Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The Red Turtle is a miracle of transnational cinema: a great Dutch animation director hand-picked by Japanese filmmaking legend to make his feature debut with a Franco-Belgian co-production supported by a Japanese studio. The Japanese legends being Takahata Isao (who serves as this film’s producer) and Miyazaki Hayao, and the studio being Studio Ghibli. Which […]

The good news: with From Up on Poppy Hill, which was released in Japan in 2011, internationally beloved Studio Ghibli finally managed to bring back a director for a second time, outside of the legendary pair of Miyazaki Hayao and Takahata Isao. It is, accordingly, the best indication that we’ve ever had that the studio […]

Here’s a stat to chill the heart of any fan of painterly, hand-drawn animation and prefer their family movies to be told with gentle grace rather than screaming pop culture references and fart jokes: of the 18 feature films produced in the 26-year history of Studio Ghibli, fully two-thirds of them have been directed by […]

The idea of a Studio Ghibli adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books predates the existence of Studio Ghibli itself, as well of three of the (so far) six novels in the series. In the early 1980s, long before he’d gained any fame whatsoever in the West, the relatively green anime director Miyazaki Hayao […]

Studio Ghibli, as a rule, doesn’t do sequels; this is a core value stated outright by company leader Miyazaki Hayao, who has categorically refused to follow-up on any of his own stories, and the rest of the company’s artists has seemed content to follow suit (one must wonder what Miyazaki’s buddy John Lasseter thinks about […]

Takahata Isao’s most recent feature to date, as of June 2010, My Neighbors the Yamadas opens with an image that is simultaneously simple and deeply significant: a child’s pencil drawing, forming before our eyes. There are two meanings to this opening shot, one ironic and the other quite serious. For there is, on the one […]

1994’s Pom Poko was the eighth feature produced by Studio Ghibli; it was the seventh to be directed by either Miyazaki Hayao or Takahata Isao. That this saturation of the studio’s creative output by just two filmmakers – neither of them young men – was less than ideal needs no explanation, and thus it was […]

Through the end of 1993, it would be possible to make a certain generalisation about the films produced by Studio Ghibli, that would go something like this: Miyazaki Hayao directs fantasies, everybody else directs realistic stories. That neat dichotomy came screeching to a halt in 1994, when Ghibli’s second-most prolific director, Takahata Isao, gave the […]

Even today, Studio Ghibli has the reputation (in the United States, anyway) of being the company that makes Miyazaki Hayao’s films – oh, and these others ones, over here. That’s not fair at all, of course: as of this writing, Ghibli has released 16 films* (lucky number 17 is on the way), and exactly half […]

“I didn’t intend for the ten-year-old me to come along on this trip”, muses 27-year-old Taeko (Imai Miki) early in Only Yesterday, the fifth feature produced by Studio Ghibli. And yet the fifth-grade incarnation of Taeko (Honna Youko) is a constant companion in her older self’s inner life throughout the ten-day vacation in the Yamagata […]

Takahata Isao had directed a number of animated television series and a few feature films when he was brought in to the fold of the newly-formed Studio Ghibli in the mid-1980s. Ghibli had been largely formed through the efforts of producer Suzuki Toshio and director Miyazaki Hayao, a longtime collaborator of Takahata’s by that point; […]

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 […]