Showing posts with label Anime Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anime Review. Show all posts

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Review: "NAUSICAA IN THE VALLEY OF THE WIND" Soars to the Animation Heavens

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 36 of 2023 (No. 1925) by Leroy Douresseaux

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Kaze no Tani no Naushika – original Japanese title
Running time:  117 minutes (1 hour, 57 minutes)
MPAA – PG for violence
DIRECTOR:  Hayao Miyazaki
WRITER:  Hayao Miyazaki (based upon the manga by Hayao Miyazaki)
PRODUCER:  Isao Takahata
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Yasuhiro Shimizu, Koji Shiragami, Yukitomo Shudo, and Mamoru Sugiura
EDITORS: Naoki Kaneko, Tomoko Kida, and Shoji Saka
COMPOSER:  Joe Hisaishi


Starring:  (voices) Sumi Shimamoto, Goro Naya, Ichiro Nagai, Hisako Kyoda, Yoji Matsuda, Yoshiko Sakakibara, Iemasa Kayumi, Kohei Miyauchi, Joji Yanami, Minoru Yada, Mina Tominaga, Mahito Tsujimura, and Rihoko Yoshida

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a 1984 Japanese animated, post-apocalyptic, fantasy film from director Hayao Miyazaki.  The film is based on Miyazaki's manga (Japanese comic), also titled Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which first began publication in 1982.  Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind the movie focuses on a princess who is both warrior and pacifist and her desperate struggles to prevent two warring nations from destroying themselves and her homeland.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind opens one thousand years after the event known as “the Seven Days of Fire.”  It was an apocalyptic war that destroyed civilization and caused an ecological collapse, creating something called “the Sea of Decay.”  This is a poisonous forest of fungal life and plants that swarm with giant mutant insects, the largest and most dangerous being the the trilobite-like and armored “Ohm.”  The poison from the plants can kill humans, and every day, the Sea of Decay spreads, encroaching on what little open land remains.

Nausicaä (Sumi Shimamoto) is a teenage warrior and princess of the Valley of the Wind, a land that has remained, thus far, free of the Sea of Decay.  Riding the wind and sky in a powered glider, Nausicaä explores the jungles of the Sea of Decay and communicates with its creatures.  That is how she is reunited with the explorer and great swordsman, Lord Yupa Miralda (Goro Naya), who has returned to meet with Nausicaä's father, Jihl (Mahito Tsujimura), the King of the Valley of the Wind.

But tragedy strikes.  The Valley of the Wind is soon at the epicenter of two warring nations, the Kingdom of Tolmekia and PejitePrincess Kushana (Yoshiko Sakakibara) has led the Tolmekian Frontier Forces into the Valley.  Thus, Nausicaä must forge a relationship with Prince Asbel of Pejite (Yoji Matsuda), but there is something worse than two warring nations.  Destruction is headed towards the Valley of the Wind, and it will take all of Nausicaä's talents, skills, and tricks to save her home.

I have previously reviewed the following Miyazaki-directed films:  The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo (2008), and The Wind Rises (2013).  As Netflix is shutting down its DVD-by-mail division, I am hoping to get to the Miyazaki films that I have not previously watched.

Apparently, the work of the legendary French comic book creator, Jean “Moebius” Giraud (1938-2012), influenced Miyazaki in the creation of his manga, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.  The influence of Moebius remains with Miyazaki's film adaptation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.  I also see the influence of the famed animation director, Ralph Bakshi, especially of his 1977 fantasy film, Wizards.  J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings novels (1954-55) are clearly influences, and Frank Herbert's famed science fiction novel, Dune (1965), is also an influence.  In fact, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind the film would arrive in theaters almost nine months before the first film adaption of Herbert's novel, director David Lynch's 1984 film, Dune.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a beautifully and practically designed film in the sense that the environments have both a sense of naturalism and realism to them while the insects are fantastical creations that seem more practical than impractical because they are based on real insects.  This makes the world of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind seem like a credible future world or at least genuine post-apocalyptic future.  Yes, Nausicaä's glider is impractical, but the animation gives it such beauty in motion that I believe in it and I believe in the way Nausicaä flies it.

The film's plot and subplots are strongly environmental and ecological and the conflict is a series of familiar tribal tropes.  However, what carries plot and narrative are the inventive and engaging characters.  Every players, regardless of the size of his or her role, is inviting and intriguing.  Yes, Nausicaä is a star born, a heroine out of fairy tale, folklore, and mythology who captures hearts and holds our imaginations captive.  Still, the denizens of the Valley and the feuding and conniving citizens of Tolmekia and Pejite are a delightful bunch, not good and evil, so much as they are selfish, but likable, each in his or her own way.  The legendary Yupa, like Nausicaä, stands as a typical heroic figure, although he stands behind Nausicaä.

A long time ago, I told a fellow Miyazaki fan that Spirited Away was my favorite of the director's films.  He insisted that I see Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.  Now, I'm not so sure which is my favorite.  Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is like no other animated feature film, and I certainly consider it one of the greatest that I have ever seen.

10 of 10

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.



Thursday, August 3, 2023

Review: "GRAVEYARD OF THE FIREFLIES" is as Powerful as Any Live-Action Wartime Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 35 of 2023 (No. 1924) by Leroy Douresseaux

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Hotaru no Haka – original Japanese title
Running time:  89 minutes (1 hour, 29 minutes)
MPAA – not rated
DIRECTOR:  Isao Takahata
WRITER:  Isao Takahata (based on the novel by Akiyuki Nosaka)
PRODUCER:  Toru Hara
EDITOR: Takeshi Seyama
COMPOSER:  Michio Mamiya


Starring:  (voices) Tsutomu Tatsumi, Ayano Shiraishi, Akemi Yamaguchi, and Yoshiko Shinohara

Hotaru no Haka or Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 Japanese animated World War II drama and historical film directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Studio Ghibli.  The film is based on the 1967 short story, “Grave of the Fireflies,” by Akiyuki Nosaka.  This was the fourth animated film produced by Studio Ghibli and the first one directed by studio co-founder, Isao Takahata.  Grave of the Fireflies focuses on a young boy and his little sister as they struggle to survive in World War II Japan.

Grave of the Fireflies introduces a boy, Seita (Tsutomu Tatsumi), and his little sister, Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi).  They find themselves on their own as a result of one of the American raids that was part of “the Bombing of Kobe” campaign during World War II.

One day, a group of American Boeing bombers firebombs Kobe.  Though Seita and Setsuko survive the bombing, their mother (Yoshiko Shinohara) is severely injured and later dies.  Seita conceals their mother's death from Setsuko in an attempt to keep her happy.  Seita does not know the status of their father who is an officer in the Imperial Japanese Navy.  The children move in with an aunt (Akemi Yamaguchi), but although Seita tries to accommodate his aunt's demands, she becomes resentful of the children being in her home.

After leaving their aunt's house, Seita and Setsuko move into an abandoned bomb shelter located near a pond.  The place is swarming with fireflies, which delights Setsuko.  For a time, Seita and Setsuko are happy, but like the life of an adult firefly, the children's happiness is short-lived.

Previously, I have only reviewed two Studio Ghilbi films that were not directed by Hayao Miyazaki.  They are Tales from Earthsea (2006), which was directed by Miyazaki's son Gorō Miyazaki, and The Secret World of Arrietty (2010).  As Netflix is shutting down its DVD-by-mail division (in September 2023), I am hoping to get to more Studio Ghibli films that I have not previously watched.

I think Grave of the Fireflies has received much praise because it is not only a powerful war film, but it is also a truly unique war film.  Grave of the Fireflies is not an anti-war film, although it depicts the suffering that wartime can bring, mainly through Seita and Setsuko, but also via background characters.  The film is haunting and achingly sad, but at the same time, life goes on, even in wartime.  Seita and Setsuko make the best of life, a nearly inseparable pair enjoying life the best that they can.  The film portrays how Seita watches over Setsuko so that she can still live the life of a small girl, frockling, having adventures, and using her imagination.  Her smiles and happiness permeate this film even in its darker moments.  One might question the choices that Seita makes, but he did not make them out of concern of his own pride.  He made them so that his little sister could live in dignity.

Grave of the Fireflies proves that animated films can tackle the most achingly human conditions, including the heartbreaking experiences that afflicted many Japanese during World War II.  The animation's glorious colors might suggest a vivid pastoral fantasy, but the story is a depiction of the human pastoral.  Thematically, the film's fireflies can represent many things, from birth and decay to the flight of planes that attack Japan.  However, I usually thought of the spirits of children in flight when I saw a scene of fireflies gently moving upwards.

Grave of the Fireflies is a film that no fan of animated feature films should miss.  It has a timeless quality, and I found it hard to believe that this year (2023) is the thirty-fifth anniversary of the film's original Japanese theatrical release.  The story that it depicts may be from a long-gone time, but like Seita and Setsuko, the spirit of Grave of the Fireflies still stirs.

9 of 10
★★★★+ out of 4 stars

Thursday, August 3, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.



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Thursday, July 27, 2023

Review: Miyazaki's "THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO" is Something Else Entirely

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 34 of 2023 (No. 1923) by Leroy Douresseaux

Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro – original Japanese title
Running time:  102 minutes
MPAA – not rated
DIRECTOR:  Hayao Miyazaki
WRITERS:  Hayao Miyazaki and Haruya Yamazaki (based upon the manga by Monkey Punch)
PRODUCER:  Tetsuo Katayama
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hirokata Takahashi
EDITOR: Masatoshi Tsurubuchi
COMPOSER:  Yuji Ohno


Starring:  (English voices – Manga Entertainment dub) David Hayter, Bridget Hoffman, Kirk Thornton, Kevin Seymour, John Snyder, Dorothy Elias-Fahn, Milton James, Michael Gregory, Barry Stigler, and Joe Romersa; (Japanese voices) Yasuo Yamada, Eiko Masuyama, Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Makio Inoue, Goro Naya, Sumi Shimamoto and Taro Ishida

Rupan Sansei: Kariosutoro no Shiro or Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro is a 1979 Japanese animated action-adventure and comic-fantasy animated from director Hayao Miyazaki.  An English-language dub of the film was first theatrically released in the U.S. in 1991 under the title, The Castle of Cagliostro, the title that I will use for this review.

The Castle of Cagliostro focuses on a master thief, Lupin III.  The film Lupin is based on the manga character, Lupin the Third, created by late manga artist, Kazuhiko Kato (1937-2019), who is best remembered by his pen name, Monkey Punch.  In the film, a dashing thief struggles to free a princess from an evil count who needs her in order to gain a mysterious treasure.

The Castle of Cagliostro opens in Monaco.  There, Master thief Lupin III (David Hayter) and his partner, Jigen (John Snyder), flee the National Casino with huge quantities of stolen money.  As they will soon learn, however, the stolen bills are actually distinctive, high-quality counterfeits known as “Goat bills.”  Lupin decides to seek out the source of this counterfeit money, the country known as the Duchy of Cagliostro.

Shortly after arriving, Lupin and Jigen see a young woman being chased by armed thugs.  It turns out that she is Lady Clarisse de Cagliostro (Bridget Hoffman), and she is running away from her fiancé, the Count de Cagliostro (Kirk Thornton), the regent of the Duchy of Cagliostro.  The Count has arranged a marriage with Lady Clarisse in order to cement his power. The marriage will also help him recover the fabled ancient treasure of Cagliostro, for which he needs both his and Clarisse's ancestral signet rings.

Lupin is determined to save Clarisse from this arranged marriage.  In addition to his partner Jigen, Lupin calls in the highly-skilled martial artist and swordsman, Goemon (Michael Gregory), and the rival professional thief, Fujiko (Dorothy Elias-Fahn).  Meanwhile, Inspector Zenigata of Interpol (Kevin Seymour) sees Lupin's activities in the Duchy of Cagliostro as a perfect opportunity to catch the thief he has been chasing for so long.  Can Lupin rescue Clarisse? Will Count Cagliostro destroy them both?  And just what is the treasure of Cagliostro?

I have previously reviewed the following Miyazaki-directed films:  My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Monoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo (2008), and The Wind Rises (2013).  As Netflix is shutting down its DVD-by-mail division, I am hoping to get to the Miyazaki films that I have not previously watched.

I had heard of The Castle of Cagliostro in connection with Miyazaki, but I had put off seeing it.  I wish I'd seen it earlier, as it is a delightful and maniacal comedy.  The film is not without flaws, as it stretches credulity a bit far, even for a Japanese animated film.  Lupin is not just a master thief; he is also apparently a super-human thief with supernaturally good luck.

Still, I treasure The Castle of Cagliostro's loopiness because Miyazaki and his co-writer Haruya Yamazaki are imaginative when it comes to the comic and action-adventure possibilities of the twists and turns this quasi-mystery takes.  As both designer and storyboard artist, in addition to being director, Miyazaki is inventive in the way he stages the action as a series of chases and fights that are as defined by feats of aerial stunts and gymnastics as they are by martial arts and combat skills.

The characters are quite nice, especially gallant Lupin, who is apparently more ruthless in the original manga, and his partner, Jigen, the amiable, but quite skilled tough guy.  However, the star here is Miyazaki in his first feature-length film.  He makes the action unrestrained by gravity, natural law, or architecture.  Thus, the film is a rollicking adventure with a humorous tone that belies the threat of brutal violence and death that frequently pop up in the story.  I really like The Castle of Cagliostro, and I highly recommend it to fans of Hayao Miyazaki and to those searching for the great animated films.  I also plan on buying my own physical copy.

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Thursday, July 27, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vampire Knight Volume 1 DVD Offers Few Frills But Anime is Cool

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 70 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

VAMPIRE KNIGHT Volume 1 (2010)
• Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $19.97 US / $28.99 CAN • Available Now
DVD Release Date: July 20, 2010
Studio: VIZ Media
Format: Animated, Color, DVD, NTSC (Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1)
Number of discs: 1
Language: English and Subtitles: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Running time: 96 minutes; Rating: Not Rated

Contents: Vampire Knight anime – Episodes 1-4

The recent DVD release, Vampire Knight, Vol. 1, presents four episodes of the Japanese animated series, Vampire Knight. This is a cool take on the vampire similar to such Young Adult literature vampire delights as the Twilight and Vampire Kisses series.

Vampire Knight is a manga (Japanese comics) written by manga artist Matsuri Hino. It was first published in January 2005 in the Japanese comics magazine, LaLa, and the series continues as of this writing. Vampire Knight, which is a shojo manga (comics for teen girls), received an English publication in 2006 via Shojo Beat magazine, and VIZ Media currently releases collected volumes of the series every few months.

Vampire Knight is set at Cross Academy, a private boarding school. Cross Academy has two classes: the Day Class (the human students) and the Night Class (the vampire students). At twilight, the Day Class students return to their dorms and cross paths with the Night Class on its way to school. The Day Class doesn’t know the school’s dark secret that the Night Class students are vampires, but the Day Class girl students are madly in love with the boys of the Night Class

The story focuses on Yuki Cross, the adopted daughter of Headmaster Cross. She partners with Zero Kiryu, a human student who struggles with the vampire’s thirst, and the two are the Guardians of the school, patrolling the hallways and school grounds to protect the Day Class students from the vampires. Yuki and Zero form a kind of love triangle with Kaname Kuran, a pure blood vampire who is basically the unquestioned leader of the Night Class. The series follows various intrigues related to the conflict between human and vampire, and the story also delves into the pasts of the three leads.

Japan’s Studio Deen adapted Vampire Knight into anime (Japanese animation), and the series debuted on Japanese television in the April 2008. The recent DVD release, Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 collects the first four episodes of Season One of the anime: #1 “Night of Vampires,” #2 “Memories of Blood,” #3 “The Fang of Penitence,” and #4 “Trigger of Condemnation.”

These episodes introduce the plot, setting, characters, and mythology of Vampire Knight in such an easy and friendly way. It will not be long into the first episode that the viewer will believe that she is well on her way to knowing and then loving these characters. The series favors the Night Class over the Day Class, which seems to exist to praise and worship the Night Class. The vampires are beautiful, sexy, and sassy; their air of confidence is infectious. The Day Class cast is mostly dull.

The star, of course, is Yuki Cross. In a series like Vampire Knight, what is needed is a character that is probably more nosy than curious and also brave enough to go where others won’t go. That will make viewers want to follow her quest and investigations, and Yuki will have the viewers hanging onto her. The two male interests, Zero Kiryu and the vampire Kaname Kuran, are also quite good. Their aloof, cocky natures are attractive, and if it is possible for an animated character to have a screen presence, they have that.

The quality of the animation is good. It emphasizes style and stylishness over movement and features vivid colors, lush background details, and elegant sets. This look is perfect for the gothic moodiness and romantic melodrama that defines the look of Vampire Knight.

Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 will reveal some secrets, expose Zero’s affliction, and give viewers a shocking look at a kind of vampire that isn’t a sexy, laid back student. While aimed at young women, Vampire Knight is a surprisingly engaging melodrama and will please anyone interested in soap operas – with vampires.


EXTRAS: This is a no frills DVD without any extras, although viewers are offered the option of watching episodes in Japanese with English subtitles or dubbed versions with voice actors providing English dialogue.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Review: "Spirited Away" is Pure Magic

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 45 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001) – animation
Running time: 125 minutes (2 hours, 5 minutes) COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Japan
PRODUCER: Toshio Suzuki
EDITOR: Takeshi Seyama
Spirited Away (2002) – USA English dub
MPAA – PG for some scary moments
WRITERS: Cindy Davis Hewitt and Donald H. Hewitt – English script
PRODUCER: Donald W. Ernst
Academy Award winner
Starring: (voices) Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Jason Marsden, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers, Lauren Holly, Michael Chiklis, and Tara Strong
The world’s best director of animated films is Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke), and even the masters at Disney represent with Miyazaki. In 2001, his film Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi became the all-time highest grossing film in Japan, and in 2003, Spirited Away, the English language version of the film, won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
While moving to their new home, a ten-year girl named Chihiro (voice of Daveigh Chase) and her parents get lost on an overgrown stretch of road. At the end of the road, they find a lonely building that her father surmises was part of an abandoned theme park. Continuing to track through their discovery, the parents wander into the park where they catch the smell of cooking food. The parents begin to chow down on a veritable feast that they find in an empty restaurant. They don’t know that the food is enchanted and meant for the spirits. Within minutes, the magic transforms Chihiro’s parents into pigs.
Chihiro meets a boy named Haku (Jason Marsden) who tells her than the theme park is actually a rest haven for spirits. Haku tells her that he will help her and her parents, but she must wait. Meanwhile, Chihiro indentures herself to Yubaba (Suzanne Pleshette), a greedy and devious she-creature who runs the bathhouse that is the centerpiece of this magical world. Yubaba changes Chihiro’s name to Sen and forces her to work in the bathhouse while the girl struggles to find a way to free herself from slavery and her parents from the spell.
Whereas Miyazaki’s previous film Princess Mononoke was an epic tale of magic versus modern with the threat of a great war as the backdrop, Spirited Away is a magical fantasy in which the level of magic reaches epic proportions. From beginning to end, Miyazaki fills every frame of the film with an eldritch charm that defies comparisons to any other movies, including his own work. It’s a dazzling display of the supernatural that held me spellbound. Witches, monsters, phantasms, spirits, creatures, mythical beasts, and wondrous landscapes populate the world of Spirited Away. It’s part Alice in Wonderland, part faerie tale, and part Japanese myth. Every frame is pure wonder and fantasy.
All of the magical creatures seem so real and so much real part of their environment. Miyazaki has a variety of fantastical beings for almost every scene, and it never seems like too much or too phony. So many filmmakers cheat now because of computer-generated imagery and throw anything on the screen just because they it pops into their heads. The wondrous people and things of Spirited Away seem natural and purposeful, a part of a divine order, not forced, but correct and part of a circle.
The film’s story and script, also by Miyazaki, isn’t so much about plot as they are about the imagination, the magic of the film’s world, and, in the end, about growing up and losing the magical corners of youth where ethereal, unreal, and surreal things exist and happen. Chihiro/Sen’s adventure is a wonderful one, and Miyazaki so draws you into Spirited Away that you feel the presence of the supernatural as much as Chihiro does, and like her, you hurt from the loses that come with growing up and getting older.
This is more than just a great animated film; this is simply a great film. There are times when it did seem a bit long, and Miyazaki’s craft seemed too polished, too perfect, but a master like Miyazaki can’t help but be overbearing at times. He’s a filmmaker and a magician. Spirited Away has to be seen on the big screen; it’s the only way to truly feel the awe-inspiring enchantment of the most fantastical film since Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
There are a lot of fantasy films and films about magic, but only once in a generation is one so resonant with the mysterious of power miracles, magic, and fantastic beings that the film itself feels other worldly. Spirited Away is the supra fantasy of this time.
9 of 10
NOTES: 2003 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Animated Feature” (Hayao Miyazaki) 
2004 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Film not in the English Language” (Toshio Suzuki and Hayao Miyazaki)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review: "Princess Mononoke" is Simply Great

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 43 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux 
Mononoke Hime (1997) – animated
PRODUCER: Toshio Suzuki
EDITORS: Takeshi Seyama and Hayao Miyazaki
Princess Mononoke (1999) USA release – English dub
Running time: 134 minutes (2 hours, 14 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for images of violence and gore
WRITER: Neil Gaiman – English screenplay
Starring: (English voices) Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Keith David, John DeMita, John Di Maggio, Minnie Driver, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Billy Bob Thornton
Many consider Hayao Miyazaki to be Japan’s greatest animator and one of that country’s finest directors. He has several films to his credit, including Majo no takkyubin (released in the U.S. as Kiki’s Delivery Service) and Tenku no shiro Rapyuta (Castle in the Sky). In 2003, he won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film for Spirited Away, the 2002 English language version of his film Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi. However, his first real shot at mass appeal in the United States was the film known in America as Princess Mononoke.
The story centers on Prince Ashitaka (voice of Billy Crudup) who finds himself in the middle of a war between the elemental and spiritual forces of the forest and Tataraba, a human iron-mining colony. The town’s leader , Lady Eboshi (Minnie Driver) has conspired with a sly assassin named Jigo, sublimely voiced by Billy Bob Thorton, to kill the great forest spirit. Ashitaka meets San, the Princess Mononoke (Claire Danes), a girl raised by the Wolf God. San leads the animal gods of the forest against Lady Eboshi, who has also made her colony a haven for outcasts. Ashitaka walks a razor’s edge, trying to save both the humans and the forest before the two destroy each other, and, although he it not the title character, he is the story’s focus.
Although the drawing is not as polished and as classical as a Disney film, the animation in Mononoke is nothing short of breathtaking and fantastic. While so many Western animators use computers to augment their films, Miyazaki used traditional hand drawn cels, reportedly correcting by his own hand 80,000 of the films 144,000 cels. The animation takes on a scope of epic proportions while simultaneously being romantic.
Miyazaki and his animators created a film that manages to be encompass the film genres of action, adventure, and war, while being a dramatic film of beautiful and poetic touches. The depth of the storytelling is novelistic in its approach. It has so much going on that the audience cannot help but be captivated and enthralled even if the references to Japanese mythology goes over their heads. The voice acting for the English dubbing is excellent, which includes not only those actors mentioned prior, but also Jada Pinkett-Smith, Gillian Anderson, and Keith David. They did have a good script with which to work. Fantasy novelist and comic book scribe Neil Gaiman, creator of the Sandman comic book, wrote the film’s dialogue in a friendly American vernacular Mononoke.
Fans of anime and animated films cannot miss Princess Mononoke. For people who loved epics like The Lord of the Rings, this film fits right in that vein. It stands, not only as an accomplishment in animation, but a special achievement in movie making.
9 of 10