Ghiblimania – Part 2

Continuing on with my quick guide to Studio Ghibli movies …

Goshu the Cellist (1992)

PLOT: A cellist living on his own reluctantly accepts help from the animals around his home as he prepares for a big performance.

VERDICT: Classical music and cute talking animals used well to create a simple but charming underdog tale.

MY RATING: 6/10

IMDB RATING: 7.1/10

SUB OR DUB?: Subtitles are your only option with this one.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: No. The connection is Takahata, the director.

The Ocean Waves (1993)

PLOT: A young man travels to a reunion while recalling his high school years, including his awkward first romance.

VERDICT: A bittersweet film that does a pretty good job of capturing the essence of those often painful formative years.

MY RATING: 6/10

IMDB RATING: 7.2/10

SUB OR DUB?: I hope you like subtitles, because again you’ve got no choice.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

Pom Poko (1994)

PLOT: A community of tanuki (Japanese racoon dogs) resurrect the ancient art of shape shifting as part of an attempt to prevent destruction of their forest home.

VERDICT: If it was just a bit more focused and a bit less insane it’d be fantastic. Although what I perceived as insanity may have just been a case of things getting lost in translation – a bit of reading up about tanuki in Japanese folklore helped me make sense of things … a little.

MY RATING: 7/10

IMDB RATING: 7.4/10

SUB OR DUB?: I went with the dubbed version and enjoyed it, though there’s some interesting differences between the two versions. The English version say the creatures are racoons with magical “pouches”. The Japanese version admits they’re actually racoon dogs with magical testicles. Told you it was pretty crazy.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

Sack attack

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

PLOT: A school-age girl with a talent for writing tries to figure out what she wants to do with her life.

VERDICT: Sweet, but a bit too slow for me.

MY RATING: 6/10

IMDB RATING: 8.0/10

SUB OR DUB?: I watched the English version, but there’s quite a few complaints on the net. Maybe that’s part of the reason I didn’t enjoy it so much?

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

Princess Mononoke (1997)

PLOT: A young warrior is struck by a deadly curse and travels to a distant forest in search of a cure. There he becomes entangled in a fierce war between gods, monsters, villagers and a mysterious girl who likes to hang out with wolves.

VERDICT: It’s a breathtaking, densely layered, epic tale, but it’s worth pointing out that it’s the least kid-friendly of the Miyazaki directed films.

MY RATING: 8/10

IMDB RATING: 8.4/10

SUB OR DUB?: You can confidently go with the dubbing if subtitles aren’t your thing. Because this film was so popular in Japan, Disney thankfully treated it with a bit of respect when recording the English track.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999)

PLOT: A Japanese family experiences the ups and downs of life.

VERDICT: This is a weird one for Ghibli as the animation is very basic and there’s no real “plot” – just a bunch of short tales where not a lot actually happens. It’s still strangely enjoyable though.

MY RATING: 6/10

IMDB RATING: 7.4/10

SUB OR DUB?: Subtitles.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

Spirited Away (2001)

PLOT: A young girl finds herself trapped in a world inhabited by spirits after she and her parents decide to explore an abandoned theme park.

VERDICT: About as close to perfect as movies come. Though perhaps I’m a bit biased because it’s the first Miyazaki movie I ever saw.

MY RATING: 10/10

IMDB RATING: 8.6/10

SUB OR DUB?: I first watched this with the English dub and loved it, so I’d recommend it.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

The extended cast of Spirited Away looking really happy about being in such an awesome movie.

The Cat Returns (2002)

PLOT: A girl is forced into engagement with a cat prince and is taken away to the cat kingdom.

VERDICT: Very funny and full of adventure.

MY RATING: 8/10

IMDB RATING: 7.2/10

SUB OR DUB?: Although it wasn’t long ago, I can’t remember which one I watched. The general opinion on the net is that the English dub is pretty good.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

PLOT: A shy but attractive girl is turned into an old woman when a witch becomes jealous of her. She then befriends a powerful but troubled warlock who lives in a giant, walking castle.

VERDICT: Mesmerising, beautiful, complex and superbly entertaining.

MY RATING: 9/10

IMDB RATING: 8.1/10

SUB OR DUB?: I’m a fan of the English version. I even got used to the ridiculously recognisable and distracting voice of Billy Crystal as the fire demon.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

Tales from Earthsea (2006)

PLOT: A prince flees his kingdom after committing a terrible crime. He then meets with a wise wizard and together they attempt to confront the evil presence that has been haunting their lands.

VERDICT: The first film with Goro Miyazaki (Hayao’s son) in the director’s chair is very ambitious but it’s just not as effective as his father’s work.

MY RATING: 6/10

IMDB RATING: 6.5/10

SUB OR DUB?: Subtitles. I found the English voice of the wizard annoying. It just didn’t suit the character.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

Ponyo on the Cliff (2008)

PLOT: A boy finds a goldfish who wishes to be human.

VERDICT: Cute, quirky and charming.

MY RATING: 8/10

IMDB RATING: 7.8/10

SUB OR DUB?: I’ve only watched the Japanese audio version, but I can highly recommend it.

OFFICIAL GHIBLI?: Yes

Ponyo gets reeeeeaaaaaally excited about ham.

That’s all for the box set but two more films – Arrietty and From up on Poppy Hill – have been released in Japan since. If you’ve seen either, let me know what you think of them!

Oooh, a chart!

 

Liked this? Keep the movie theme going with my Favourite Films of 2011 or my rundown of the Worst Films Ever according to Wikipedia.

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5 Responses to Ghiblimania – Part 2

  1. cro says:

    i like your reviews. i agree with pretty much all of them EXCEPT whisper of the heart. i personally find that to be up there in the top 5 ghiblis.

  2. Yes I’ve noticed that’s a very well loved movie. Makes me wonder why I didn’t enjoy it so much. I liked it but it didn’t stand out for me against the other similar Ghibli films (Ocean Waves, Only Yesterday). I hope to revisit Whisper of the Heart sometime. Maybe I’ll change my mind?

  3. Pingback: Ghiblimania! – Part 1 | A Hole in the Head

  4. Blainie says:

    Great stuff. I love Whispers of the Heart too, and Kiki’s Delivery Service is probably my favourite! Except for Spitrited Away, I can’t watch any of them with the English dubs. The voices are always just too annoying, and I think it can ruin them, and they change so many things too.
    Arrietty is great by the way – have you seen it yet? It was playing at Luna earlier in the year.

  5. I foolishly haven’t got around to seeing Arrietty, but I’ll have to rectify that soon 🙂
    Seeing as I first watched and loved the dubbed version of Spirited Away I’ve always tried to give the dubs a chance, but yeah it can really change or even ruin the film. The Japanese versions are a safer bet.

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