Tag Archive: Studio Ghibli


Last week I wrote about how The Iron Giant would make my top ten list of best animated movies.

As much as I love that movie, it made me think of what other movies I would put in that list. People who know me, know there are a few that are naturals. I have raved about them in the past and there is no way I could do a list without them.

On the other hand, I have done this list and later wondered why I didn’t put a movie down only to realize I forgot about it amidst all of my other steller choices. That is when one must do an honorable mention to make up for something that should be on the list but never made it.

So what do I look for in an animated feature. Beautiful animation for starters. Because animation can be otherworldly in depicting our world, I want something that is both dreamy and realistic. Like any other movie I watch, I want there to be good storytelling and characters with whom I can feel a connection. And because this list is family friendly, I want something most of the family can watch together.

  1. Toy Story FriendsToy Story – This computer animated flick tells the story of a toy who is the known favorite and must make an adjustment when his human gets a new toy. It is a story of jealousy, action and adventure, and a lesson on learning to accept your situation as it changes. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were perfect as Woody and Buzz.

  2. Shrek – I loved this movie for making fun of the various fairy tales and legends of Europe while giving it’s lead monster a sincere heart and wicked sense of humor. Its sound track was pretty great, too. Parents could watch this movie with their kids and not poke their eyes out after repeat viewings.

  3. Spirited Away – Director Hiyao Miyazaki is one of the best anime masters in the world. Based on Japanese folklore, the story is about a young girl who goes to work for a spa for the spirits in order to save her parents. Along with the incredible storytelling is animation that makes you think you are looking at a black and white photo in one scene and drawings on incredible depth in others.

  4. The Incredibles – Pixar hit the trifecta with this movie. The animation is fantastic with the variety of super heroes. Then there is the story telling, taking on the issues of what does a superhero do when he can no longer be a superhero and what it means when we reward everyone with or without merit. Finally the voice-over work of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Jason Lee are simply wonderful, giving life to the characters as we get to know them.

  5. Kung Fu PandaKung Fu Panda – Jack Black plays into type here as the lovable loser who manages to succeed without the initial willing help of his teacher. Then there is the animation. One scene in particular that stands out is when the flowers on the peach tree fall and blow into the sky. While I consider this a family movie in the action/adventure vein, it is one my father would not watch. He firmly said he was not watching a movie with Pandas.

  6. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – I mention this movie because it gave us the formula for all animated movies. As the Disney company’s first foray into a feature length movie, it proved animation could be interesting for 70 minutes or more. Take a classic fairy tale, create a great villain, and make the surroundings beautifully detailed. While the singing is classic to its time period, we still sing those songs today. Do you ‘whistle while you work?’

  7. The Jungle Book – This movie gave us jazz on a mainstream level while telling the story of a lost Asian Indian boy trying to find his way back to the man village. The animated background on four movable panels within one scene gave us the depth of the jungle. It is hard not to tap your fingers and your toes to this movie or be impressed by the animation.

  8. The Lion King IMDb com

    Movie poster for The Lion King, picture from IMDb.com

    The Lion King – This is one of those once in a lifetime movies where everything comes together. The music is inspiring, hitting on emotional points without pulling you too far into despair. The story telling is excellent as a young prince is driven from his kingdom by a beloved uncle. Finally, the animation is filled with splendor whether is it the opening scene or the trip to the elephant graveyard.

  9. The Iron Giant – I went in detail why I like this movie last week. But in a nutshell I love the storyline about a boy in the 1950s who discovers a giant robot. The animation, the story telling, the characterizations, and the way everything incorporates pop culture of the period is breathtaking while being relatable.

  10. Beauty and the Beast – There has been some chatter lately as to Frozen having great female characters who do no wait to be saved by the male characters. True but Elsa and Anna are not the first of these role breaking women in the Disney world. That honor goes to Belle from Beauty and the Beast who does all she can to save the Beast. Her story is wrapped around with fantastic music, the conversation of if a small town for your entire life better, and a villain who is very handsome despite his cold heart.

Until Next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

How many people can say they love Japanese Anime?

 

How many people know it when they see it?

 

If you have kids like my kids, the Uh-Gi-Oh or Pokemon or some other cartoons might be the extent of what you know.

 

"My Neighbor Totoro" Image from IMDB.com

I discovered Anime one day when I was looking for a video for my son who was feeling sick that day and needed to be entertained. In the store I stumbled upon My Neighbor Totoro by Studio Ghibli’s director Hayao Miyazaki. The cover looked worn and tired at that time, so much so I almost skipped over it.

 

I took it home anyway. We watched it and were entranced. The story is about two young girls who move to the country with their father and meet Totoro, the king of the forest.

 

We watch it on a regular basis and I still have that feeling of amazement every time I watch it.

 

Image from IMDb.com

Last week, our 4H group did our semi-annual dinner and a movie night. After supper at Panera Bread, we went over to Movies 10 to watch The Secret World of Arrietty a movie from Studio Ghibli although not directed by Miyazaki.

 

We had kids ranging in age from 8 to 17 and there was not one single unhappy kid in the crowd.

 

The story is based on The Borrowers, tiny people who live in our homes and borrow only what they need. So food items and earrings might disappear as well as tissues. The trick is to stay hidden from the ‘beans, cats and rats. Birds like to eat borrowers as well.

 

In this case, Shaun comes to live at his aunt’s house to rest before a serious operation. He sees a borrower by accident and at first he thinks he imagined it. That is until his aunt tells him about the special doll house that was built for a tiny family.

 

Meanwhile, Arrietty is the only child of borrowers who live in this house. She accompanies her father on her first borrow in the house and he teaches her not only how to be a borrower but how to be a good person.

 

As far as they know they are the last of their kind in the area. Other families have disappeared and where more might be is hard to tell.

 

What is different about this movie is the way the story slowly unfolds. There are few big action scenes and every moment is not filled with music. The sounds of nature suffice and fit better. At first I had trouble slowing down and simply enjoying it. I had to remind myself it was OK to let things play out and not know what would happen next.

 

 

While Disney Channel viewers will recognize Bridget Mendler as Arrietty and David Henrie as Shaun, soon you forget about their real ‘faces’ and believe them as their characters. Amy Poehler does a wonderful job as the mother while Carol Burnett is a hoot as the housekeeper determined to rid the house of the ‘little people.”

 

This movie plays well for children in early grade school through middle school. The animation is beautiful and can be appreciated by all ages. 

 

Other Miyazaki anime movies you might enjoy are Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service for younger viewers while Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away are more appropriate for pre-teens and teens.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.