Where is The Wind Rises Playing? Check Here For Theaters and Showtimes

Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises opens across the USA on Friday, February 28 - do you know where the movie is playing?  Once again, Ghibli Blog is here to help direct you to the theaters in your area, for showtimes and tickets.

Follow theses links to MovieTickets and Fandango, enter your zip code, and the search engines will direct you to the nearest theaters showing The Wind Rises.  I am not yet aware if Disney plans to expand the number of theaters in coming weeks; I would assume that will be determined by turnout.  So if you want everyone to see Miyazaki's "final masterpiece," you need to turn out this weekend.  Bring all your friends!


Photos - The Wind Rises

 I hope you kids are all ready to go...tomorrow is the big day!  Hayao Miyazaki's final directorial feature film, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) opens on over 400 screens in the USA tomorrow!  Enjoy these screenshots, which were supplied to press outlets.

The big question on everyone's minds is, simply, "Is this the final Miyazaki film?"  The answer is a very probable yes.  The decision has been made for Studio Ghibli to continue into the future, beyond its original visionary founders.  And that means the studio must spend time necessary to cultivate the next generation of talent.  Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Goro Miyazaki are the newest directors, and their projects are closely developed and supervised by Miyazaki himself.  He has chosen the projects and source material, developed the pre-production and story ideas, and generally started the car before handing the keys to the new kids.

Simply put, there isn't enough time left to devote to several new directors, film and television projects, and develop another directorial feature film.  At 73 years of age, it's miraculous that Hayao Miyazaki continues to work at the level he does.  The Wind Rises completely wore him out; we've said this many times in the past, but age and time will exact their toll.  Panta Rhei.  All Flows.

Careful readers will note that I have specified only feature animation films.  Hayao Miyazaki still intends to create short films for the Ghibli Museum and manga comics.  This movie is not his final masterpiece by any stretch.  But it is most likely the final chance we will have to see his art shined on the big screen, in a dark theater packed with our dear family and friends.  This is a special moment, dear readers, and I sincerely hope you don't let it pass.

Mr. Peabody is One Outrageous Dude, He's Totally in My Face!

Mr. Peabody is One Outrageous Dude, He's Totally in My Face!

I don't think anybody bothered to tell the Dreamworks execs that the "Poochie" episode of The Simpsons was supposed to be SATIRE.  It's not a bloody instruction manual, ya schnorers!

I'm a huge fan of Rocky & Bullwinkle, but all these bad CGI movie adaptations just leave me feeling depressed.  No wonder I have regular panic attacks about the thought of mortality.  Movies like this are used by atheists as evidence in debates.  Oy, my head hurts.

I wish I had some holy water.  Back, back!  The power of Christ compels you!  The power of Christ compels you!

Disney's Frozen is a Lock For the Animated Feature Oscar

Disney's Frozen

Disney's Frozen

Obviously, as the creator of Ghibli Blog, I'm rooting for Hayao Miyazaki to win a second Best Animated Oscar for his final directorial feature, The Wind Rises, at this Sunday's Academy Awards.  But I think Disney's smash hit Frozen is a guaranteed lock on this year's Oscar.  A few quick reasons why:

1) Everyone Gets One Oscar.  It's an unspoken rule that the Motion Picture Academy will give you one award for your career, not just one film or performance.  And, most often, one must suffer several nominations and "earn their dues" before winning.  Hayao Miyazaki was already given his Oscar.  In the eyes of Hollywood, he's in the club.

2) Voters Haven't Seen Miyazaki's Film.  The Wind Rises only played briefly in New York and L.A. at the end of the year, in order to qualify for nominations.  Last Friday, Disney released the film to an extremely limited 22 theaters; wider release is this Friday, February 28.  That makes it unlikely that Academy voters even had an opportunity to see the picture.

3) Disney is Fighting For Frozen.  A decade ago, Miyazaki won his Oscar for Spirited Away because Pixar's John Lasseter fought tooth and nail on his behalf.  You need powerful players to carry your back in this game.  This year, Disney/Pixar has their own nominated movie to support.  Guess which movie that is.

4) Frozen Has Swept Awards Season.  A good gauge for who will win on Oscar night is the collection of awards shows leading up to the March 2 broadcast - Golden Globes, BAFTA, the Annies, American Cinema Editors, the various Film Critics Associations.  Disney has swept everything this year, making this an almost guaranteed lock.

5) Old Voters Fear Anime.  The median age of Academy voters is 62.  And male.  And white.  And what does the average senior citizen think of Japanese animation?  They're scared of it.  Scared to death.  "Anime" is this strange, alien beast, a nightmare world of naked strippers, giant robots, gratuitous violence, and buckets of blood.  Or, conversely, "anime" means cheaply-made, choppy cartoons like Astro Boy or Speed Racer.  They're not "real cartoons."

6) It's Disney's Turn.  Remember what I said about everyone getting one Oscar?  Disney has yet to win the Best Animated Feature category; it's usually Pixar's award most years.  But this year, Monsters U failed to even win a nomination, which clears the field.  And, thanks to John Lasseter's oversight, Disney Animation Studios have dramatically improved their output.  Wreck-It-Ralph was terrific, and the Planes franchise is a huge hit with kids.  Frozen feels like a triumph for the studio, a return to form not seen since The Lion King.

Frozen is a good movie, very solid, very skillfully made.  It is making crazy money at the box office, the songs are big hits on the pop charts, and we haven't seen a good Disney animated musical in 20 years.  This movie deserves its success and deserves to win its Oscar.  I don't see any reason for Ghibli Freaks to feel bummed.  Unless we're going to talk about Isao Takahata getting snubbed...oy, vey!


Totoro at the Bus Stop

I wonder what would happen if this actually happened for real?  If I had a life-size Totoro suit, I would totally do this on April Fools Day.

Honestly can't remember where I found this photo; I grabbed it off the internets a few years ago, and it's been sitting in my vast Ghibli-related photo folders ever since.  It's such a great photo.

Totoro Themed Bedroom Set

These children's bedroom designs come from Twitter user @_hitorigurashi, who specializes in stylish and inventive interior designs.  In these two photos, bedrooms are given a My Neighbor Totoro makeover.  The green-painted walls are proving to be popular on Ghibli Blog's twitter feed.  Very impressive!  Now all that's needed is a large Catbus for the middle of the room.


Discotek DVDs For John Lennon Fans Who Completely Missed The Beatles

One thing I can't wrap my head around is the fact that most American Hayao Miyazaki fans are completely aware of his vast career before the founding of Studio Ghibli.  Even prominent animation scholars and movie critics think it all began with Castle of Cagliostro or Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind.  It's a bit like meeting a diehard John Lennon fan who's only aware of his 1970s solo output..."Beatles?  What's that?  Never heard of it."

Thank God for Discotek, I say.  The US distribution label has steadily grown into one of the best anime publishers around, and they've done an excellent job providing us with the pre-Ghibli works of the 1960s and 1970s.  In 2006, they released a trio of Toei Doga classics: Puss in Boots (1969) and Animal Treasure Island (1971).  In 2012, they released Lupin III: The Complete First TV Series (1971-72), of which I contributed three short essays, and Panda Go Panda (1972, 73).

Discotek also released the 1979 Toei feature, Taro the Dragon Boy, which was not connected to Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, but old friends Yoichi Kotabe and Reiko Okuyama were the Animation Directors, and the movie was a surprising throwback to the Toei Doga classics of old.  Every self-respecting anime fan should have this DVD in their collection.

All of these DVDs seems to completely disappear from the radar, and remain criminally overlooked.  These classics manage to fall between the cracks for varying reasons: too old, too clunky, lack of quality dubs, lack of advertising or marketing, no presence at retail.  Ignore all of that.  Just buy everything directly from the Discotek website, and send them your thanks.

Where are all these so-called Miyazaki and Takahata fans I keep hearing about?  I've got a whole stack of Beatles albums, just waiting to be discovered.

Puss in Boots (1969)

Animal Treasure Island (1971)

Lupin the 3rd: The Complete First TV Series (1971-72)

Panda Go Panda! (1972, 73)

Trailer - Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves (Toei Doga, 1971)

Yes!  I finally found the trailer to the 1971 Toei Doga movie, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves.  I also see that I haven't written about this picture in a long while, so we're overdue for another shout-out.

I really do like this Ali Baba.  It doesn't really look like anyone's expectations of an "anime" movie, more like a Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon mashed up with Dr. Seuss.  It doesn't aim to be anything more than a zany kids' cartoon, and it's a lot of fun.

Hayao Miyazaki, of course, contributes arguably the movie's best scene, the crazy castle chase between Ali Baba and the goofy, cat-phobic genie.  It's probably a little too similar to the castle chase from the 1969 Puss in Boots, which was one of the all-time anime classics, but there's a lot to enjoy and every moment is inspired.  His mastery of comic timing and three-dimensional visual perspective, the slapstick gags, the funny cartoon poses, it's all so perfect.  For those who are fans of Miyazaki's early period, Ali Baba is a standout, alongside Puss in Boots and Animal Treasure Island.

Of course, there's more to this movie than Hayao Miyazaki, a point few Westerns seem to grok sometimes.  Most of Toei Doga's star talent worked on this picture: Akira Daikubara, Yasuji Mori, Reiko Okuyama, Yoichi Kotabe, Akemi Ota.  Yasuo Otsuka, by this point, had already moved on to the A Productions studio to create the Lupin III anime series, and Isao Takahata had been demoted back down to directing television as revenge for the "Horus Rebellion."  I'd really love to know who was responsible for which scenes.  Calling Ben Ettinger!

Unfortunately, the days of Toei Doga's lavishly-produced animated features was over; cheap TV had taken over, and that meant much lower budgets for film productions.  Ali Baba suffers notably because of this; the visuals are clearly "limited" animation, and Ali Baba was not successful at the box office.  It was released around the world, and later released in the US under the title, "Ali Baba's Revenge," but remains stubbornly overlooked.

Shortly after Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Toei Doga founder and visionary Hiroshi Okawa died, marking this the end of an important era in ths history of Japanese animation.  He established a standard for quality, and spawned a generation of artists who would revolutionize and define the art form for the next 50 years.  Studio Ghibli is the direct heir to the Toei tradition.

Discotek really ought to release Ali Baba in the US, but since hardly anybody bothered to buy their other Toei Doga DVDs, that's not likely to happen.  This is what happens when ya steal everything off the internet, kids!  We gots ta pay the rent around here!


Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - All the Studio Ghibli Animated Cut-Scenes

Here are all the Studio Ghibli-animated scenes from the Factor 5 videogame Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.  At least, that's what the author of this YouTube video promises.  It's a good opportunity to watch the anime clips without having to spend weeks playing an RPG.  Okay, you should probably play the game, too, it looks really good.

Ni no Kuni suggests a possible future for Studio Ghibli - quicker, shorter and less expensive projects in other mediums.  The studio is built to handle Hayao Miyazaki films, which are enormously expensive to create, but are guaranteed to be monstrously successful in Japan and earn another $20 million overseas.  Those days are now over.  And that means the studio, in one fashion or another, will have to downsize, and more aggressively pursue smaller projects.  Working with video game developers is one possible option.

If you haven't seen Ni no Kuni and you're curious to see what Studio Ghibli created, here's your chance.  Enjoy!

Art Nouveau Studio Ghibli Poster Designs

These spectacular poster designs recreate our favorite Studio Ghibli movies in the early 20th Century Art Nouveau style.  An artist named "Marlboro" posted these artworks on Pixiv, a Japanese art-sharing site.  Unfortunately, Marlboro's page is no longer available, but the art lives on.

What makes these illustrations so effective is how perfectly the art style matches the original material.  Nausicaa, Sheeta, Kiki, Totoro, Howl...these characters do have an Art Nouveau appeal.  They fit into this style perfectly.  Indeed, it makes me wonder why comics and animation cannot use this visual style, instead of merely retreading the same old paradigms.

Excellent job, Marlboro, wherever you are.

Poster - Totorwho?

This terrific mashup of My Neighbor Totoro and the revived Doctor Who comes to us from artist James Hance.  He created this piece and sold a limited number of prints in 2012, but it just happened to arrive on my Facebook this weekend.  And now we're sharing this super cool poster with you.  Enjoy!

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Director Mami Sunada was given exclusive access to Studio Ghibli for her documentary movie, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, which was released in Japanese theaters in November.  The movie focuses on the studio's three founders - directors Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, and producer Toshio Suzuki - during the production of Takahata's Tale of Princess Kaguya and Miyazaki's The Wind Rises.

Even though Miyazaki insists that his decision to announce his retirement from feature films came late, a sense of closure, of finality, always hung over these two films.  There was a special sense of alignment, of Studio Ghibli's two old masters taking one last bow before the audience.  It's very difficult not to see The Wind Rises as a farewell statement.  And, so, this sadness remains underneath the surface - the madness that underlies the dream.

And, yet, we also respond to Miyazaki's retirement with a sense of disbelief.  Really?  I mean...really?  Even his oldest friends and colleagues don't believe the master won't return once more.  But Miyazaki stubbornly insists he is finished.  He has nothing more to say, no more fight for another battle.

The other question that haunts us: What about Paku-san?  Is Princess Kaguya his farewell statement as well?  Wasn't he already retired?  His last film was a 60-second clip in the 2003 anthology picture, Winter Days.  His last feature film was 1999's My Neighbors the Yamadas.  The man does not commit to any direction, prefers to silently keep his options open.  But time marches forward for Takahata as well.

Sunada explains the documentary's title: "I think that having a dream entails having a bit of madness, no matter what the profession. There are times when you will go to extremes, and times when you are feared by others for that."  It's a fascinating insight into Studio Ghibli, whose films have often embraced the nightmare side, probed the darker, more difficult questions.  Miyazaki and Takahata were never interested in simple children's entertainment for following the Disney paradigm.  Indeed, they have dedicated their whole lives to smashing it to pieces.  We cherish these men while they are among us.  We shall not see their likes again.

One Final Note:  Studio Ghibli is preparing English subtitles for this film.  Does this mean a Western release in theaters or on home video?  Nobody is yet saying, but we can only hope.  There will be subs on the Japanese BD/DVD release, if nothing else.  Stay tuned.

Announcing the 2014 Ghibli Blog Animation Poll (CLOSED)

(Update 4/1/14: Polling is now closed.  Thanks to everyone for participating.  We are now compiling all the entries and will write follow-up posts on Ghibli Blog.)

Announcing the 2014 Ghibli Blog Animation Poll

Minneapolis, MN USA -- We are pleased to announce the 2014 Ghibli Blog poll of the best animation films.  This informal survey among animation lovers will determine the most beloved animation works around the world.  Participation is open to everyone worldwide, movie lovers, critics and scholars, and those working in the animation film industries.

Each participant will list their choices for the 20 best animated films of all time.  This includes full-length and short film, television series and specials, independent and student works.  Television series or serial cartoons (e.g. "The Simpsons," "Looney Tunes,") will be counted as a single entry.  Everyone is encouraged to choose their personal favorites, however popular or obscure.  This format is in keeping with the 2003 Laputa Festival poll, which polled animators around the world for their favorite works.  Our informal poll continues that tradition.

Voting will be open until March 30, after which time all entries shall be compiled into a final ranking.  This final total will be announced on the Ghibli Blog website.

2014 Ghibli Blog Animation Poll - Unofficial Rules

1. Participation is open to all animation lovers around the world.
2. Write your list of the 20 best animated films ever made.
3. "Films" include all formats - feature length film, short film, television, independent and student works.
4. Animations include hand-drawn, CGI, puppetry and stop-motion.  Anything goes!
5. TV series or serial cartoons (e.g. "The Simpsons," "Looney Tunes) are listed as a single entry.
6. Animation clips in live-action films (e.g. "Vertigo," "Anchors Aweigh") will not be considered.
7. Deadline is March 30.  A final ranking total will then be compiled and announced on the Ghibli Blog website.

About Ghibli Blog

Ghibli Blog is the premier website dedicated to Studio Ghibli, animation and the movies.  Founded in 2006, it is the leading resource on the works of Japanese filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.  It is located at

Contact Info

Entries for the 2014 Ghibli Blog Animation Poll can be sent via email, or posted on the official poll thread on the Ghibli Blog website.  Questions or queries are accepted via email.

The Ghibli Blog

Daniel Thomas MacInnes, publisher and editor

Poster: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Poster: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Poster: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I was practically raised by Charles Shultz and his Peanuts characters, and the holiday specials hold a special place in my heart.  It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is my favorite, capturing all the variety and depth of the comic strip, coming alive on the small screen.  Here, Toronto-based graphics artist Michael De Pippo created these limited-series posters for the Haloween classic.  The originals are now long out-of-print, which is too bad.  I'd gladly pay to own one of these for my collection, and I'm sure you would, as well.

A really fantastic design!  Very minimal, yet iconic, stylish.  The image of Sally staring down poor Linus is priceless.

Time Out London Animation Poll - My Ten Favorite Feature Films

This past week, I received an email from Time Out London, asking me to participate in their latest poll of the 100 Best Animation Features.  They asked me to submit a "top ten" list of my favorites, provided they are at least 60 minutes long, and also write a short paragraph for each entry.  It was a very fun project that consumed most of my week, and as these things usually do, start my brain whirling at top speed.

These sort of "best movie" polls are entertaining parlor games, trivial fun, and I am reminded of Roger Ebert's advice to not take them too seriously.  There are so many great movies, and our tastes and moods change almost daily.  Today, I am hungry for a chicken sandwich.  Tomorrow, I will crave a pizza.  But I also think it's a good way of taking personal stock, of examining one's soul.  Have I grown as a person?  Have I evolved in my worldview?  Have I learned anything in the past year?  Who should I champion?  Who deserves another voice to defend their art?  Or would I rather just sit on the couch all day and watch Looney Tunes?

Anyway, in addition to my "Top 10" list - and this is where my brain really gets over-stimulated - I compiled two more lists, a "Top 20" and "Top 50."  This time, I wanted to include ALL animation: feature and short film, television, everything.  My inspiration was the Laputa Festival 2003 poll of the 150 Best Animations, which polled industry artists and animators around the world (but mostly in Japan).  It was quite inspiring;  I'll have to post the complete rankings in a future post.

I promise to share my Animation Top 20 (and Top 50) in a future post.  For now, I'll share my Top Ten, as submitted to Time Out London.  I will reserve my notes for their use, and urge everyone to grab a copy when that issue hits newsstands.  Hope you enjoy this short list!

Ten Favorite Animated Feature Films (60 min. minimum)

1. Omohide Poro Poro (1991)
2. Mimi wo Sumaseba (1995)
3. Fantasia (1943)
4. Pinocchio (1940)
5. The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun (1968)
6. Princess Mononoke (1997)
7. Gauche the Cellist (1982)
8. Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)
9. The Beatles' Yellow Submarine (1968)
10. Waking Life (2001)

Neil Gaiman Discusses Princess Mononoke

I honestly cannot remember if I ever shared this 2005 Neil Gaiman interview, in which he discusses his US dub translation for Princess Mononoke.  In any case, it's a worthy piece of history that should be preserved and shared.  It's a fascinating glimpse into the sausage-making of movies, of struggling to bring a blockbuster anime film to the United States at a time when "anime" was borderline toxic.

Kids today don't realize just how badly the grownups were scared by Japanese animation.  It was all so, well...alien.  It's a miracle that these movies were ever released on our shores at all.  Thank God for those brave pioneers who carved the trails.

Ronja the Robber's Daughter - A Tale of Revenge, Obsession, and Father's Sons

Ronja the Robber's Daughter

Now, this is going to be interesting.  This I did not expect.

First, a little history lesson.  Back in 1971, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata left the Toei Doga studio, where they began their careers, and followed colleague and de-facto "older brother" Yasuo Otsuka to A Productions.  Otsuka was involved in his pet project, Lupin III "Series One," and Takahata and Miyazaki were brought in as the new "director's team."  But that's not the reason they came to the studio.

Takahata and Miyazaki came to A Pro because they wanted to produce an anime series based on Pippi Longstockings, the beloved Astrid Lindgren children's story.  The two had worked tirelessly on the project, especially Miyazaki, who created character designs, layouts, and artwork.  After assembling a considerable amount of pre-production work, they paid Lindgren a visit to secure the rights.

Lindgren, in one of the all-time great gaffes, turned them down.  She refused to allow them to create Pipi Longstockings.  It was a slighting the young Hayao Miyazaki never forgot, and seemingly never forgave.  When they returned to Japan, the two filmmakers brought back most of the old Toei crew, and poured all that frustration and disappointment into a new 30-minute short film. Panda Kopanda, which was released to theaters in 1972.  Much of the story elements, layouts, and character designs (particularly Mimiko, the little girl) were taken directly from the abortive Pipi project.  A second Panda Kopanda film, The Rainy Day Circus, was created the following year.

If you look closely, you can see the Pipi Longstockings character pop up in Miyazaki's work - Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, Mononoke, House-Hunting (a short film created for the Ghibli Museum).  Father Miyazaki, in case you haven't yet noticed, is a very driven and stubborn man.  It goes with the territory.

And now son Goro, the heir apparent to Studio Ghibli, is directing a new television series...based on another one of Lindgren's stories.  Just try and convince me that Father Miyazaki's fingerprints aren't all over this one.  As I've said, this is going to be VERY interesting.

Ronia the Robber's Daughter is a joint collaboration between Studio Ghibli and Polygon Pictures, a CGI animation studio best known for their work on Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, The Sky Crawlers, Pokemo, and Transformers Prime.  There's a great amount of speculation how, exactly, Ronia will look.  How much will be traditional 2D, and how much will be 3D CGI?  The only media released thus far is a promotional image, shown above.  This does suggest a visual style in the Ghibli tradition, aiming back, as they always do, to Heidi, Girl of the Alps. 

One suggestion is that this production will resemble Ni no Kuni, the Playstation 3 role-playing videogame that combined 3D polygons with 2D animated scenes created by Studio Ghibli.  Perhaps the characters will utilize a "cel-shaded" look?  Perhaps the environments will be rendered with 3D polygons, texture-mapped with Ghibli's artwork?  Nobody really knows yet.  We don't yet know the full relationship between the two studios, or the goals of their collaboration.

I have no idea what Ronia will look like.  I'm honestly surprised that Goro-san and Ghibli are working in television.  This is Ghibli's first TV production since the 1993 movie Umi ga Kikoeru (I Can Hear the Sea), and certainly the first long-form series since the Takahata-Miyazaki heyday of the 1970s.  I wonder what Goro had in mind when he took on this project?  And I wonder just how much influence his father had in orchestrating this production?

Once again, I am left wondering about Goro Miyazaki.  Who, exactly, is this man, beyond a famous father's son?  His identity, his very character, remain an enigma to me.  Perhaps I am clouded by the memories of other sons of famous fathers, like Julian Lennon or Dwezil Zappa, men who were cursed to live forever in their father's shadows, struggling to resolve that inherent conflict and create a unique identity for themselves.  The image of Father Miyazaki literally hounding over his son's shoulder, during the production of From Up on Poppy Hill, haunts me.

Is Goro trying to understand his father, trying to walk in his shoes as Dwezil is now doing with his touring "Zappa Plays Zappa" concerts?  Is he following, meekly and obediently, the family tradition?  Is he obeying the dictates of a stern, demanding father?  Is he still learning the craft, paying his dues, having earned the throne without properly earning it?  Just what exactly is happening here?

Perhaps I am over-thinking this; perhaps not.  Such speculations happen in the vacuum of information.  It certainly speaks well of Goro Miyazaki that we keep him in our thoughts.  We're all rooting for him.  We want him to triumph.  It's all such fascinating melodrama.  The man has become his own exhibition, his own living art.

Studio Ghibli's Next Feature Film - When Marnie Was There

Back in December, per tradition, Studio Ghibli announced their latest productions for the coming year.  2013 saw the two founding directors, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, unveil their latest masterpieces.  In 2014, the next generation will take the reins, as young director Hiromasa Yonebayashi returns to the spotlight.

The Arrietty director's next project is "When Marnie Was There," an adaptation of the beloved British children's novel by Joan G. Robinson.  This story was published over four decades ago, and although I'm not familiar with it, I did find the following description (via Amazon) of an out-of-print paperback:

"Anna hasn't a friend in the world - until she meets Marnie among the sand dunes. But Marnie isn't all she seems...An atmospheric ghost story with truths to tell about friendship, families and loneliness. Anna lives with foster parents, a misfit with no friends, always on the outside of things. Then she is sent to Norfolk to stay with old Mr and Mrs Pegg, where she runs wild on the sand dunes and around the water. There is a house, the Marsh House, which she feels she recognises - and she soon meets a strange little girl called Marnie, who becomes Anna's first ever friend. Then one day, Marnie vanishes. A new family, the Lindsays, move into the Marsh House. Having learnt so much from Marnie about friendship, Anna makes firm friends with the Lindsays - and learns some strange truths about Marnie, who was not all she seemed..."

Now this sounds very interesting.  There are similarities to Arrietty and, by extension, that trio of masterpieces created by Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki in the 1970's: Heidi, Marco, and Anne.  I find it fascinating how all rivers of inspiration lead back to that same source.  Practically every Studio Ghibli production wants to be Heidi.

Yonebayashi worked for many years as a Ghibli animator, and his emergence as a feature film director raised hopes for a new generation of talent, new blood injected into what is, frankly, an aging movie studio.  If Ghibli is going to survive, post-Miyazaki, then the next generation will need to find their bearings, find their place within this vast legacy, and introduce their own voices to the mix.  Hayao Miyazaki was so impressed by Yonebayashi that he allowed the young director almost total freedom in making Arrietty.

I am really looking forward to this movie, what Yonebayashi has to offer, and whether Miyazaki's trust in him is well and truly earned.  Cross your fingers, kids.


Viz Media Releases Three New Hayao Miyazaki Books This April

On April 8, Viz Media will be publishing three new Hayao Miyazaki books: The Art of The Wind Rises, Turning Point: 1997-2008, and the paperback release of Starting Point: 1979-1996.

The Art of The Wind Rises is the latest in the long-running series of official art books by Studio Ghibli.  These are superb art books that detail production drawings, sketches, background artwork, and storyboard renderings.  There will also be extensive commentary by Ghibli's major artists, discussing the creative process, the film's overall themes, and other assorted topics.

I've always enjoyed the official Studio Ghibli "Art of..." books, and any chance to pick one up at the local Barnes & Noble's is worth the effort.  Most bookstores never seem to keep these in stock, so some persistence may be required.  It will be worth the effort.

Turning Point: 1997-2008 is the second volume of Hayao Miyazaki's memoirs, and will become essential reading for all fans.  In America and the West, Miyazaki is simply hailed as the "Japanese Walt Disney," with little insight into the man's art, career, and worldview.  As foreigners, we are still often left in the dark, trying to piece the puzzle pieces together in hopes of catching up with Japan.

If this second volume is anything like Starting Point, expect many insightful and extremely opinionated insights and memories from the animation master, and a rare opportunity to observe Japanese animation from the inside.  I'm especially interested in learning how Miyazaki handled Mononoke Hime's astonishing success, which propelled Studio Ghibli from a humble little indie studio into a blockbuster powerhouse.

Finally, Miyazaki's first volume of memoirs, Starting Point, will be released in paperback.  If you missed your chance to find a hardcover copy a couple years back, here's your chance to buy one for yourself, or another for your friends and family.  It's a fantastic read and absolutely essential reading for Miyazaki and anime fans.  I realize that I am repeating myself with these accolades; such praises are truly deserved.

As always, I urge everybody to support these companies who supply us with Studio Ghibli goodness.  Viz Media works hard to give us these excellent books, and we need to be buying them.  There are so many other works in Japan that deserve to be released in the States: Isao Takahata's and Yasuo Otsuka's memoirs, Yoshifumi Kondo's posthumously-released art sketchbook, and, of course, all of Hayao Miyazaki's many manga comics.

Posters - The Wind Rises (US, Japan)

As always, I enjoy sharing movie posters here on The Ghibli Blog, and since we're looooong overdue on our homework, now's the perfect time to show the US and Japanese posters for Hayao Miyazaki's final feature film, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu).

The Japanese release used two poster designs, one for each of the main characters.  There are also standard and "wide" posters, which look really terrific.  I wish Studio Ghibli had made wider versions of their earlier movies.

The American and Japanese posters are essentially the same; the US version includes accolades and awards from critics, as is standard here.  The cleaner, less cluttered Japanese designs emphasize the painterly qualities of Miyazaki's film, and I have to say that I do prefer it.  I prefer to see the characters' faces, and the color contrasts are slightly better.  Indeed, I'd probably need both Japanese posters and hang them on opposite walls - a fascinating yin-and-yang contrast.

That said, the American poster is very nice and any Miyazaki fan would be thrilled to leave their hometown theater with one next weekend.  It's a major event, isn't it?  "The Final Hayao Miyazaki Movie" - Even if nobody really, REALLY believes the master has retired from feature film, you feel the need to be there, to celebrate the man and the moment.  I've long said that you must never take Studio Ghibli for granted, that each new wondrous picture might be the last.  Well, kids, that promise has now come true.

Probably.  Maybe.

Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises Arrives in USA

Hayao Miyazaki's latest, and quite possibly final, Studio Ghibli feature film arrives in the US in selected cities this weekend, and everywhere on February 28.  I shouldn't have to tell you that it's going to be quite the event, and one that all animation lovers cannot miss.  The film, like many of his films, is based on a manga comic that ran in Model Grafix magazine, and chronicles the story of Japanese engineer Jiro Horikoshi, most famously known as the designer of the "zero wing" aircraft used in World War II.  There are parallels to Miyazaki's himself (naturally), and this is, in many ways, a grand summary of the man's career and life.

Here is the official American trailer for the film, which is quite respectful of the great film director. Accolades from all the major movie critics abound, both for The Wind Rises and Miyazaki's 50-year career.  And the film is in the running for a Best Animated Feature Oscar.

In many cities, both subtitled and dubbed versions will be shown.  You'll need to check your local listings to see what options are available.  Personally, I plan to see both if I really need an excuse to see the latest Hayao Miyazaki movie at a theater.  I saw Ponyo and Howl's Moving Castle four times when they were playing at the Lagoon Cinema.  No doubt you'll do the very same.

Because The Wind Rises is more of an "adult film," and not a children's story like Ponyo or Spirited Away, I don't expect this film to have as successful a US theatrical run.  Disney is taking a much quieter approach, preferring to play the art-house circuit and leave it at that.  In a perfect world, any Hayao Miyazaki movie would be shown on 4,000 screens like any high-profile blockbuster...I can't help but feel a touch grouchy at the likelihood that  Mr. Peabody and Sherman will make more money on its first screening than Wind Rises will on its entire run.  Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli will remain, for now, a carefully-treasured secret.

Now I just have to find where I put my copy of the Kaze Tachinu comic.  Where the heck did I put that thing?  Ack!!

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