NOWO'S Studio Ghibli Cheat Sheet - Part Six: Vague But Still Worth Watching
Updated: Apr 21
Vague But Still Worth Watching
Now for the last section of films in this list and every Ghibli fan knows that there are a small collection of films that for various reasons - it may be due to cultural differences or varying art styles - but for whatever reason, these films don’t always seem to make sense to a Western audience, myself included. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t enjoy each of these masterpieces.
Pom Poko (1994) – I’ll admit it, Pom Poko is the ONLY Ghibli film that I haven’t seen yet and I’m not even sure why! I have a vague idea of this film but I’m actually going to have to look up a plot synopsis for this one. According to IMDB and Wikipedia, the plot of Pom Poko goes as follows: A forest full of Tanuki’s (literally dog racoons that were once very prominent in Japanese folk lore) are under threat as Tokyo begins to expand. Building on top of nature, the Tanuki’s decide to fight back by scaring mankind away in an attempt to preserve their forest. I’ve heard that there’s shapeshifting involved so this could be one strange ride, but it’s one worth seeing if you want to experience as much Ghibli as possible.
My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999) – My Neighbors The Yamadas - not to be confused with My Neighbor Totoro - has an art style all its own, it has literally turned the traditional Ghibli style on its head with its simplistic backgrounds and exaggerated characters. I’ve seen this film once and don’t remember just one consistent plot, the film follows a middle class urban family living in Tokyo called the Yamadas and is full of multiple short stories involving them. It’s almost like watching multiple episodes of a cartoon on the Yamadas filled with humour, joy and heartache. It’s like watching multiple ‘a day in the life’ Ghibli films over 1hr and 40mins, so if you enjoy that style; this one is for you!
The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) – I think this is my favourite film in this section. Similar to My Neighbors The Yamadas, The Tale of Princess Kaguya has it’s own distinct art style. It follows more of a rough sketch, hand drawn, watercolour look which I adore. The film is based on the Japanese folktale; The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and follows it pretty well. The Tale of Princess Kaguya focuses on a Bamboo cutter and his wife to begin with, one day the Bamboo cutter goes out to you know… cut bamboo! And in one piece of bamboo finds a tiny girl living inside. He believes that it is a message from the gods so takes the tiny girl home to raise her as his own. the girl soon turns into a baby and him and his wife take care of her well, they even name her Princess! They soon find though that she grows at a rapid rate and shoots up through the ages earning the nickname ‘little bamboo’ from the other village kids. Years pass and the bamboo cutter is back out again working when he cuts down a bit of bamboo and gold begins pouring out of it, he then believes that this is a sign for him and his wife to raise their adopted bamboo princess as a real princess! To which they do, they move to a royal castle full of expensive fabrics and furniture and attempt to train the princess royal etiquette to which Little Bamboo does not enjoy. She is even set up to interview suitors to which she will one day marry and as you can imagine, she puts them through the ringer; setting them tasks for them to prove their love to her. Admittedly, I found this film a little long the first time around but it really is a beautiful film with an enchanting story.
The Red Turtle (2016) – Now for the last film in my list as well as the latest release from the studio. This film is actually a collaboration between Studio Ghibli, French studio Wild Bunch and Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit so I wasn’t sure if it should count here or not but since it’s being marketed as a Studio Ghibli film I figured why not! If you’ve got through all the others in this list you probably want more! So here’s The Red Turtle, a dialogue free, 80 minute feature that I managed to catch at the cinema at the start of this month. It was charming as usual and captivating however I did get a little confused at some parts due to there being no dialogue explanation. The plot of The Red Turtle follows (what I believe) is a shipwreck victim who finds himself stranded on a beach with nobody except a giant red turtle that is causing him problems. I can’t say too much due to spoilers but I believe this film is still being shown at a few select cinemas across the country so try to catch it if you can!
Phew! Finally at the end, this post literally took me around 3 days to research and write so I hope I convince at least one person to watch at least 1 of the films in this list! For more Ghibli from me head over to my blog; hopeelizab.co.uk and let me know if you do watch any of my recommendations via twitter or Instagram which is @hopeelizab on both.
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