The Cat Returns (2002) Review

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The Cat Returns is a Fantasy film that was Directed by Hiroyuki Morita with the screenplay by Reiko Yoshida.

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A shy high school student named Haru rescues a cat in the street before it is hit by a car, she doesn’t realise until afterwards that the cat she saved was in fact a prince and as a thankyou she is now unfortunately lined up to become his wife. Haru is harassed by cats from the cat kingdom who want her as their queen.

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She begins hearing a voice telling her to find a fat white cat who can take her to the home of the Baron (This is the same Baron from Whisper of the Heart) a talented swordsman who can keep Haru safe, Haru is soon kidnapped and taken to the Cat Kingdom leaving the Baron and his assistant Muta to follow the catnappers and rescue Haru from a future she never asked for.

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Plot wise this is a really easy film to follow and its just over hour in length making it a great starting point for introducing new comers to Ghibli films or anime in general.

Not a lot really stands out with this film, I love characters designs but have never really  been a fan of the world, the cat kingdom is quite boring to be honest nothing stands out about it but the characters really bring this film to life.

The king is voiced by Tim Curry who does an excellent job, the witty nature and villainous tone that he carry’s is perfect for this character.

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Anne Hathaway voices our lead and is fantastic, other recognisable names are Peter Boyle, Andy Richter and Kristen Bell.

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There isn’t much to talk about with this film, its no masterpiece and is far from one of the most impacting or epic films in the Ghibli collection however, its still one of my favourites and that is mainly due to its charm and how its a film that is a really easy to follow along with, it being shorter is nice too because some of the longer Ghibli can feel that they drag out a little bit longer than necessary but this one is straight to point and is fun all of the way through, the Cat Returns is a really nice movie and I think that is the best way to describe it, it can be enjoyed by anyone and it’s a film that I try to watch as often as I get the chance.

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My Neighbours the Yamada’s (1999) Review

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My Neighbours the Yamada’s is a comedy film about the daily lives of a Japanese family, it was both written and directed by Isao Takahata.

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Its quite difficult to discuss the plot of this movie because it doesn’t really have one, the film is a viewing of the daily lives of an eccentric Japanese family, the movie shows various scenarios that they have to deal with and this is often portrayed through comedy.

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I will be honest and say that I found a lot of these scenarios very forgetful but some of them were really memorable such as when they accidentally left the daughter in the supermarket which is quite a scary scenario for any family, another example was when the young boy bought cookies for a girl in his class but they were eaten by his sister and his mum.

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So the story wasn’t too great but the animation was really cool and unique, the whole film looks like a children’s colouring book and is a treat to watch, some scenes such as when they are under water or during the motor bike chase show off the wonder of this animation style extremely well and images alone cant do it justice so I would recommend at least checking out clips of the film on YouTube.

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The voice cast was great in this film, the only characters with major dialogue was the family and all of them had a talented voice actor which suited their character very well.

I really struggled to say much about this film, It is really unique and has awesome animation but as a whole its just a little bit boring and I feel that some viewers might end up not enjoying the film as much as others, if you want to tackle the full Studio Ghibli collection or see this for just the animation then give it a watch but otherwise I would say that this is one film you could skip.

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Whisper of the heart (1995) Review

Whisper of the heart is a 1995 coming of age,love film that was written by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Yoshifumi Kondo.

Shizuku a high school student at the same school as her best friend Yuko.

Shizuki loves books and rents lots of them from the library but a strange coincidence is that every one of the books she has rented have also been previously rented by a man named Seiji Amasawa, she desperately wants to seek out this man.

After riding a train she follows a cat into an antique shop and finds a statue of a cat named the Baron.

Ghibli fans will recognise the Baron from the Cat Returns another film from the company.

Romance is the main theme of the film, our main character falls for a boy who teases her but has a dilemma when the boy Yuko has a crush on falls in love with her instead.

I liked this movie but it is far from one of my favourites, it was entertaining enough to keep me invested but nothing much about it stood out much to me, my favourite part was finding the statue of the Baron and the day dream sequence with the Baron but that was only because of the Cat Returns which is a film I really love.

Overall a good movie but not one I will be returning too often.

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Pom Poko (1994) Review

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Pom Poko is a dramatic comedy film about Raccoons who want to stop a development project that may destroy their home. The film was directed by Isao Takahata

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In 1960 Tokyo Japan, a group of Raccoons are forced to leave their home in Tama Hills after greedy humans knock it down to build a new developmental project. This upsets the Raccoons who want to get revenge on the humans and get back their home.

The Raccoons end up fighting with each-other when they disagree on the best way to deal with the humans, some want to scare them away while others would rather kill them off.

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According to Japanese folk lore, Raccoons are able to transform and this ability is present in the film and plays a major role, many of the Raccoons have forgotten how to transform so they need to practice this ability to have any chance of scaring away the humans.

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While they do well in learning to transform they have to call in the help of three transformation masters, these masters help the Raccoons to pull of a spectacular parade of horrors which is the best scene in the movie. Its filled with strange imagery and weird scenarios.

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I love the transformation scenes of the Raccoons but its the regular formation of Raccoon that is my favourite they are so cute and even though they are animated they are quite realistic in design.

Recognisable names are Jonathan Taylor Thomas who plays Shōkichi and J.K. Simmons who plays Seizaemon.

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Pom Poko is a truly wonderful movie its full of charm and comedy that you will remember for a very long time, It tells its plot through a serious issue that happens to forests and homes of woodland creatures all over the world. You may be a human reading this but you will definitely be rooting for the Raccoons of Tama Hills when you watch Pom Poko.

I hope you enjoyed this review of Pom Poko

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Only Yesterday (1991) Review

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Only Yesterday is a drama film directed by Isao Takahata, it is based on a Manga of the same title.

Taeko is a 27 year old woman who has decided to take a trip to the countryside.

While travelling to her destination on a train she remembers memories of her childhood and her school days.

The main focus of the story is these flash backs. It shows Taeko growing up and learning to live with strict parents, how to deal with bullies and discovering her body when she first has a period.

A lot goes on this film in reality this film is about a child struggling to gain an understanding from her family about why she behaves the way she does and why she is not as good as her siblings when it comes to her school grades.

I normally I don’t like this type of film but I really resonated with this one, I had a good childhood growing up and was luckier than most other children that I knew but so many of the struggles that this little girl went through was very similar to things I had to go through when I was younger. I won’t go into details of my past but I found this film emotional as it reminded me of myself.

Daisy Ridley who plays Rey in the new star wars trilogy voices Taeko in the film and she and everyone else does a great job.

I don’t have too much to say about this film, nothing really was that memorable and I think that if I didn’t resonate with it as much I don’t think I would have enjoyed it, but with that being said in 1991 this was the highest grossing film in Japan so there is obviously an audience for it.

I hope you enjoyed this review of Only Yesterday

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Kiki’s Delivery Service 1989 Review

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Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki’s Delivery Service is a coming of age story about a young Witch who moves to the big city.

1008714Kiki is a young witch who has just turned 13, traditionally witches leave home at this age, Kiki leaves her parents and heads to the city of Koriko where she eventually lives after helping out the local baker who gives her a room, Kiki sets up a delivery service to earn a little money to buy food and supplies for herself and her cat Jiji.

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Similar to my Neighbour Totoro not a lot goes on in this film but its the small things that do happen that makes it so memorable, the main plot focuses on a semi love interest for Kiki named Tombo, Tombo is fascinated by Kiki because of her ability to fly on her broom stick, he loves aviation and is keen to fly on his bicycle.

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There are a few things that happen in the film but one of the most memorable was Kiki meeting the painter named Ursula, Ursula has the ability to get close to birds without scaring them, she is a very passionate painter and becomes a good friend of Kiki in the film and later on helps her out when she is upset.

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There are so many great characters in the film but my favourite is Jiji. Jiji is Kiki’s pet cat who joins her on her delivery’s he is able to communicate with Kiki and has some of funniest lines and jokes in the film.

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I really like movies like this where not a lot happens but you really do get hooked on the story and Kiki’s Delivery Service is the perfect example of this. It’s a simple movie with a basic plot but an amazing atmosphere and a cast of characters that will make your heart melt. Kirsten Dunst does and excellent job at voicing Kiki and Phil Hartman stands out as Jiji but all of the cast members did a great job. There is something about the atmosphere of the world of this movie that really draws you in, I would love to visit this city and just just walk around and see all of the great sights.

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I did some research and found out that there is a bakery in Japan that is based on Kiki’s Delivery service, apparently they even sell themed baked goods, I will leave the link below so you check out the article for yourself.

https://www.boredpanda.com/kiki-bakery-studio-ghibli-hayao-miyazaki-yufuin-floral-village-japan/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

I love Kiki’s Delivery Service, its one of favourite films and I try to watch it every year, it truly is magical and is sure to find a special place in your heart. I think it’s one of Miyazaki’s best work and it will always be a very important film to me, its definitely worth giving it a viewing.

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Castle in the Sky (1986) Review

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Castle in the Sky is technically the first movie under the Studio Ghibli name but it is recognised by the company as their second film after Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind.

Its a fantasy-adventure film which was written and Directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

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After an attack on an airship a young girl named Sheeta falls slowly and lands in a small town where she is discovered by an adventurous orphan boy called Pazu, who takes her into his home to take of her, not long after this they are attacked by the pirates who want to steal Sheetas necklace which holds mysterious powers.

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The Pirates are my favourite part of the film they are really funny and often cause epic and comedic chase sequences between them and the two protagonists, another reason I like these characters is because they are not just typical villain characters they do have hearts and at times even help the two children in their adventure to keep Sheeta safe.

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The main antagonist of the film is agent Muska who had originally abducted Sheeta in the beginning of the movie and hunts her down throughout the adventure, like the Pirates he also wants the necklace but his intentions are to use it to take over Laputa (Sheeta’s home land) he is voiced by Mark Hamill in the English Dub of the movie.

While I do like the animation of the film I much prefer its soundtrack, the music was composed by Joe Hisaishi.

The soundtrack is beautiful and matches the theme and pacing of the film extremely well, it has hints of adventure with hidden moments of sadness and wonder which works to emphasise the films emotions.

Castle in the Sky is a fantastic movie it blends various genres together, fantasy, science fiction, steam punk, comedy, action and adventure and it does thsi extremely well for an animated feature, its intense but also charming and romantic, its a film that I feel that no matter what age you are you will love it, its one my favourite animated films and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fast paced movies with a lot of heart and imagination.

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