Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

When I have in the past talked about Isao Takahata, a man who’s certainly in the conversation about my favorite animation directors of all time if he’s not indeed #1, it has usually been to reflect on how, to a degree unseen in Japanese animation prior to the ascendance of Yuasa Masaaki, most of his […]

A review requested by Scott, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. We live in an age when anime – an imprecise term that I try not to use very often, since it doesn’t inherently mean anything besides “animation made in Japan”, which strikes me as condescending at least, […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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; […]