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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Princess Mononoke (1997) Review

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Princess Mononoke is a Fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

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After an Emishi village is targeted by an evil spirit for attack, the evil spirit is killed by Ashitaka the last surviving Emishi Prince, He is unfortunately cursed after touching the demon, this grants him unbelievable strength but at the cost of it eventually taking his life. He is advised to head to the land of Nago to seek out a cure.

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Ashitaka is advised by a Buddhist to find the forest spirit, the forest spirit is a fantastical entity that is a deer by day but can transform into a night-walker at night time.

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Ashitaka finds Iron town which is ran by Lady Eboshi, Lady Eboshi leads the workers of iron town in a war between them and the gods of the forest, making her a sworn enemy of Princess Mononoke aka San

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San is the protector of the forest, she loves the forest and has the mannerisms and personality of wolves due to being raised by them since a young age.

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What I find most interesting about this film is not the fantastical world of the forest or the creatures that reside there but it is simply the fact that for a film that is so violent and has strong morals there is no villains. In fact I would argue that everyone in this movie is a villain in some way. The two residing enemies in the war each have good reasons for what they are doing, and while Ashitaka did get cursed he had to kill a spirit to get that curse in the first place, no one in this film is completely innocent not even Mononoke, she and her wolves have a body count and those that they kill do not always deserve death so really you will have to watch the film yourself to decide which side you are supporting.

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I love the visual style used in this film, the spirits are particularly epic and wonderful to look at and study, you can tell that the artists had a lot of fun creating some of these characters, the colours used in the film are fantastic and the palette choice really helped to emphasise the nature and surrounding areas represented in the movie.

The voice cast was very good all around, some recognised names would be Tara Strong, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver and Jada Plinkett Smith.

I really am a big fan of this movie but I must disagree with it being one of Miyazaki’s best work, if I’m being honest while it really is spectacular I feel it isn’t very well paced everything happens so quickly in the movie and it is a lot to take in but this is really is a fantastic film that may just find a special place in your heart.

I hope you enjoyed this review of Princess Mononoke

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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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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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Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Review

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Directed by Isao Takahata Grave of the Fireflies is an Animated war film that is based on a story from 1967 with the same title.

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This is by far the most tragic film in the Studio Ghibli Collection it starts with the corpse of the main character Seita being searched by a Janitor in a train station, he takes a candy tin and throws it into a field and this releases the memory of Seita’s younger sister Setsuko who is joined by the memory of her brother,  they both board a train and then the film shows the struggle they went through during the end World War 2 that eventually lead to both of them dying.

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Even though the beginning the film shows that the outcome of these characters is not good, what makes the film worth watching is the message that it gives, throughout the journey audiences will be rooting for Seita and Setsuko to survive because of how well they get along and how much they truly love each-other.

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The tragedy of the film is truly Seita’s character, he wants the be the protector of his sister after their mother dies, but he doesn’t have a lot of experience doing this eventually pushing away everyone who tries to help them. Its his stubborn nature that causes the downfall in their story but he means so well and only wants the best. This makes the film extremely difficult and sad to watch its a really good movie with excellent animation and characters, I actually think that these are some of the best characters the studio has ever produced because they seem so real.

Grave of the Fireflies is one of the most hard to watch animated films ever made, its a great piece of cinema that shows that cartoons and animation really is not just for children and families, this film is not suitable for children and it definitely wasn’t made for them its a story that will cause emotion and pain for all who see it, its fantastically tragic.

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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.

I hope you enjoyed this review of Castle in the Sky

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