As thrilled I am to be able to see Arrietty on the big screen next month, I'm even more excited to see Goro Miyazaki's sophomore feature film, From Up on Poppy Hill. My favorite Studio Ghibli movies are the naturalist ones, Omohide Poro Poro and Mimi wo Sumaseba. Those are the classics that resonated with me above the others because I never before imagined that animation of this sort was even possible. They opened my eyes to the truly limitless possibilities of the art form, and when I look to the West for comparable works, my heart aches.
Animation of this sort - everyday, true-to-life character dramas, sparkling with color and humor and wit - does not exist in the West. France is the sole exception, with the films like The Illusionist Triplets of Bellville and Persepolis. It's no coincidence that France is also a great champion of Isao Takahata and his masterful works. I'm very interested in seeing if they embrace Goro Miyazaki as well.
These photos from Poppy Hill are wondrous. Ghibli's artists are unique with their lush colors, their luminescence, their rich and warm tones. It's a unique balance between Impressionism and Realism, with just a touch of caricature in the character designs. It's funny how Ghibli is known in the West for the escapist fantasy adventures, when this is the real heart of the studio. Desipite all the international acclaim and domestic success, they remain as they always were, a small studio that crafts romantic, nostalgia-fueled indie films.
This is what a Studio Ghibli movie looks like. It's not trying to outdo Walt Disney, or George Lucas, or JRR Tolkein. They follow their own unique path. If Goro-san can successful continue this tradition, while finding his unique voice, this will be a very successful future, indeed.