Hayao Miyazaki Edition! So we decided to watch all the Miyazaki movies recently. Unfortunately, I’m only writing this now that we’ve gotten through 90% of them, but oh well. Also – I didn’t watch Spirited Away because I had seen it before. Now I wish I had, to refresh, I remember thinking it was too surreal for me. And we saw Ponyo back when it came out. That one was also cute, also pretty weird.
My Neighbor Totoro – I think this ended up being one of my favorites. Two sisters encounter these forests spirits at their new house and have a few adventures. It’s very weird, there’s a flying cat bus (that’s a giant cat in the shape of a bus that you sit inside, not a bus for cats). But it was very sweet and had a heroic female lead with no romantic BS. What we noticed in the first few HM movies we saw is strong female characters whose movies are NOT defined by finding a man, which we loved. The fell apart in the last few we watched, sadly.
Kiki’s Delivery Service – Another really cute one, also one of the better ones. A young witch goes off on her own, has some adventures, and succeeds. There is a boy who likes her, but it’s not the point of the movie. The point is her finding her place in the world. It’s a lot of fun. Far too many shots of Kiki’s underpinnings for my tastes, though. Mr. Miyazaki has some serious issues with under age girls’ swimsuit areas.
Princess Mononoke – Holy shit, what happened here? We were just getting used to the cute thing of these last movies, and now this gore fest? the fuck? Dudes getting their arms and heads chopped off, blood everywhere, jesus christ. I actually really liked most of the movie, though. The way they did nature vs. man/technology/pollution was actually cool. I liked the action, and the blood didn’t bother me. Sadly, the movie goes to crap at the end. First of all Mononoke, who is a bad ass killer in the beginning, turns into a weak woman who needs saving, which pisses me off. And then they just wrap the whole thing up with the stupid love story and NO damn resolution of the man vs nature stuff. Boo.
Howl’s Moving Castle – I think this might be the best of the bunch. It does have a love story, which doesn’t thrill me. But it’s mostly the woman who is the strong one, in the end. But the fantasy of it is quite fun. Calcifer is a fantastic character. Howl is a whiny goth, but sort of in a charming way. It’s a very cool movie.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind – Eh, not as good. Also a man vs. nature thing. Perhaps a better resolution than Mononoke, but the movie is a bit weirder and didn’t really connect for me. Also – a lot more looking up skirts while a girl flies around, Hayao. Not a bad movie, but low on the list.
Porco Rosso – This one is actually pretty fun, maybe #4 behind howl, totoro, and kiki. An italian air force pilot after WW I gets some curse that turns him into a humanoid pig. He goes around bounty hunting, being charming and surly. Things happen, there’s some fun plane action, some funny humor. This one ends explicitly without telling you what happens which is kind of cool, but you can kind of assume.
Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro – Hm, one of these is not like the others. This movie is totally different from all the rest. I guess Lupin is an established character, so maybe that hindered Miyazaki. But it just seemed so different. The animation, plot, and humor felt american, not like Miyazaki at all. It was kind of slap sticky and silly, but not in the weird fantastical way that Miyazaki normally is. Felt more like an episode of inspector gadget than anything.
The Cat Returns – Now this is back to good Hayao stuff! This is exactly what I want from one of these movies. Whimsical, fantastic, fun, with a nice female heroine (still the problem of little girls with too short of dresses, sadly), varied characters and a weird ass world. This one is about a girl who gets pulled into a cat world – they are still house cats, but otherwise completely anthropomorphized, they talk and walk and wear clothes and use things. Crazy things happen, it’s quite kooky, and it all works out in the end. Great!
Castle in the Sky – I’m not sure about this one. We watched it in 3 or 4 parts. The first N-1 parts I wasn’t really digging it. I’m not sure why, it had the same sort of things that are likable about Miyazaki movies, but somehow I wasn’t on board. Yet in the last part, I was pretty engaged, amused by the pirates, happy with the events. Maybe the busy-ness of everything external to this movie distracted me too much to enjoy the first parts, which isn’t fair. Or maybe this one just isn’t as good as the others, not sure!