Whisper of the Heart


Disney just released its English dub of Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart, originally released in Japan in 1995. I’ve got to say, the Blu Ray transfer is excellent. If it weren’t for the appearance of old laptops and lack of widely-used internet in the movie, you’d think it had just been made recently. While I can easily criticize Studio Ghibli for constantly reusing the same characters, designs, stories and facial expressions, I simply can’t for this one. I mean, when can you ever?

The story has the typical Ghibli feel to it. A young girl experiencing a world that’s new to her and falls in love with that tall kid with ambiguously blue hair. Many who have only seen Ghibli’s more popular titles like Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle, may think that the Studio’s charm lies in its portrayal of the fantastic. But seeing as this movie takes place completely in the real world and still carries all the charm of it’s best titles (this is probably my favorite now) it seems to be just the opposite: Studio Ghibli has a remarkable ability to take the mundane and make it fantastical.

It finds charm and excitement in simple moments. Its beauty is truly in its simplicity. For such a simple and intimate movie, I was surprised at the epic feel of it. Perhaps because it deals with things that touch on the meaning of life: our purpose in this world, though in the most un-preachy way. The main character Shizuku struggles with feelings of inadequacy. She doesn’t know what to do with her life, where to go next or how to move forward. It’s something all of us, not the least of which, myself, struggle with.

I really loved this movie. Some may find it drags a bit, but I was hooked from the beginning. The opening sequence is quite beautiful. Actually, it’s beautiful from beginning to end. Just as good as Spirited Away or The Secret World of Arriety, if not better. Again, I must say, the utter sincerity of these movies is incredibly refreshing. I felt, in a way purified after watching this. It may sound strange, but this just reminds me of how powerful the medium of movies and animation is. So much of our subconscious, our feelings, our habits, our words, choice of friends and overall culture is highly influence by what we see when we turn on the screen, for good or ill. Again, more than ever, I feel the call towards a career in animation.

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New Pokemon Animation for Game Trailer

So, I saw this trailer today. Much has been abuzz about comparing it to the current anime. And rightfully so. The Pokemon anime was initially a great show, which was sadly killed by its own popularity.

Yes, 600 episodes of Pokemon have just been pwned by a 5 minute game trailer…

For me, the solution is simple: produce fewer episodes and spend more time on them so you don’t force the writers to reuse formulas. Or produce two different series. One that’s more like this trailer, aimed at older audiences and another that continues Ash’s story so they can keep Pikachu as the mascot. Actually, they could even make the Ash story more focused on older audiences and the one based on the game for the younger crowd. The point is, they’re alienating a huge demographic that still consumes the games.

And now this

Avengers Review

So I saw the Avengers this weekend and wanted to share my thoughts. Yes, it’s worth watching. Is it the best superhero movie ever? Some say, “Yes.” I say, no. Is it the best Marvel movie? Again, I say no. Here’s why.

First of all, I have to say that I believe based on comments made by the films editors, there is enough footage out there that there may be a cut of the film that will please me. I am just not that pleased with the final cut, but I rather expected it.

Summer blockbusters always follow this formula: safe. That’s right. Studios rarely like to take risks when it come to what they expect to be a blockbuster. Marvel has been especially guilty of this as of late. They’ve spent about a decade experimenting and figuring out what works. And since Iron Man they’ve stayed with what works. Very small risks. And who can blame them? Look at the reaction to the first Hulk movie (which I actually liked… I know, hate me if you want), X-men 3, and Spider-man 3. Those movies were all big risks and big failures. And Disney has been even worse with this. Their live-action department is horrendously bland. So combining Disney and Marvel does not make this movie-goer too happy. This may change in the future now that Rich Ross is gone. I hope it does.

And how does the content of the movie fair? Just as you’d expect from the previous paragraph. Plenty of good action, funny lines, character interactions, etc. Problem is, we’ve seen it all before. It’s nothing new, it’s just the fun of seeing the different characters interact. And it was fun, but to be honest, I expected more. Much was cut for the sake of actions scenes. I truly hoped for something more engaging. The kind of conflict that Captain America and Thor had was much more engaging. Avengers was mostly just physical conflict. Yeah, there was the whole thing about them getting along and all, which was good. There were some very good scenes. But just when it felt something cool happened it was interrupted by cheesy one-liners.

SPOILER WARNING
Another thing that really annoyed me was Loki. I expected great things from having him as a villain. There’s so much they could have drawn from in Thor. But it was only touched on. He was dismissed from being a major threat right from the start. Some advice to Marvel and Disney: don’t put the main antagonist in a cage for the first half of the movie.

Okay, so the movie wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed it. But I fear unless Marvel and Disney change their strategy, this may be the best we get. And trust me, it could be much better.