Simpsons "Stemed Hams" Parodies


The internet was created with the intention of collecting the world's total knowledge into one vast, infinite library, where thinkers and scholars and artists could create freely and contemplate the universe. Instead, we just wasted out time by watching a bunch of silly parody videos.

Here are a couple wildly funny video spoofs of the "steamed hams" bit from The Simpsons. I'm sure you've seen this episode a hundred times, it's a comedy classic with Principle Skinner and "Super Nintendo" Chalmers. The first video fuses voice clips to the climactic battle in Nintendo's Super Mario World, and it works surprisingly well. The second video is a mashup of audiovisual clips that parodies Gorillaz, which is something of a semi-parody musical act. I really enjoy this one, as it reminds me of the wave of "YouTube Poop" videos that exploded across computer screens in 2008. Are we now seeing the next generation of those spoofs?

I have no idea why the kids have glued onto "Steamed Hams" as much as they have, but I'm glad they did. What do I know? I'm a rapidly aging Generation X'er who's still running a weblog like it's still 2005. Does anyone even know what a "blog" is anymore? I'm the last of the dinosaurs.


Mousterpiece Cinema and Ghibli Blog Discuss Tales From Earthsea

Mousterpiece Cinema and Ghibli Blog Discuss Tales From Earthsea

Mousterpiece Cinema: Tales From Earthsea

This Saturday, the newest episode of the Mousterpiece Cinema podcast was released to the public. It is devoted to the 2006 Studio Ghibli movie, Tales From Earthsea, and features yours truly as the special guest. On this show, we discuss various topics, including the plot and characters, the relations between the movie and Ursula K. Le Guin's fantasy novels, and the family melodrama that was unraveling behind the scenes at Studio Ghibli.

I like to think that Tales From Earthsea is a movie where Goro Miyazaki openly fantasizes about killing his father, then is cursed to walk through the endless landscapes of his late father's own creations. He is trapped in a Purgatory of sorts, reenacting scenes from Horus, Prince of the Sun, Puss in Boots, Heidi, Girl of the Alps, Future Boy Conan, The Journey of Shuna, and Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind.

For all of the movies faults, and we all agree that this movie is loaded with them, there are some positive qualities. We must also remember that the director was working on his very first movie, with zero experience in animation or filmmaking. Putting Goro-san into the captain's chair was a big gamble, one that, ultimately, didn't quite pan out. But that story has yet to be fully written.

Click on the link above to listen to the podcast episode. You can also download from Apple iTunes. Be sure to post a positive review on the Apple page as well, as that helps support these shows.


Gauche the Cellist and Mastery in Adaptation

YouTube user Kenji the Engi presents this excellent video essay on Isao Takahata's 1982 masterpiece Gauche the Cellist, describing this movie's adaptation from a poem by famed Japanese author Kenji Miyazawa. He comments on many of the scenes, story elements and animation techniques, providing the perfect introduction to this great movie.

I often pester GKIDS to pick up Gauche the Cellist for release in the US. Studio Ghibli and animation fans everywhere would love this movie, if they were only given the chance. For now, you can import the movie from Japan on DVD and Blu-Ray (released on the Ghibli ga Ippai label with English subtitles). It is also available on the Isao Takahata Blu-Ray box set, which for the moment is still exclusive to Japan.

This movie comes highly, highly recommended. See it by any means necessary.

GKIDS Brings Mind Game in US Theaters

Mind Game

Masaaki Yuasa is one of the most talented and exciting animation movie directors anywhere in the world. His style effortlessly blends Japanese pop culture, manga and anime with the surreal Western cartoon style of Tex Avery or John Kricfalusi, then hurled into a blender with Andy Warhol pop art and Frederico Fellini surrealism. As far as I'm concerned, he's the best "unknown" filmmaker in the world.

His 2004 feature film Mind Game has endured as a cult classic, but its unique quirkiness has kept it out of the mainstream, and it remains somewhat obscure even among the anime diehards. Now GKIDS has finally brought this great movie to our shores, with a limited US theatrical run to be followed by a Blu-Ray/DVD release. Most likely, the movie has already come and gone from your city, so we'll have to wait for its arrival on home video. Start saving your pennies today.

Kudos to GKIDS, as always, for their dedication to global animated movies that continue to push the boundaries of the medium and preserve the classic tradition of hand-drawn art.

Here is the US trailer, which is more or less identical to the 2004 Japanese version. Enjoy:

Everyone Gets the Animated Features They Deserve

The Emoji Movie: I have to go now, my planet needs me

"Every nation gets the government it deserves." This can also be said of animated feature films. The Emoji Movie is cynical, formulaic, dim-witted, cliched and generally terrible. It was recently awarded "Worst Movie" at this year's Razzie Awards. And yet, it still managed to earn $200 million at the box office and earn a "B" grade from audiences.

Yes, those are poor numbers compared to most animated features. Compared to, say, the Studio Ghibli movies, well...Hayao Miyazaki's last feature, The Wind Rises, earned a paltry $5 million dollars in US theaters. A two-time Academy Award winner and animation legend couldn't pull in more than The Emoji Movie made at the popcorn stand.

Just look at that screenshot. Even those stupid smiley faces are depressed about being in this dumb cartoon. They're probably a little shocked at the critical drubbing they've received as well. Let's be completely honest here. The Emoji Movie isn't really any worse than most animated features to come through the studio system in recent years. The plot, the characters, the casting, the pop culture riffs, the loud action scenes, the "pweachy mowal wesson", the formulaic happy ending -- it's all the same.

Oh, and were you aware that Masaaki Yuasa's visual masterpiece Mind Game is playing in select US theaters? It's box office return so far: $7,586.00. That's not a typo.

If you want better movies, then you're going to have to support better movies. Better options are readily available, but only if you bother to show up. If you choose instead to sit on your hands and stay home, only going out to sleepwalk into the latest formulaic animated cartoon that's identical to the last twenty animated cartoons...well, don't be surprised if "Emoji Movie 2" gets the green light. Expect to see the teaser trailer at the beginning of "Angry Birds Movie 2".


Mimi Wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart) Smartphone Wallpapers

Mimi Wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart) Smartphone Wallpapers

Mimi Wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart) Smartphone Wallpapers

Mimi Wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart) Smartphone Wallpapers

Mimi Wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart) Smartphone Wallpapers

Mimi Wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart) Smartphone Wallpapers

Mimi Wo Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart) Smartphone Wallpapers

This is just too cool to pass up. The ever-reliable Ghibli Collector has captured this series of pan shots from the 1995 Studio Ghibli movie Mimi Wo Sumaseba (aka Whisper in the Heart in the West) for use as smartphone wallpapers. Each of these are taken directly from the movie and look absolutely sensational. In order to use these, click on the photo and download the full-size version.

As always, I am reminded of the brilliant art design of Ghibli's illustrators and artists, who create a romanticized version of Tokyo's Tama Hills. All of the locations in Mimi exist in real life, and after the movie was released to theaters, one could follow local tour guides on a sightseeing spree of all your favorite scenes. It's this dedication to realism and naturalism that sets Studio Ghibli apart from so many other animation studios. In the West, such a concept barely even exists.

But, to be fair, we do have The Emoji Movie, The Angry Birds Movie, Cars 3, Peter Rabbit and Sherlock Gnomes. So...yeah. Take that, Japan.

I have to go now, my planet needs me.


Photos: Umi Ga Kikoeru (I Can Hear the Sea/Ocean Waves)

Photos: Umi Ga Kikoeru (I Can Hear the Sea/Ocean Waves)

Photos: Umi Ga Kikoeru (I Can Hear the Sea/Ocean Waves)

Photos: Umi Ga Kikoeru (I Can Hear the Sea/Ocean Waves)

Photos: Umi Ga Kikoeru (I Can Hear the Sea/Ocean Waves)

Photos: Umi Ga Kikoeru (I Can Hear the Sea/Ocean Waves)

Here is a sampling of wonderfully crafted background illustrations as seen in the 1993 Studio Ghibli production Umi ga Kikoeru (aka Ocean Waves in the West). I loved this movie when I first discovered it many years ago, and time has taken away none of its luster. I wish Western animation could break free of its "babysitter" mindset and create works such as this.

The background illustrations are drawn with a fine sense of detail, and a great sense of realism that is only slightly enhanced by the color palette. It looks so much like a collection of romanticized photographs, and it fits the story's themes of lost loves and nostalgic reunions. This also matches very closely the visual style of Japanese manga comics, which has always exerted a great influence on animators.

These screenshots come from our friends at Ghibli Collector, a Tumblr art site that features all sorts of impressive photos and illustrations from the Ghibli movies. I highly recommend visiting and sharing with family and friends.


"How Princess Mononoke Was Born" on VHS

"How Princess Mononoke Was Born" on VHS

"How Princess Mononoke Was Born" on VHS

"How Princess Mononoke Was Born" on VHS

A decade ago (can hardly believe it's been that long), I posted a series of YouTube video episodes from the DVD documentary How Princess Mononoke Was Born. This television program originally aired on Japanese network NHK, which has had a very long and fruitful relationship with Hayao Miyazaki, going back to his 1978 series Future Boy Conan, which aired on the network.

Here are some cool screenshots from the VHS edition, containing the series on three tapes and encased in a stylish box. These sort of deluxe packages were common in the latter days of VHS, and have always remained prized collectors' items. Even if you can no longer play videotapes, it's nice to have these sitting on your shelf, filling out your prized Ghibli fan collection.

Unfortunately, this documentary has never been released outside of Japan. It's very unfortunate, because this terrific program deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. Thankfully for fans, an English translation of the Japanese language arrived from the fan underground, and video episodes soon appeared on YouTube for all to enjoy. These were the videos that I shared on Ghibli Blog in 2008 (parts one, two, and three).

Just recently, a Ghibli Blog follower sent me an email about this series. He informed me that the woman who was responsible for the English subtitles was stricken by illness, and she was unable to complete her translation project. This is why the YouTube videos were never fully completed.

More tragedy: recently, Studio Ghibl had all of these Mononoke documentary videos removed from YouTube on copyright grounds. I have never understood the reasoning behind this strategy. It's perfectly understandable to protect your rights when your movies are easily available on store shelves and online retailers. It's quite another thing when said programs are unavailable anywhere. We would love to buy this series on DVD or Blu-Ray. We would gladly pay money for a separate release, or a reissue of Princess Mononoke with the documentary as a bonus feature. Simply taking your ball and going home accomplishes nothing.

Let us hope that Studio Ghibli will indeed release this great program on our shores. It goes into the production of their landmark blockbuster movie in exquisite detail, from conception to completion. You follow Miyazaki on the long and difficult journey to create what was, then, his most ambitious film project. Had the movie failed at the box office, he would have been ruined. Instead, it became Japan's all-time box office champion, bring fame, fortune and international acclaim to the director and his studio.

The next time you purchase the latest Blu-Ray from GKIDS, send them a nice letter asking them to release this title as well. Send them a photo of a twenty-dollar bill and scribble the words, "This can all be yours."

Until then, why not add this VHS box set to your collection? I found it on Ebay fairly easily. All true Ghibl Freaks should have at least one or two videotapes to show off.


The Ghiblers Podcast No.12: My Neighbors the Yamadas

The Ghiblers Podcast No.12: My Neighbors the Yamadas

The Ghiblers is a podcast devoted exclusively to the movies of Studio Ghibli. They began broadcasting in August, 2017 and are now rolling ahead with their latest episode, where they discuss Isao Takahata's 1999 comedy classic My Neighbors the Yamadas.

So far, each episode is devoted to one feature film, and the show is progressing in chronological order. I hope this doesn't mean that they intent to quit once they've reached the end. There are endless opportunities for discussing the many topics and ideas expressed in these movies. They'll never run out of material. Believe me, I know.

Ideally, I would like to see this show expand its scope to the pre-Ghibli era, including Toei Doga, A Pro, Zuiyo/Nippon Animation, Telecom and Tokyo Movie Shinsha. And, of course, there are always the Hayao Miyazaki comics, of which there is no limit.

This show does not appear to have many followers, so we need to change that. The Ghibli fan community needs to come together. I highly recommend that you subscribe to this excellent podcast and share with family and friends. Also, please take a moment to write a favorable review on the podcast's iTunes page.

You can follow The Ghiblers at their website, or download episodes from Apple iTunes.

Photos: Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro

Today's screenshots come from Hayao Miyazaki's 1979 feature film Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro. This beautiful collection of pan shots comes from the excellent website Ghibli Collector. This site mostly features photos and short animated clips and is perfect for social media users.

Miyazaki uses many vertical shots in order to heighten a sense of vertigo and scale, and it works wonderfully. I am thinking of that great sequence where Lupin scales to the rooftops of the forbidden castle, replete with cartoonish riffs on the 1969 Toei Doga Puss in Boots (examples are shown here and here), on which Miyazaki was a key animator.

The art direction in Cagliostro is restrained, a bit austere, but highly detailed and packed with color. It's definitely an example of 1970s anime and it holds up very well. Not bad for a movie with a famously short (four months) production schedule. Critics would probably say that it looks like a lavish TV episode, and that's probably true to an extent. Whatever. It still looks great, and I wish modern anime would remember what real colors look like. I'm tired of everything being so bleached out.

Castle of Cagliostro just screams "1970s Cool". You probably had to be around in those days to appreciate it. I suppose you could find yourself a leather couch, add wood paneling, shag carpeting and a Marantz stereo receiver to your den, then sit down in front of the 19-inch television to watch Charlie's Angels. You would have to feel the era of modernism and disco and punk rock, feel the final days of the post-war boom before it all began to slowly descend. You would have to feel the sense of fading nobility and lost youth that this movie embodies. It's wistful and nostalgic, the Last Great Caper.

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Zen Arcade, Pop Life and Greatest Hits - Download Ebooks and Buy Paperbacks

Do you enjoy Ghibli Blog? Then check out my awesome books: Zen Arcade, Pop Life and Greatest Hits. You can download my books at the following online retailers. Ebooks are free (we're working on Amazon right now) and paperbacks ($19.99):

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Medium Discusses The Story of the Yanagawa Canals

The Story of the Yanagawa Canals

The Story of the Yanagawa Canals

The Story of the Yanagawa Canals

Medium has an excellent article on the making of the most unique film in the Studio Ghibli catalog: the 1987 live-action documentary The Story of the Yanagawa Waterways. This movie was directed by Isao Takahata over a span of three years, with Hayao Miyazaki serving as producer.

In its own way, this movie was directly responsible for the founding of Studio Ghibli. I can't recall if I ever shared that story, but this article does tell the tale very nicely, and there's little that I could add. What I can share with you is that this movie is sublime, miraculous and visually astonishing. It is a detailed and nuanced examination of a region of Japan with a long history of cooperation between humans and nature.

The musical score was provided by Michiyo Mamiya, who worked on four Isao Takahata films: Horus, Prince of the Sun, Gauche the Cellist and Grave of the Fireflies. You will also catch a glimpse of a Joe Hisaishi melody from Castle in the Sky. The cinematographer was Takahashi Somai. Veteran Ghibli animators Atsuko Tanaka (one of the geniuses behind the legendary 1984 Nemo pilot film) and Makiko Futaki provide several short animated scenes depicting daily life of the region and demonstrations of the region's complex network of canal systems.

The Blu-Ray is available in Japan as part of the Isao Takahata Blu-Ray box set. The DVD is available separately, is reasonably priced and includes both English subtitles and an English-language dub track that perfectly matches the Japanese script. The movie runs three hours, but is broken into ten chapters, enabling you to either watch in fits and starts or all at once.

Please, GKIDS, bring this movie to the US! Pay whatever amount you have to pay in order to make the NHK Network happy. This movie is a must for all fans of Studio Ghibli and documentaries.

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