Directed by renowned filmmaker, Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away is about a girl named Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi/Daveigh Chase) on a journey to rescue her parents who have been turned into pigs. Her family had mistakenly wandered into the spirit world, and it’s up for Chihiro to get them all out.
Despite being only 10 years old, Chihiro is a strong and well rounded protagonist. She does whatever it takes to save her parents, including working at a bathhouse run by a witch named Yubaba (Mari Natsuk, Suzanne Pleshette).
This is a beautifully animated film that not only won many awards, but won for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy. Funny enough, I actually didn’t like the film when I first saw it — I was eight and dumb. But years later, I gave the film another watch and it became one of my favorite films. Maybe I didn’t like it at first because it was just so strange and different compared to other films I’ve seen. It was the first foreign film I watched and it got me interested in Japanese animation.
I also want to mention that the film has a great soundtrack. The soundtrack was composed by Joe Hisaishi, who composed music for other Miyazaki films. With the great music combined with great animation and story, this film is breathtaking and I think it’s something that everyone should watch. It’s widely regarded as one of the best anime films of all time.
Incluvie Score of 5 stars and Movie Review of 5 stars
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Image from Japanese Anime “Princess Mononoke” of a character riding a white wolf
Also directed by Miyazaki (but much more violent), Princess Mononoke is about a prince named Ashitaka (Yōji Matsuda, Billy Crudup) who has to find a cure after getting poisoned by a demonic boar. On his search, he finds himself tangled in the conflict between a mining colony and the wolf gods who rule a forest.
The titular character, San (Yuriko Ishida, Claire Danes) was raised by the wolves, and has a deep hatred for humans until she meets Ashitaka. The two share a great bond, but there’s no time for romance as a war is brewing. Since she was raised by wolf gods, San is a pretty strong female protagonist. Another strong female is Lady Eboshi (Yuko Tanaka, Minnie Driver) who runs the mining colony, and serves as the antagonist to San and the forest spirits.
As mentioned before, this is a fairly violent film. A more violent Pocahontas, if you will. But I don’t think comparing it to Pocahontas gives it justice whatsoever. Princess Mononoke has a much stronger story and better characters, and again, no focus on romance because a war is about to happen and that isn’t important.
The film carries a strong message about protecting the environment, which is yes, a cliché message, but it works well here. It also helps that the film has an immersive story and that there’s no true villain, just characters with a lot of flaws. Another best anime film of all time, a classic Miyazaki.
Incluvie Score of 5 stars and Movie Review of 4 stars
Your Name (2016)
Image from Japanese Anime “Your Name” of two characters looking at each other on the stairs
Your Name was directed by Makoto Shinkai and is currently the highest grossing anime film of all time. Amazingly, the film wasn’t even nominated at the Oscars in 2017. Which is a shame, since this is a great film and the Academy should pay more attention to other animated films beside Disney and Pixar. No disrespect to Disney or Pixar, but give other films a chance, y’know? Yes, they gave the award to Spirited Away, but that was back in 2003.
Your Name is about high schoolers, Taki (Ryūnosuke Kamiki, Michael Sinterniklaas) and Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi, Stephanie Sheh). Taki lives in Tokyo, while Mitsuha lives in a rural town. One day, they end up switching bodies and go through each other’s lives. While that’s going on, a strange comet is about to orbit the Earth.
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