Tag Archives: revelation

Howl’s Moving Castle: My First Miyazaki

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.

Masterful Miyazaki.

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.


An Idiot Abroad Series 2: The Bucket List

Let me start off my saying this series did do me head in. I’ve learned after a second trip with Karl Pilkington around the world, that you can do a load of amazing things in less than a year (proper funding needed, of course). But if a major programming station is footing the bill and your friends find you some wild experiences, go with it. Karl may think he hasn’t changed, but you can tell right from the get go, he’s a lovable guy who’s just like me. (Back to that later.)

In Series 2, we follow Karl’s choices off a huge generated list of “kick the bucket” like wishful experiences before you die. And even though he may choose things like Whale Watching and Desert Island, we know that isn’t all

Karl and some good ole Americana.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have in store for him. He may eventually get to “swim with the dolphins,” but he has to travel Thailand and be dressed up as a ladyboy before he even steps foot in the water in Australia. I laughed right along with Ricky Gervais in part two of the most expensive prank ever.

Go skimp Karl, or go home.

But I was a bit more proud of Karl this time for sticking up for what he wanted to do. He refused the bungee jump, as I would have. But, along with the bucket list things he did, he got expenses paid trips to Japan and Thailand. Ever since I discovered the wonder that is Thai cinema, I have been dying to go over there. Please Sky 1, pick me up as a travel host and transport me over there! But Karl pulled it all of in stride. If someone that stubborn can make it in Japan or Thailand and still do amazing things, sign me up.

I loved the little breaks Karl took during his work over in other countries. That is to say that the English speaking countries weren’t as fun because he wasn’t dictating the conversation or speaking for the locals in a hilarious way. He went to a cheap Ugandan flea market before seeing the gorillas. And he took his time there as well. Whenever there was an opportunity to jump in and dance someplace, Karl took it

The face of a scared man.

immediately. He may seem daft and apelike, but that man can light up a room with his goofy dancing.

And what’s to make it better than that Karl ends the show on a touching note. He has his revelation on Mt. Fuji, but Gervais and Merchant just knock it down. I, over the course of this show, have come to love and respect Karl Pilkington. I find his insights to be funny and all of his scenario situations are exemplary and logic (to a point). When I travel over to the UK someday, I’m not gonna wanna go running and looking for Clive Owen or Emma Watson. I’m going to find the nearest info booth and look at the worker and say, “Right, where do I find Karl Pilkington?” No joke, I want to sit down with this man and become his friend.

Only one of those is true… Karl.

Why would I say that about a dull, homely man like Karl? Because I am a dull, homely man like Karl. I don’t enjoy traveling or big crowds. I don’t like trying new foods or doing anything I know I will fail at no matter what. And I want to meet a man who can inspire me to do it by saying, “Look, we’re about the same right? If I can do it, so can you.” And I believe meeting Karl Pilkington, of all people, can make that happen. You hear me, UK? When this whole college thing is done, I’m comin’.

So I think it says loads about what I thought of the show and the content of what Karl Pilkington is as a person to say I want to meet him first and foremost. The show is entertaining and eye opening, funny, and extremely witty coming from a person

Don’t all British mind like a bit of drag?

everyone calls a div. To say I wouldn’t mind being Karl Pilkington is no stretch of the goal I could reach for. I even hear his voice in me head now. What a mental thing that is. Well, add that to me bucket list, meeting Karl Pilkington. Cause this show and the series as a whole (including Karl) deserve a 10 out of 10.


AnoHana: A Title Too Long, An Anime Too Sad

The characters of AnoHana

Okay, the title is far too long. Ano Hi Mata Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. Roughly translated, We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw that Day. (Probably actually translated) I’m no expert in the Japanese language, but… Why? Anyways, that’s besides the point. This was a phenomenal show. It was also phenomenally sad. With angst and tears in hand, this show could do no wrong. For the most part.

First recommendation about this show. Watch this by yourself. No groups

The Haunting by Menma.

allowed. Unless you and another few people really wanna attempt to cry and connect with your emotional side, then do so by yourself. It’s well worth it. Second, watch this subbed. The dubbed version is not out, may take a while, but make sure this is watched subbed. The Japanese voice actors in this show give a whole new meaning to emotional acting. And third, whatever you do, love Yukiatsu. He is the most fantastic character in this anime. Not a jerk.

The cute children of AnoHana!

To the plot. This show is about a group of friends who, when they were children, called themselves the Super Peace Busters. Slightly strange, but they were for justice and peace, not for busting it. (Or were they?) Jintan, Menma, Anaru, Yukiatsu, Tsuruko, and Poppo would hang out all the time playing Nokemon and playing in the forest in their amazingly built clubhouse for a bunch of small children. One day tragedy strikes and Menma dies. This horrific accident separates the group forever.

Until one day, Jintan starts seeing Menma and what appears to be her poltergeist apparition form. Menma is now older and has aged like all the others to their high school age. Acting  just like she did when she was younger, she now stands in stark contrast to those who lost her so many years ago.

Unconrtrollable tears!

Jintan has become a shut in who no longer attends school, Anaru has become what appears to be a snobby slut, Yukiatsu and Tsuruko have become cold hearted people, and Poppo is the only one who has remained the same.

Giving Menma appearing to him as an illusion of the summer heat, Jintan continues to go about his usual life. Having lost his mother, his father and him have seemed to grow apart to a superficial level. But, slowly but surely, Jintan begins to connect with Menma and starts to remember the emotions and feelings of his childhood. With Menma not knowing what exactly is her purpose on “haunting” Jintan, Jintan must try and grant her wish and send her to Heaven.

Yukiatsu, my love.

There is one thing and one thing only to say about this show. Tears. This show trys in every capacity, every episode, to make you cry. Not even the frequent intermissions of comic relief can attempt to dry your eyes of the sadness. The ending song itself functions as a key to emotionally end every episode on a revelation/sadness scene. And it is so damn effective. You become entirely attached to all the characters and want them to come to terms with Menma’s death and become friends again. And it doesn’t look possible. The alienation of growing up and high school, coupled with traumatizing death seems to leave them all hopeless. You wish the best for them and cry when things turn out all right. Just not in the way you’d think.

The comic relief needs to flowww.

With all the emotion and revealing scenes of twist and turns, this show just deliver and delivers. It spares not a minute of its short 11 episode run. The story is told and you’re left with a feeling of warmth beside a feeling of loss inside. And that makes it worth it. But you know what? I don’t want to cry every episode. I don’t mind spilling my man tears, but when you’re beaten over the head and told to cry, does the act of emotion and sadness really become an effective anime in the end? With the characters, I would say yes! Please for the love of God, Yukiatsu is the person I wanna be! (Wink wink) But with the plot and short period of time it has to function, give me a break every other episode. Let me dry my eyes and not feel this is kind of stupid in the heaviest melodramatic Lifetime movie way possible. Don’t try to make me cry for the sake of crying. Make me happy to shed tears for those I care about. Not unecessary tears of circumstance.

That being my only contention with this show, it takes it down heavily from the 10 out of 10 category and down into the 8 out of 10 category. But based solely on Yukiatsu, give it the 10 out of 10. Final verdict, 7.9 out of 10.