Scene 23 – When Marine Was There

And just like a Phoenix…I am back! Risen from the flames, covered in ashes and dirt… and also wishing Dumbledore my lover wasn’t as forceful.

Going to try make these posts regular, even though I am swamped…It’s something I really wanna do. Anyhow, let’s get straight into it….

Since I have been on break, I thought it fun for the first movie to do (upon my return to blogging) to be the last one out of Studio Ghibli before their short-lived hiatus with ‘When Marine was There’. Having said that, ‘Marine’ would and should have sibling syndrome competing with ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, ‘Spirited Away’ and my personal favourite, ‘Princess Mononoke’. For me, it didn’t quite live up to the expectation….

‘When Marine was There’ follows a 12-year old girl, Anna. She doesn’t have any friends and her foster parents are overwhelmed with her, so they sent her to the countryside to visit some relatives. There she meets and befriends the mysterious girl Marnie. And that in a nutshell, is the plot. Stylistically, ‘Marnie’ is similar to ‘The Wind Rises’. However, with the stories roots firmly footed in English tale by Joan G. Robinson, the animators couldn’t let their imagination go wild and create amazing fantasy worlds like in ‘Spirited Away’. Personally, this is the major problem with the film. While the plot itself is great and has some interesting themes,  the friendship between the two girls is extremely superficial and barely explored. They meet and from one second to the other are best friends for life. To make it even worse, the dialogue is cringe-worthy at times, especially when cliché’d phrases like ‘I will love you forever’ and ‘ Always remember me’ are used. This wouldn’t be a problem, but since the mutual relationship is one major theme and not really developed, this dialogue seems heavy-handed and out-of-place. So not to spoil entire film…lets head to the Bad and the Good…

The Bad: Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s love affair with Western stories continues, this time however he hasn’t got the Godfather; Miyazaki, to steer him on the right path and everything seems forced and a little to cliché’d.

The Good: Absolutely Gorgeous Animation, as expected from Studio Ghibli. Enthralling story (even though laboured in parts). One for fans of Studio Ghibli, but wouldn’t recommend to newbies’s wanting to get lost in The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness.

But don’t take my word for it,this is just my Outake.

Watch it and let me know what you think….


Week 15

It’s that time again kids, this weeks Watched, Read & Listened To List.

This week I watched and read quite a bit of stuff….highlight of the week is a tie between starting the second season of Utopia and this weeks review John Wick. If you haven’t seen either I urge you to do so! I have talked about the first season of Utopia in an earlier highlight of my Watched, Read & Listened To List.

Soundtrack of the week this week is Joe Hisaishi’s masterpiece for the 2004 Studio Ghibli movie Howl’s Moving Castle. Truly masterful stuff from Hisasihi again, who really knows how to play on the heart-strings.

On with the list…

All caps, bold: MOVIE
All caps: TV SERIES
All italics: Book
Quotation marks: “Play”
Italics, Quotation marks: “Short Story














… As Mr. Sloan always says, there is no “I” in team, but there is an “I” in pie. And there’s an “i” in meat pie. Meat is the anagram of team…  actually I don’t know what he’s talking about…

till next time.


Scene 8 – The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a beautiful labour of love, and in my opinion will become an instant classic of diehard fans. This time, the animation is unlike that of the style of Ghibli-esque blockbusters we have become accustom too, with it’s beautiful and delicate use of sketching and watercolours… no surprise that it received an Oscar nomination for best animated film this year.
Like many of the Studio Ghibli tales, The Tale of Princess Kaguya is based on Japanese folklore, as it follows the life of a humble bamboo cutter who stumbles upon a glowing stalk, a tiny, hand-sized girl growing within. Excitingly returning home to his wife, they find that the child rapidly transforms from baby, to toddler, to infant in a beautifully animated transition. Though the genuine film can be seen with subtitles, the dubbed version stars a formidable cast of Chloë Grace Moretz, Darren Criss, James Caan and Lucy Lui.…pretty impressive acting cast…and you can’t even see the acting…now thats what I call acting!

The tale beautifully and poignantly manifests itself as a parable-like journey, mixing it’s relatively true historical roots to those mystical based ones. The story follows the family as the bamboo cutter moves them to the city in order to fulfil what he believes to be Kaguya’s destiny of becoming a princess. Though it is never clear as to how or why the father made the connection between his adoptive child and her future of royalty…I believe he arrives at this conclusion when he revisits the original scene when he first discovered Kaguya, only this time to discover great riches and fine robes…a gift from the gods…most I got was a packet of skittles, but I mean there is still hope… The balance between humour and solemnity helps the narrative flow whilst also making you feel real empathy for Kaguya and her situation. Whimsical moments deliver in captivating you entirely.
The film also injects sorrow, particularly as the princess struggles with her new life away from the farm, friends and freedom she grew up with. And While her life moves on, the film develops (cleverly I might add), upon these points before flowing lovingly into a situation in which the Princess sends five potential love interests on a mission to find for her an unobtainable gift.…unobtainable in a sense where all the riches in the land couldn’t buy it….I think they are talking about love…nah probably not. The  development of these missions, in which Kaguya finally embraces her power, over her suitors is charming and brilliant!

Animated entirely from the modern innovation of ink and watercolour, the definition in the penmenship drives the tone of the film, it is truly stunning. In moments of calm the pen marks curve delicately, whilst in times of trouble ink is sharp, aggressive and almost unfinished for use of a better word. This effect adds peace and rigour, and ultimately another layer enhancing the story. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a welcome departure from this over-saturated CGI market that, whilst great in its own mediums, has detracted from the flare of ink based animation. It is almost as if Isao Takahata is rebelling against the likes of Pixar, essentially reminds us that it is still a daring art form, glorious is its craft and labour.

The entire film is held together exquisitely by another Joe Hisaishi masterclass. The stirring soundtrack adding beauty, elegance and hope to an already sublime film. The concluding piece of music is harrowing, yet delightful in the ultimate juxtaposition of image and sound. The score alone will have you scurrying out looking to buy it as I did!!

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is surprising and captivating, and a true victory for imagination. The story is simple enough, with folklore at it’s heart. It airs on ridiculous, but remains grounded enough to thrill. I’ll begin as I shall end…The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a beautiful labour of love, and in my opinion will become an instant classic of diehard fans.

Scene 6 – The Wind Rises

So this week I was looking forward to seeing the new Studio Ghibli The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, a movie I have been waiting to since it’s scheduled release two years ago….However, when I arrived on the day of its release I found to my horror that the projector wasn’t working in my favourite cinema and it couldn’t be shown…what happened next will portray why it is my favourite cinema. So, I just found out about the projector, and I was upset about as much as finding out that the ‘Fat Jolly’ man that visits and gives you presents wasn’t actually real….truly heartbreaking. A quick as the words had left the lady who worked there’s mouth, she disappeared from behind the box office and appeared with free passes to see it another time. So, I got free passes to see the movie I wanted to see! And it’s not like had already bought tickets, I’d didn’t even get that far! So after the initial disappointed left..I took my hat off and saluted. That’s why the Lighthouse Cinema in Dublin is one of my favourites!! Talk about customer care!!

This lead me to this weeks movie, The Wind Rises. The synopsis goes like this; the story is about a highly fictionalised biography of aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi.  Jiro grows up with a fascination with aeroplanes. Realising that he would never be a plot due to his need to wear glasses he goes on to study aeronautical engineering and joins Mitsubishi in 1927 to designs planes. The Wind Rises tells the tale of how Jiro dreams to build beautiful planes…and in true Studio Ghibli style he does this with actual weird hallucinogenic dreams, were he actually visualizes his planes before he builds them. With every Ghibli movie the true focus of the film has a romantic core. Here it is split into two parts; the first, is your basic love story, the second, is historical. As I said previous,  Jiro joins Mitsubishi in 1927, just at the time when the main majority of plane building was for the army. The Wind Rises tells the tale of how Jiro is romantic about engineering (going on to build the A6M1 fighter, which is also known as Zero during World War II), but is torn by the fact that it is being used to kill.

The Wind Rises was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, who arguably is one if not thee the most influential animation directors (probably battling it out with John Lasseter). Miyazaki probably deserves a ‘hat tip’ more-so due to his resistance of revolution of the medium that Lasseter and Pixar brought. Miyazaki’s movies are delivers such fine detail frame after frame, from lovingly fashioned scenes filled with stormcloud-suffuse fantasies to bizarrely filled menageries….and here again, Miyazaki doesn’t disappoint. Miyazaki is the master of blending numerous mythologies with hard-hitting issues such as environmentalism or pacifism, creating a coherent and recognisable output that is cultural transcending.

The director himself describes the film himself as a tribute to aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi and poet-novelist Tatsuo Hori. The fictional narrative…I say fictional because it includes dream dialogues with Italian aeroplane designer Gianni Caproni on the wings of his creations…actually, that does sound like a fact…and interweaves it with Horikoshi’s real life efforts to build the Zero fighter. The title takes its name from Hori’s novel The Wind Has Risen. Miyazaki also draws from his own personal history; his father was the director of the Miyazaki Airplane company, which manufactured parts for the Zero fighter; and his mother is portrayed as Nahoko…if you watch the movie you will understand what I mean in the latter half of the movie, without spoiling anything. So in-actuality, the movie is also a tribute to his own parents and his own childhood, considering the fact he was born 1941, and the final violent intakes of World War II.

The historical context does create fascinating tension, coming from someone with a Western view of things. We are essentially rooting for the guy who invented a death machine used on the behalf of an oppressive regime… pinch of salt moment? Possibly…
Miyazaki creates heavenly scenes were Jiro dances around in the clouds of his subconscious with machines that would bring hell upon the new world…actually when you put it like that….
Again Miyazaki deals with this masterfully.  For instance, during a seminar at Mitsubishi, Jiro sighs that his Zero prototype’s weight problem could be easily solved by removing the guns. “Airplanes are beautiful dreams, “ but they have become “cursed dreams”.  Jiro humbly observes how his country is making the world the enemy stating: “Japan will blow up”.  With that in mind, The Wind Rises won’t get the love in the West as some of the other Studio Ghibli films. Yet it shouldn’t be overlooked for its charm alone.

As if the romantic plot of taking something beautiful and changing it for war wasn’t heartbreaking enough…it also saddens me that The Wind Rises, Miyazaki’s 11th feature would be his final…probably the most heartbreaking plot twist… although the dream sequence with Caproni stating that he is retiring, “This is my last flight…Artists are only creative for ten years…”, a cheekily tearjerking pun from Miyazaki.

If we lived in the perfect world Miyazaki wish for where planes are just things of engineering beauty and not used for war, maybe animation directors would get recognition for just being directors. Instead of this film hierarchy looking down on animation, and ghettoising it you will. If this was the case Miyazaki would easily rank among the world’s greatest living directors, if it wasn’t animation’s war with the word ‘genre’.  So if you aren’t familiar with any Hayao Miyazaki’s work, do a Star Wars on them..and by that I mean watch the last in the series first and work your way back…its worth it!!

The Wind Rises is a stunning farewell to a truly imaginative director and writer, and more importantly…a master of film, Hayao Miyazaki.