[thechat] Next Anime Step?

Luther, Ron ron.luther at hp.com
Thu Jul 10 08:20:22 CDT 2003

David Wagner noted:

>>"Tonari no Totoro" is the Japanese title if you have any trouble finding
>>it; and yes, it's also by Miyazaki. +99.

Hi David,

Thanks! I was rushing out the door when I replied yesterday ... and I wasn't 
entirely happy with what I sent ... now I get another chance ... cool!  


I'm not Ben, but here's my take on the few films I've picked up so far:

{I guess I do have a two-fold interest: on one hand it's nice to be able 
to watch something less than mainstream with the kids, on the other hand 
I've always liked animation and I find it exciting that some folks are 
_finally_ pushing the envelop for animation *as* an artistic medium - I'm intrigued and I'd like to see how just far they can take it.}

"Kiki's Delivery Service" - Totally 'kid friendly'. [I haven't been able 
to get the grandkids interested in watching it yet ... but then again I 
can only get one of them to watch 'Dumbo' - and that's only because it has 
a train in it!]  The concept of a 14 year-old girl leaving home to make 
her way in the world struck me as a bit odd ... but she's a fledgling witch 
so that must make it okay. Maybe I just had trouble connecting with the 
character: her need to fit in, her wistfulness to be 'fashionable', and 
her issues in dealing with 'boys' ... but for me the film came off as 
more 'Disney' than (at least what I think of as) 'anime'. For me it was 
a 'good film' - but it didn't overwhelm me in story or in art the way the 
other two did. YMMV.

"Spirited Away" - Everyone pretty much said this was 'the one' to get. 
'They' were right. This film is fabulous. The storyline is clean, the art 
is wonderful, and the characters have some depth. Again a story centering 
on a young girl, who starts off as somewhat spoiled and self-centered but 
'earns' her way to greater self-reliance and self-confidence ... but this 
time, (for me anyway), it 'works'. One of my favorite bits in the movie 
is when the heroine is faced with descending a very steep staircase with 
no railing ... it may sound dumb but that is a very frightening thing for a 
small child and this film captures that sense of challenge and the girl's 
reaction to it exceeding well. [The director certainly has a "knack" for 
capturing the gestures and mannerisms of those around him and translating 
them into his work -- an exceptionally effective technique that really 
adds to the characterizations.]

The primary setting is a bathhouse where the gods come to relax - a 
delightfully non-Western concept that translates well enough to not 
be a limitation to accessibility. [Foreign, but somehow not 'too' foreign.] 
A wonderful movie. Deserving of it's many accolades. Probably fine for 
anyone 5 and up. {A few scenes that may scare very small kids.} If I had 
one gripe - it would be the resemblance of the evil witch to the duchess 
in Alice in Wonderland - I didn't see a need for that and found it a little 
distracting. (On the other hand, her 3 little yippy 'dogs' were a fun touch.)

"Princess Mononoke" - This was the first 'anime' I picked up.  Everyone kind 
of said 'until Spirited Away comes out, this is the best'. I couldn't wait 
- so I went out and got this one.  While (intellectually) I understood that 
not all animation is for kids (and I've seen some experimental computer 
generated animation in the past that most kids would hate) I guess I still 
didn't believe it on a more 'visceral' level.  The very first spoken line 
in this film is something to the effect of "This broth tastes like donkey 
piss."  It's probably the only 'vulgar' language in the entire movie but 
it immediately serves notice that the film isn't intended for the smallest 
children ... and there is nothing wrong with that.  There is also some 
dismemberment in the 'war' scenes and the fact that the workers running 
the furnaces in Iron Town are former brothel workers. ["Grandpa, what's 
a 'brothel'?"] {While primarily a comedic element, the workers have enough 
depth to make you care about them. I think they were handled very well.} 

This is an excellent movie.  A layered movie with multiple undercurrents of 
man versus nature, the value of progress, the future of the forest spirits 
and their role in an increasingly modern world, and the like.  I read a 
review somewhere that noted that none of the characters are entirely good 
or entirely evil.  It's true. I liked that because, for me, it added more 
'realism' to the movie. I especially liked the hero's choice at the end 
of the film: {spoiler removed} - IMO a *much* better and more thought 
provoking choice than a more traditional ending.

The artwork, particularly the forest scenes, is incredibly beautiful. For me, 
the film itself is more about exploring the numerous themes than a simple 
'start - middle stuff - neat ending' flick.  The ending is not a resolution, 
and that's particularly welcome because these aren't issues with tidy answers. 
A 'simple' ending would have cheapened the storyline. While that puts some 
people off, it left me wanting more - a sequel, a prequel ... just more. I 
thought it was a wonderful movie ... I just don't think it's intended for 
very small kids.

My 3.14159¢,


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