Posts Tagged ‘Animation’


‘Only Yesterday’ Is Studio Ghibli’s Secret Masterpiece

August 11, 2015


With Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli’s increasingly prominent seeping into Western culture (e.g. a Ghibli-infused sequence in The Simpsons; a Totoro toy in Toy Story 3), it seems odd to declare any of the studio’s back catalogue as, in any way, “hidden.” But then, there does seem to be distinct criteria to those that gain Western pop culture praise.

First of all: be directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Following the crossover success of Princess Mononokeand, in particular, Spirited Away, Miyazaki’s output is basically all Ghibli is to many people. More than any other Ghibli filmmaker, it’s his creations (My Neighbour Totoro, Porco Rosso) or those he has adapted for the film medium (Howl’s Moving Castle) that get the merchandise the casual otaku buy in droves. You’re not so likely to find hats and iPhone 6 cases modeled on the characters of From Up on Poppy Hill

Full piece for Vague Visages


EIFF 2015: Inside Out (Pete Docter/Ronaldo Del Carmen, 2015)

June 24, 2015


With Inside Out, their 15th animated feature, animation house Pixar take a detour to avoid some of the visual and storytelling beats that have made even their best movies feel a little familiar at this point. Within the head of 11-year-old Riley, we meet several characters representing her emotions: Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Smith), Fear (Hader), Anger (Black), and Disgust (Kaling). During one tumultuous experience, Joy and Sadness become separated from the rest and lost inside the depths of Riley’s mind, leaving the other three alone in charge of the girl’s emotional state…

Click for the full review for The Skinny


Harlock Space Pirate (Shinji Aramaki, 2013)

April 27, 2015


A new animated take on a classic manga property, Harlock Space Pirate sees an immortal spaceship captain roam a colonised galaxy, against the backdrop of a sinister governing body having declared mankind’s home on Earth now uninhabitable. The plot, as it unravels, bears some considerable similarities to Joss Whedon’s film Serenity at times (and wholesale lifts a couple of visual cues from one of Serenity’s set-pieces), but with a far less endearing band of heroes or compelling villain…

Click for the full review for The Skinny


Big Hero 6 (Don Hall/Chris Williams, 2014)

January 30, 2015


Set in gorgeously-designed futuristic city San Fransokyo, the world of Disney superhero animation Big Hero 6 is one big mishmash of Asian and American cultures – more Joss Whedon’s Firefly than Whedon’s monocultural The Avengers.

Japanese-American lead Hiro (Potter) is a teenage tech genius squandering his skills in illegal underground hustling, until his similarly brilliant older brother Tadashi (Henney) puts him on a more productive collegiate path. Tragedy strikes after Hiro’s entrance exam, however, and the young lad’s world is turned upside down by (spoiler alert) his brother’s death via a mysterious university fire…

Click for the full review for The Skinny


The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable/Anthony Stacchi, 2014)

January 24, 2015


An adaptation of Alan Snow’s novel Here Be Monsters!, stop-motion animation The Boxtrolls is a comedic fable set in and under a Victorian-era town whose misguided residents have obsessions concerning wealth, class and cheese. One power-hungry opportunist, pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Kingsley, clearly having fun), sees his ticket to high society in eradicating a group of subterranean creatures he promotes as threats to the town. In reality, these Boxtrolls (who wear cardboard boxes like turtle shells) are kind-hearted, harmless scavengers, who’ve actually been raising an orphaned human boy who begins to suspect he’s not quite like his adopted brethren.

Click for the full DVD review for The Skinny


LFF 2014: The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow (Chang Hyung-yun, 2014)

October 30, 2014


An orbiting satellite picks up a beautiful song being played on Earth. Moved by the song, and facing an eternity of lonely obsolescence thanks to the incoming fate of being replaced by new machinery, the satellite decides it wishes to find the source of the tune, and so crashes down to the planet below, where it promptly turns into a teenage girl able to fly with Astro Boy-like rocket feet and fire her arms as weapons. Meanwhile, the songwriter behind the ditty is broken-hearted and so has been turned into a cow, akin to the farmyard beast fate that has befallen other broken-hearted folk. This has led to him and others like him being hunted by a human villain who uses a plunger to extract their organs, as well an incinerator machine that is fueled by the broken-hearted. Also, there is a wizard named Merlin who makes it his mission to assist the satellite girl and the cow, except Merlin has undergone his own transformation recently and happens to be a roll of toilet paper.

“The Aristocrats!”

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight


LFF 2014: Giovanni’s Island (Mizuho Nishikubo, 2014)

October 18, 2014


In its frequently sorrowful tale of young Japanese siblings struggling through the tail end or immediate aftermath of World War II, anime Giovanni’s Island faces seemingly inevitable comparisons to both Grave of the Fireflies and the Barefoot Gen features. Mizuho Nishikubo’s film, however, has a spirit all of its own, even if you can trace in it bits of those other films’ DNA, as well as notorious British anti-war animation When the Wind Blows, whose art style it resembles more than the likes of Studio Ghibli. It stands apart in offering a look at an aspect of Japanese history rarely explored in any art form to date, that of the Russian occupation of the island of Shikotan after Japan’s defeat in 1945, as seen through the eyes of two Japanese children among the residents whose lives are upended by the new rule…

Click for the full review for Sound On Sight