Sunday, 20 December 2009

Anime Shun

Well, TV's still a no go zone for the most part (although I still enjoy the new Enterprise shots in Star Trek:TOS and found myself quite getting in to Misfits) so, exacerbated by the snow here and the lack of concentration to read anything substantial, I've been forced to look to mt DVD collection for entertainment.

I found myself enjoying Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Howl's Moving Castle from the famous Studio Ghibli company in Japan and mostly enjoyed other works of theirs I managed to catch on E4 (and other than the original Solaris ferreted away in the middle of the night, when was the last time E4 had any interesting new movies on?). As a result, I picked up four Ghibili movies from a cheapie DVD shop in Wolverhampton as you can usually never find them under £10 each. I later searched on eBay and took a risk by ordering a boxset of 18 Ghibli movies from Malaysia. Pirating is rife in that territory but the pic supplied made me hope it was worth the gamble: for the just slightly less than the price of a single UK Ghibli film, this boxset contained 18!

Luckily, it seems to have payed off as the four-disc set is great (and not a pirate!). The 18-film set contains every Ghibli release (other than the comic-strip based My Neighbours The Yamadas, which I wanted to avoid as it looks so ugly anyway) but includes studio founder Hayao Miyazaki's pre-Ghibli films LupinIII: the Castle of Cogliostro and Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind, right up to the latest film, Ponyo, which is the only film on disc four.

The other films are spread out across the first three discs and contain multiple dialogue and subtitle tracks. Due to the amount of data crammed onto each disc, the prints used are not always as crisp as the UK prints but are generally just as good. With a Disney film, you know what the tone will be but not so with Ghibli. There are the child friendly fantasies like Ponyo, Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro, slightly more mature fantasies like Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle, adventures like Laputa: Castle In The Sky and Porco Rosso and non-fantasies like Only Yesterday, I Can Hear The Sea and the moving Grave of the Fireflies (a film you know ends badly from the opening sentence but is still powerful at the end).

I found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed Nausicaa (mainly because I always associated it with the intolerant food-labelling Fabio Barbieri, who loved it which put me right off) and Ponyo (which just seemed kiddie fare) but I still can't get into Castle of Cogliostro, a 1979 crime caper than tears at my patience. I doubt I'll sit through the testicle-morphing of Pom Poko again though as it swiftly runs out of direction).

For anybody who thinks anime is all cyberpunk or Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh/Gormiti /Beyblade competition arena bash 'em ups, this is a great way to sample some of the lesser known but more widely respected animation from Gojira's homeland...


kelvingreen said...

Whisper of the Heart is also great. It's written, but not directed, by Miyazaki, has almost no supernatural or adventure element at all, but is one of the best films they've ever done.

I'm very fond of Cagliostro myself, but I can see why it might grate.

Nige Lowrey said...

I liked Whisper of the Heart, although I preferred the character designs in the Cat Returns spinoff...I find Miyazki's characters all have weird shaped heads that can be offputting. Cat Returns, though an inferior movie, had nicer character designs...