Madman Entertainment is presenting the Celebrate Studio Ghibli festival in Australian cinemas at the moment. I’m going to be seeing as many of the films as I can fit in, and I’ll periodically post thumbnail reactions here on the blog.I’ve seen four films and my rankings so far are as follows:
1. Whisper of the Heart
This gentle film really is one of my favourites, and it remains a tragedy that director Kondo died before he made anymore films. The moment when Shizuku is told, gently, that her writing kind of sucks right now but that’s OK is one of the moments in anime that will bring a tear to my eye. Because whilst this may sound harsh, it’s framed as hope for the future, for a future Shizuku who will be great writer once she puts in the work to polish and facet the raw stone that she has discovered inside herself.
2. Spirited Away
Spirited Away really is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s finest films with a message of kindness that truly sings. Chihiro may start as something of a brat, and gets hammered for it, but every act of kindness that she makes from that point on is repaid tenfold or more. From the moment she hits bottom you can’t help but cheer for her every little win from that point on.
3. Pom Poko
I expect Pom Poko to drop in the rankings as I see more films in the festival. The hilarity of transforming tanuki testicles will carry a film a fair way, but the pacing is uneven and the polemic sometimes overwhelms the story. Fun but pompous is an odd mix, and it doesn’t quite work as well as it should.
4. Princess Mononoke
The ranking of Princess Mononoke shows that sometimes there’s a huge difference between “This is excellent” and “I like this”. Princess Mononoke is an excellent film. Technically, dramatically, it may well be superior to Spirited Away but whilst I admired it this time around I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other films I’ve seen so far.
That’s where I’m at so far. I’ll probably post 2nd thoughts in a week or so with the above plus slotting in any of the films I’ve seen since. At the moment I’ll probably be skipping Grave of the Fireflies, Earthsea, and Howl’s Moving Castle. Feel free to try and persuade me otherwise. 😄