After the pleasant (but still mildly depressing) surprise that was My Life as a Zucchini, I’ll admit: I was pretty excited to check out the final Oscar’s animation nod for this year. Add to that the fact that Studio Ghibli also had their hands in this animated feature and, well, it just seemed like a slam dunk. Despite everything it had going for it, though, director Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle—La Tortue Rouge in French and Aru Shima no Monogatari in Japanese—just didn’t stack up to any of the excitement or expectations I had for it. It’s no secret that the Oscars, or any mainstream award show, is basically just a huge circle jerk for popular companies. Still, the fact that this film was even nominated at all, to me, shows that Disney’s association with Ghibli (and, well, how awesome Ghibli usually is) overrode any actual critical viewing of this film.
Though both Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki seem to be in this bizarre limbo of being in and out of the animation circuit, it seems that fans of the studio’s style and themes will have somewhere else to look to once their final animation cel is crafted and Ghibli’s doors close for good—Studio Ponoc. For their first feature-length film, Studio Ponoc is giving us Ghibli-esque goodness featuring an adorable protagonist and, of course, magic.
I won’t lie: I’m still really disappointed that doing another review of the film would be extraneous (although I recommend you check out ye olde review). So in lieu of that, I decided to look up some Kiki’s fic and came to one conclusion—there ain’t much there. Maybe it’s because the film was crafted in such a way as to not leave the audience wanting fix-it fic or needing to mend potential plotholes that the fic scene for this movie is so sparse. Yet though the metaphorical crops were not plentiful, what was there was bountiful in heart and fluff. My perfect combination.
I’ve been slowly but surely trying to work through the backlog of books I have owned for years but not read. One particular harbinger of shame in this endeavor was the graphic novel on which the Studio Ghibli movie The Cat Returns was based, since I knew the single-volume manga with its self-contained story would only actually take me half an hour or so to read. Nevertheless, I only finally read it this weekend, even though I’m pretty sure I bought it when Borders was still a thing.
I liked but didn’t love The Cat Returns movie; for me, it’s one of Ghibli’s more forgettable options. Looking back, I’m not sure what about the film, save maybe a passing furry-ish attraction to the Baron character, led me to buy the source manga. And now, having at long last read it, I’m left questioning why this almost-too-simple story got a film adaptation at all.
Lady Geek Girl:My Neighbor Totoro is nothing more than a fun family movie produced by Studio Ghibli, right? Well, not according to some people. One popular fan theory says that My Neighbor Totoro is not the happy movie that we thought it was. Rather, it’s a story about death, and Totoro is actually a god of death or death spirit. As such, the theory goes that the two girls, Mei and Satsuki, can only see Totoro because they are about to die, and at the end of the film Mei runs off and accidentally drowns. When their neighbors find a sandal in the pond, Satsuki claims it’s not Mei’s, but the theory continues that Satsuki was so distraught and in denial about her sister’s death that she lied about the sandal. Satsuki runs to Totoro and he opens up the realm of the dead by calling Catbus, who transports spirits, so she can find Mei. Then, Catbus takes the two girls to visit their mother at the hospital. Their mother sees them because she too is close to death. At the end of the movie Mei and Satsuki also don’t have any shadows, further indicating that they are dead. Studio Ghibli has denied this theory, but nevertheless, it persists among fans. But are there any connections between the Shinto themes of the movie and this theory?
Trigger warning for mention of suicide after the jump.
A little over two years ago, Ace and I started something we called “Ghibli Month” in which we watched all the movies in the Studio Ghibli library and reviewed them. I never planned on reviewing the final two movies in said library—if I watch them, and then review them, then I’m admitting to myself that there may be no more Ghibli movies, and I’m not ready for that. However, I finally sat down the other day and watched The Tale of Princess Kaguya, directed by Isao Takahata. Upon seeing the two hour timestamp, I was apprehensive that Takahata could really utilize all that time while keeping the film interesting. Looking back, I needn’t have worried.
Who’s excited for another Ghibli movie? I am! After being not incredibly intrigued about The Wind Rises, I’ll admit, I kind of stopped keeping an ear out for Ghibli news; however, the internet is going wild over their newest animated feature.