Photos - When Marnie Was There


One of the things I enjoy about Studio Ghibli's films, and a lot of Japanese animation in general, is their naturalistic approach to character designs. You can see how strongly manga comics influence the art form in many ways. In America, the everything is filtered through the lens of caricature, with the same exaggerated limbs, the same spindly arms and legs, from one movie to the next. And, of course, the shadow of Walt Disney towers over everything.

With the more recent Ghibli productions, there has been a tendency to create a homoginized look, a generic "Miyazaki" house style. You see the same kind of body types and faces in The Cat Returns, Arrietty the Borrower, From Up on Poppy Hill, and the Playstation 3 videogame, Ni no Kuni. It's understandable, since, after all, Ghibli operates largely to create Hayao Miyazaki movies. But for other directors, it results in a watered-down, copycat look. I think that's one key reason why Arrietty and Poppy Hill were both personal disappoints for me.

I like Hiromasa Yonebayashi's visual style, both as an artist and a director. When Marnie Was There is just distinctive enough to stand apart from the recent pack. I'm reminded of the late, great Yoshifumi Kondo, who was a master of character and visual design. The clean lines, matched to natural body types, portrayed against those Impressionist and Expressionst backgrounds that are a Ghibli trademark - it looks terrific. I honestly wonder why Western animators and artists don't follow this approach. Whenever I see an American "anime-style" cartoon, I just cringe.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Marnie in theaters this Spring. I feel more upbeat about this movie than any of the non-Miyazaki/Takahata Studio Ghibli features since Kondo.


Cartoon Brew is Hiring

I just submitted my application for the Associate Editor job at Cartoon Brew. I sent my resume and cover letter, three writing samples, and a short critique of Cartoon Brew and my ideas for future contributions. Hopefully, I'll hear from them soon. Wish me luck!

Also, ya know...ahem (shakes the tip jar)...

Meeting Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki


Reader Joel Gutheil snapped these photos during his last trip to Japan. At a meeting with officials at Studio Ghibli, he asked if Hayao Miyazaki was working that day. Initially told that, no, Miyazaki-san had other pressing matters, Gutheil had the most extrordinary good luck: the famed director was just walking into work that very minute. He graciously thanked the young man for the visit, and posed for a personal photo.

Toshio Suzuki was also in attendence, and after some gentle requests, the normally shy producer also agreed to pose with Gutheil for a photo, who reports that everyone was in good spirits. He also wrote me that, to this day, he remains breathless at his great fortune.

Gutheil also wanted to pass along assurances from a Studio Ghibli representative that, yes, the studio would only be taking a short break after When Marnie Was There's summer 2014 release. No other specifics are available at this time, but many details will be kept discreetly quiet for now.

Much thanks to Joel Gutheil  for sharing these photos.


Ghibli Blog Animation Poll V - Ranking No. 201-254

Part Five - the final installment - of The Ghibli Blog Animation Poll results. This post covers the Rankings #201-#255. I hope everyone enjoyed participating in this poll, and debating the final results. I enjoyed the great variety of animated films and TV shows in this list. Many thanks to everyone who participated. Next time we do this, I promise that everything will go more smoothly (and more quickly).

Voters submitted a list of 20 animated movies or TV shows, in order, which are then scored 1-20 points. For ballots without any specific order, all entries are scored equally (10pts). In the case of a tie, the number of votes will decide.

201 The Wind in the Willows (1983)
Mark Hall, Chris Taylor - 9 Points - 1 Votes

202. Coraline (2009)
Henry Selick - 8 Points - 2 Votes

203. The Snow Queen (1957)
Lev Atamanov - 8 Points - 2 Votes

204. Aria the Animation (TV, 2005)
Jun'ichi Sato - 8 Points - 1 Votes

205. Balance (1989)
Wolfgang, Christoph Lauenstein - 9 Points - 1 Votes

206. Watership Down (1978)
Martin Rosen, John Hubley - 8 Points - 1 Votes

207. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Wes Anderson - 7 Points - 4 Votes

208. Monster (TV, 2004)
Masayuki Kojima - 7 Points - 2 Votes

209. From the New World (TV, 2012)
Masashi Ishihama - 7 Points - 1 Votes

210. Metropolis (2001)
Rintaro, Katsuhiro Otomo - 7 Points - 1 Votes

211. The Sparrow Who Kept His Word (2010)
Dmitry Geller - 7 Points - 1 Votes

212. Spongebob Squarepants (TV, 1999)
Stephen Hillenburg - 9 Points - 1 Votes

213. The Band Concert (1935)
Walt Disney - 6 Points - 1 Votes

214. Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011)
Makoto Shinkai - 6 Points - 1 Votes

215. Dexter's Laboratory (TV, 1996)
Gennedy Tartakovsky - 6 Points - 1 Votes

216. Dumbo (1941)
Walt Disney - 6 Points - 1 Votes

217. Angel's Egg (1985)
Mamoru Oshii - 5 Points - 1 Votes

218. Catalog 1961 (1961)
John Whitney - 5 Points - 1 Votes

219. Fullmetal Alchemist (TV, 2003)
Seiji Mizushima - 5 Points - 1 Votes

220. Lupin III (TV, 1971)
Masaaki Osumi, Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki - 5 Points - 1 Votes

221. Samurai Jack (TV, 2001)
Genndy Tartakovsky - 5 Points - 1 Votes

222. Animal Farm (1954)
Joy Batchelor, John Halas, the CIA - 4 Points - 2 Votes

223. Das Rad (2003)
Chris Stenner, Arvid Uibel, Heidi Wittlinger - 4 Points - 1 Votes

224. Matrix III (1972)
John Whitney - 4 Points - 1 Votes

225. Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (TV, 1990)
Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi - 4 Points - 1 Votes

226. Saikano (TV, 2002)
Mitsuko Kase - 4 Points - 1 Votes

227. Wizards (1977)
Ralph Bakshi - 4 Points - 1 Votes

228. Rurouni Kenshini Reminiscence (TV, 1999)
Kazuhiro Furuhashi - 3 Points - 2 Votes

229. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV, 2004)
Mahiro Maeda - 3 Points - 1 Votes

230. Ruka (The Hand) (1965)
Jiri Trnka - 3 Points - 1 Votes

231. Mimosan Syntymayo (1987)
Camilla Mickwitz - 3 Points - 1 Votes

232. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
Sylvain Chomet - 3 Points - 1 Votes

233. Tsumiki no Ie (2008)
Kunio Kato - 3 Points - 1 Votes

234. Wolf's Rain (TV, 2004)
Keiko Nobumoto - 3 Points - 1 Votes

235. Inspirace (1949)
Karel Zemen - 2 Points - 1 Votes

236. Pelle Svanslos (1981)
Stig Lasseby, Jan Gissberg - 2 Points - 1 Votes

237. Prince Nezha's Triumph Against Dragon King (1979)
Yan Dingxian, Wang Shuchen, Xu Jingda- 2 Points - 1 Votes

238. Sherlock Hound (TV, 1981, 1984)
Hayao Miyazaki, Kyosuke Mikuriya - 2 Points - 1 Votes

239. Star Blazers: 2199 (TV, 2013)
Akihiro Enomoto, Yutaka Izubuchi - 2 Points - 1 Votes

240. Waking Life (TV, 2012)
Kenji Nakamura - 2 Points - 1 Votes

241. Yu Yu Hakusho (TV, 1992)
Noriyuki Abe - 2 Points - 1 Votes

242. Allegro Non Troppo (1976)
Bruno Bozzetto - 1 Points - 1 Votes

243. Digimon Adventure (TV, 1999)
Akiyoshi Hongo, Bandai - 1 Points - 1 Votes

244. Dojoji (1976)
Kihachiro Kawamoto - 1 Points - 1 Votes

245. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Mamoru Oshii - 1 Points - 1 Votes

246. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2001)
Mamoru Oshii - 1 Points - 1 Votes

247. Invader Zim (TV, 2001)
Jhonen Vasquez, Steve Ressel - 1 Points - 1 Votes

248. Konyok Gorbunok (1947)
Ivan Ivanov-Vano - 1 Points - 1 Votes

249. Mulan (1998)
Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook - 1 Points - 1 Votes

250. The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (TV, 1988)
Walt Disney TV Animation, Karl Geurs - 1 Points - 1 Votes

251. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Walt Disney - 1 Points - 1 Votes

252. Star Wars: Clone Wars (TV, 2008)
George Lucas, Dave Filoni - 1 Points - 1 Votes

253. Swan Lake (1981)
Kimio Yabuki - 1 Points - 1 Votes

254. The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (1992)
Alexandr Petrov - 1 Points - 1 Votes


Studio Ghibli: We Haven't Quit Yet

Has Studio Ghibli closed its doors? Will they continue to make feature animated films? What are their future plans? All these questions have hung over the studio since the release of their latest movie, Hiromasa Yonebayashi's When Marnie Was There. Freelance writer Jonatan Järbel traveled to Japan to get the official word from Ghibli themselves:

During my visit at studio Ghibli, a woman named Satoko Takano follows every step I take. She seems to have her hand in everything the studio does. Satoko confirms that the entire production team is on a break at the moment. But that's just normal procedure when they've finished a movie.
So the rumours regarding studio Ghibli aren't true?

"No, we haven't quit yet. Now that we don't have a plan we can say anything about, we are kind of on break, that's all."  
For safety's sake she says it again, with a laugh: "We haven't quit! For sure!"

Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli's co-founder, also expects feature animation productions will continue; he is also openly skeptical about Hayao Miyazaki's retirement, stating, ""I've never heard of film directors that retire. I have always urged him to continue making films. He will in any case make short films." As for his own future, Paku-san states he "definitely would like to do more films, if I have the strength and mental focus."

Thanks to Generacion Ghibli for sharing the source article.


Ghibli Blog Animation Poll IV - Ranking No. 151-200

Part Four of The Ghibli Blog Animation Poll's results. This post covers the Rankings #151-#200. Voters submitted a list of 20 animated movies or TV shows, in order, which are then scored 1-20 points. For ballots without any specific order, all entries are scored equally (10pts). In the case of a tie, the number of votes will decide. Only one more episode after this one, so enjoy!

151. Candy Candy (TV, 1976)
Tetsuo Imazawa - 10 Points - 1 Votes

152. Dennou Coil (TV, 2007)
Mitsuo Iso - 10 Points - 1 Votes

153. Digimon Adventure (TV Pilot, 1999)
Mamoru Hosoda - 10 Points - 1 Votes

154. Donald's Snowfight (1942)
Jack King - 10 Points - 1 Votes

155. Janoschs Traumstunde (El Oso, el Tigre, y los Demas) (TV, 1986)
Jurgen Egenolf, Uwe-Peter Jeske, Wolfgang Urchs - 10 Points - 1 Votes

156. The External World (TV, 2012)
David OReilly - 10 Points - 1 Votes

157. The Flintstones (TV, 1960)
William Hanna, Joseph Barbara - 10 Points - 1 Votes

158. Fritz the Cat (1972)
Ralph Bakshi - 10 Points - 1 Votes

159. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (TV, 1985)
Ron Friedman - 10 Points - 1 Votes

160. Garfield and Friends (TV, 1988)
Jim Davis - 10 Points - 1 Votes

161. Gulliver's Travels (1939)
Dave and Max Fleischer - 10 Points - 1 Votes

162. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (TV, 1983)
Mattel, Filmation - 10 Points - 1 Votes

163. The Hobbit (TV, 1977)
Arthur Rankin Jr, Jules Bass - 10 Points - 1 Votes

164. The Illusionist (2010)
Sylvain Chomet - 10 Points - 1 Votes

165. The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)
Arthur Lubin - 10 Points - 1 Votes

166. Jem (TV, 1985)
Christy Marx - 10 Points - 1 Votes

167. The Jetsons (TV, 1962)
William Hanna, Joseph Barbara - 10 Points - 1 Votes

168. Kemono no Souja Erin (TV, 2009)
Takayuki Hamana- 10 Points - 1 Votes

169. The Klondike Kid (1932)
Walt Disney - 10 Points - 1 Votes

170. La Luna (2011)
Enrico Casarosa - 10 Points - 1 Votes

171. Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild (2011)
Oh Seong-yun - 10 Points - 1 Votes

172. Mad Jack the Pirate (TV, 1998)
Bill Kopp, Jeff DeGrandis - 10 Points - 1 Votes

173. Maya the Honey Bee (TV, 1975)
Hiroshi Saito, Mitsuo Kaminashi, Seiji Endo - 10 Points - 1 Votes

174. Mei and the Kittenbus (2002)
Hayao Miyazaki - 10 Points - 1 Votes

175. Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)
Burny Mattinson - 10 Points - 1 Votes

176. The Old Mill (1937)
Walt Disney - 10 Points - 1 Votes

177. On Your Mark (1995)
Hayao Miyazaki - 10 Points - 1 Votes

178. Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993)
Mamoru Oshii - 10 Points - 1 Votes

179. Peace on Earth (1939)
William Hanna, Joseph Barbara, Hugh Harman - 10 Points - 1 Votes

180. Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (1975)
Ivo Caprino - 10 Points - 1 Votes

181. The Pink Panther (Series, 1964)
Friz Freleng, David H. DePatie, Blake Edwards - 10 Points - 1 Votes

182. Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pom Poko (1984)
Isao Takahata- 10 Points - 1 Votes

183. Ren and Stimpy (TV, 1991)
John Kricfalusi - 10 Points - 1 Votes

184. Robotech (TV, 1985)
Carl Macek, Harmony Gold, Tatsunoko - 10 Points - 1 Votes

185. Tenku no Escaflowne (TV, 1996)
Kazuki Akane - 10 Points - 1 Votes

186. Thundercats (TV, 1985)
Tobin "Ted" Wolf, Arthur Rankin Jr, Jules Bass, Katsuhito Akiyama - 10 Points - 1 Votes

187. Tiny Toon Adventures (TV, 1990)
Tom Ruegger - 10 Points - 1 Votes

188. Transformers (TV, 1984)
Hasbro, Takara Tomy - 10 Points - 1 Votes

189. Umi ga Kikoeru (TV, 1993)
Tomomi Mochizuki - 10 Points - 1 Votes

190. Veggie Tales (Series, 1993)
Phil Vischer, Mike Nawrocki - 10 Points - 1 Votes

191. Voltron: Defender of the Universe (TV, 1984)
Peter Keefe, John Teichmann - 10 Points - 1 Votes

192. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
Robert Zemekis - 10 Points - 1 Votes

193. Breakfast on the Grass (2011)
Erik Alunurm - 9 Points - 1 Votes

194. La Vuelta al Mundo de Willy Fog (TV, 1983)
BRB Internacional, Nippon Animation - 9 Points - 1 Votes

195. Maison Ikkoku (TV, 1986)
Kazuo Yamazaki, Takashi Anno, Naoyuki Yoshinaga - 9 Points - 1 Votes

196. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
Isao Takahata - 9 Points - 1 Votes

197. Now and Then, Here and There (TV, 1999)
Akitaro Daichi - 9 Points - 1 Votes

198. The Thief and the Cobbler (1964-95)
Richard Williams - 9 Points - 1 Votes

199. Toradora! (TV, 2008)
Tatsuyuki Nagai - 9 Points - 1 Votes

200. Waking Life (2001)
Richard Linklater - 9 Points - 1 Votes


Ghibli Blog Animation Poll III - Ranking No. 101-150

Here is the third installment of The Ghibli Blog Animation Poll's results. This post covers the Rankings #101-#150. Voters submitted a list of 20 animated movies or TV shows, in order, which are then scored 1-20 points. For ballots without any specific order, all entries are scored equally (10pts). In the case of a tie, the number of votes will decide. Enjoy reading and debating the results!

101. Kaiba (2008)
Masaaki Yuasa - 17 Points - 2 Votes

102. Alfred J. Kwak (TV, 1989)
Herman van Veen - 17 Points - 1 Votes

103. Daria (TV, 1997)
Glenn Eichler, Susie Lewis Lynn - 17 Points - 1 Votes

104. King Kong (1933)
Merian C. Cooper, Ernest Beaumont Schoedsack - 17 Points - 1 Votes

105. Princess Tutu (TV, 2002)
Ikuko Itoh - 17 Points - 1 Votes

106. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Mamoru Hosoda - 13 Points - 3 Votes

107. A Bout du Monde (1998)
Konstantin Bronzit - 16 Points - 2 Votes

108. Earnest and Celestine (2012)
Stephane Aubier, Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar - 16 Points - 2 Votes

109. Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987)
Hiroyuki Yamaga - 16 Points - 2 Votes

110. Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiul Dreamer (1984)
Mamoru Oshii - 16 Points - 2 Votes

111. A Country Doctor (2007)
Koji Yamamura - 16 Points - 1 Votes

112. Crayon Shin-Chan (TV, 1992)
Mitsuro Hongo, Keiichi Hara, Yuji Muto - 16 Points - 1 Votes

113. The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
Mark Dindal - 16 Points - 1 Votes

114. Galaxy Express 999 (1979)
Rintaro - 16 Points - 1 Votes

115. Honey and Clover (TV, 2005)
Ken'ichi Kasai - 16 Points - 1 Votes

116. The Old Lady and the Pigeons (1997)
Sylvain Chomet - 16 Points - 1 Votes

117. Mary and Max (2009)
Adam Elliot - 16 Points - 1 Votes

118. Our Lady of the Sphere (1972)
Larry Jordan - 16 Points - 1 Votes

119. Steins;Gate (TV, 2011)
Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Sato - 16 Points - 1 Votes

120. Tarzan (1999)
Chris Buck, Kevin Lima - 16 Points - 1 Votes

121. Betty Boop (Series, 1930s)
Max Fleischer - 15 Points - 1 Votes

122. Death Note (2006)
Tetsuro Araki - 15 Points - 1 Votes

123. Fantastic Planet (1973)
Rene Laloux - 15 Points - 1 Votes

124. Nemo (Pilot Film, 1984)
Yoshifumi Konda - 14 Points - 2 Votes

125. Battle of the Kerzhenets (1971)
Yuri Norstein - 14 Points - 1 Votes

126. Chicken Run (2000)
Nick Park, Peter Lord - 14 Points - 1 Votes

127. The Cameraman's Revenge (1912)
Ladislas Starevich - 14 Points - 1 Votes

128. Bannertail: The Story of Gray Squirrel  (Banner y Flapi) (TV, 1979)
Fumio Kurokawa - 14 Points - 1 Votes

129. Superman (Series, 1940s)
Max and Dave Fleischer - 14 Points - 1 Votes

130. The Monster (CHUDOVISCHE) (1990)
Nitylkina, S. Vassilyev- 14 Points - 1 Votes

131. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Henry Selick - 13 Points - 2 Votes

132. Colorful (2010)
Keiichi Hara - 13 Points - 1 Votes

133. The LEGO Movie (2014)
Chris Miller, Phil Lord - 13 Points - 1 Votes

134. RahXephon (TV, 2002)
Yutaka Izubuchi - 13 Points - 1 Votes

135. Tanoshii Moomin Ikka (TV, 1990)
 Hiroshi Saito, Masayuki Kojima - 13 Points - 1 Votes

136. The Three Caballeros (1946)
Norm Ferguson, Harold Young - 13 Points - 1 Votes

137. Welcome to the NHK (TV, 2006)
Yuusuke Yamamoto - 13 Points - 1 Votes

138. The Beatles' Yellow Submarine (1968)
George Dunning - 12 Points - 2 Votes

139. Mushishi (TV, 2006)
Hiroshi Nagahama - 12 Points - 2 Votes

140. Chico and Rita (2010)
Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba, Tono Errando - 12 Points - 1 Votes

141. Chronopolis (1982)
Piotr Kamler - 12 Points - 1 Votes

142. Fantastic Children (TV, 2004)
Takashi Nakamura - 12 Points - 1 Votes

143. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (TV, 2009)
Yasuhiro Irie - 12 Points - 1 Votes

144. Les Maitres du Temps (1982)
Rene Laloux - 12 Points - 1 Votes

145. Barefoot Gen (1983)
Mori Masaki - 11 Points - 1 Votes

146. Robin Hood (1973)
Wolfgang Reitherman - 10 Points - 2 Votes

147. The Secret of Kells (2009)
Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey - 10 Points - 2 Votes

148. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Walt Disney - 10 Points - 1 Votes

149. Aladdin (1992)
Ron Clements, John Musker - 10 Points - 1 Votes

150. Arrietty the Borrower (2010)
Hiromasa Yonebayashi - 10 Points - 1 Votes


Ghibli Blog Animation Poll II - Ranking No. 51-100

The second installment of The Ghibli Blog Animation Poll's results. This post covers the Rankings #51-#100. Voters submitted a list of 20 animated movies or TV shows, in order, which are then scored 1-20 points. For ballots without any specific order, all entries are scored equally (10pts). In the case of a tie, the number of votes will decide. Thanks to all who participated, and enjoy!

51. Tex Avery (MGM) (Series, Various)
Tex Avery- 35 Points - 2 Votes

52. Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV, 1996)
Hideaki Anno - 33 Points - 4 Votes  

53. Baccano!  (TV, 2007)
Takahiro Omori - 32 Points - 2 Votes  

54. Ratatouille  (2007)
Brad Bird - 31 Points - 5 Votes

55. Haibane Renmei (TV, 2002)
Yoshitoshi Abe - 31 Points - 3 Votes

56. Lilo and Stitch  (2002)
Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders - 31 Points - 2 Votes  

57. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
Satoshi Kon - 30 Points - 5 Votes  

58. Persepolis (2007)
Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Parannaud - 30 Points - 3 Votes  

59. From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
Goro Miyazaki - 29 Points - 3 Votes  

60. FLCL  (TV, 2000)
Kazuya Tsurumaki - 29 Points - 2 Votes

61. Millenium Actress (2001)
 Satoshi Kon - 28 Points - 3 Votes

62. Feherlofia (1981)
Marcell Jankovics - 27 Points - 2 Votes

63. The Old Man and the Sea (1999)
Alexandr Petrov - 27 Points - 2 Votes  

64. Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997)
Kunihiko Ikuhara - 26 Points - 3 Votes  

65. Summer Wars (2009)
Mamoru Hosoda - 25 Points - 4 Votes  

66. Gauche the Cellist (1982)
Isao Takahata - 25 Points - 3 Votes  

67. Ringing Bell (1978)
Masami Hata - 24 Points - 3 Votes  

68. Batman: The Animated Series (TV, 1992)
Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski - 24 Points - 2 Votes

69. The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
Lotte Reiniger, Carl Coch - 23 Points - 3 Votes

70. Crac! (1981)
Frederic Back - 23 Points - 3 Votes

71. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Walt Disney - 23 Points - 2 Votes  

72. Mind Game (2004)
Masaaki Yuasa - 23 Points - 2 Votes

73. The Tatami Galaxy (TV, 2010)
Masaaki Yuasa - 22 Points - 3 Votes

74. Legend of the Galactic Heroes (TV, 1988)
Noboru Ishiguru - 22 Points - 2 Votes

75. Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Hayo Miyazaki - 22 Points - 2 Votes

76. Tekkon Kinkreet (2006)
Michael Arias - 22 Points - 2 Votes

77. Heidi, The Girl of the Alps (1974)
Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki, Yoichi Kotabe - 21 Points - 2 Votes

78. The Little Mermaid (1989)
Ron Clements, John Musker - 20 Points - 3 Votes

79. Perfect Blue (1997)
Satoshi Kon - 20 Points - 3 Votes

80. Inspector Gadget (TV, 1983)
Andy Heyward, Jean Chalopin, Bruno Bianchi - 20 Points - 2 Votes

81. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Pete Docter - 20 Points - 2 Votes

82. The Snowman (1982)
Dianne Jackson - 20 Points - 2 Votes

83. 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother (1976)
Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki, Yoichi Kotabe - 20 Points - 1 Votes

84. I Love to Singa (1936)
Tex Avery (Warner Bros) - 20 Points - 1 Votes 

85. Old Fangs (2009)
Adrien Merigeau - 20 Points - 1 Votes

86. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (TV, 2011)
Akiyuki Shinbo - 20 Points - 1 Votes

87. A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)
Charles Shultz, Bill Melendez, Lee Mendelson - 19 Points - 2 Votes

88. Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale - 19 Points - 2 Votes

89. The Land Before Time (1988)
Don Bluth - 19 Points - 2 Votes

90. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (1999)
Trey Parker, Matt Stone - 23 Points - 2 Votes

91. Belladonna of Sadness (1973)
Eiichi Yamamoto - 19 Points - 1 Votes

92. Mis Uszatek (TV, 1975)
Zbigniew Rychlicki, Czeslaw Janczarski - 19 Points - 1 Votes

93. Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess (2010)
Hayao Miyazaki - 19 Points - 1 Votes

94. Serial Experiments Lain (TV, 1998)
Ryutaro Nakamura - 18 Points - 2 Votes

95. A Charlie Brown Christmas (TV, 1965)
Charles Shultz, Bill Melendez, Lee Mendelson - 18 Points - 1 Votes

96. Krabat: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1978)
Karel Zemen - 18 Points - 1 Votes

97. The Legend of Korra (TV, 2012)
Bryan Konietzko - 18 Points - 1 Votes

98. Kino's Journey (2003)
Ryutaro Nakamura - 17 Points - 3 Votes

99. Dragon Ball Z (TV, 1989)
Akira Toriyama, Daisuke Nishio - 17 Points - 2 Votes

100. Finding Nemo (2003)
Andrew Stanton - 17 Points - 2 Votes

Ghibli Blog Animation Poll I - Ranking No. 1 - 50

The first installment of poll results for The Ghibli Blog Animation Poll. This post covers the Top 50 rankings, No. 1-50. Voters submitted a list of 20 animated movies or TV shows, in order, which are then scored 1-20 points. For ballots without any specific order, all entries are scored equally (10pts). In the case of a tie, the number of votes will decide. And remember, this is all for fun. Enjoy!

1. Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) (2001)
Hayao Miyazaki - 288 Pts, 20 Votes

2. Princess Mononoke (1997)
Hayao Miyazaki - 267 Points - 19 Votes

3. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Hayao Miyazaki - 244 Points - 20 Votes

4. Mimi wo Sumaseba (1995)
Yoshifumi Kondo - 219 Points - 15 Votes

5. Omohide Poro Poro (1991)
Isao Takahata - 197 Points - 13 Votes

6. Nausica of the Valley of Wind (1984)
Hayao Miyazaki - 174 Points - 15 Votes
7. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Isao Takahata - 171 Points - 15 Votes

8. Castle in the Sky (1986)
Hayao Miyazaki - 162 Points - 16 Votes

9. Hedgehog in the Fog (1975)
Yuri Norstein - 153 Points - 10 Votes

10. The Man Who Planted Trees (1987)
Frederic Back - 149 Points - 13 Votes

11. Fantasia (1940)
Walt Disney - 145 Pts, 12 Votes  

12. Porco Rosso (1992)
Hayao Miyazaki - 121 Pts, 10 Votes  

13. Pinocchio (1940)
Walt Disney - 115 Pts, 8 Votes  

14. Future Boy Conan (TV, 1978)
Hayao Miyazaki - 107 Pts, 10 Votes  

15. Cowboy Bebop (TV, 1998)
Shinichiro Watanabe - 106 Pts, 10 Votes  

16. Looney Tunes (Series, Various)
Chuck Jones, Friz Freeling - 101 Pts, 12 Votes

17. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
Hayao Miyazaki - 96 Pts, 10 Votes  

18. Akira (1988)
Katsuhiro Otomo - 95 Pts, 7 Votes  

19. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Hayao Miyazaki - 88 Pts, 7 Votes  

20. UP (2009)
Pete Docter - 82 Pts, 8 Votes

21. Tale of Tales (1980)
 Yuri Norstein - 81 Points - 6 Votes

22. Avatar: The Last Airbender (TV, 2009)
Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko - 74 Points - 6 Votes  

23. The Simpsons (TV, 1990)
Matt Groening - 73 Points - 9 Votes  

24. Wall-E (2008)
Andrew Stanton - 71 Points - 11 Votes  

25. Bambi (1942)
Walt Disney - 69 Points - 7 Votes  

26. Toy Story (1995)
John Lasseter - 64 Points - 6 Votes  

27. Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)
Gisaburo Suugi - 63 Points - 4 Votes  

28. Ponyo (2008)
Hayao Miyazaki - 62 Points - 7 Votes

29. The King and the Mockingbird (1952, 1980)
Paul Grimault, Jacques Prevert - 58 Points - 7 Votes  

30. The Iron Giant (1999)
Brad Bird - 58 Points - 7 Votes

31. The Incredibles (2004)
Brad Bird - 57 Points - 7 Votes  

32. Paprika (2006)
Satoshi Kon - 56 Points - 6 Votes  

33. The Secret of NIMH (1982)
Don Bluth - 55 Points - 5 Votes  

34. The Lion King (1994)
Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers - 52 Points - 5 Votes  

35. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1939)
Walt Disney - 50 Points - 4 Votes  

36. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise - 47 Points - 4 Votes  

37. South Park (TV, 1997)
Trey Parker, Matt Stone - 45 Points - 5 Votes

38. Tom and Jerry (Series, Various)
William Hanna, Joseph Barbera - 45 Points - 4 Votes  

39. The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun (1968)
Isao Takahata - 42 Points - 6 Votes  

40. Wolf Children Ame and Yuki (2012)
 Mamoru Hosada - 40 Points - 4 Votes

41. Anne of Green Gables (1979)
Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki - 39 Points - 4 Votes  

42. The Wind Rises (2013)
Hayao Miyazaki - 38 Points - 4 Votes  

43. Animaniacs (TV, 1993)
Tom Ruegger - 38 Points - 3 Votes

44. Vinni-Pukh (Winnie the Pooh) (1969)
Fyodor Khitruk - 38 Points - 3 Votes

45. 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)
Makoto Shinkai - 37 Points - 4 Votes  

46. Futurama (TV, 1999)
Matt Groening - 37 Points - 4 Votes  

47. Wallace and Gromit (Series, 1990)
Nick Park - 36 Points - 5 Votes  

48. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois - 36 Points - 4 Votes  

49. The Prince of Egypt (1998)
Brenda Chapman, Simon Wells, Steve Hickner - 36 Points - 4 Votes  

50. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Lee Unkrich - 36 Points - 4 Votes  


The Ghibli Blog Animation Poll Results (Master List)

The Ghibli Blog 2014 2015 Animation Poll Results (Master List)

Rankings I: 01-50
Rankings II: 51-100
Rankings III: 101-150
Rankings IV: 151-200
Rankings V: 201-254

Here are the complete links to all 254 Entries, in five installments.

Voters submitted a list of their Top 20 animation movies, shorts and TV series, and ranked by a 20-point scale (#1 = 20 pts, #2 = 19 pts). In the event of a points tie, votes will decide. Where points and votes tie, entires are listed alphabetically.

Much thanks to everyone around the world who participated in this wonderful celebration of animation.

My author's Notes follow after the jump:

Ghibli Museum Sketching Set - Miyazaki Teaches You How To Paint

The Ghibli Museum Sketching Set is a ready-made watercolor painting kit available at the museum's "Mama Aiuto" shop. Available since 2003, this kits includes a pencil, pencil sharpener, paintbrush, palette, sketchbook, and a full-color booklet drawn by Hayao Miyazaki, detailing instructions and advice for all beginning artists.

The 24 paints included in this set were personally chosen by Miyazaki, and reflect the choice of colors used in his work. These differ slightly from the standard 24-paint set supplied by Holbein, who worked with Studio Ghibli for this package (along with Mitsubishi Uni, Staedler, Tokyo Namura, Sakura and Fo-Homo).

What a brilliant idea to introduce children to the world of drawing and painting. It's also a very smart move for the long term; many children who pick up and play with the Sketching Set will one day become professional animators and artists. I wish something like this were available here in the US. I would buy kits for everyone in my family, and also one for myself.

For those who want to recreate this watercolor kit on their own, here are the 24 colors selected by Miyazaki:
  1. Crimson Lake
  2. Opera
  3. Vermilion
  4. Yellow Ocher
  5. Permanent Yellow Lemon
  6. Permanent Yellow Deep
  7. Permanent Yellow Orange
  8. Permanent Green No.1
  9. Permanent Green No.3
  10. Cadmium Green Deep
  11. Cobalt Green Yellow Shade
  12. Cobalt Blue Hue
  13. Cerulean Blue
  14. Ultramarine Deep
  15. Compose Blue
  16. Prussian Blue
  17. Bright Violet
  18. Light Red
  19. Burnt Umber
  20. Burnt Sienna
  21. Ivory Black
  22. Yellow Gray
  23. Violet Gray
  24. Davis Gray

We snuck a peek at one of the pages from Miyazaki's comic instruction manual in a recent post. Now let's take a look at some more pages, including the cover. Dedicated fans will recognize the house on the cover: it's the Grandfather's house from Heidi, Girl of the Alps (that house was based on a real-life house discovered during location scouting in 1973). Miyazaki himself appears, as he always does in his manga comics, as the pig character (now with a beard).

The first section of this booklet details instructions in the use of watercolor paints, some helpful advice, and an introduction to basic color theory (mixing is an essential skill). I especially enjoy this part, which feels like an art lesson by Miyazaki himself. Who wouldn't want that?

The second section is devoted to Image Boards, which are early versions of storyboards used in animation productions. This is how Hayao Miyazaki creates and refines his movies, through hundreds or thousands of highly detailed image boards. His work in scene design and layout in the 1960s and 1970s (Horus and Heidi, most famously) proved essential to his career as writer-director. And manga comics have always been his first love.

The two examples of image boards shown here were drawn by Miyazaki for a series of House Foods commercials that aired in Japan. These short commercials were included in the (now OOP) Ghibli ga Ippai Special: Short Short DVD. There's also a long story behind the man who sings the song in that ad, another project that Miyazaki was deeply involved in, that was released as a documentary feature DVD, again in Japan. We'll try to remember to detail that in a future Ghibli Blog post.

One final note: There's a dog character in the booklet who stands next to Miyazaki (the pig). I've seen him in a couple other Miyazaki comics, but I'm not sure who he's supposed to be. Does he represent an actual person? Is he a throwback to Watson from Sherlock Hound? Or is he just a recurring character? Any working theories would be welcome.


Hayao Miyazaki Comics - Painting Techniques (Updated w/Translation)

I found this one-panel Hayao Miyazaki comic on Twitter early this morning, and immediately re-tweeted it. Turns out many of you enjoy seeing these great manga comics as well.

I don't know the specifics of this comic or its original source. In addition to creating the occasional serial comics, Miyazaki often draws a single-page comic for other authors. Every time I think I've chronicled or collected everything, I discover another series of magazine covers or book illustrations.  I don't think anybody knows for certain how many of these Miyazaki-san has created.

This particular comic details the hows and whys of an artist's drawing set, including the watercolors. This is very much how Miyazaki creates his own art, so this is a terrific behind-the-scenes tutorial. We should translate the Japanese so we can read all the text, but it's good to appreciate the visual art as it stands. I enjoy the fusion of hand-written text, detailed drawings, and simple cartoon sketches. Miyazaki, as always in this medium, appears as the "pig-man," making jokes or quick asides. And if you look closely, you will also spot Kamaji from Spirited Away...always with the riffs!

I really love Miyazaki's watercolor manga comics. Viz Media does a great job publishing Ghibli-themed books, and the 1980 Princess Mononoke book is especially nice). But there should be a greater push to translate and release more of these comics on our shores. There are likely more copyright issues involved, with Japanese book publishers or Model Graphix Magazine. I have no idea who owns the rights to the 1969 People of the Desert serial. We ought to make it a priority this year to answer these questions.

You can click on the photo to view in its full size. You can appreciate all the details that way.

Update: Thanks to reader "beyond," who informed me that this panel comes from the Ghibli Museum Sketch Set, which is sold at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. Ghibli Wiki has also provided a translation of this page, where Miyazaki gives advice in the use of watercolor paints: The translation follows below:

"My Recommendation: Transparent watercolor is good!"

"These painting materials are enough for a two-week trip and preparations for a movie."
"Transparent watercolor has a strong habit."
"Do not paint stickily and paint after wiping the extra paint and water off."
 "Paint the bright part thinly."
"You had better not use white."
"Paint other colors after the under-color has dried."
"Let's mix the colors and use them."

1. Light the wool which protrudes on a new painting brush.
2. Anything is fine for a water vessel.
3. A retractable knife is enough for the pencil sharpener.
4. One 2B pencil is enough for the pencil.
5. Divide the palette into seven zones: Bright, Dark, Black, Green 1, Green 2, Blue 2, Blue 1.
6. Do not use the eraser.
7. Do not draw a guideline for a picture

Why Princess Kaguya Will Win the Oscar

I smell an upset in the making. According to Deadline, the party responsible for The Lego Movie being notoriously snubbed at this years Oscars is none other than GKids Films.

The conventional wisdom says that Disney or Dreamworks will take the Best Animated Feature Oscar, since Academy voters consider animation a second-class medium not worthy of their attention. But I don't think that's going to happen this year. My gut feeling doesn't believe it. I am feeling ever more confident that Isao Takahata's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya will win. Here are my reasons why:

1) The idea that GKids knocked out The Lego Movie will only add to the hype. It's a great narrative - David vs Goliath, and if you know anything about the movies, it's that Hollywood loves a good story. And it cements the rise of the New York-based indie film distributor.

2) Takahata's Princess Kaguya has received enthusiastic praise from critics. I expected the usual praise given to every Ghibli feature, but something about Kaguya captured their imaginations. For a moment, they seemed to understand it. They got it. I'm reminded of the buzz surrounding Miyazaki's Spirited Away in 2002.

3) This may be Studio Ghibli's farewell. At least, that's what Hollywood currently believes. They bestowed a second Oscar to Hayao Miyazaki earlier this year, as a tribute to his 50-year career. Takahata has not formally announced his retirement, but his age (79) and his famously long production times for films point to Kaguya as his final masterpiece. This may be our last chance to celebrate these masters of cinema.

4) Where is the buzz for Disney or Dreamworks? Nowhere. Compare this to the attention paid to Frozen last year.

5) Hand-Drawn Animation versus CGI has a certain romantic appeal, and fits perfectly with the Davis vs Goliath theme. Classical animation may be going the way of Studio Ghibli, which makes this the End of An Era. Another story for Hollywood to consume.

And, finally...slightly joking...

6) The new Horus, Prince of the Sun DVD is causing shockwaves through the movie world, introducing people everywhere to the genius that is Takahata. Paku-Mania is everywhere!

And, by the way, you're freakin' welcome. :)

Whatever Became of Hiroyuki Morita?

"Whatever became of Hiroyuki Morita?" I asked myself this question while skimming through the Ghibli Blog's archives in preparation for an upcoming book about Studio Ghibli. He had built a solid career as an animator on many of Japan's biggest anime classics of the 1980s and 1990s - Akira, Roujin Z, Junkers Come Here, Memories, Spriggan, Perfect Blue, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. He also worked as an animator on the Studio Ghibli features Kiki's Delivery Service, My Neighbors the Yamadas, and Koro's Day Out. He was then given a chance to direct the 2002 feature film, The Cat Returns the Favor (Neko no Ongaeshi), was given a lukewarm welcome, and then all but disappeared, leaving Ghibli after working as an animator on Tales From Earthsea.

I checked the Wikipedia page to see what Morita has been doing this past decade. It's pretty slim. He was once considered a candidate for a post-Miyazaki Studio Ghibli. But it's like a promising draft pick, hot on the heels of a successful college career, who then becomes overwhelmed in the professional leagues.

I am reminded just how difficult this business of making movies and animation can be. One must marshall many talents and skills, determination and hard work is crucial, but oftentimes so is luck and good fortune. A skilled animator does not guarantee success as a director. There's no question that Morita has been extremely successful as an animator. But for whatever reasons, that career could not raise The Cat Returns above mediocrity. The movie has its charms, and it has moments that could have built to greatness. But it mostly languishes in cartoon cliches and dull plotting. I always find myself preferring Yoshiyuki's Momose's Ghiblies Episode 2, and for Studio Ghibli, Morita's production is a disappointment on the heels of the mega-blockbuster, Spirited Away.

I am also reminded just how difficult this transition was for Hayao Miyazaki in the late 1970s, as he struggled to establish himself as a "solo artist" after years as part of the vaunted Takahata/Miyazaki duo. He had the skill set, definitely. He had the talent, absolutely. It's astonishing that animated works like Future Boy Conan and The Castle of Cagliostro failed to find an audience in their day. And, yet, that's exactly what happened. I often feel that those struggles, and that difficult period, helped shape Miyazaki's 1984 animated film, Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, into the career paradigm shift it was. He changed as an artist, and it gave his career its second wind.

There's a reason why Ghibli has struggled for twenty years to groom its next generation of directors and storytellers. Such talent is rare. And finding talent able to withstand the damands of a Hayao Miyazaki (an emperor who has chased out many suitors) is a tremendous challenge.  I can't imagine how difficult it has been for those trying to earn a turn in the director's chair.  But it has always been thus. Filmmaking is a very difficult business.

As for Hiroyuki Morita, his latest work as director is the 2007 anime TV series Bokurano: Ours, based on the manga comic. Discotek Media announced last fall that they have picked up the series, and a DVD release is scheduled for 2015. It will be interesting to see how Morita has grown, and just what has become of him.

Photos - My Neighbor Totoro

Even though I've been running Ghibli Blog for nearly a decade, I never spend nearly enough time talking about My Neighbor Totoro. You'd think I would take the hint and spend my every waking moment talking about Hayao Miyazaki's most famously-known movie. So here are several screenshots from one of my favorite scenes, where Mei tumbles into Totoro's lair.

I'm always impressed at how the little girl climbs onto the belly of a giant monster, and she's not afraid at all. It's the monster who's scared of her. He just sits there, silently staring, slightly puzzled. And then he goes back to sleep.

I can't think of an American animated feature that would portray such a meeting with such gentleness and quietness. The overwhelming temptation by the Hollywood studios would be a) make the big Totoro scary and frightening; b) play the scene for slapstick comedy; c) have Totoro voiced by some loud-mouthed comedian who wants to be Robin Williams; or d) have Totoro voiced by Robin Williams.

Thank God Hayao Miyazaki doesn't work in Hollywood. And Thank God for the background artist, Kazuo Oga. The artwork in this scene is absolutely gorgeous. Yeah, I really should be writing more about My Neighbor Totoro.

Gauche the Cellist - A Look at Another Isao Takahata Masterpiece

Since Isao Takahata has secured his first Academy Award nomination for The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to show off some of his other masterful films, many of which have only been seen by the most diehard of fans outside of Japan. Here is one of his very best, the hauntingly beautiful and wistful 1982 animated film, Gauche the Cellist.

Gauche the Cellist is based on the writings of famed Japanese poet, Kenji Miyazawa. His life was cut too-short, like so many brilliantly talented artists, but he crafted a body of literature that would stand the test of time. We could only hope to be so lucky ourselves. This story concerns a young struggling musician who is visited nightly by animals who live nearby. Gauche, the cellist, is gruff, dismissive, frustrated by his inability to master his craft. And some of the animals, especially a sharp-tongued feline, give as much as they get. Eventually, Gauche's defenses weaken, he begins to listen, and grow.

In the hands of most Western animators, a story such as this could become hokey or preachy, or just plain silly. Takahata expands the story's original scope, as he very often does. The setting, 1920s rural Japan, is deeply nostalgic for the pre-WWII years. Its depictions of daily life, of growing vegetables and turning waterwheels, of children and musicians alike's a meditative tone. It's a glimpse into a Japan that became lost in its Westernization following the War, and it quietly questions modern values. These themes, in fact, are one of the most dominant in all of the Studio Ghibli movies, and it goes to the very heart of what makes an Isao Takahata or a Hayao Miyazaki tick.

And then there is Beethoven. Paku-san is always known for the masterful musical scores in his films. Gauche the Cellist revolves around Beethoven's 6th Symphony, so much that Ludwig qualifies as a major character. Observe how the Pastorale is used to realize the imaginations of the musicians in the orchestra. The strings roar, the horns flare, the drums rumble, all inside their studio, as a thunderstorm rages outside. Suddenly, the walls of the studio melt away, and the orchestra becomes one with the storm itself. The conductor directs the thunderclaps, and everyone is carried away by the winds.

We are brought into their minds, and this is one of Takahata's greatest gifts. He is the master of psychological cinema, and that he achieves this through animation is astonishing. And he achieves this by breaking nearly every facet of the Walt Disney paradigm. It's taken me years to understand and appreciate the depth of this psychological realism, the use of silence and stillness, the fusion of character and expressionist backgrounds to reveal the inner mind. Here lies Exhibit A for why this director is hailed as a genius.

Gauche the Cellist is little more than an hour, very short. This makes it very accessible for new viewers, especially those who are still intimidated (if not outright terrified) of Japanese animation. This movie doesn't even "look" like anime, but storybook illustrations. The background paintings were drawn by Kenji Matsumoto, and all the key animations and character designs were drawn by Shunji Saida (he famously took cello lessons so that he could accurately portray the movements of the players). Isao Takahata wrote the script and directed, but he is not an animator. He is known in Japan as "the director who doesn't draw."  He is also hailed as "the grand master of animation." I think either title fits.

You can't find this movie in the states (a DVD was released in France some years ago, but it now out-of-print), but Studio Ghibli in Japan released a DVD that includes English subtitles. More importantly, Gauche the Cellist will be included in the new Isao Takahata Blu-Ray box set that will be released in Japan this month.

Somebody - GKids Films, Discotek Media, heck, even Disney - ought to bring Gauche the Cellist to our shores.

More screenshots follow below the jump break:


2015 Academy Awards - Oscar Nominations

The 2015 Oscar nominations have just been announced, and there are a lot of surprises, some good and some bad. I've scribbled down a few notes of my initial impressions.

1) The Grand Budapest Hotel rides high with 9 nominations, covering all the major categories. It was the surprise winner at the Golden Globes, and now that momentum has real steam. It's also a nice rebuke to the "awards season," where contending films are all packed into December and January. This could be Wes Anderson's year; he's one of my favorite young directors, and I'm sure he's also a favorite of yours.

2) Birdman also scored big, which makes me happy because I really loved this movie. It's funny and irreverent, it's jazzy and funky, the dialog is snappy, Michael Keaton, Ed Norton and Emma Stone are terrific, and the editing is absolutely dynamite. If it wins Best Picture, I'll feel very happy indeed. I'm tired of comedies being ignored by the Oscars.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, my two favorite movies of 2014 are Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, and Isao Takahata's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. I'll put Birdman right after that. I really had a lot of fun watching it.

3) I honestly did not expect Takahata's Princess Kaguya to get nominated for Best Animated Feature. Thank God it did.  This film has received tremendous praise from critics; for once in a great while, America cracked open the door to sneak out of Walt Disney's closet, and discovered a genuine alternative. The Box Trolls and Song of the Sea are also excellent movies, but Paku-san is a true master of the cinema, a Renoir or an Ozu for our time. He operates on a higher plane.

I think there's a chance that Princess Kaguya will win the Oscar. It should, obviously. Heck, both Takahata and Miyazaki deserve nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. But Hollywood's unbreakable phobia of animation, especially from Japan, always gets in the way. There are a lot of animated feature films worthy of Best Picture. You have your favorites, I have mine. I think we can all agree on this point. Let's agree on this year's Best Animated Feature Oscar. Paku-san! Paku-san!

4) Meryl Streep will always be nominated. Is there ever a year when Meryl Streep doesn't get nominated? We should just give her an award every year, just for being herself. The Meryl Streep Award For Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence!  Seriously, though, she was really fantastic in...wait, what? Into the Woods?! Is this a joke? Okay, who hacked the servers again?

5) This was not a good year for "Oscar Bait" movies. Perhaps the voters are wising up to what has become an extremely stale formula? Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything, and Selma all underperformed. Speaking of which...

6) Selma got screwed.  I suppose the recent negative buzz over the film's portrayal of LBJ (he was, in fact, a driving force behind the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act) should have tipped us off.  Perhaps the recent racial tensions spooked Academy voters? Hollywood, despite its "liberal" image, is a very timid town. I think because of this, Selma is a lock for Best Original Song.

7) Birdman got screwed in the Best Film Editing category. If any movie deserves an Oscar for editing, it's this one. Right? I can't remember the last time a movie impressed me with its editing, its cheerfully clever way of fusing scenes together to create the illusion of one gigantic take. It becomes a bit of a parlor game to spot the edits. Inexcusable.

8) The Lego Movie got screwed. Here is where frustrations over the Academy's archaic views of animation will boil over. Did they even watch this movie, or dismiss it upon one glance of the movie poster? This movie is no saccharine toy commercial, but a wicked smart satire with the best "Hitchcock" surprise ending I've seen in ages. C'mon, Mark Mothersbaugh worked on The Lego Movie, which automatically gives it the "DEVO Seal of Approval." What more do ya want?

9) Life Itself, the Roger Ebert documentary, got screwed. This is one of the more astonishing oversights. I can't even begin to explain it. How many movie critics carried as much influence as Ebert? Pauline Kael? Andrew Sarris? Stanley Kaufman? It's a very short list. Oscar owes us one hell of an explanation for this oversight.

Finally, speaking of which...

10) Bill Plympton Got Royally Screwed. Repeat again after me, animation lovers: Bill Plympton Got Royally Screwed. Find whoever is responsible for this crime and throw them into the dungeon.

The 2015 Academy Awards nominations follow after the jump:

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