Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Dipping My Toes in Anime: My Neighbour Totoro and Howl's Moving Castle
There's nothing like setting up little challenges like this in order to get the job done! After having a month filled with French New Wave films, I'm onto something that might be a little happier - Anime films. Now this is one giant gaping hole in my movie knowledge, because before I decided to take on this challenge, I had only seen one anime film. Which is a little sad. But there's no time like the present to change all of that, so here are my takes on My Neighbour Totoro and Howl's Moving Castle...
I really don't know how to start off my review of My Neighbour Totoro other than by saying this: I wish I had watched this movie when I was a kid. There's something about the sheer fantastical nature of it that got right into the little kiddie spot that's still reserved in my heart and tugged on it for the whole time. I mean, how could you not feel all mushy inside from it? There is so much mushy-ness! Like:
-Mei, the younger sister, who I seriously want as my kid. She's just the cutest little ball of innocent youth that I've ever seen.
-Totoro! I must admit, I used to have make-believe characters as my friends when I was a kid. Totoro was the figment of my imagination that I totally missed. I mean, how awesome is Totoro? He's this giant teddy bear that only has a leaf on his head for protection from the rain. Forget Forrest Gump, this is the kind of thing that warms my heart.
-THE CAT BUS! I admit to being a major cat lover but how awesome is that cat bus?! Like, I wanna drive it and I hate driving almost as much as I hate earthquakes (as last night's full blown panic attack where I nearly hyper-ventilated to death - and it didn't even do any damage - would show), so that's kind of a big deal. Whoever invented the cat bus deserves a Nobel Prize or something.
...and this is why you should never let me review kids films.
Especially great ones, like My Neighbour Totoro. The only disappointment that I felt about it was that I never got to see this when I was younger. When characters are that rich and detailed, and the problems they face are true (the poor girls having to deal with their mother being in hospital and all), I can't think of anything better to fit into a young person's film diet.
Howl's Moving Castle, the second of the anime film syllabus and also my second Hayao Miyazaki, didn't quite live up to the spell that My Neighbour Totoro enchanted me with, unfortunately. In all honesty, I thought it was a bit of a mess - but a fine mess, in saying that. The animation is beyond superb. That's one thing that I'm already liking about the anime month: the way they are animated doesn't look like the 3D computer-generated stuff that either looks frighteningly real or frighteningly tacky. It is simple animation, but the visuals that Miyazaki and his team at Studio Ghibli create are these spectacles of things that could never be possible in the real world. To put it straight: it is pure imagination stretching across the screen in moving drawings.
However, Howl's Moving Castle also stretches itself by delving into a two hour running time, which I thought was ridiculous. The storyline was a little too thinly written (which was a shame, because the story of how 18 year old Sophie tried to undo the spell that was making her look like an old woman could have been so much more interesting) to cover an admittedly long running time for a predominantly kids film. Nothing meant a heck of a lot to me in this film, sadly.
Mind you, I'd love a moving castle. To go with my cat-bus. I'll be a goddess of transportation.
What did you think of these films? Do you have any recommendations for the anime month?