Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby Vernadyn » March 26th, 2010, 4:13 am

The Studio Ghibli films I've seen are the ones directed by Miyazaki (though I haven't seen Ponyo yet.) Out of those, I'd say I enjoy Spirited Away the most, followed by Princess Mononoke and Castle in the Sky. Porco Rosso and Nausicaa are excellent as well. Miyazaki knows how to blend adventure with strong characters and an odd sense of whimsy. Although Totoro and Kiki skew younger, both of them are very well made films. I grew up on the Fox 1994 videocassette dub of Totoro.

The only one that I find less than stellar is Howl. I don't think it's a bad film, but it's the only Ghibli film that I can't remember the ending to. The story also seemed to wander a bit and at times it felt like an imitation of Spirited Away. The Witch of the Waste seemed to be a rather toothless character. I did like some scenes, like the one where Howl has a breakdown and almost destroys the house because Sophie changed his hair color.

Joe Hisaishi always does a stellar job with the music that is not only memorable, but matches the scenes perfectly and adds to their emotion. I do admit that I find parts of the Nausicaa score jarring, like the incongruous and dated (to me) electronic beat when the Ohmu start chasing things. And the (deliberately?) off-tone child singing in the memory scenes isn't exactly my cup of tea. But most of the time, Hisaishi more than delivers.

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Postby Sunday » March 26th, 2010, 10:25 am

Nausicaa's music certainly sticks with you, though. Odd stuff~
Last edited by Sunday on March 26th, 2010, 10:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby Bill1978 » March 26th, 2010, 9:59 pm

I will admit that the Nausicaa theme track as presented on the CD annoys me with the synthetic start and end, but once the actual orchestra enters the scene the music is very melodic. I think I just get impatient with the tuneless synthesisers at the start.

Once I showed Nausicaa to one of the classes I taught and they had to compare it to FernGully and discuss the difference between how Japan presented environmental issues to kids compared to America. It was an interesting couple of lessons and I think I may have opened the eyes of some students to the world of Ghibli, while others I know longed for more FernGully LOL

A question about Whisper Of The Heart and The Cat Returns. THey have both been dubbed into English yes? It's only Only Yesterday that hasn't had that treatment yet? I think I really need to get myself a copy of WOFH and TCR.

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Postby Randall » March 26th, 2010, 11:31 pm

Yes, WotH and TCR both have had English dubs for Disney home video releases. (They both sounded fine to me.) It's only Only Yesterday that's still waiting.

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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby Whippet Angel » March 28th, 2010, 1:24 am

My favorite would be Kiki's Delivery Service. It's not the best of them all, but it's my personal favorite. As for least favorite.... I haven't disliked any of the Ghibli films I've seen thus far, but I wasn't crazy about Princess Mononoke (granted, it's been several years since I've seen it, so my opinion on the film may be due for an update).

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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby LotsoA113 » March 30th, 2010, 7:29 pm

Re-watched Ponyo last night...for the third time! Don't know why but's its getting better every time I see it. It's in my Top 5 which are:

1. Princess Mononoke
2. Spirited Away
3. My Neighbor Totoro
4. Porco Rosso
5. Ponyo

Feel free to disagree! :D
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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby LotsoA113 » March 28th, 2011, 7:47 pm

Well, I finally bought Tales From Earthsea and Nausicaa. Both dissapointed. TFE just felt padded and too big for a first time director (similar vibe I got from Tron: Legacy). Didn't warm up to it. Nausicaa was much better, but even after 2 viewings, I still feel it leaves much to be desired, especially amongst other great films from the studio.
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Postby Randall » April 2nd, 2011, 4:47 pm


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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby EricJ » April 3rd, 2011, 4:32 am

LotsoA113 wrote: Nausicaa was much better, but even after 2 viewings, I still feel it leaves much to be desired, especially amongst other great films from the studio.


Nausicaa and Princess Mononoke had almost intentionally the exact same remake plot, with analagous characters:
War is complicated, Villains don't have bad reasons, Nature is too big to control, and one girl can try to save it, but only after stubbornness brings disaster can both sides come to their senses...Between the Hand and the Weird Nature-God Monster, there must be a Mediator.

Of the two, Nausicaa comes off as more "real": San is perpetually grim, driven and symbolically PO'ed--like every other one-goal character in the story--but Nausicaa at least has family and friends, and occasionally enjoys herself as a real girl her age.
Both are attempts for Miyazaki to try and tackle Big Issues (like his political bent wants him to), and they both stick out from the more relaxed character stories he did for Totoro and Kiki...But Nausicaa feels like an actual story epic, while Mononoke just comes off as a consciously showoff bit of gratuitously hand-wringing Message-Porn.

(Or as I put it at the time, like Chaplin did "A Woman of Paris" to show the world he could do drama, Miyazaki did Mononoke to show he could do Pessimism...Okay, you're a genius, now knock it off. :P )

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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby ohmahaaha » April 19th, 2011, 6:52 pm

I'm really surprised at how few mentions there are of "Howl's Moving Castle" - I think that is one of the most awesome animated movies I've ever seen, along with "Spirited Away." But I really like ALL of Miyazaki's movies. I can only suggest to those that feel like they don't get it, you really have to watch them a couple of times (if not more).

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Postby Randall » April 19th, 2011, 7:07 pm

I really like Howl's... until the ending. I watched it again recently, and I still didn't understand it. It kind of kills the movie for me, which is too bad, because I like quite a bit of the film.

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Re:

Postby EricJ » April 19th, 2011, 8:20 pm

Randall wrote:I really like Howl's... until the ending. I watched it again recently, and I still didn't understand it. It kind of kills the movie for me, which is too bad, because I like quite a bit of the film.


Again, read the book if you haven't (and the sequel, unrelatedly called "Castle in the Sky"), it's 180 degrees away from Miyazaki's lazy improvisation--When Harry Potter first came out, half the readers said "Aw, JK Rowling was just cribbing off Diana Wynne-Jones!"
Jones' book has the same tongue-in-cheek escalating-fantasy complexity as Potter, but Miyazaki pretty much threw it out after the first half, stuck in his old Mononoke/Spirited licks, and then scrambled to jump back into the book and tie together all of DWJ's book-plot resolutions (about the scarecrow, the dog, and the alternate kingdoms) in the last ten minutes. Hard to say "It deserved better" when it got Ghibli, but it DID. :(

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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby Bill1978 » May 19th, 2011, 4:14 am

I quite liked Howl's Moving Castle despite the confusion I had when watching it. But I do agree the ending was kinda left field. It was like the production team got to the deadline and went crap we haven't explained the scarecrow, quick let's make him The Missing Prince we mentioned at the start. It was a very rushed ending. And did Sophie end up being a young girl again with grey hair or what??

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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby GeorgeC » May 19th, 2011, 2:38 pm

Yes, Sophie regained her youth...

She might have lost the color because of the magic deal she made with Calcifer. The same thing happened in the book with her hair... it didn't go back to its original color. What happened with her in the sequel (novel), I don't know... Haven't read it.

click to reveal content
Clarification: I haven't read the sequel novel but apparently she returns as a sorceress and has red hair in the sequel. In the film at least, she had medium brown hair.



And no, the subplot with the Prince apparently wasn't changed from the novel... The main changes Miyazaki were making the film blatantly anti-war (to protest the US invasion of Iraq in 2002) and altering several characters' personalities and appearances a bit.

These were not huge things that made the film less enjoyable to me even though I found the book charming as well. The film does stick to the basics of the original novel and it was nice to read the original author appreciated -- even liked -- the film as well. There are too many stories of authors moaning about perfectly serviceable adaptations of their novels. (P.L. Travers was infamously upset about the Disney adaptation of Mary Poppins but probably sold far more books after the film was released!)

Miyazaki's worst film for me is still Princess Mononoke by far. Japanese to the point that I was left scratching my head during the film and definitely darker than his other films. I still don't understand WHY some people like this film so much. It's a fairly pessimistic environmentalist film. I can see why emos and Goths would like that film! :roll:

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Re: Favorite And Least Favorite Studio Ghibli Movie?

Postby EricJ » May 19th, 2011, 7:05 pm

GeorgeC wrote: I still don't understand WHY some people like this film so much. It's a fairly pessimistic environmentalist film. I can see why emos and Goths would like that film! :roll:


Well, to be fair, for most folk back then, Mononoke was literally the first Ghibli they saw. (Some liked Totoro, they just didn't associate it with a name.) It had Big Importance 'N Stuff, so that seem to play up the idea that these were "classics", although, by classics, most of us experienced folk meant Kiki.
Count how many anime newbies you run into who said "I still like Mononoke and Spirited Away, and...I also saw Howl's Moving Castle too!" Because, of course, neither Ghibli OR anime existed before 1999. :roll:

(Me, I'd already seen all of Miyazaki's films on the sly before PM came out, and knew the difference.
But, it was the first one in Disney's Big Plan, so we all had to grit our teeth, think of Engl...er, Japan, and pretend we liked it. Remember how we were basically meh on "Princess & the Frog", but pretended it was an instant classic just to shout down all the nay-sayers? Yeah. Kinda like that, every time Disney thought "Americans don't like anime, because we put it in twelve theaters!", and people thought this sad wrist-slitter was what a Miyazaki film "really" looked like. :(
Like Tangled, when Spirited Away came out, we all went "Whew...", breathed a sigh of relief that the PR load was off our backs, and said "Okay, forget what I said earlier, just go see THIS film instead." )