Kaze tachinu [The Wind Rises] (2013)

Kaze tachinu
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Based on: his own manga which in turn is based on Tatsuo Hori‘s short story The Wind Has Risen about plane designer Jiro Horikoshi
Cast: [Japanese:] Hideaki Anno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miori Takimoto, Mansai Nomura; [English:] Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, Werner Herzog, Jennifer Grey, William H. Macy, Darren Criss, Elijah Wood

Jiro (Hideaki Anno) loves airplanes. He would like to fly one, but unfortunately his eyesight is too bad to become a pilot. Instead he decides to become a plane designer, after designer Giovanni Battista Caproni (Mansai Nomura) speaks to him in a dream. Years later his dream is coming true, but World War 2 is also on the horizon, which poses the question whether it is ethical to design war planes.

I was really excited for a new Miyazaki film, despite the fact that Ponyo wasn’t all that good. I was hoping that the chiefly positive reviews were right. I’m sorry to say that I was really disappointed though. Maybe he really should have quit already.

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Kari-gurashi no Arietti [Arrietty the Borrower] (2010)

Kari-gurashi no Arietti
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa
Based on: Mary Norton‘s novels
Cast: Mirai Shida, Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Shinobu Ohtake, Keiko Takeshita

Arrietty (Mirai Shida) and her family are borrowers – little people living beneath an old house, living off the stuff they “borrow” from the humans. Their first rule is to stay hidden and not let people see them, since they’ve had very bad experiences with humans – they are also the last of the Borrowers. But when Shô (Ryûnosuke Kamiki), a recovering young boy, moves into the house, he sees Arrietty – and they become friends of a kind.

The movie was, unfortunately, way too long to be enjoyable. It had very sweet moments that I liked a lot, but it should have been a good half hour shorter. Despite it being a very pretty film, I just didn’t connect with it.

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Gake no ue no Ponyo [Ponyo] (2008)

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Finally, Hayao Miyazaki‘s Ponyo made it to an Austrian cinema! [I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but it’s even getting a general release here.]

One day while playing, Sosuke finds a small goldfish with the face of a girl in the sea and decides to call her Ponyo and keep her. That fish is very special, though, and even after she returns to the sea, she dreams of living on land with Sosuke. So Ponyo activates all the magic she can find and turns into a little girl. But this unbalances the natural order of things and threatens to destroy the world.

I have to admit that I am a little disappointed by Ponyo. It’s a sweet film, but it’s nothing special – and I expect special from Hayao Miyazaki.

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Re-Watch: Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi [Spirited Away] (2001)

Spirited Away is Hayao Miyazaki‘s biggest success so far and the movie he got the Oscar for.

Sen Chihiro is moving with her parents. On their way to the new house, they happen upon an abandoned theme park. Curious, they go to look at it. When the parents find plates of food, they dig in. Sen doesn’t as she’s afraid. When night falls, her parents are turned into pigs and Sen Chihiro, turned Chihiro Sen, finds work at a bath house for gods, with the help of the mysterious Haku.

Spirited Away is just plain wonderful. (Depending on my mood, it fights for the favourite Miyazaki movie spot with Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbour Totoro.) Visually, it’s definitely the most beautiful of Miyazaki’s movies. And I love Haku.


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Re-Watch: Tonari no Totoro [My Neighbour Totoro] (1988)

My Neighbour Totoro is Hayao Miyazaki‘s fourth feature film.

Satsuki and Mei move to the countryside with their father after their mother falls sick. Their new house is very close to the forest. One day while playing there, Mei finds Totoro, a huge forest spirit. Together they live through several adventures.

My Neighbour Totoro is such a special movie. I don’t know how else to say it. And this rewatch really pushed it forward on my own personal Miyazaki best of list. It might not be as impressive, visually, as his others movies but it perfectly captures what it is to be a child.


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Re-Watch: Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta [Laputa: Castle in the Sky] (1986)

Laputa: Castle in the Sky is Hayao Miyazaki‘s third feature film.

Pazu is an orphan who works in a coal mine. One day, a girl – Sheeta, who escaped from some mysterious men in dark glasses – comes floating down from the sky and into Pazu’s arms. She is protected by a mysterious pendant. But the mysterious men – and some sky pirates – keep on chasing them, since Sheeta and Pazu are both connected to the flying island Laputa.

I have to admit that with Laputa, it was quite the opposite than with Nausicaä: On rewatching, I didn’t like it that much anymore, which as usual, is a completely relative thing and means that it still ranks among my favourite animated movies.


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Re-Watch: Kaze no tani no Naushika [Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind] (1984)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is Hayao Miyazaki‘s second movie and the first to be entirely his own.

The world is pretty much entirely swallowed by toxic woods, inhabited by huge insects. Nausicaä lives in the Valley of the Wind, one of the few places left that has not been covered by the poisonous gas. When one day a plane crashes in the valley, Nausicaä gets drawn into a war that will shape what it’s left of the world.

To be honest, upon first watching, Nausicaä was the Miyazaki film I liked the least (except for Porco Rosso) which means that I still liked it a whole lot. But it improved considerably on the second watch. Which means that I really love it now. It’s beautifully made, has a wonderful story and Nausicaä is a great character.


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Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro [Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro] (1979)

[In September, there was a Miyazaki festival in Vienna. This is the first movie I’m going to review from that festival. They had planned to show Ponyo as the highlight at the end but becaue of some contractual problems, they didn’t, unfortunately.]

Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro is Hayao Miyazaki‘s first feature film.

Lupin is a master thief. When he hears of a batch of excellently forged money, he travels to Cagliostro where he gets more than he bargained for: Not only does he have to save a girl, but also has to solve a riddle that goes back five hundred years.

Lupin III is not at all like Miyazaki’s later films. It’s quite clear that it’s not based on his original material and it’s still stuck way more in the general Anime conventions than his later work. Still it’s funny and entertaining.


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