The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) Review

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The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a fantasy-drama film directed by Isao Takahata

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A poor bamboo cutter finds a tiny girl inside of a glowing bamboo stalk, he believes that she is a divine presence and takes her home to his wife, the girl quickly turns into a baby and then continues to grow rapidly into a young adult, her father finds gold growing from the bamboo stalk they found her in, he uses these to prove her define royalty and moves the family into a mansion where she is trained to become a proper princess, the girl who is later named Princess Kaguya had no choice in any of this and wants more than anything to go home to her friends.

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Chloe-Grace Moretz voices the Princess in the film and she is absolutely outstanding, she gives a very emotional performance that is convincing and at times heart breaking, this is the best performance in a Ghibli film yet. Everyone does a great job voicing their characters but no one comes even as close as Chloe does, it felt like Chloe was born to voice this character she was that good.

I love art style used in the film, it looks like a fine painting that has been brought to life by Ghibli magic, its honestly beautiful and makes the film well worth a watch even if you don’t enjoy the plot.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya really surprised me, I didn’t expect to enjoy this film as much as I did, I think this is is one of my favourite animated movies now, its really breathtaking and genuinely amazing to watch, the performances are fantastic which helps to make this wonderful film even better, the music is some of the best we have heard from the studio, everything about this movie is just great and I love it.

I hope you enjoyed this review of  The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

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The Wind Rises (2013) Review

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The Wind Rises is a biopic of Jiro Horikshi who invented the Mitsubishi AM5 a Japanese fighter plane that was used in World War 2. This was stated to be Hayao Miyazaki’s last ever feature film before his retirement making it a very important part of film history.

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I love how ambitious of an inventor Jiro is in the film, I think this is a personal thing because I am very creative myself and I am very passionate about the things that I have made so I felt very connected to this character.

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The dream sequences were my favourite part of the movie, they were all very creative and full of the imaginative imagery that you would expect from Miyazaki, this isn’t as crazy as some of his other work but it is still fantastic without going overboard.

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There was a romance built up in the movie and while it was fine, I did feel that it didn’t make much difference to the plot and if it wasn’t there I do not think the movie would have been affected.

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Spoiler ahead but I want to discuss how good the ending of the film is, its another dream sequence but at this point Japan had lost the war and it showed Jiro being regretful for making the planes but one of his heroes who appears in most of his dreams comforts him saying that his dream has been realised, the film ends on a sweet but sour note yes Jiro achieved his dream but at the cost that his dream was used to take many lives in one of the worst times in history.

The Wind Rises is a really interesting movie, it focuses more on the character and his inventions than it does the tragedy of war, I suppose if you wanted to see the effects of war you can watch Grave of the Fireflies, I really don’t know what to think of this one I really enjoyed it but it didn’t impact me the same way as Miyazaki’s other films, this one is really good and educational with some big names in its cast, Joseph Gordan Levitt, Elijah Wood, Martin Short and many others. I don’t its a movie to watch countless times but one viewing is well worth your while.

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From up on Poppy Hill (2011) Review

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From up on Poppy Hill is a Drama film that was directed by Goro Miyazaki with the film based on a screen play written by his father Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa.

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Umi is a young girl who attends a boarding school called Coquelicot Manor in Japan. Here she meets Shun a young male student after he ends up in the school newspaper after committing to a Dare Devil stunt.

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Umi and Shun become very close throughout the film end work together to try and convince the chairman of the boarding school to not demolish it but the main mystery is whether they are actually lost siblings as both of them have the same photograph of a man who they believe to be there father.

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I will be honest and say that I have never been too fond of this film, I have always found it to be a little bit boring and the story feels like a plot that I have seen a thousand times before, however the voice acting is probably some of the best out of all the Ghibli movies, A lot of effort and heart went into all of these performances and while the only  recognisable name may be Jamie- Lee- Curtis everyone did a fantastic job and its the passion in the voice work that I think makes the film stand out among others.

From up on Poppy Hill will probably never be a film that I would say needs to be seen but it has a lot of heart and some amazing voice work, I wish the plot had a little bit more to it but overall I would say that one is just ok at best.

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The Secret World of Arrietty (2010) Review

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The Secret World of Arrietty was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and is based on the Borrowers book.

Arrietty and her family are creatures called borrowers, borrowers are very small people who love in the holes of regular sized peoples homes, they borrow small amounts of food and materials from humans to survive hence the name borrowers.

While exploring the outside world Arrietty gets spotted by a human named Sho, Sho is incredibly friendly towards Arrietty and considers her a friend, Sho is having serious medical issues with his heart and his life expectancy is low due to this, he values life which could be why he is so kind towards a borrower.

Not all of the humans are as kind though as the house keeper Haru finds and captures Arrietty’s mother leaving Sho and Arrietty working together to rescue her before she is killed by the exterminators Haru hired.

My favourite part of the movie was not the story or characters but the world that borrowers live in, I love their tiny home that are made out of materials from our world,it’s really very charming.

I really enjoyed the bond between Arrietty and her family as well as the relationship that forms between herself and Sho,

The Secret World of Arrietty is a really good movie that I feel may be overlooked as just a borrowers film because it really is a lot more than that, it is a borrowers movie but unlike other adaptations this is not a comedy and has a hell of a lot of heart and love that was pumped into it and is my favourite adaption of the book even if it is very loose.

If you want to watch a really good family film then the Secret World of Arrietty is for you.

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Ponyo (2008) Review

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Written and Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Ponyo is a fantasy-film loosely based on ideas from the Hans Christian Anderson story the Little Mermaid.

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A close encounter with a fishing trawler causes a young human-fish hybrid creature to become separated from her family and trapped in a glass-jar which washes up on shore in a small town. The fish creature is discovered by a young boy named Sosuke who names it Ponyo and takes care of it.

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Sosuke wants to keep Ponyo as a friend but her father voiced by Liam Neeson is desperate to get his daughter back in order to prevent the ocean from becoming unbalanced and colliding with the land.

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Ponyo is a quite bizzare movie, not in its premise but more in things that happen, later on in the film Ponyo grows arms and legs and begins to evolve into a human and it is this form that I enjoy the most. The bond between the two children is adorable and while Ponyo is a wild and excitable character she is never annoying  and is very likeable.

7f2 I am in love with the visual style of this film, the colours used blend perfectly with the animation.

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One of my favourite designs is of the Goddess of Mercy Granmamare who is Ponyo’s mother, she is truly stunning in her design with a glow effect added to emphasise her importance and grandeur.

Ponyo is not one of my favourite films and its far from one of the best films from Studio Ghibli but it melts my heart with how cute the story is and its hard not to enjoy its silliness at times, I don’t watch this one often but every now again I need a little bit of Ponyo to brighten my day.

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Tales from earthsea (2006) Review

Tales from earthsea is a fantasy-action film directed by Goro Miyazaki the son of Hayao Miyazaki

In a land of what was once peace strange occurrences have caused the people to go mad and the dragons to attack eachother in vicious battles in the sky.

A well respected wizard named Sparrow Hawk is investigating the cause of horrors that have taken over the land and on his travels he meets a young Prince named Arren who had killed his father due to the chaos that has caused people to act differently, after rescuing Arren from a pack of wolves Sparrow Hawk takes him to help on the quest to discover the evil that has corrupted the land and save Earthsea.

The characters are all memorable in this film but in my opinion the best performance is by William Defoe who voices Yuko the main antagonist and dark scorcerer, he talks in whispers that are quite frightening and will send chills down the spine of the bravest man.

The animation and visuals are spectacular, they move smoothly and are somewhat realistic considering the genre of the film, for an animated feature everything feels so real and will easily suck you into the story and action.

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The music was composed by Tamiya Terashima, the soundtrack is my favourite part of the movie, this is seriously the best music in a Ghibli Film up to this point, the music is beautiful and helps to keep the flow of the movie going, it truly is fantastic and I might just buy a copy of the soundtrack because I love it so much.


For a film that many consider to be just ok, I have to admit that I don’t agree, I really enjoyed this one and it may be a new favourite film of mine, I would love to hear a commentary track from those who were involved in this amazing film, I am really happy that I gave this one a chance and I recommend that you do too if your reading this .

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Howl’s Moving Castle (2002) Review

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Howl’s Moving Castle was written and Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, it is a fantasy-romance film based on a book of the same name.

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Sophie is a young girl who works in a hat shop with her mother and sisters. One day her sisters are admiring the sight of the famous moving castle that is owned by the wizard Howl.

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While working late into the night Sophie is alone when she is confronted by the Witch of the Waste who mistakes Sophie for her sister Lettie and curses her into the form of an elderly woman.

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Hoping to find a cure for the curse, Sophie seeks out the wizard Howl and becomes a care taker in his castle, she is desperate to get back to her old younger form but the curse prevents her from telling people what happened leaving her to figure a lot of it out on her own.

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There are so many lovable characters in this movie, Howl is voiced by Christian Bale and old Sophie (Jean Simmons) is another one of my favourites but in my opinion no one can top Calcifer a fire demon that had been placed under curse to become Howl’s heart and life line, his fire needs too keep burning or Howl will die, he’s voiced by Billy Crystal who was a perfect casting choice.

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The animation in the film is outstanding and visually its gorgeous, there is a lot of details in many scenes and the design choices are really quite magical, a lot of bounce and stretch animation is used in the film which helps to give the characters gravity and realistic movements.

Howl’s Moving Castle is a fantastic movie that shows the desperation of many people trying to break multiple curses, you really feel the pressure on everyone’s shoulders in this film to either survive or get their old lives back, its a movie full of magic and wonder and is one you do not want to miss.

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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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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.

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