Tsunderin: At long last we come to the end of our very, very long month. Why, it seems like only a year ago we started reviewing these movies. Ah, how time flies.
Today, we’re taking a look at Goro Miyazaki’s second directorial attempt in the Ghibli roster. With memories of Earthsea ever lingering in our minds—or at least my mind—we were more concerned with the pacing and general narrative of From Up on Poppy Hill than we were with other movies. Of course I wanted Goro to do well, but he had much to improve on. Did those five years between films help him? Let’s find out.
Tsunderin: So far on our journey through Ghibli’s film library there have been quite a few films that MadameAce and I have disliked. And whereas my dislike for a film will certainly color my desire to see it in the future, I don’t think there has been a movie so far that I would outright not watch ever again. That all changes today. Today, we review The Secret World of Arrietty: the only Ghibli movie that I will go out of my way to never watch again.
Tsunderin: Perhaps the only thing stronger than Miyazaki’s drive to write love stories with an unconventional twist is MadameAce’s drive to not actually watch the films until a month has passed since the last Ghibli film review. However, she finally got around to watching Ponyo, another unconventional love story, and though I doubt she’s very happy about it, she can save the complaining until her part.
Ponyo is unconventional in how polarizing it is: people I know either love it or hate it. And while I know that I encourage artists of any medium to experiment and do things out of the box, there’s something about this film that just doesn’t work.
Tsunderin: When looking at the Ghibli library, there’s one movie that seems to stick out like a sore thumb. A film that is only spoken of in whispers so as to not invite its wrath upon you. Or at least a film that clearly stands out as the black sheep of the family. No matter how melodramatic your interpretation, the general consensus on Tales from Earthsea seem to be “ugh, that movie.” Going into it, I honestly didn’t see how this movie could have been bad. Sure, it was a little long, but a fantasy setting with magic and dragons? It’s cruise control for interesting. To say that Earthsea was uninteresting wouldn’t be entirely true, but the issues in pacing and storytelling hinder the universe’s interesting history to the point of disrepair.
It starts out well enough: the world of Earthsea is being thrown into disarray as its magic is slowly disappearing, famine is breaking out, and there are various other catastrophes, all of which land on the King of Enlad’s plate. His advisor, a wizard named Root, states that once the world was in balance, but due to a portion of mankind choosing material wealth as the most important thing, the other portion left and became dragons to retain their freedom, causing a schism between the two sections. Most importantly, if the balance between the two groups is resolved, there would be a possibility of the catastrophes ending and magic slowly returning. Unfortunately, before the King has much time to dwell on this he is murdered on the way back to his room by his son, Prince Arren, who then steals his father’s sword and escapes the city’s walls.
MadameAce: Hello, Ace here, and welcome to yet another installment of Ghibli Month. I have some bad news though. Rin is unfortunately not here for this review, so you’re stuck with just me today. I know; it makes me sad too.
Anyway, The Cat Returns centers on highschooler Haru, a shy girl with little no self-confidence. She’s a klutz who never wakes up on time, is always late for school, constantly trips over her own two feet, and is laughed at and picked on by the other students, including her best friend. Her life gets much harder when one day she saves a cat about to be run over by a truck—breaking her friend’s lacrosse stick in the process. While Haru is catching her breath on the side of the road, the cat in question stands up on his hind legs, brushes himself off, and calmly thanks Haru for saving him. It turns out that he is Prince Lune from the Cat Kingdom. Later that night, on entourage of cats make their way to Haru’s house. Among them is their king, who wants to thank Haru personally. The cats give Haru a piece of paper that has a list of all the marvelous cat gifts they want to bestow upon her for saving their prince. The cats have vowed to not stop until Haru is perfectly happy, regardless of her feelings on the matter.