Archive for February, 2011


Movie poster


Gake no ue no Ponyo is a 2008 movie written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, with the English version featuring voices of such famous stars as Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Liam Neeson, Cloris Leachman, and Betty White.

“The plot centers on a fish-girl who lives in an aquarium in her father’s underwater castle with numerous smaller sisters.  When her father takes her and her siblings on an outing in his four-flippered submarine, Ponyo is driven by a desire to see even more of the world and floats away on the back of a jellyfish.  She ends up stranded on the shore of a small fishing town and is rescued by a boy named Sosuke, who cuts his finger in the process.  She licks his wound when he picks her up, and the wound heals almost instantly.  After taking a great liking to her, Sosuke names her Ponyo and promises to protect her forever.  Meanwhile, her father, Fujimoto, is looking for his daughter.  Upset that she ran away, he believes the humans have now kidnapped her, and he calls his wave spirits to return Ponyo to him.  After the wave spirits take Ponyo away, Sosuke is heartbroken and goes home with his mother, Lisa, who tries to cheer him up to no avail.

Ponyo and her father have a confrontation, during which Ponyo refuses to let her father call her by her birthname, “Brunhilde.”  She declares her name to be Ponyo and voices her desire to become human, because she has started to fall in love with Sosuke.  Suddenly she starts to grow legs and turn into a human, a consequence of the human blood she swallowed when she licked Sosuke’s finger.  Her father turns her back with difficulty and goes to summon Ponyo’s mother.  Meanwhile, Ponyo, with the help of her sisters, breaks away from her father and releases his magic to make herself human.  The huge amount of magic released into the ocean causes an imbalance in the world, resulting in a huge tsunami.  Riding on the waves of the storm, Ponyo goes back to visit Sosuke.  Lisa, Sosuke, and Ponyo wait out the storm at Sosuke’s house, and the next morning Lisa leaves to check up on the residents of the nursing home where she works.

Ponyo and her sisters

Granmamare, Ponyo’s mother, arrives at Fujimoto’s submarine.  On her way there, Sosuke’s father has seen and recognized her as the Goddess of Mercy.  Fujimoto notices the moon has come out of its orbit and satellites are falling like shooting stars.  Granmamare declares that if Sosuke can pass a test, Ponyo can live as a human and the world order will be restored.  If he fails, Ponyo will turn into sea foam.  Sosuke and Ponyo wake up to find that most of the land around the house has been covered by the ocean.  Lisa has not come home yet, so with the help of Ponyo’s magiv, they make Sosuke’s toy boat life-size and set out to find Lisa.

While traveling, they see prehistoric fish swimming beneath them.  After landing and finding Lisa’s empty car, Ponyo and Sosuke go through a tunnel.  There Ponyo loses her human form and reverts into a fish.  Sosuke and Ponyo are taken by Fujimoto into the ocean and down to the protected nursing home where they are reunited with Lisa and meet Granmamare, both of whom have just had a long private conversation.  Granmamare asks Sosuke if he can love Ponyo whether she is a fish or human.  Sosuke replies that he “loves all the Ponyos.”  Granmamare then allows Ponyo to become human once Sosuke kisses her on the surface.  The film ends with Ponyo jumping up and kissing Sosuke, transforming into a little girl in mid-air.”

This movie is based partially on the original version of The Little Mermaid, but with a happier ending.

Ponyo and Sosuke


Laputa: Castle in The Sky

When I watched the movie “Laputa: Castle In The Sky” I thought the story went a little slow at first.  However, even the slowest parts of the movie could be enjoyed because of the inspiring background in nearly every scene.  After having read the post “The Father of Anime-Hayao Miyazaki” and how Miyazaki was a master of painting, I can see why he made sure everything in this movie was so stunning.  The movie also picked up speed so after about an hour so it was both breathe-taking and exciting for the last hour of the film.  The visuals of the film also helped me as the viewer forget about the tension in the story of the film.  This relief of tension where the viewer could relax on an alternate focus from the story seemed to be a reoccurring theme of the film.
The main focus of the movie is all about a castle which is hidden in the clouds.  The main character is a little girl who is a princess to this forgotten castle and has attained a special crystal heirloom from her grandmother.  This crystal is the key to many secrets of the castle in the sky and many people want its powers for their own desires.  The main villain is a prince to the castle and wants to control the crystal and the castle for power.  Throughout the movie, the crystal falls into different hands and the main character Sheeta and her friend Pazu help each other keep the crystal from being misused.
The movie had a unique focus on how important children could be in a plot.  This feature made it most appealing to children because they can identify with the characters in the film.  This ties in with the post about Miyazaki, I also read how he focuses on the happiness of children.  This stands out to me now that I think about the film now because Sheeta and Pozu seem to be a happy-go-lucky couple as long as they have each other.  Everything must turn out well with their future in this films simply because they are children.  Of course in almost any child’s film in Western culture there is a perfectly happy ending.  Even in the middle of this film when there are still trials to overcome, the children almost seem blissfully unaware of the task at hand at certain times in this film though.  This gives the film a lighthearted feel and relief of the plot many times.
This movie emphasizes the moments in which we need to enjoy life no matter what we may be going through.  Just looking up in the sky once a while and thanking God for the day on the way to a stressful class can be a relief that many of us need.  The movie is littered with ways in which the viewer can take a break from stress and if we remembered to take breaks in life, maybe we could eliminate some of our own stress.



Matt Ellis

 Kiki’s Delivery Service

When starting out the movie Kiki isn’t sure about herself, she won’t do anything without the help of her parents; she is definitely dependent upon them for all parts of her life. Even when she is headed off on to her journey, tradition says that witches are supposed to leave home at the age of 13 to find themselves and progress their powers, she last-minute decides to use her mom’s instead of the broom she made herself. Kiki’s leaving is her first step of becoming an independent. She is attempting to be self-sufficient.

Almost immediately after leaving Kiki realizes that she doesn’t have a skill to offer the town and that her flying skills aren’t up to par. She wobbles through the sky, with her radio blaring proving how much of a child she still is. Once into the town she immediately gets into trouble by almost causing a wreck, however Tombo (a boy who is overly interested in flying) distracts that cop thus allowing her to get off the hook. Luck starts to change for Kiki when she meets Osono a baker who gives her a place to live and helps her come up with the idea to start her own delivery service.

Suddenly the 13-year-old becomes more focused on working then making friends and being a kid. Kiki doesn’t realize this until she looses her witch powers, like being able to fly. Coincidentally the next day Kiki’s friend Ursula comes by for a visit and realizes the trouble that Kiki is currently facing. So Ursula decides that the best thing to do is for Kiki to come to her cottage in the woods. From this trip Kiki realizes the importance of being a kid, having fun, and believing in what she is doing.

Once back into the city Kiki finds out that her friend Tombo helium balloon launch went wrong and he is now flying through the city holding on to only a rope. Kiki heads to the city to try to help the rescue efforts and quickly realizes the only way she will be of any help is if she is able to fly. Her attempts to fly eventually lead to success and she is able to save Tombo thus proving that Ursula was right. She needed to believe.

            This film is constantly showing children the importance of having fun and actually being a kid. Children aren’t supposed to be worried about working until they are older, friendships are more important. Osono repeatedly tried to show this to Kiki but she wasn’t willing to listen since she craved independence. At the end of the movie Kiki learned that it was okay to depend on people while being independent. She also learned that friendship will withstand anything as Tombo showed her time after time.

            This is a great movie to watch with children of all ages. Even though younger children won’t understand the themes they will enjoy the bright colors, fun scenery, and interactions between the characters. Also it is a film without any violence, which is extremely hard to come by! This is a perfect film for preteens, at this age children don’t want to listen to their elders, but Kiki’s trials and tribulations show that elders do actually know what they are talking about. 

                        Kiki’s Delivery Service is both in Japanese and English. The Japanese version won numerous awards and was the highest grossing film in Japan in 1989.

 Posted By: Emily Beiting




My Neighbor Totoro

is a 1993 film about two children who find this imaginary world where they discover these loveable and amazing creatures they called Totoros. No adults can see these Totoro creatures, only the children.

  This film has developed many themes in which anyone can connect to while watching. One theme would be imagination. These children are able to go “into another world” and explore and learn about these mystical creatures. Kids, more than adults, use their imagination to go on adventures and learn through exploring others “worlds” in their minds. This film does a great job at showing children it is okay to use your imagination and have fun! I think as adults, people forget how to use their imagination or just decide not to use it at all. Children need to explore and go into a different state of mind that they have created, to learn and experience life in a different matter.

Another theme presented throughout this film is how important family is to this family. The mother, in the entire movie, is placed in the hospital and the director never presented a reason why. The father and two daughters decided to move into a house closer to the hospital, and their mother. Being that the mother was not able to be around, a neighbor friend tends to help around the house and take care of the girls to help the father out when he is a work. I believe that because of the situation of the mother, the family is growing together more. The two sisters get along very well, except for an incident at the end, which is not what we usually see in families today. This movie can help show siblings how to create a close bond with each other for the sake of being family. Not only children, but also the whole family can learn from this movie how to form a close relationship, before a tragic situation happens.

 This movie can teach children how to use their imagination and other families a lot about the relationships we form as a family. I would recommend taking the time to watch this movie with your children, not just for entertainment, but also to learn from it as a whole. Here is a website for you parents to read more about how imagination can help your children.

(Posted by: Megan Fisher)

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

is a 1984 film about a princess, Nausicaa, who must save her people in the Valley of the Wind from the toxins and enormous insects of the Toxic Jungle, which is rapidly spreading and killing off the human race.

While entertaining, this film is also meaningful as well as educational.  It is available in its original Japanese version with English subtitles which can promote reading as entertainment as well as a full length version dubbed over into the English language by a variety of Hollywood names.  The major theme within this film is that the dangers of pollution and destruction created by humans will ultimately destroy them if they do not change their ways.

The time period in which this film was released reflects a time period when Japan was struggling environmentally.  The nation had undergone a change from an agricultural society to an industrial society and in the process a great amount of Japan’s natural beauty was destroyed.  More specifically, in 1984, the year in which this film was released, Japanese citizens were proven through government surveys to be less concerned about environmental problems than the majority of European nations who resembled them and their scenarios.

This theme is displayed throughout the film through the use of the visual trope (an image repeated throughout the film) of the colors red and blue.  Red appears whenever Miyazaki wants to connotate anger, war, danger, or destruction, whereas blue appears in moments of tranquility, peace, and purification throughout the film.  Some uses of the color red include the eyes of angry insects, destructive fire, and blood.  Some uses of the color blue include the eyes of insects when they are at peace, unpolluted underground caverns, and the clothing of both the noble Nausicaa and the legend of a man in blue who will save the Earth.

Through the uses of color, Miyazaki is blatantly making the statement that there is inherently far too much red in the world that is overtaking the blue.  If an end is not put to it, then mankind is destined to destroy itself.  Through an animated PG film Miyazaki is successful in communicating that we need to be conscious of our actions in the real world.  While the destruction of the Earth is a huge statement that teenage and pre-teen viewers are in no way capable of tackling, it presents them with the possibility of the issue.  They can make a start of dealing with this issue by making an effort to recycle, not littering, and being respectful to the environment.  If they take it to heart, these young viewers can grow up making a difference that could potentially effect their futures.  After watching this film, you can talk to your child about these issues.  Click on the link below to see what other kids have been doing as well as some things your child can do.

(Posted by: Beth Costello)

Anime has a long history, starting at the beginning of the 20th century when Japanese filmmakers were experimenting with Western animation techniques.  Very few films created during this time have survived to be around now.  However, some cartoon strips and individual scenes have managed to make it.  Animators in this time period used things like the chalkboard technique and paper animation.  Apparently most of these films were silent, which makes sense.  Two surviving films from 1917 and 1918 (An Obtuse Sword and Urashima Taro, respectively) were found in an antique market in 2007.  Pre-World War I animators in Japan had a hard time of it.  They couldn’t compete with foreign producers, such as Disney.  They started making “talkies” in 1933.  The first full-length animated film was made in 1945.

By the 1970s, anime developed further, moving continuously away from Western culture and creating sub-genres like Super Robot.  The Japanese film market had shrunk due to competition from television.  Anime production companies were going bankrupt.  Because they needed to try something new, many young animators were promoted to directors.  They started experimenting a lot more, leading to successful television productions, such as Tomorrow’s Joe. This is when our director, Hayao Miyazaki, became particularly famous.  He and his partner started up a series of literary based anime (World Masterpiece Theater).  A genre known as Mecha was also started at this point in time, realistic science fiction, unlike the Super Robot genre.

Anime was accepted into mainstream Japanese culture during the 1980s, the “Golden Age of Anime.”  People started producing it a lot more and budgets went up.  Sports anime made its debut in 1983.  Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was made in 1984 and became the most influential anime movie of all time.  In 1988, Akira set records for being the most expensive anime movie ever produced.  (The same creators produced Steamboy later in 2004, which then took over.)

The 1990s and 2000s are when the rest of the world really took notice of anime, with the production of TV shows like Dragon Ball Z (dubbed into more than a dozen languages worldwide), Sailor Moon, and Pokémon.  Miyazaki’s Spirited Away took first prize at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.  TV Tokyo clamped down with censorship on violence and sexuality in anime.  Instead of mainstream Hollywood movies having influence over anime, things were now the other way around, with movies like Megazone 23 having strong influence over The Matrix.

A more sleazy side of anime has come into focus lately, with the development of a porn and rape genre known as hentai.  Just like any other form of “entertainment,” there are those who would take and pervert the cool things.

America has been really influenced by anime this last decade with the development of TV shows, such as Transformers and GI Joe: Sigma 6.  Anime has become somewhat of a cash cow.

Posted by: Amy

                        Hayao Miyazaki was born in Tokyo, 1941.  Miyazaki was very much interested in Tetsuji Fukushima’s manga (Comic strips) as a child growing up.  He enjoyed going to the movie theater with his father as a young teenager.  And by the time he was in high school he had mastered the art of painting.  Miyazaki found great inspiration after watching the first color animation film called Hakujaden.  This would be a leading force in his future in creating anime.  Miyazaki attended the University of Gakushuin and graduated with a degree in economics in 1963.

Hayao Miyazaki is known for being a famous animator, film producer and director.  Most of his films are well-known and famous in Japan.  Miyazaki has received many awards, such as: The Saturn Award, Fantasy and Horror awards in the U.S., The Golden Bear Award in German, Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, Silver Scream Award from Amsterdam, and a number of others.  His films are mostly based on ecological and societal problems.  The films are also aimed at an audience of younger children and always carry an important lesson for the viewer.  Miyazaki states, “I must create animation movies by which children feel happy with their birth and life they are leading.  This is the most important motivation as a professional animation director, and nothing more.” 

In the near future we will be blogging on Miyazaki’s films.  Here is just a sneak peek at some of the films to come! They are the following: Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and The Story of Yanagawa Horiwari.

(Posted by: Lindsey Pifher)

All About Us!

Hello bloggers!  This is a blog all about Anime, which is a form of Japanese animation that is characterized by looks smililar to some of these:

Our blog specifically is going to regard Anime films directed by Hayao Miyazaki:

Now that you know what we are going to be blogging about, I would like to introduce you to our bloggers:

Beth Costello

Emily Beiting

Lindsey Pifher

Megan Fisher

Matt Ellis

Amy Eales

We are going to be discussing a variety of anime films directed by Miyazaki for the perspective of parents who have kids that watch Anime… Don’t worry parents, there is some good stuff out there!  As we analyze films such as Nauiscaa of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, and Castle in the Sky you will see that there are good messages in these films.  We will also give you some background information on Anime itself as well as Miyazaki himself.  Good stuff is on the way!  Check back soon!

(Posted by: Beth Costello)