Porco Rosso (1992)

Porco Rosso Movie Review

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

Porco Rosso is a 1992 animated adventure comedy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of the weaker Studio Ghibli offerings that still has a lot to offer.

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I’d rather be a big than a fascist

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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The subject of aviation is naturally very dear to Miyazaki, but somehow he never really knew how to utilize all that strong love for it. ‘The Wind Rises’ was problematic and Porco Rosso is no exception. It is a film that is just solid and I’d come to expect much more than solid from this director.

So the film is about an Italian World War I ex-fighter ace who was transformed into an anthropomorphic pig. The film is interesting for being the only Miyazaki film that is very realistic and could have happened in real life, everything except the curse part of course. Its Italian location is interesting and unique for the studio and I love the 30s decade so this was pleasant for me naturally.

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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But I have to agree with the director himself who stated that he made an adult movie for children. And that is exactly the major problem of Porco Rosso in a nutshell. It is realistic, it has politics and history in it and yet somehow the movie is not serious as it tries to be fun and funny. It is fun and funny at times, but this tonal inconsistency just felt off for me and ultimately the movie did not work as much as it could have had he decided on just one consistent tone.

I found its first act somewhat abrupt as it starts in a rushed way and it did not introduce me to its characters and its world properly. The third act of the film is where it is at its silliest and most childish and although amusing, it felt too silly in contrast to everything that came before it. The second act is easily the best one as it features some strong characterization, humor and wonderful drama.

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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Porco himself is very memorable and I really liked his character as he is a departure from the usual heroes from the director, or should I say heroines. His story is excellent and I loved the hint at the end that his face may be restored to human. Fio is such a wonderful, subtly feminist character and she is a lot of fun and has some great energy. The relationship between these two is the heart and soul of the film.

Donald Curtis is somewhat typical as an antagonist and again that fight at the end was silly, but Madame Gina is memorable as a love interest and I really enjoyed the love story in this movie and I even found this triangle to be pretty solid.

Porco Rosso is so well animated. It isn’t quite on par with the previous Ghibli films as it isn’t as artistic and the backgrounds are sometimes lacking, but the designs of the characters are so good, especially that of the protagonist, and the film is pleasing in color and quite endearing. The flight scenes are so well executed and I loved the attention to detail that went into the animation of airplanes. It is evident from this movie how much Hayao loves aviation.

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Porco Rosso Movie Review

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The score is also stupendous. It isn’t as memorable as say the score from ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ or ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, but it is very fitting to the story and feel of the movie, not to mention the locations, and I loved how fun and retro it felt.

The movie is well paced and edited in spite of that somewhat rushed first act. It otherwise flows really well and the direction is as strong as usual. I also thought that the dialogue is quite solid and I loved the conversations between Fio and Porco and his origin story is so well told. So the movie is not one of Ghibli’s strongest and it is more in line with ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’. Still, it is endearing and charming enough that I can’t criticize it too much.

Porco Rosso is a problematic movie. The animation is as wonderful as usual for the studio, the characters are memorable, I loved the relationship between Fio and Porco, the locations of the film are different and interesting and the film is so well scored and charming and endearing for the most part. However, I have to agree with Miyazaki himself that this is an adult film for children and it thus felt odd both conceptually and tonally. It struggled with its tone too much, the first act is somewhat rushed and the third act is silly leading to one of Ghibli’s more humble offerings.

My Rating – 3.5

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Only Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

Only Yesterday is a 1991 anime drama film directed by Isao Takahata which is Studio Ghibli’s fifth movie. It is one of their most underrated and very best.

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There is always a tomorrow

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The story is so strong. I am not usually a fan of this framing device where we jump from present to past, but this use of flashbacks is so strong that it complements the movie instead of hurting it. Critics have pointed out the strong adult approach that is present in Only Yesterday and that is definitely the case here. It is intended for women, but could be enjoyed by men as well. But it is mostly for adults as its story is very mature and deep.

We follow a 27-year-old woman as she journeys to the countryside and meanwhile reminisces about her 10-year-old self. This is not just your regular reminiscing, but it is important as she thus grows more as an adult and realizes her past and present mistakes. She is somewhat lost as an adult and she wants to fix that.

What I loved about it the most is its portrayal of childhood. Now there are a lot of movies about this subject matter, but this is easily one of the best of its type because it shows so truthfully how everything seemed better and more magical during childhood, but it also shows us that some of the problems and traumas faced during childhood are never really forgotten and they shape you as a human being. Incredibly powerful stuff.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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And I loved her romance with Toshio, so well done. I rooted for them to end up together and it is implied that they did which was wonderful. Their conversations were just so wonderful and realistic that they were easily the highlights here in terms of the dialogue. Toshio is a great character and Taeka just might be my favorite Ghibli heroine or at least in the top two or three. She is beautifully developed and always grounded in reality as she is never portrayed as too good, especially as a child and I appreciated that.

Other characters aren’t as memorable but they definitely help shape her experiences as an adult and as a child. Toshio’s family does have some great moments with her as they pressure her into dating Toshio which was such a realistically depicted scene. Taeka’s mother is also superbly realized, caring, yet also careless at times towards her. The same goes for her sister. And of course I liked all of her classmates and especially her love interest.

The scene where the two share their first conversation is just beautiful to witness. It wonderfully showcases the power and innocence of childhood love. All of the scenes between Taeka and Toshio were of course the other highlights. I loved the scenes with hitting puberty and the period talk is something you rarely see in animation and is greatly portrayed here. And her math problem led to such a great and relatable scene to me personally.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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But there is no denying the power of the last sequence. I just adored that ending and it is in fact one of my favorite Studio Ghibli scenes ever. There you see the need for the animated medium as this is a drama and not a fantasy but there it employs its flashback approach by bringing the kids on the screen together with her and facing her with her former self. That moment was just poetic and deep that I felt it emotionally. The fact that probably my favorite song ever The Rose was playing during the scene only heightened the emotion for me. It is the truly touching pinnacle of this entire mature and relatable drama.

Only Yesterday is beautifully animated. Now it isn’t on the level of some previous Ghibli classics such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, but it is still incredibly strong. The film portrays its characters realistically as they are not overly pretty and perfect. The imagery is gorgeous and the attention to detail is once again overwhelming.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The film showcases the importance of country life and especially farm producing and I just loved that. This studio has always been the proponent of living in the country, but this movie takes that to the next level as it also shows us the importance of working and how producing plants can be beneficial to not just your health but also emotionally as you help grow a living thing. The relationship between humans and nature is so well emphasized here and it shows us how the two can co-exist peacefully and productively.

The score is again terrific and not just in the ending, but also in its use of Hungarian and Romanian folk music as that somehow transcends and perfectly fits the country scenes. It is so well edited and directed and a further proof why I love Isao Takahata so much as he truly directs his movies stupendously and his Ghibli films are my favorites.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday isn’t perfect as I thought that some scenes weren’t as compelling as the rest and the film needed more humor in my opinion as it was overly serious, but it truly is one of Studio Ghibli’s finest outings and definitely near the top of the list for me. It is an underrated film that should be appreciated by more people and now that it finally came out in the USA, I am glad to see that start to happen. Also, it is easily one of the best that the very weak year of 1991 has to offer.

Only Yesterday is one of the very best that Studio Ghibli has to offer thanks to again gorgeous animation, a truly phenomenal score, excellent character development and a rich story. Its framing device is put to some great use, the film flows so well, it is beautifully directed by always great Isao Takahata and it is so emotional, relatable and ultimately deep in its very mature story. The highlight is the ending which deeply touched me with its song choice, imagery and strong emotion.

My Rating – 4.5

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Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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Kiki’s Delivery Service Movie Review

Kiki’s Delivery Service is a 1989 fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is Studio Ghibli’s forth film which is solid, but pretty overrated.

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Flying used to be fun

until I started doing it for a living

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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It follows a young witch in training. She hits her teenage years and moves to a new town where she starts earning money by delivering packages with her broom. She meets a lot of different people and experiences adulthood. It is a coming-of-age flick which should prove awesome for children and most especially little girls, but it is in my opinion too childlike and girly and it doesn’t have the adult appeal that childlike movies such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ have.

That is mostly why I didn’t love it. I liked it more upon my second viewing, but I still think it isn’t better than solid. The plot is somewhat non-existent except that it is a coming-of-age story and although it is too slow at times, I mostly liked its casual approach which is the director’s signature direction. He directed the film really well, that’s for sure.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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Of course Kiki not being able to talk to her cat eventually and losing her flying ability was a metaphor for becoming an adult and losing your innocence and I loved that, a very elegant and heartwarming way to state that transition. The movie is slow, but certainly quite sophisticated and although seemingly too sweet, it does portray many different types of people and some not all that good so it does become more mature at some points, but too rarely.

I’ve had a big problem with its ending. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a film that is leisurely in style and pace and thus its climactic ending felt way out of place and honestly quite ridiculous. It is a typical action-oriented finale that should be reserved for all those stupid family flicks made in USA and seeing Miyazaki resort to that was unfortunate.

Kiki is a good character, though a bit too good natured and somewhat forgettable when put against other strong Ghibli heroines. Jiji’s sarcasm proved to be a lot of fun and again I really liked that only she could talk to him. Their relationship pleasantly reminded me of Lyra and Pan’s relationship in ‘Northern Lights’.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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Osono is charming and Ursula shared a really great scene with Kiki and I loved her artistic background. As for Tombo, he is your typical Ghibli male love interest, but their relationship was admittedly quite sweet and touching. The voice acting is expectedly very good here.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is as superbly animated as you would come to expect from the caliber of this studio and its famous director. The character designs themselves are good, but it is the backgrounds that prove to be a real treat here. I absolutely loved how gorgeous some of the imagery was here. I always loved seaside towns and this town being European in style was refreshing to see in an anime film. I loved how the town looked and it felt so cozy, but the house interiors, the food, of course the nature and every little detail was beautiful to witness and Ghibli’s early films from eighties and nineties really do give hand-drawn animation a great reputation.

The score is also very good and grandiose and different in its style which I loved. Its opening and closing number was also quite sweet. The film is definitely wonderfully made technically and both the script and the dialogue offer some gems in terms of the scenes. My favorite scenes are Kiki’s discussion about art and flying with Ursula, her first scenes in a new town were all phenomenal and her scenes with Tombo and Jiji were all big winners.

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Kiki's Delivery Service Movie Review

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So the film is pleasant and charming, but admittedly too slow at times and I honestly thought that the film was way too simplistic and it definitely ended in a very mediocre, frustratingly annoying manner. It is a movie that is perfect for kids and little girls, but it never has that universality to it that other Ghibli classics have. It is the weakest Ghibli outing from the eighties by far and definitely one of its most overrated films. It is solid, don’t get me wrong, but I’d come to expect much greater things from this magnificent studio and this one is certainly way too overrated for my taste.

Kiki’s Delivery Service is expectedly gorgeously and meticulously animated, very well scored, pleasantly leisurely in pace and style with a good metaphor and it is a charming coming-of-age film that is great for children and especially girls, but it isn’t all that appealing to adults, I found its ending annoyingly too climactic and out of place and although the film is definitely sweet and solid, it is far from great and is actually one of Studio Ghibli’s most overrated works.

My Rating – 3.5

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My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 family fantasy anime film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It is one of Studio Ghibli’s loveliest offerings.

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Well, I’m not sure,

but I could’ve sworn that I saw

both of the girls up in the treetop, laughing

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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This has to be Ghibli’s most childlike film and that is okay as it is wonderful and so pleasing and gentle that you gotta love it no matter the age. So basically we follow two sisters as they explore the country and the forest while interacting with friendly wood spirits. Yes, this film apparently doesn’t have a clear storyline, but I have to say that I liked it all the more for it.

In real life, rare are sudden conflicts and there are no villains so this film ended up being rather realistic and an original take on an animated film as I cannot think of any other animated flick that did this. It is a wonderful slice of life story for children and their parents and I myself sympathized with the characters and I loved the country setting. Despite not having a clear plot and goal, the film still explores some themes and the most emphasized are those of sibling love, benefits of living in the country and of course the film is as ecological as you’d come to expect from the director. It reminded me pleasantly of my childhood and seeing the two sisters explore the house and the forest is exactly what I did as a kid so it was relatable to me.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. Satsuki and Mei are such wonderful child characters whom I really liked. As with ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, the film showcases realistically and nostalgically the powers of childhood and how children really interact. Everything is a wonder to them, their thirst for exploration is never-ending and they even portrayed realistically how boys and girls do not get along at an early age and how boys are much more shy. Very well done.

Satsuki having  to care for Mei also reminded me of the aforementioned film and it again shows us how responsible the role of an older child really is. Mei is cute and sometimes funny, but also at times annoying. A very grounded in reality four-year-old. I loved Kanta and his shy interactions with Satsuki were very amusing and of course the grandmother is lovable.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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My Neighbor Totoro is a family slice of life film but it is also very much a fantasy flick. Its creatures are so original in design and authentic that they deservedly stood the test of time and are iconic to this day. The dustbunnies are very interesting and the Catbus is such a fantastic creation that is zany in the best way possible. It obviously influenced J. K. Rowling for her Knight Bus. And of course Totoro is such a lovable creature and the mix of cute and large is memorable and he is cute while also being very funny at times.

Hayao Miyazaki directed this film really well and you cannot deny his strong sense of space and time as both the setting and the fifties are very well portrayed here. I just loved everything about this country. The house is quite memorable and of course the forest is beautiful to behold. I loved how we got to see the country jobs and the various amounts of vegetables and fruit shown here can definitely make you hungry.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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Yes, the animation is simply gorgeous as is expected from this magnificent studio. The character design of the humans is very good, but it is the creature design that really makes an impact as it is simple, yet unforgettable. The film is beautiful to look at and again highly advanced for its time as both the water and the light are so realistically portrayed.

As for some of the flaws, sometimes the kids yelled a bit too much for sure and the film can definitely be too simplistic and childish to some. I don’t see how a lot of people can like it. I myself did, but it isn’t for everyone. And even though I really liked the inclusion of their mother’s illness and the third act was more emotional and dark while still ending on a very positive note, I still wished that it was a bit darker and more emotional. I loved the film’s ending for sure, but maybe a more ambiguous ending would have been better.

And I loved the properties of the creatures such as the Catbus flying and Totoro making a tree grow to full size in a matter of minutes, but I still would have liked a bit more explanations and more concise rules for the powers as an adult. Again, that is where being a kid really matters as it leads to a better viewing experience of the film.

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My Neighbor Totoro Movie Review

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My Neighbor Totoro is very well paced and although it may be too slow for some, I actually loved its languid pace and that meant that you can enjoy the power of the animation much more. The level of detail in this movie is truly staggering. The dialogue is also solid and some lines are quite memorable. And I have to mention its score as it is beautiful per usual but this time containing a song and its theme song is so endearing catchy and ultimately fantastic. The film has a big heart and very much a timeless appeal to it. It is one of the most wonderfully childlike films that I have ever seen and certainly one of Ghibli’s best works.

My Neighbor Totoro is a gentle, leisurely, simple slice of life film that offers you a heartwarming look into the eyes of a child without ever succumbing to clichéd conflicts and villains and thus it led to an original, more realistic take on an animated film. The characters are lovable, the creatures even more so and the animation is as brilliant as you would come to expect from the studio with a painstaking level of detail. It is a beautiful movie that is timeless in quality and it’s one of Studio Ghibli’s best.

My Rating – 4.5

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Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review

Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 anime war drama film directed by Isao Takahata. It is Studio Ghibli’s second film and one of the most heartbreaking animated films ever.

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Why must fireflies die so young?

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Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

It follows two siblings as they try to survive during the final months of World War II. It is a very serious film and is actually one of the most mature animated films of all time as even live-action war films rarely are this tragic. To me the film does not have a high rewatchability factor and surely I do not plan on seeing it again soon as three times is quite enough for now. Watching it for the third time, I was again overwhelmed and even disturbed and the film is definitely better to be taken in small doses which is not a problem as some films are too tragic to be watched many times and this is such a film.

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Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

The film is so deep and heartbreaking in its ending and that wouldn’t be achieved had it not been for the previous two awesome acts. Grave of the Fireflies acquaints you with its two protagonists so well and it gives you many touching, sweet and even beautiful moments before overwhelming you with tragedy later on. And that was essential as it made the tragedy all the more powerful and everyone should feel it.

I am one of the rare people who did not cry during this film, but it came pretty close to making me cry. I loved its structure with the same beginning and ending. The highlight was definitely the burning of the body sequence as it is so terrible and fueled by that haunting score, it manages to totally crush you. The same goes for the scene where she wants to eat rocks out of despair and of course the part where we see Setsuko run around their place and disappear like a ghost. Those three scenes are so horrible, but they are not cheap and manipulative because, again, they were earned through some extensive character work and built emotion before.

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Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

I am talking about the firefly scenes, especially the one where they find a bunch of them. Visually arresting and simply beautiful in every way, that was the only truly happy scene in the entire film and it made the rest of it feel like an even bigger nightmare. The quote about fireflies dying so quickly is also deep and truly phenomenal as the film’s theme. Fireflies area  a great metaphor here, but the visual detail of that box of candies was an even better and smart touch as it came at just the right parts in the story and it always felt important. To me it just might be the most memorable thing about the entire film and that says a lot.

Seita is excellent and Setsuko is so sweet. I just loved their relationship and it goes to show how terrible it is for parents to have children with big age gaps as the responsibility of parenthood befalls to the older child and he becomes a third parent in a way. But it also shows us how beautiful that can be and truly Seita’s love for Setsuko and her dependence on him is truly moving to witness. They share a great, evident bond and the huge power of this movie mostly stems from that bond.

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Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

There aren’t a lot of supporting characters in Grave of the Fireflies as we only see their aunt get a significant role and she is good at first, but becomes horrible later on. She seemed realistic, but my only gripe with the movie is the fact that that farmer did not want to give Seita food even after he told him his sister is gravely sick. That felt unrealistic in my opinion as even the biggest piece of shit person would help two children, not to mention during wartime. But maybe I am mistaken. However, that part still felt not real to me personally.

Their father dying in a battle and of course their mother dying in front of our eyes was a terrible thing to witness. That scene with her entirely bandaged was just horrible and one of the most disturbing and maybe a bit too realistic scenes in all of anime, not to mention animation. But it was still needed as Seita needed to get used to the horrors of war quickly. It shows us how the effects of war can be horrible to children and pitying the innocence of children against the horrors of war has been done before, especially in the world cinema of the fifties and sixties (‘Ivan’s Childhood‘ and ‘Forbidden Games‘ immediately spring to mind), but it was never done in this great a manner and this just might be the best war drama ever made as it is that strong.

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Grave of the Fireflies Movie Review………………………………………

Grave of the Fireflies is technically superb as the voice acting is excellent and Isao Takahata’s direction is amazing and he certainly is one of my favorite anime directors. The score is so powerful and haunting in quality that it propelled those tragic scenes to even more difficult to watch and exhausting parts. Its theme is truly gorgeous and unforgettable as it sticks with you long after you’ve heard it. The editing is also great as the film is slow, but never boring. As for its animation, it is awesome as the beauty of fireflies is definitely brought home in that arresting scene, but the war horrors are also conveyed well through the use of realistic details. I loved the look of the characters and in particular its attention to detail and color palette were great.

With many simply horrible to witness sequences that stick with you long after you’ve seen it, Grave of the Fireflies truly is a deeply tragic, devastating film that is all the more powerful as the emotion in the last third is earned thanks to its great character work, build up and many beautiful bonding scenes between the two siblings portrayed before. The animation is excellent and the direction from Isao Takahata is superb and he is one of my favorite anime directors, but it is its score imbued with a haunting quality to it that makes those tragic scenes even more unbearable to watch. It truly is one of the best animated films of all time and it might be the finest war drama ever made.

My Rating – 5

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Your Name (2016)

Your name Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Your Name Movie Review

Your Name is a 2016 romantic fantasy anime film directed by Makoto Shinkai. It is his weakest film so far without any doubt.

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Your name is…

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Your Name Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

It tells the story of a young man living in Tokyo and a young woman living in the countryside who suddenly start switching bodies on a regular basis. The premise itself was awfully weird. Odd actually as it isn’t particularly appealing. It led to a lot of overly sexual and typical teenage humor which I did not appreciate at all.

But the major problem here is most certainly the romance. We’ve seen this type of romance countless times before as Makoto Shinkai is basically repeating himself here. We’ve seen the theme of star-crossed lovers and beautiful, distant romance before and done much better, especially in his ‘5 Centimeters Per Second’. This is basically a rehashed idea with only the switching of the bodies part being new. But because I found that aspect to be too odd, I ended up not really liking the overall story.

But there are some exceptions to that. Certainly some scenes were way too good that even a non-fan like me has to admit their greatness. Some of the dreams were quite moody and intriguing and the last sequence in particular is very charming and a sweet and romantic way to end the movie.

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Your Name Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

The characters are solid, but not as great as the script demanded them to have been. The supporting characters are all forgettable, but the central duo is likable and their romance is sweet and emotional, albeit not nearly as well developed as I would liked to have seen.

The animation in Your Name is definitely its strongest aspect. The overall animation is so polished and professional, but the scenery is the highlight. Some of the imagery at display here was just gorgeous to behold and I loved the use of both country and city in its settings. That was important for the story and really well utilized visually too. I especially liked its pleasing color palette and a couple of sequences were even jaw-dropping in their beauty.

The soundtrack is pretty solid. The songs aren’t well incorporated whatsoever into the story, but they are catchy and memorable. But they added to this movie feeling like a TV show instead of a film and that feeling I just could never shake and it really bothered me.

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Your Name Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

The voice acting is good and the directing from Makoto Shinkai is pretty good as usual. He does repeat himself here, but at least the film flows well and is well directed as a whole. I found the film’s structure to be naturally important for the film itself, but it was still awfully annoying at times as I strongly dislike the dream structure as a whole. That is why I just could never connect and get into this movie and even some scenes felt boring to me. I definitely can see the appeal here as some scenes are very strong, the romance is pretty memorable and it can be quite sentimental and epic at times, but neither of those aspects were particularly well developed to me personally which is why I found the movie to be just solid and nothing more than that. It is certainly his weakest film so far.

Your Name is by far the weakest film from Makoto Shinkai so far. Yes, the animation is beautiful, its romance is memorable and a couple of sequences are certainly charming and moving, but even though I can definitely see its appeal, I could never get into it personally. The film is way too derivative of his previous works, the dream structure is annoying, the plot as a whole is pretty uninspired and it never felt like a movie to me, but rather like a rushed anime TV show. In the end, it is one seriously overrated anime film that hugely disappointed me.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Anthem of the Heart (2015)

The Anthem of the Heart Movie Review……………………………………………..

The Anthem of the Heart Movie Review

The Anthem of the Heart is a 2015 anime drama film directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai. It is a disappointing movie.

It follows the girl who is a chatterbox and her parents get divorced because of her. As a punishment, her mouth is sealed and she eventually manages to speak her mind through singing. The premise is solid and it provides some great emotional moments. Yes, the ending is sweet and triumphant and overall the film had some pretty strong drama in it, both family and teen.

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Dont tell people to disappear like it’s nothing!

Words can hurt people!

You can’t ever take them back.

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The Anthem of the Heart Movie Review……………………………………………..

The animation in particular is the highlight as it is so beautiful to watch and polished. Both the scenery of the city as well as the designs of the characters are great and everything looks really professional and pleasant.

The score is also really well incorporated and some songs are quite solid. Having in mind that the score is essential for its narrative, they thankfully managed to make some solid use of it with a couple of great musical moments.

So why is The Anthem of the Heart then so disappointing? Well, mostly because it is overly emotional and too long. The film went into overly maudlin territory from time to time and I don’t know if that’s earned as I just wasn’t that invested in its characters or its plot for it to work fully. The characters are solid, but far from great and the same can be said about the plot.

But an even bigger problem if the film’s annoying emphasis on love triangles and relationship dramas. The film would should have focused on just one thing and that should have been the protagonist and her problem with speaking, that would have been great. But this way, it becomes overlong, convoluted and it lost focus more than a couple of times.

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The Anthem of the Heart Movie Review……………………………………………..

And I’ve had a big problem with the premise itself. Somehow I was under the impression that the movie favored loveless marriage and cheating over divorce and I just could not shake that feeling. I liked that the fantasy element proved to be just in her head and not real in the end, but I still found her suffering to be overly excessive and not that needed as she never did anything truly horrible. That is my major gripe with the movie and why I found it solid, but disappointing. And even more disappointing given the fact that it was done by the creators of ‘Anohana’ which is one of my favorite shows.

The Anthem of the Heart has some resonant scenes, an interesting story and terrific animation, but it is disappointing for its overlong and unfocused narrative, sometimes excessive emotion and a couple of problematic elements in the script and its logic.

My Rating – 3.5

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Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors (1945)

Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors Movie Review

Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors is a 1945 anime film directed by Mitsuyo Seyo that is the first ever anime feature. It is technically fine, yet troublesome in plot.

Yes, the plot here is very problematic and not just for the obvious reasons. But let’s state the obvious. This is a shameless propaganda movie and its anti-American and anti-west sentiments are so emphasized that it was painful to watch. It was just straight propaganda. The ending in particular is just unbelievable. How they depicted and drew Americans is so crazy and offensive, but having in mind the bad state between the two countries at the time, it is understandable. But still, this was too much.

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Tomorrow, the final page will be turned in our fight against the enemy

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Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

However, an even bigger problem for me was its lack of a clear structure. The story is just non-existent and the majority of it is very poorly and oddly edited and structured. When you read the plot afterwards, you realize that the movie does have one. But that isn’t clear while watching it, again owing to that mediocre structure. The entire first half for instance consists of just the scenes of animals being taught how to read and work. It’s only in the second half that the film starts to have a more defined storyline.

The lack of character development also bothered me and none of these characters is remotely memorable or even developed in the slightest. Momotaro himself is such a typical hero type and all of the animals don’t get much to do and they all blend in together as they’re so similar.

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Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors Movie Review…………………………………………………………….

The score is also solid and the one song that we have here is pretty good and catchy. But the editing is so troublesome, the film is dull and slow, even for its slight running time, and I just found its political aspect overly emphasized and the lack of characterization and strong plot troublesome. It is historically significant, but there isn’t much more to it other than that.

Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors is historically significant as the first ever anime film with very good animation and pretty good score, but it is otherwise weak as the plot is lacking, the structure is odd, the character development is very weak and its propaganda approach is overly emphasized. 

My Rating – 3

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Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise (1987)

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise Movie Review

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise is a 1987 science fiction anime film directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga. It is a solid, yet very disappointing film.

This is the film that I have been looking forward to seeing for years and it definitely disappointed me. It is solid for sure and sometimes even inspired, but it rarely reached the greatness that I expected from it. The plot itself is one of the reasons why it’s so troublesome. The first half is excellent, but the second one is not. The first half centers on good characterization and intriguing astronaut drama, but the second one centers on boring military elements and its ending is rather typical.

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I am the first man in space. Can anyone hear me?

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Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

Lhadatt is really good, but unfortunately not as great as the script demanded him to be. The same goes for Riquinni. These characters are definitely good, but because this is basically a character-driven drama, they were disappointing as the format demanded much better development. But the voice actors did a great job.

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise has some inspired and just marvelous animation. It just might be the best animated film of the eighties, it is that good! Not only is the attention to detail meticulous and highly impressive, but the visuals are polished, the designs are awesome and the film just looks beautiful to behold. It is a shame that it didn’t go down in the history of animation and it should have just for its animation which to me felt groundbreaking and way ahead of its time. If I didn’t know in advance, I would never guess that it came out in 1987, ever.

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Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise Movie Reviews…………………………………………………………………..

Another great thing about it is its sound design. The movie sounds terrific and every sound is beautifully created and very realistic. The music did felt overloud at times, but it was nonetheless very good and definitely fitting to its sci-fi sensibilities. Speaking of sci-fi, Royal Space Force is interesting for not being a typical sci-fi picture. It is to me above all a drama as the technology in the movie is definitely reminiscent to our own, but because this Earth is alternate and some things are definitely not like our own, the film is most certainly a science fiction tale as well. And I really found that mixture of the two genres to be very interesting and quite authentic in its own right. It led to a very weird and interesting feel to it.

The cinematography is excellent as the camera movements in particular are so refined. The same goes for the directing, but the pacing should have been better as the second half felt dull and sometimes uneventful. I really liked its serious tone, but I have to mention the attempted rape sequence. That to me came totally out of the blue and it is the weakest scene in the movie. Unnecessary and stupid.

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Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

The film is definitely sophisticated, especially in its religious themes, but I never found it to be particularly moving as the emotion should have been stronger. The dialogue is great, but the film is sometimes a bit too realistic for its own sake leading to a duller film than needed. In the end, I definitely found it to be disappointing, but I also respect it in some areas, especially the technical ones, and it definitely is an interesting experience.

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise is a solid, yet disappointing film that has absolutely terrific, groundbreaking animation with an impressive attention to detail, a splendid sound design and score and the mix of science fiction and drama is very intriguing, but the characters needed better development, the second half is pretty dull and the film never achieved greatness in the storytelling department.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Boy and the Beast (2015)

The Boy and the Beast Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

The Boy and the Beast Movie Review

The Boy and the Beast is a 2015 fantasy anime film directed by Mamoru Hosoda. It is a pretty good, if disappointing movie.

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You can’t tell which one’s the master anymore

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The Boy and the Beast Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

It is about a lonely orphan boy who stumbles into the beast world and is taken as a disciple by one of the beasts who is as lonely as he is and the film basically follows the relationship between the two. And that relationship is naturally the highlight and the heart of the movie and is pretty strongly developed. I also liked the drama elements in the second half and the conflict of the main character and his life in both worlds is really well explored.

What I didn’t like here is the movie’s lack of identity. I really didn’t like that third act. Well, I respected the animation and some of the visual choices were original there, but the emphasis on action and spectacle bothered me as the film was mostly a fantasy drama before and suddenly delved into blockbuster territory. Hosoda mixed too many things in here and the mish-mash did feel odd at times.

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The Boy and the Beast Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

The character development isn’t the strongest, but is pretty good nonetheless. Ren is a somewhat typical, yet very well realized protagonist and Kumatetsu is easily the highlight as he is such a likable beast. The two are great together and their relationship is heartwarming. But unfortunately all of the others are pretty forgettable and Ichirohiko’s plot arc did feel a bit abrupt and underdeveloped.

The Boy and the Beast has a usually exceptional animation. The character designs are strong, especially those of the beasts whose looks I really liked. But the scenery is so good and some of the camera movements were absolutely magnificent, especially during action sequences. I didn’t particularly care for the action here, but it is undeniable that it was well executed. I especially liked the wide angle shots of the crowds of people. And some of the streets were just gorgeous to watch.

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The Boy and the Beast Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

As for the other technical aspects, the score was good, though sometimes a bit odd in its choices. The direction from Mamoru Hosoda is expectedly strong and the voice acting is excellent. The fantasy elements were the finest as well as the drama ones with the action stuff coming in at the last place, at least for me. But I did really like that whale near the end as it was gorgeous to behold and so authentic. The entire movie is sometimes derivative and too oddly mashed together, but you can’t deny that there were some definite flashes of originality here, especially in the visual department. The pacing is also really good and the film’s running time is never long despite lasting for 2 hours. The story is epic and it demanded that much run time. I also liked its humor and its light tone at times and watching the two goof around was amusing. But the realism present in its dramatic second half is also really respectable and I really liked the clash between these two worlds, especially in the protagonist’s head. The dialogue is also pretty good, but I wanted for a bit more emotion as the story demanded it. All in all, The Boy and the Beast is a bit of a disappointment in the director’s awesome filmography, but as a film on its own, it is pretty good nonetheless.

The Boy and the Beast has awesome and sometimes quite inspired animation, excellent main characters and their relationship, some really good and superbly executed scenes and good themes, but the film is still far from Mamoru Hosoda’s best works owing to its lack of identity in its odd mixture of plot elements which is most evident in its action oriented finale which is well executed but a jarring choice for this movie.

My Rating – 4

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