Oh, woe is me for not having seen a Miyazaki film sooner. I’m back again for a few reviews (after vacation back home) and I thought I’d start with a film that, for me, was a revelation and fan-creating film. If only Disney hadn’t have put its grimy paws all over this film and let Studio Ghibli find English voice actors, this movie could’ve surpassed even my expectations. (But Disney is all about them big bones.) But it had Christian Bale, so it’s all good. This wonderful film about growing up
A house with a view.
and finding what you believe in is a more mature answer to the childish wonder we all find in cartoons and fantasy.
In this steampunk-like adventure story, we come across Sophie (Emily Mortimer), a young woman and local hatter in a town ruled by an aristocracy and the army. Magic is an agreed upon phenomenon and witches and wizards roam the countryside. After an encounter with a young, dashing, magical man named Howl (Christian Bale), Sophie finds herself swept away by the man’s charm. After encountering another witch later that night, The Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall), Sophie is turned into an old woman (voiced by Jean Simmons) and is not allowed to speak of her curse.
After this terrible twist of “Big”-like events, Sophie travels off into the countryside to escape her mother and what people would think of her. She encounters a wonderfully fun and lovable scarecrow on a stick, and, eventually, Howl and his Moving Castle. Accompanying Howl are his associated fire demon, Calcifer (Billy Crystal), and his apprentice in waiting, Markl (Josh Hutcherson). Acting as a makeshift nanny/homekeep, Sophie attempts to gain everyone’s trust, all the while searching for some way to reverse her curse. It ends up being one wild ride, indeed.
Look at that redonk detail.
I was overall impressed with this film. Like I said, I’ve never seen a Miyazaki film before and my girlfriend owned this one and wanted me to watch it. She was totally right and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a great film. Miyazaki’s style for me is completely original, unusual and quirky. His plot may have been taken from a book of the same name, but it was such a unique and off kilter movie/story/plotline that I loved what was going to happen next. It wasn’t action packed, it wasn’t magic performance filled or anything like that. It was what it was. And I appreciated that immensely.
For the most part, the voices in the film were accurately matched to each of the characters. Christian
Cosplays waiting to happen.
Bale, for the kind of frail character Howl was, was a bit of a stretch. And he wasn’t even allowed to use his British accent! What kind of crap is that when a decent percentage of the rest of the cast was British? Oh Christian Bale, will you ever be able to use your own voice? I enjoyed Billy Crystal and his comedic portrayal of Calcifer. And I was spot on again at recognizing voices when I heard both Josh Hutcherson and Crispin Freeman’s guest voicing of Turnip Head towards the end. Some of the supporting cast and background voices were a bit iffy, but overall I wasn’t disappointed.
I loved the overall feel and message of this film. The style it was going for was just right for the way this movie presented itself. The music was whimsical and the animation is above and beyond a lot of cartoon films that are done here. Why? That’s because of the attention to detail and colorful style that Miyazaki and his animation crew have created with all their projects. The film is beautiful to look at and is a visual journey in itself. Hell, this movie didn’t even need much dialogue did it? I would’ve watched it just as a silent film and enjoyed it just as much. The creative ways in which Miyazaki created a world with unique aspects and inventions left me awestruck. I’m definitely in for some treats with the rest of Miyazaki’s films. I’ll give Howl’s Moving Castle a 8.7 out of 10.
So, I’ve been getting behind on my posts, and I’ve been watching a lot of anime. So now I think it’s time for another. Wolf’s Rain, produced by Bones and licensed by Bandai, is a story of wolves. Who look like humans. But are wolves. Who look like they can act like humans. But are detectable by some as being wolfish. A little elaborate, I know, but when you see it, which you will after reading this, you’ll understand. But these wolves live in the human world. And they’re after only one thing. Paradise. And they’re the only ones who can find it.
The story starts off rather intensely. No introduction of characters, just train robbery. Gigantic explosions. And then we meet Tsume (Crispin Freeman). He’s a complete badass (come on, his voice actor is Crispin Freeman, my hero) and he’s not even the MAIN CHARACTER. But Tsume robs and plunders until one day he and his gang come across a gigantic “dog” hidden in a tree. This dog? Wolf. Kiba (Johnny Yong Bosch A.K.A. Green Ranger). He’s pretty badass, and as the story develops, we find him to be the leader of the pack. Along with these two, we have Hige, (Joshua Seth) the hungry rambunctious sniffer, and Toboe (Mona Marshall) the whiner with the best of intentions.
The story gets heavy as these two encounter Cheza (Sherry Lynn) and who becomes their arch-nemesis, Lord Darcia III (Steven Blum). The search all over the decaying human world for Paradise using Cheza, the biologically successful human flower, to achieve their dream of paradise. The ending is sad, confusing, and uplifting, all at the same time. You won’t regret a watching of this show.
Now down to the nitty gritty likes and dislikes. The show length was great. It was a fast-paced, character driven, subplot induced thrill ride. Loved it. Didn’t love that there was a disc that Bandai decided to release called Recollections. This disc, these 4 episodes. Recap. In full, up to that point. It helped my girlfriend catch up, I almost fell asleep. If you do watch this anime, skip episodes 15-18. Those episodes went unaired. You can guess why. Other than that, the anime was fantastic.
The animation was really great on this anime. It was quite cinematic, and to me, felt like I was riding the crest of a video game, playing as Kiba, destroying with Tsume, that kinda thing. It was fantastic. Cheza, okay, Cheza was kind of annoying. “This one is hurt,” “This one is happy,” “This one feels your sadness.” How about… “This one will either stop using third person or shut up?” That would’ve been nice. There’s just that one incompetent character in every anime, and she’s it. Nobody in that wolf pack is annoyed by her. They like being petted by her. Probably because all she is is a flower.
Lord Darcia was fantastic, the fight scenes were epic, the Nobles, were mysterious, it was great. If I had to compare it to another anime that it’s like, I’d have to say none. It’s the classic adventure epic (Comparable to Lord of the Rings) that really takes itself out of the anime genre and becomes something far more. And best part? It’s all capped with a great opening theme. “Stray” by Steve Conte. This song will annoy you to the point that you’ll fall in love with it. It’s so 80’s, it’s ridiculously awesome. Download it, listen, love it. In fact here it is.
Great anime, definitely a 9 out of 10. Happy watching and thanks for visiting the abyss.