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Andrew

A couple of Miyazaki/Anime questions

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1) Any word on when 'Howl's Moving Castle' could cross the Pacific - are we looking at a late 2004 or sometime in 2005 release?

2) While at Borders yesterday, I noticed that there are a bunch of Lupin the 3rd DVDs. I saw Miyazaki's 'Castle of Cagliostro' last year, featuring the same character, and enjoyed it greatly - it had the action and excitement of Indiana Jones, with a lot more carefree humor (albeit without the weightier underlying themes of some of Miyazaki's other films). Anyway, are any of the non-Miyazaki Lupin films worth seeing, for the same traits that made 'Cagliostro' so enjoyable?

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Apparently, "Howl's Moving Castle" has run into quite a few production delays. Its release in Japan has been pushed back until November 2004, which probably means that it won't make it over here until at least late 2005.

You're right, "Castle Of Cagliostro" is a fun film, way more enjoyable than I thought it would be. As far as the other "Lupin" films, I can't say for sure. However, from what litte I have read and seen, they're a bit racier than Miyazaki's films, with Lupin's womanizing ways a bit more prominent.

BTW, you might want to check out "Cowboy Bebop" (both the series and the movie). It's quite a bit darker and more adult (thought not in *that* way) than "Cagliostro", but has a great style and verve all its own. Several of the characters in "Cowboy Bebop" are very reminiscent of "Lupin" characters in look and mannerisms.

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Thanks for the info, Opus - I kinda suspected you would have an answer to these questions smile.gif .

That's disappointing news about 'Howl.' Then again, I understand a few of his older films are coming out on American DVD for the first time this year, so that's something to be excited about.

I saw the Cowboy Bebop movie a few months back, and it failed to grab me (I thought the opening sequence was the most interesting bit by far). Then again, perhaps I should give it another chance; I may have been expecting a 2nd Miyazaki, rather than looking at the film on its own terms.

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Thanks for the info, Opus - I kinda suspected you would have an answer to these questions

Woohoo... I've found my niche! smile.gif

You might want to give the "Cowboy Bebop" series a whirl. Although they tried to make the movie enjoyable by people who hadn't seen the series, I think it's much better when you watch the series. You know the characters, where they came from, why they act the way that they do, more about the universe they inhabit, etc. However, the series is 26 episodes and follows a very long character and story arc throughout, and it really starts to gel only after you've made it quite a ways in. And it has one of the greatest theme songs/opening credit sequences I've ever seen.

Quite a bit of a commitment, even moreso if you're not an anime fan (or if you just want to understand the movie better). I've been meaning to go through the series again, but I've got several other anime series I'm in the middle of watching ("Last Exile", "RahXephon", "Haibane Renmei"), so who knows...

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Somewhat old news, but anyhoo... ScreenDaily recently posted a review of Howl's Moving Castle.

Japanese animation genius Hayao Miyazaki

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Midnight Eye has just posted a number of anime-related features, including some features on Ghost In The Shell: Innocence director, Mamoru Oshii. Edited by opus

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By turns funny, exhilarating and touching, it lacks only one thing: the spiritual and metaphysical depth that made Spirited Away such a haunting experience.

"Only" that, huh? wink.gif

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AICN's reporting that Disney might be making a live-action Kiki's Delivery Service?!? huh.gif

I just don't see this happening without seriously dumbing down or cutesifying it. As wondrous as it is, Kiki's does head into some fairly dark, dramatic territory once Kiki faces the loss of her powers, and Miyazaki handles it so well that I just don't know if/how Disney could pull it off.

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Given Disney's recent track record, I'm willing to bet this will suck and blow. The only thing that would frighten me more about this announcement is if they mentioned that Kiki's cat is now fat, orange, and hooked on lasagna.

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I agree with opus that the characters in Cowboy Bebop make the film worth watching, and that it takes a while to get to know them. I especially like the relationship between Spike and...his name escapes me. I was kinda surprised by some of the more moving aspects of the series. On the other hand, some of the stories aren't that great.

WRT, the other Lupin films (I think they're TV episodes.), the ones I've seen had really poor animation and the stories weren't as good as Castle of Cagliostro, which I really enjoyed.

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I agree with opus that the characters in Cowboy Bebop make the film worth watching, and that it takes a while to get to know them. I especially like the relationship between Spike and...his name escapes me. I was kinda surprised by some of the more moving aspects of the series. On the other hand, some of the stories aren't that great.

I believe you're thinking of Jett Black, who serves as the crew's mother figure/voice of reason/etc.

Yeah, some of the individual episodes aren't too great, and some of the one's centering around Ed can be a bit annoying. However, the entire arc of the series is pretty great.

On a related note, I recently watched the first volume of Samurai Champloo, the new series from the creators of Cowboy Bebop. The best way to describe it as a "hip-hop/samurai" hybrid. It's set in feudal Japan, but it's filtered through a hip-hop sensibility, from the music, to some of the fashions, and even to the action (one of the main characters' fighting style is as much breakdancing as it is swordfighting). And yet, for some reason, it really seems to work (probably because it's so highly stylized).

There are some notable similarities to Bebop, from the motley cast of characters who are just sort of thrown together by various ill fortunes and character designs (one of the characters has a definite Spike Spiegel-esque look about him) to the mash-up of styles and cultures and the overall irreverant tone. Oh, and animation-wise, it looks fantastic too.

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A few questions for the anime experts-- Hope this doesn't disrupt the conversation, but i'm looking for help and i didnt want to start a new thread.

Would any of you recommend Porco Rosso, Nausicaa or The Cat Returns to kids under ten? My oldest boys (9 and almost 7) really love My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, although they found a handful of images from the latter to be disturbing.

Any general anime recommendations for kids in this age group?

Anyone ever seen the Giant Robo series? Any good? Age appropriate?

Also... how 'bout a desert island anime list for adults?

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Would any of you recommend Porco Rosso, Nausicaa or The Cat Returns to kids under ten? My oldest boys (9 and almost 7) really love My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, although they found a handful of images from the latter to be disturbing.

I haven't seen Porco Rosso or The Cat Returns yet (not enough time), but as for Nausicaa, it's kind of iffy. Overall, I don't think it's too bad, but there is a fair amount of war-related violence (though it's all relatively bloodless, just lots of explosions and screaming and such). If your kids could handle Castle In The Sky, then I think Nausicaa might be alright.

You might find this handy... A Parent's Guide To Anime. Not sure exactly how up to date it is - there are a number of recent titles that I don't see on there - but there's still quite a lot of information.

One issue with getting kid-friendly anime is that, while this sort of stuff is almost certainly produced in Japan (anime reflects pretty much any interest you can think of), most of what makes it across the ocean is the more "mature" stuff, anime that would most likely be rated PG-13 at the very least.

Also... how 'bout a desert island anime list for adults?

I assume you're talking about anime that is suitable for adults, correct? If that's the case, here are a few of my recommendations, in no particular order...

Akira

Ghost In The Shell (both movies and the Standalone Complex series)

Cowboy Bebop (both the series and the movie)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Princess Mononoke

Grave Of The Fireflies

Macross Plus (I personally prefer the mini-series to the movie)

Samurai X (Trust, Betrayal, and Reflection are all good)

Perfect Blue

Millennium Actress

Tokyo Godfathers

Paranoia Agent

Witch Hunter Robin

Voices Of A Distant Star

Whisper Of The Heart (this one is probably good of kids, too)

Last Exile (ditto)

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Opus-- thanks for the link. Looks like a great site.

If your kids could handle Castle In The Sky, then I think Nausicaa might be alright.
My older boys of course love battle scenes and such... they both get creeped out at the same kind of images though. Some of the images in Spirited Away, for example-- with that dark spirit vomiting up stuff and other similar images-- really freak them out.

BTW... your thoughts on Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke for kids?

I assume you're talking about anime that is suitable for adults, correct? If that's the case, here are a few of my recommendations, in no particular order...
Exactly-- thank you! As my kids have dabbled in manga over the last year and as I've been forced to watch some of the lower caste anime (ala Pokemon, Cyborg 009, etc...), I've actually found myself very interested in the forms.

What's your take on the Macross series? The parent's guide actually lists the series in the G-rated category.

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BTW... your thoughts on Castle in the Sky and Princess Mononoke for kids?

I think Castle in the Sky would be a solid film for older kids (say 8 and up). It's got a lot of action, but there aren't really any of the creepy scenes like the one you mentioned from Spirited Away. As for Princess Mononoke, it's probably Miyazaki's darkest movie, and certainly his bloodiest. It has some pretty violent action sequences, complete with decapitations and severed limbs. I remember when I first saw it in theatres. I was sitting in front of a couple who had brought their young children, and I could practically feel them squirming during some of the battles.

Don't get me wrong... I think Princess Mononoke is a spectacular film, and probably my favorite Miyazaki movie overall. However, I would definitely hold off on showing that one to your kids until they were a bit older, IMHO.

What's your take on the Macross series? The parent's guide actually lists the series in the G-rated category.

There are actually several Macross series. The original series was combined with two other anime series (Genesis Climber Mospeada and one other that I can't recall) to create Robotech. It's definitely dated, but I get a kick out of it.

Macross II actually has little to do with Macross proper. It has some stunning animation and the mecha designs are some of my favorites, but it's pretty weak.

Macross Plus is probably my favorite Macross title. It has some of the most stunning aerial sequences I've ever seen, the animation and music are topnotch, and the storyline is very strong as well. It's available in both OVA format (4 half-hour episodes) and a condensed movie version. Personally, I prefer the OVA (I think, it's been awhile), but it's all good.

Macross Zero is the most recent Macross title and is a prequel, taking place before the events of the original Macross series (and, by extension, Robotech). I've only seen the first 2 episodes (I think there are 4 or 5 total), but it's quite good. The animation is absolutely amazing, although I can't comment too much on the storyline.

I've not seen any of Macross 7, though from what little I've read, it's pretty bad. I doubt it will ever come over to the U.S. because there are all sorts of licensing issues, but if you really want to see it, you can get it through, um, "other" channels.

Finally, there's Macross: Do You Remember Love, which is the oddest title in the Macross pantheon. It was actually designed as a movie that was shot by the people within the Macross universe, and is a retelling of the events from the first Macross series. I think it's coming out soon on DVD. I've got a crappy bootleg somewhere, and it's interesting to watch, but it completely alters the storyline. Macross II takes place within this sub-universe, and as such, is basically dismissed by most people.

Hope that all makes sense. For a more thorough overview, click here.

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Opus, once again, thanks for the suggestions! The anime universe seems so vast and from what i've heard there's a lot of ka-ka out there to navigate through-- especially as you're searching for kid-friendly stuff. You're the second person who has recommended the Macross Plus series to me and I'm going to definitely check it out.

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Opus, once again, thanks for the suggestions! The anime universe seems so vast and from what i've heard there's a lot of ka-ka out there to navigate through-- especially as you're searching for kid-friendly stuff. You're the second person who has recommended the Macross Plus series to me and I'm going to definitely check it out.

My pleasure! biggrin.gif

Sadly, you're right. There is a lot of ka-ka out there. I get a number of anime DVDs sent to me to review, and I tend to pass on many of them simply because I know they'll either be dross, or that their only reason for existing is lots of gratuitous content that I just don't want to wade through (i.e. the wonderful world of fan service). And the bad stuff can be really, really bad (stay far, far away from anything labelled "hentai").

However, the good stuff, like Macross Plus, is really, really good and makes it all worthwhile (usually), and I'd rather focus on it.

P.S. Pardon the self-promotion, but I have reviews of a number of the aforementioned titles on my website. Click here...

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Yeah... Used to visit your digs before I ever came to this forum... After your recommendations on this thread, I went back and scoured the movie reviews and found some helpful info. So much to see, so little money!

BTW, belated congrats on your recent proposal. If things go as planned, I suppose you might be in my predicament in a few years-- that is, wading through the muck to find movies that will provoke that innocent sense of wonder in your kids.

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Would any of you recommend Porco Rosso, Nausicaa or The Cat Returns to kids under ten? My oldest boys (9 and almost 7) really love My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, although they found a handful of images from the latter to be disturbing.

Also... how 'bout a desert island anime list for adults?

I've yet to see all of those movies, however "The Cat Returns" is being reviewed as quite kid-friendly. Most reviews say there is nothing objectionable to it in the least. I'll have to rent it myself soon, since anything Ghibli is going to be at least good, if not outstanding.

Porco and Nausicaa are probably a little over their heads, and what I saw of Nausicaa would certainly suggest an older audience.

For kids, I think Kiki's Delievery Service may be a little slow, but it's still a wonderful film...it's pretty wholesome as well.

Desert Island for Adults: I made a list Over here, in another topic, which lists most of my favorites. I need to add Voices of a Distant Star and ROD the TV (aka Read or Die, the TV series) to that.

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Kiki's Delivery Service is my favorite Miyazaki for family viewing. Is it "slow" for kids? Maybe if they're only used to hyperkinetic kiddie fare. But Kiki is a favorite in our house. It's character-driven rather than plot-driven, but the characters are utterly delightful; Kiki is one of Miyazaki's most personable heroines.

Unfortunately, the overt pagan themes in some Miyazakis, e.g., My Neighbor Totoro, mean that I won't watch them with my kids until they're older. Besides its many other virtues, Kiki has virtually nothing in this regard that anyone could object to. Anti-Harry Potter activists might look askance at Kiki for being a young broomstick-riding witch with a cat familiar, but I find the contrasts between Kiki and the H.P. stories much more compelling than the similarities.

Kiki is the only Miyazaki I have so far dared to write up for my DVD/Video Picks column in the National Catholic Register. Spirited Away wouldn't pass muster. Castle in the Sky, the most visionary Miyazaki I have yet seen (though weak in the character department), comes close, though IIRC there's some stuff about the earth's spirit or something of the sort, and whenever you have a giant magical crystal at the heart of an ancient civilization you're just asking for trouble (cf. Atlantis: The Lost Empire).

I'm looking forward to reading feedback on Porco Rosso and The Cat Returns to try to figure out whether either might be kid- and/or Register-friendly....

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All of these comments make me yearn for the day when Whisper Of The Heart finally makes it to these shores. I haven't seen all of Studio Ghibli's films, but it probably has some of their strongest character work.

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Kiki's Delivery Service is my favorite Miyazaki for family viewing. Is it "slow" for kids? Maybe if they're only used to hyperkinetic kiddie fare. But Kiki is a favorite in our house. It's character-driven rather than plot-driven, but the characters are utterly delightful; Kiki is one of Miyazaki's most personable heroines.

Agreed. However, I wouldn't consider "slow" a bad thing, especally in Kiki's case. When I first saw this on The Disney Channel, I was taken in by how mature it was for such a movie. It wasn't pandering. It was universal, intelligent, and insightful. In short, it was the opposite of everything I usually associate with modern Disney. :)

I guess what I was getting at was the idea that a 7 year old may not be as excited about a young teenager making it on her own as opposed to younger kids and cute woodland creatures. Like one of my favorite Ghibli movies, "Only Yesterday," it is slow. But, that can be a good thing.

All of these comments make me yearn for the day when Whisper Of The Heart finally makes it to these shores. I haven't seen all of Studio Ghibli's films, but it probably has some of their strongest character work.

From the ones I've seen, this and Only Yesterday are probably the most character driven. I took a month or two with Nicheflix.com to see some of the unreleased Ghibli movies. It was well worth it.

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All of these comments make me yearn for the day when Whisper Of The Heart finally makes it to these shores. I haven't seen all of Studio Ghibli's films, but it probably has some of their strongest character work.

From the ones I've seen, this and Only Yesterday are probably the most character driven. I took a month or two with Nicheflix.com to see some of the unreleased Ghibli movies. It was well worth it.

I've watched the first half of Only Yesterday, but really need to sit down and go through the whole thing. What I saw, I really enjoyed.

I watched about 20 minutes or so of Whisper last night and wow, this might just be my favorite overall Ghibli film. The animation is absolutely breathtaking, capturing the everyday details of life in such a wonderful manner, the characters (even the minor ones) are very fleshed out, and the storyline (though very much a Ghibli standard) is an absolute delight. Oh, and the soundtrack is quite gorgeous as well. I picked up a copy at an anime store in Toronto a few years ago, and really enjoy it.

Sadly, the director, Yoshifumi Kondo, passed away in 1998 at the age of 47. He had worked on a number of Ghibli films, including Grave Of The Fireflies and Only Yesterday, but Whisper was his only directorial effort.

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Fortunately for hapless schmoes like me, our public library system had eight of the dvd titles listed on this thread!

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I watched Porco Rosso a few days ago, and I'd have to say it's probably my least favorite Miyazaki film so far. No complaints in the animation department - it's striking, as always, and the aerial sequences are quite extraordinary - but plotwise, it's surprisingly uneven. It's also very cynical, and the least "redemptive" of his films. I've read that this is considered by Miyazaki to be his most personal film, which I found rather odd because the main character remains rather distant and detached throughout the entire film.

The basic story is that a former air force pilot named Marco becomes so cynical after a war that decides to stop being human altogether, and becomes a pig (actually, this is a fuzzy point in the plot). So he spends his time fighting air pirates, though he's just as illegal to the government. After losing a fight to a hotshot American pilot brought in by the pirates, the movie enters a bit of a tailspin as most of the middle section of the film is about the repairs done to his aircraft. Okay, so that might be a bit of a stretch, but it's amazing just how much the film's energy seems to die right smack dab in the middle, only to pick up for a rather anticlimactic finish.

The highlight of the film occurs when Marco tells his cohort about a dream he had when he was fighting in the war, in which he saw the planes of the dead forming a giant, glittering band that stretched through the skies, and he saw his own friends go to join it. It's a very haunting sequence, and is probably the single best character moment in the film. There's also some very interesting political stuff about fascism, the Italian government, and their attempts to stop the freedom enjoyed by everyone in the Adriatic Sea (which is posed as a sort of "Wild West" type area). I'm curious as to just how much of it was grounded in reality.

I also watched the first disc of Someday's Dreamers, a rather recent "magical girl" anime. The premise is somewhat similar to Kiki's Delivery Service - a young girl travels to the big city to begin her studies to become a mage. However, the series is obviously set in modern day Tokyo, and a good deal of the first episodes are about her adjusting to city life. Also, magic is an everyday part of life, and is actually monitored by the government via a special "Mage's Bureau".

It's obviously being positioned as a series for younger girls, though there's some material that might give some folks pause (aside from the whole magic issue, which, in these early episodes at least, is treated very nonchalantly and part of everyday life, and not as something supernatural). It's alluded that one of the main characters is gay (though we see nothing), and there are a handful of sequences involving that main character (who, in the series, is 17) such as her getting ready for a shower, that might raise an eyebrow. Mind you, you don't see anything and it's not played as titillating in the slightest, but hypersensitive folks might take note.

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