and his way of life. A person on the road who questioned the livings of the people who lived in these troublous times.

Miyazaki Goro and some of the Ghibli staff depicted a chaotic Europe from the Middle Ages, resulting in an exhibition with 79 imageboards and 6 artboards that show Ghibli's wish of Hotta's work needed to be read more often as nowadays we too are living in a troublous time.

A project plan for Teika and Chomei by Miyazaki Goro - "Studio Ghibli depicting the world of Hotta's work." That was the assignment given to me in this exhibition. But how? Ghibli is an animation studio. So how would it be if we would make his work into animation? We thought of making a plan & imageboards out of it as a thing we could do and so all of that incarnated as this exhibition. In other words, this exhibition is the preparation-of-the-preparation for filming Hotta's work.

Hotta made his works from a point of view that looks down the world beyond ages or borders. I tried to make a plan of filming his representative works Houjouki Shiki and Teika Meigetsuki Shisyou which depict Japan's troublous times at the end of the Heian era in which the social system changed from aristocracy to warrior rules. Another work was Rojou no Hito, which depicts the inquisition in Europe in the same age. I thought these tries could express his world-view.

Houjouki Shiki's Kamono Chomei and Teika Meigetsuki Shisyou's Fujiwara Teika belonged to the same generation and lived in Kyoto during the same time. However, their origins were different. Chomei lived on the border of nobles and normal people, like a part-time worker in modern word. On the other hand, Teika was an aristocrat, although bottom rank. Chomei had a journalistic sense and was curious about everything, while Teika had a pure stance on literature. Perhaps Hotta shared common characteristics with the both of them.

Chomei wanted to be a witness to the world. Teika only lived in his internal world, ignoring the Taira-Minamoto War. The difference between the points of view of the two will decide the ways in their subsequent lives. The main characters are no marked young men and hadn't gotten fame yet. During a period of 100 days they see many natural disasters and man-made disasters. The difference of what they experience and consider would become the difference of their way of lives. Assuming so I tried to make a story by mixing fictions. In short, that is the project plan for the movie about Chomei and Teika.

Hotta used to create his works in a way like this. He saw common things in a world and age different to that of his own. And that point of view I emulated. Even if it was 800 years ago, people had the same usual days, problems and emotions. The same things are common nowadays. They too had worthwhile lives. I hope I could create a film plan that is able to tell that. And I hope some day I can produce a real animation of Teika and Chomei, because I believe we will surely need Hotta's point of view in the days ahead of us.







I mean seriously? How goddamn awesome does that art look? This could make for an amazing historical drama or two.
If one checks IMDB it shows that Goro has a film, Hôjôkishiki, in pre-production, based on the works of Yoshie Hotta with Yoshiaki Nishimura in the producer role (Toshio Suzuki's succesor). Exciting stuff.

Also, a trailer for Goro's second film.


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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2014, 09:24:00 AM »
+1
shit, there's a bunch of these titles I haven't seen. Thanks!

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2014, 04:15:03 PM »
0
Good, good. They've got an extraordinary catalogue which is most certainly worth checking out. Have you seen any others?

I do like what you mentioned about time in regards to both this and the Kon film. The unavoidable catalyst.

There such a strong sense of 'direction' and 'filmmaking' in Only Yesterday. It's entirely natural but I think it really makes Takahata stand out as strictly a 'director' unlike Miyazaki, the animator/director auteur. It's hard to describe but the film is so distinct and emotionally resonant, played out in Takahta's sense of human logic. There are some creative ideas and flourishes in the film which just seem so 'spot on' in that moment. The movie is based on a manga but it was actually Takahata's idea to have the entire adult Taeko aspect. It's hard to imagine the story without that dual-structure, there would be no point really.

I've seen Mononoke Hime   Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. Both great films, I lean a little more in the direction of Spirited Away, Mononoke was difficult to understand at the time I saw it. I might watch it again sometime. Right now I'm dying to see Totoro.

In hindsight, mentioning Still Walking was quite arbitrary, I don't think I explained the connection I made very well at all.
They're both very pretty. Human movies.

A little pissed off because a while ago I watched a making of documentary thing for this film and I can't find it (streaming) with English subs anymore. It was really interesting, it went on to discuss more than the film. Stuff about early Ghibli as well the curious working relationship between Miyazaki and Takahata (it's actually really fascinating, in this particular instance they don't talk to each other during production even though they're working on the same film- which is reflected in Goro Miyazaki's and his father's working relationship on From Up on Poppy Hill).

If I knew Spanish I'd very much enjoy this. I'll keep my eyes out.

Lottery

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2014, 11:25:38 PM »
0
I assume these are the first images from Hiromasa Yonebayashi's upcoming film 'When Marnie Was There'





First promo image:

Lottery

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2014, 02:02:22 AM »
+1
Major update to the Marnie site:

So it will premiere on July 19, 2014.

Cast of characters:
http://marnie.jp/character/index.html

Anna


Marnie


Yoriko


Kiyomasa (played by Susumu Terajima!)


Setsu


Elderly Lady


Nanny


Hisako


More actual character/plot related info here but I didn't really look:
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2014-05-28/nanako-matsushima-joins-ghibli-when-marnie-was-there-cast/.74973

Poster designed by director Hiromasa Yonebayashi:


No trailer though.

Also, there was some sort of mission statement/viewer message from Yonebayashi that got mangled in google translate going from Japanese to English.

But I think the gist of it was:
Quote
A few years ago, Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki handed me a copy of When Marnie Was There, a classic masterpiece of British children's literature, a book also recommended by Hayao Miyazaki. Suzuki suggested that I adapt it.

I was impressed by the book but I was concerned that the content would be difficult to translate into an animated film. The best parts of the book was the interaction and discussion between Marnie and Anna. I did not have confidence in how I could animate that and make it interesting.

However there was an image that remained in my head ever since I read it: In the backyard of the stone house facing the beautiful wetlands, Marnie and Anna hold hands and waltz in the moonlight. The scene served as my inspiration for creating the film.

The story is set in Hokkaido. Marnie is a mysterious character while Anna is filled with suffering and sadness.

After the works by the two masters "The Wind Rises" and "The Story of Princess Kaguya", I wanted to make another Ghibli film for children. I wanted to make a gentle film.




Okay, so I left a few bits out and I probably misinterpreted what Google translate was trying to tell me but whatever.
 
But what's interesting, this film pretty much got made the same way most Ghibli films get made, which is Toshio Suzuki badgering the director until they give in.

Suzuki: Hey, you should totally direct this.
Miyazaki: Nah, I'm right.
Suzuki: Oh come on.
Miyazaki: Nah.
Suzuki: Cooomee onnnnn-
Miayzaki: Jesus, fine.

Lottery

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2014, 11:34:46 PM »
+2
Mixed-topic rambling, primarily focussed on From Up on Poppy Hill, adaptations and Ghibli's new generation:



Was watching From Up On Poppy Hill again the other day. Such an enjoyable little film. It's probably my favourite film from the new generation of directors at Ghibli (but we'll see how good Marnie is). One thing I noticed is that all the new generation films have been adaptations so far. Luckily, in the typical Ghibli way, they've really made use of artistic license. Out of the total number of Ghibli films, there's been about 12 adaptations and that's excluding adaptations of Miyazaki's own manga. I think Arrietty suffered in a way because of possible story restrictions and Miyazaki and Niwa's screenplay wasn't particularly great. Marnie will be important because Miyazaki isn't working on the script (but Keiko Niwa is), whatever Goro Miyazaki's next film may be even more important because it will be based on Old Man Miyazaki's samurai manga but the actual screenplay might not involve him. I feel it's crucial that both Goro and Hiromasa Yonebayashi get to work on 'original Ghibli' projects in the future.

Anyway, From Up on Poppy Hill is one of those Ghibli films which is useful in demonstrating the variety of Ghibli's output. The critical reception to this film was significantly better than the response to Tales of Earthsea, but Western audiences still bitched and moaned about the lack of flying witches, forest spirits and like. This film has something that Earthsea noticeably lacked: charm and warmth. Dear God, Earthsea was so lacking charm. From Up on Poppy Hill is so fantastically nostalgic and far lighter than Earthsea. I find that a film like this could end up looking bland but the director manages to give the setting and atmosphere a unique identity. All the four Ghibli school-age dramas feel distinct thankfully (especially Ocean Waves, that's definitely a unique one). Poppy Hill is a bit like colour-era Ozu, obviously a bit more animated and faster moving but I see the similarities. This film is a lot more funnier than Earthsea as well, which was grim as hell. One of the things this film absolutely nails is the balance between the comedy and drama. It's a drama at heart but it's not totally weighed down by the conflicts. I posted those storyboards and concept art by Goro a while ago and they look pretty damn serious. Goro is currently working on a children's TV series, perhaps to work away the evil personal juju in his life or whatever but if his Yoshie Hotta film ever gets made, it could be one of the darkest things Ghibli has ever done. What I'm interested in is the emergence of directorial style. Goro's two films are on opposite sides of the spectrum, and Yonebayashi's are light fantasies. I've mentioned this before but Yonebayashi has taken on Miyazaki's role as the animator-director while Goro seems to be the Takahata, the pure director (Goro can draw rather well but they both have limited actual animation skills). It makes you wonder how they'll continue on in the future. Once again, this is why Marnie is important- on Arrietty, Yonebayashi was rather subservient to Miyazaki's thematic approaches and ideas, on Marnie, he is one of three writers (damn, I really sound like I'm underestimating his input but that's just the impression I got from a couple of interviews).

To be entirely honest, my predictions and analyses are ultimately lacking because I think I'm missing a fair bit of information. I have done my research and own thinking but I've had to scrape together info from so many sources, a bunch of them untranslated. I do plan on writing more stupid little rambles like this- possible topics: the Miyazaki father and son conflict, Takahata's directorial genius and artistic variety, the unique enigma that is Ocean Waves- but I think there's so much important and interesting information yet to be unearthed.
I shall direct webtravellers here:
http://ghiblicon.blogspot.com.au/
Probably the best source of Ghibli info but dude doesn't really update anymore, but there's a wealth of fantastic stuff here, he really knows his stuff.

Back to Poppy Hill- I need to get my hands on the GKIDS Blu-Ray which apparently is awesome and has a load of great special features. Part of the Blu-Ray release includes essays from both Miyazakis. I watched an untranslated documentary about the making of the film and it was pretty fascinating. Had scenes where Miyazaki comes into the director/planning office, busting everyone's balls and offering suggestions while kind of ignoring Goro (there is a cute candy sharing moment, cute for those anyway). These actions were referenced in an interview with Goro where he said that he grudgingly accepted the suggestions because he knows that his father is right. I keep forgetting to do so but I will be doing be comprehensive(ish) write-up on their relationship in the future because it is really rather intriguing.

I just found a link to the making of:
http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDEzMTgzNDg4.html
This place has a few good (untranslated) Gibli vids. There's supposed to be a translated version of the Poppy Hill one somewhere.

A few cool shots from the film.





Lottery

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2014, 09:57:43 AM »
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(l-r, old man Miyazaki, old man Suzuki, old man Takahata)

I watched The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness the other night and it was one of the more enjoyable things I watched this year.

It doesn't stray too far from the 'follow Miyazaki while he works and complains about everything' formula but it's definitely one of the better Ghibli documentaries. It does give a lot more attention to other studio happenings and Toshio Suzuki, who is so evidently the hero of the Ghibli outfit. Like the place wouldn't function without him, Yoshiaki Nishimura has big shoes to fill but luckily he cut his teeth on a typically overbudget and overdue Takahata feature for his debut production (there is a funny part where he says he's only dreamed about Takahata for three years). While on the topic of Takahata, there's a startling lack of him in the film- there is a rather large amount of the film dedicated to the man, talking about his frustrating work-habits, his brilliance, his leadership etc but I would have loved to have seen him in action. It really goes to show how separate Miyazaki and Takahata need to be with their work as Takahata made use of a separate building complex to work on his film (also double features obviously means more staff). Though it kinda makes me wish this was a two-part documentary, with the second part focussing on Takahata.

Regarding the future of the studio, concerns are raised in a number of aspects. The integrity of the studio seems vital, with Suzuki and Miyazaki discussing impending censorship and then subsequently doing whatever they feel. Miyazaki makes it clear that he thinks the studio is going to fall apart and die in the coming years. Hiromasa Yonebayashi is shown clearly like literally once near the end of the film sitting in Miyazaki's workstation which seems oddly symbolic (I imagine he's starting Marnie in that scene). There are two appearances of Goro Miyazaki. Once near the end, working on sketches and layout (new feature?!). The other appearance being a very tense and odd scene where he, Suzuki and another producer are discussing a new project (I assume the new TV show), Goro appears very displeased with conditions and comments on his loyalty to the studio and his reasons for being a filmmaker- Suzuki interjects with how he forced Miyazkai and Takahata into making films. But because we know that the TV show is going to air this August, Goro reconsidered the offer. No one looks particularly pleased in this scene.

As Miyazaki is the focus of the documentary, we see him spending half his time working on The Wind Rises and the other half despising humanity. He's such a contradiction. One moment he's grinning, being all grandfatherly to kids and the next he's saying how everything is doomed, how there's no hope for the future etc it's like all his wonder and joy goes into his movies as he comes off as remarkably pessimistic and nihilistic at times. And then he laughs. There are some great moments from the man though. A lot of this I'm already aware of but he seems to becoming more and more of this sort of character as he gets older (the dude in the Only Yesterday behind-the-scenes is still the workaholic Miyazaki but much less pessimistic). Miyazaki's comments on Takahata are fascinating, they have such an interesting relationship. Miyazaki apparently mentions the T-man at least once a day and he alternates between heaping praise and abusing him. I recently read a great interview where he calls Takahata lazy while Takahata replies by saying that Miyazaki is far too dilligent.

At the end of it all, what becomes clear is that Ghibli is an incredible place but also an anomaly, that The Wind Rises is a deeply personal film for Miyazaki, that why can't Takahata-san hurry up and finish the goddamn movie?!!?, that Toshio Suzuki is a pretty great guy and that Miyazaki is an eternally conflicted genius. Also Ghibli is definitely a smoking zone. Jesus, those people like to smoke.

Anyway, lots of great content in the documentary, none of it particularly new to me but thankfully it's in greater depth that usual. It made me smile. Good stuff.

EDIT:

Just worth mentioning that one of the best scenes in the doc is them deciding to pick Hideako Anno for the main role. Just how their opinion develops on the idea of having Anno in the lead voice acting role, it's so fantastic.

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2014, 09:10:22 AM »
+1

I am so happy Miyazaki made the Wind Rises. It's a beautiful film. Never has he made a work so personal and heartfelt.
In a way this feels truer than all his other films- since Porco Rosso anyway. Interestingly, he states that this film and Porco Rosso were foolish pursuits- his only two films not made for children. And perhaps he is opposed to the creation of these works because he's so close to the subject matter. Miyazaki, a pacifist who experienced his early life during WW2, has spent his entire life being obsessed with flight and aviation. In The Wind Rises, he brings together so many aspects of his life and makes something worthwhile of it. He even managed to incorporate his desire to create a film about the great Kanto Earthquake into this. It makes so much sense for this film to be his final film, producer Toshio Suzuki with his powers of persuasion and premonition must have felt the same way.

This film attempts to balance the ideas of death, war, life, art and inspiration- it places major emphasis on the will to live, moving forward and persevering. Miyazaki is a man focussed on oblivion, the end of everything- a collosal pessimist. But he has always tried to make positive films which inspire hope. Perhaps this film marks a change in his attitude or maybe it simply reinforces what he's been trying to do with his films for years. This is why he will always differ from Isao Takahata. Miyazaki is typically a more subjective filmmaker, Takahata is arguably more distant but he can sometimes/somehow be twice as affecting in his work. The Wind Rises embraces emotion and is possibly Miyazaki's most moving film, it certainly struck me with how tender it was. It didn't shy away from the romance at all.

I'm pleased to see that Miyazaki managed to keep his fantastical edge in this film despite its grounded nature. On reflection, the dream/fantasy elements actually comprise a fair bit of the film. Hisaishi's score is one of his best yet and I did notice some of his recurring melodic ideas in this one. The human voiced sound effects were also a surprising but interesting idea.

One point worth discussing is the controversy that the film raised, the creation of weapons of war or excessive smoking or whatever. There is mention of pointlessness of violence/war etc but Miyazaki chooses not to dwell on that particular topic for long. It's not necessary, too much emphasis on that would detract from the primary drama in the second half of the film. The commentary is mostly subtle. I've previously observed that Japanese right-wingers complain about the pacifism and lack of nationalism this film and I've also noticed people state that Miyazaki is an irresponsible filmmaker for making a movie about a warplane designer and dealing with the idea in such a 'light' manner. All that needs to be said about the implications of Horikoshi's actions are there in the film, and it fits into the story in a satisfying manner. I strongly recommend watching The Kingsom of Dreams and Madness because it's obvious they have given the issue a fair bit of thought and it overall provides a fascinating look into the creation of the film.

I believe my experience of the film was probably richer than others because of my understanding of the context but the quality of the filmmaking, the ideas behind it, the emotion etc can't be ignored. It's a great film either way. I can't imagine Miyazaki ending his feature film career in a more appropriate manner and it makes me doubly hyped to see what his buddy/rival Takahata has created for Kaguya-hime no Monogatari.

Will update OP list at some point.

Lottery

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2014, 10:01:56 AM »
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Ooooooh.

Looks interesting. Looks kinda mysterious. Will probably be more emotionally affecting that Yonebayashi's last. Hope it's totally awesome.

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Re: Studio Ghibli
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2014, 05:55:52 PM »
+1
Bad news- announcing closure for the time being, to think about future strategies and shit, if they want to continue- will likely downsized into copyright maintenance company. Hopefully, they'll change their decision (for whatever reason). Sad news but they had a better run than pretty much everyone else. Ending with a streak of great films is a good way to end it.

But still.



 

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