Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

An earlier version of this review can be found here. Once again, the newest Miyazaki Hayao film was accompanied by the newest announcement of the writer-director’s retirement. And following the 2004 release of Howl’s Moving Castle, he stuck to it for a good year; not counting a few shorts for the Ghibli Museum, he didn’t […]

Following Spirited Away, Miyazaki Hayao didn’t immediately start upon another feature film. Between 2001 and 2006, he directed a cluster of short films meant exclusively for the Ghibli Museum just outside of Tokyo; shockingly, that exclusivity seems to have held firm, even in this day of widespread internet piracy, and despite my best efforts, I […]

After completing Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki Hayao issued one of those threats that directors sometimes do: having found the experience of making that film so grueling, he’d elected to abandon filmmaking altogether, dedicating his time instead to the planned Ghibli Museum, and to the studio itself, where he would stay on as an executive. It never […]

We’re ten films into this Miyazaki Hayao retrospective now, and so far I’ve said barely a word about how they’ve been made; and it’s worth discussing, because it’s fairly special, and explains why thus far I’ve made so freely with “Miyazaki did this” and “Miyazaki did that”, despite the fact that one usually doesn’t treat […]

One music video, two languages Japanese Version (“On Your Mark”): English Version (“Castles in the Air”): These videos are both fairly “young”, in terms of being pulled down for copyright violations, but the first was by the clearest version of “On Your Mark” I stumbled across, and the latter is the only video of “Castles […]

Miyazaki Hayao’s sixth feature film grew out of an idea pitched by Japan Airlines, who were looking for a short in-flight movie: “a fun movie for middle-aged businessmen whose brains became tofu from overwork”, in the translation provided by the excellent Miyazaki fansite But by the time Porco Rosso was completed, it had far […]

In 1987, Studio Ghibli acquired the rights to a children’s novel written by Kadono Eiko, titled Witch’s Delivery Service: the story of Kiki, a 13-year-old girl, and the last year of her training as a witch, as she set off for a new town away from her family and had to learn independence and self-sufficiency. […]

When I first had the idea of a Miyazaki Hayao retrospective, one of my biggest reasons for wanting to do it was that it would give me a plausible reason to see his 1988 feature My Neighbor Totoro, which I had, unthinkably, never watched until two days ago. Not that I should have needed a […]

Following the success of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, one of that film’s producers, Suzuki Toshio, teamed up with Miyazaki Hayao to create a new animation studio, one that would release films boasting the opulence and epic scope of Nausicaä on a more or less regular basis. 24 years and 16 films later, […]

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind represented a major shift towards more polished, visually ambitious films from director Miyazaki Hayao; it even resulted in the creation of a brand new animation studio that would, in due course, become one of the most beloved companies in cinema history. But his next project released after Nausicaä […]

That Miyazaki Hayao is not merely a great director and animator, but also the writer and illustrator of numerous well-regarded manga, is a fact doubtlessly long-known to his legions of adoring fans, but to a more casual admirer of his work like myself, it was something of a tiny surprise. But there it is, sure […]

In the late 1960s, manga artist Katō Kazuhiko, working under the nom de plume Monkey Puch, began writing a series titled (in English), Lupin III. This series told of the adventures of a gentleman thief named Arsène Lupin III, the grandson of Arsène Lupin, the hero of a series of French novels written by Maurice […]