Ghiblimania! – Part 1

So far I’ve only been blabbing on about music, which was my main passion for a long time, but over the last 5-10 years it’s had to compete more and more with my other obsession; movies.

And if you were ever foolish enough to ask me about my favourite films, it wouldn’t be long before we’d be talking about Hayao Miyazaki, the main mind behind the Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli. Ghibli’s most famous work (in the western world at least) is Spirited Away, which won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It’s the only film from a non-English speaking country to do so since the award was introduced in 2001.

I bring this up because I recently finished watching all the films in the Studio Ghibli Deluxe box set. So over two weeks I’m going to give a quick rundown of all 21 movies …

The Little Norse Prince (1968)

PLOT: A boy returns to the village of his ancestors and then has to defend the village from an evil demon.

VERDICT: The weakest film in the box set though it’s a decent achievement if you consider how old it is.

MY RATING: 5/10

IMDB RATING: 6.8/10

SUB OR DUB?: No English dub available

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: No. It’s included in the box set because Miyazaki worked on it as an animator and Isao Takahata directed it (another key-player for Ghibli). It’s one of the first films either of them ever worked on.

Panda! Go Panda! (1972)

PLOT: A baby Panda and his father befriend a girl living alone and they form a family together.

VERDICT: Not a movie, but two episodes of television for young children. Still, for what it is, it’s quite charming.

MY RATING: 6/10

IMDB RATING: 6.8/10

SUB OR DUB?: This is a great example of how bad dubbing can totally change something, or even ruin it. Stick with the subtitles.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: No.Miyazaki and Takahata worked on it though.

 

Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

PLOT: A charming thief and his gang stumble across a national conspiracy and a princess to rescue while investigating a mysterious castle.

VERDICT: This isMiyazaki’s directing debut, and it’s a great start despite it being a sequel. It’s more frenetic, action-packed and funny than most of his work.

MY RATING: 7/10

IMDB RATING: 7.7/10

SUB OR DUB?: Subtitles still. The dubbing is fine from what I saw – it’s just different. As in the dialogue is changed quite a lot.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: No.

Naussicca of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

PLOT: A princess in a post-apocalyptic world tries to bring about peace and understanding between humans and giant bug-like creatures.

VERDICT: A fantastic film where many of Miyazaki’s trademarks first appear – eg. the environmental themes, the lack of a real villain, the obsession with flight etc.

MY RATING: 9/10

IMDB RATING: 8.1/10

SUB OR DUB?: Either is fine. I think I watched it with the dubbing. Just be careful not to get the Warriors of the Wind version (a heavily butchered version released in the 80’s for theUS market).

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: No. Well, kind of. It was made before the studio was founded, but it’s the film that got the whole thing started.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)

PLOT: A boy and a girl with a magic crystal race to find a legendary floating castle.

VERDICT: Another early masterpiece with more of a mad-cap adventure feel than later works.

MY RATING: 8/10

IMDB RATING: 8.1/10

SUB OR DUB?: I’m not sure which version I watched, but there’s a few people on the IMDB page complaining about how much the English dub changed the dialogue. Apparently the score was also altered, but some have said it was for the better.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes.

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

PLOT: Two girls move to the country and discover a host of forest spirits living nearby.

VERDICT: Adorable, but not one of my favourites as it’s definitely one for the kids.

MY RATING: 7/10

IMDB RATING: 8.2/10

SUB OR DUB?: No recommendation as I can’t remember what version I watched. Not too many complaints on the net though, and it was re-released in 2002 so the dub should be pretty good.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes.

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

PLOT: Two children struggle to survive after their mother is killed by air-raids on Japan during World War II.

VERDICT: Easily the most depressing Ghibli film, but also one of the best.

MY RATING: 9/10

IMDB RATING: 8.4/10

SUB OR DUB?: Subtitles. I tried the English dub but I found the little kid’s voice so irritating that I had to switch.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

PLOT: A young witch has difficulty settling into her new seaside home while running a courier service.

VERDICT: The weakest of theMiyazaki directed films. It’s just too slow.

MY RATING: 7/10

IMDB RATING: 7.9/10

SUB OR DUB?: Either

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes.

Only Yesterday (1991)

PLOT: A female office worker reminisces about her childhood while holidaying in the country.

VERDICT: Another one that’s very slow, but it’s easy to get swept up in the nostalgic charm of the film.

MY RATING: 7/10

IMDB RATING: 7.7/10

SUB OR DUB?: No English dub.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes.

Porco Rosso (1992)

PLOT: A 1930’s pilot with the face of a pig has several misadventures while reminiscing about the good old days.

VERDICT: Bizarre but wonderful. It may also be the funniest Ghibli film.

MY RATING: 8/10

IMDB RATING: 7.8/10

SUB OR DUB?: Unless you’re an anime purist I’d recommend the English dub with this one.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes.

“So, how’d your date go last night?” “Don’t even mention it. The guy was such a pig.”

 

On to Part 2 (of 2)

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3 Responses to Ghiblimania! – Part 1

  1. Lisy says:

    Hi there, well I wanted to ask you where did you get the deluxe set. I see they have it in ebay… but I want to try a reliable source. Please let me know as soon as possible. Thank you… I loved your summary!!!

    • Sorry I can’t help much. I’m actually borrowing the set off a friend, and all I know is that he got it online. Depending on where you live, online might be your only option. Good luck and thanks for the feedback though 🙂

  2. Pingback: Fave Flick Flashback: Happy Feet – Part 2 | A Hole in the Head

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