Mini Studio Ghibli Movie Reviews #1

So, like most people, I was over the moon to hear that Netflix would be streaming Studio Ghibli movies from now on. I always saw these movies over social media and desperately wanted to watch them but never got round to it. When I heard the announcement I though it would be a fun idea to do mini reviews for all the movies. The movies are coming out 7 at a time of 3 months. So this post with cover all the movies that came out on February 2020.

For insight, I have watched Spirited Away twice, Howl’s Moving Castle, the Secret World of Arrietty and about half of Ponyo.

My Neighbour Totoro (1988)

Plot: Mei and Satsuki shift to a new house to be closer to their mother who is in the hospital. They soon become friends with Totoro, a giant rabbit-like creature who is a spirit.

My rating: 4 stars

My thoughts:

  • I loved the sisterly bond between Satsuki and Mei.
  • Mei was adorable. Sometimes movies try to make the adorable toddler and it just comes across as annoying but with Mei she was nothing but pure cuteness.
  • Loved the relationship the girl’s had with their father!
  • The animation was beautiful!
  • The Totoro’s were so charming yet so weird and I loved it so much.
  • This movie is the perfect movie when you are feeling down or stressed and you need a moment of calm or respite from the outside world. This movie isn’t very long as well so you fly through it.

Tales from Earthsea (2006)

Plot: In the land of Earthsea, a mysterious force threatens to plunge humanity into destruction and chaos. A powerful wizard named Sparrowhawk seeks the source of his world’s imbalance, and along the way rescues a runaway prince named Arren. When Sparrowhawk’s powers begin to weaken, he and Arren must join forces with a former priestess and her daughter to defeat an evil foe whose quest for immortality will destroy Earthsea.

My rating: 3 stars

My thoughts:

  • My main problem with the movie was the fact that it didn’t set up all it’s plot points properly. This is due to them taking elements from 4 of the books, of the series it’s based on, rather than just adapting one. This lack of development really left me confused and wondering if I missed something.
  • Beautiful animation, of course.
  • I enjoyed the character of Sparrowhawk, I liked him.
  • But I found the 2 main protagonists, Arren and Tehru to be really annoying.
  • This just didn’t land for me.

Porco Rosso (1992)

Plot: In Italy in the 1930s, sky pirates in biplanes terrorize wealthy cruise ships as they sail the Adriatic Sea. The only pilot brave enough to stop the scourge is the mysterious Porco Rosso, a former World War I flying ace who was somehow turned into a pig during the war. As he prepares to battle the pirate crew’s American ace, Porco Rosso enlists the help of spunky girl mechanic Fio Piccolo and his longtime friend Madame Gina.

My rating: 4 stars

My thoughts:

  • Porco was a fine character but I think what made this movie was all the side characters, good and evil alike. They were all so vibrant and fun that it made up for the slightly bland Porco. I think if you take away the fact that he is a pig he’s not the most interesting character.
  • This movie made me want to book a holiday to Italy, the animation is beautiful and paints Italy in an amazing light.
  • The dogfight scenes were also animated so well. I was on the edge of my seat at one point, wondering what was going to happy next.
  • I think this movie did a good job in giving us varied female characters, you have woman running her own business, another woman in STEM. A variety of background women who know how to build a plane. I would have preferred more women and I don’t think these female characters really make up for some of the lude comments made in this film towards women. That was very disappointing.
  • Fio was amazing!

Ocean Waves (1993)

Plot: The film is set in the city of Kōchi, on the Japanese island of Shikoku. It concerns a love triangle that develops between two good friends and a new girl who transfers to their high school from Tokyo.

My rating: 2 stars

My thoughts:

  • This did not feel much like a romance at all to me. The love triangle was practically non-existent. It felt like the animators forgot about the love triangle and they introduced it in the beginning and then didn’t bring it back up until the end of the film.
  • The main love interests had no chemistry in my opinion and were just really rude to each other.
  • I also found the main female protagonist to be unlikable. Which I was disappointed about.
  • But I did enjoy watching the scenes of modern Japan because at this point in my viewing I had scene Japanese countryside, a fantasy land or 1920’s Italy.

Only Yesterday (1991)

Plot: Unmarried career woman Taeko Okajima takes her first extended trip outside her native Tokyo when she travels to rural Yamagata to visit her sister’s family during the annual safflower harvest. On the train, Taeko daydreams about her pre-adolescent self. As her vacation progresses, she has extended flashbacks about the frustrations and small pleasures of her childhood, and wonders if her stress-filled adult life is what the young Taeko would have wanted for herself.

My rating: 3 stars

My thoughts:

  • This movie was better than I thought it was going to be. I am not a massive fan of self-reflecting kind of things or thinking back to one’s childhood but this was good.
  • I loved the different animation styles depending on which Taeko we were with. Soft pastel colours with unfinished drawings on the edge of the screen (to show that it’s a memory) with Young Taeko and then bold colours and harsher lines with Adult Taeko.
  • The way the past blended in with the present was really good, Young Taeko’s head popping out of the train compartment as Adult Taeko walks past.
  • I really enjoyed listening to Adult Taeko’s voiceover, it was really calming.
  • My only critique is that this movie dragged on. I started getting bored about 3/4 of the way through.
  • I also preferred the scenes we had with Young Taeko over Adult Taeko.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Plot: 13-year-old Kiki moves to a seaside town with her talking cat, Jiji, to spend a year alone, in accordance with her village’s tradition for witches in training. After learning to control her broomstick, Kiki sets up a flying courier service and soon becomes a fixture in the community. But when the insecure young witch begins questioning herself and loses her magic abilities, she must overcome her self-doubt to get her powers back.

My rating: 4 stars

My thoughts:

  • Kiki was an incredibly strong protagonist. Sometimes, I find that I enjoyed the side characters more than the main characters but this was not the case, she held her own in her story.
  • This was the first time I truly noticed the music. It was beautiful and I have saved the music to my phone.
  • All the characters are really likable.
  • I really enjoyed that most of the movie is just slice of life watching Kiki adapt to this new life and then the last 30 mins is more action packed.
  • Again, beautiful animation and setting. I want to go to her town.
  • Jiji the cat is great!

Castle in the Sky (1986)

Plot: Young orphan Sheeta and her kidnapper, Col. Muska, are flying to a military prison when their plane is attacked by a gang of air pirates led by the matronly Dola. Escaping from a mid-air collision via a magic crystal around her neck, Sheeta meets fellow orphan Pazu and the pair join forces to discover the mystical floating city of Laputa while pursued by both Muska and the pirates, who lust for the city’s myriad treasures.

My rating: 5 stars

My thoughts:

  • The pacing is amazing, you get the feel for the movie at the very beginning and it manages to maintain the fast-action adventure pacing very well through this 2 hour movie!
  • I loved the two main characters and I really loved their friendship!
  • The pirates were hilarious and really enjoyed when they were on screen.
  • The plot was exceptional! Most of the movies I watched were more slice of life style so to watch a fantastical action-adventure was a really fun change of pace.
  • Again, the animation and background settings were beautifully done!

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