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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