Just forget the words and sing along

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Films of Hayao Miyazaki: It Begins

Since it's looking like my August is going to be nice and quiet with lots of time to pursue my outside interests, I figure it was time to start a project I'd been putting off for quite some time.

Like a lot of cartoon-loving geeks, I think that Hayao Miyazaki is one of the greatest animators working today. His films are true epics, taking place in worlds very much like our own, but filled with magic, wonder, and gigantic flying machines.

I was first exposed to his work around 10 years ago, when I was going to university and had become one of the first members of the brand new anime club. Right around this time was when Miyazaki's epic Princess Mononke had just come out, and thanks to the Internet, we were all reading reviews online and just riveted by how awesome it sounded. At the anime club's first ever anime-fest, I saw my first complete Miyazaki film, Kiki's Delivery Service, and it instantly became one of my favourites.

When I taught in Japan, I was there while the country was still in awe of his masterpiece, Spirited Away. I even spent an afternoon and went to the Ghibli Museum, a museum dedicated to the works of Studio Ghibli...the animation studio co-founded by Miyazaki, and which has made most of his films.

So, last year, I finally decided to dispose of some of my disposable income by collecting all of Miyazaki's films on DVD. I said that, once I had them all, I'd watch them all, and review them here on my blog.

Well, after a year of being outside and active, it's time for me to sit on my butt and watch some movies.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be watching every Hayao Miyazaki film, and reviewing them here on my blog. If you're new to Miyazaki's works, I hope that this'll encourage you to check out some films you'd other wise pass over. If you've seen most of his films, I hope that you'll appreciate what I have to say about them.

Who is Miyazaki?
I was going to write up a bit of a bio here, but I'm feeling a bit lazy, so instead, I'll just point you to the Wikipedia article about him, which has everything you need to know.

Dubbed or Subbed?
A very important question that I'm sure the anime geeks want answered is will I be watching these films dubbed in English (dubbed), or in the original Japanese with English subtitles (subbed)? Once upon a time, this was a question that fiercely divided the anime community. But now, with the advent of DVD, and that you can switch between the two with the push of a button, it's kind of become moot. But still, there are those who say that anime MUST be watched in the original Japanese, because that is the director's original intent.

That being said, while doing this, I will be watching the films dubbed. Why? Because, while doing some research in preparation for this project, I read an interview with Miyazaki that says he actually prefers that people watch his films dubbed. His reasoning is that he'd much rather your eyes be on the animation...not on subtitles. So that's how I'm going to watch them.

That being said, come back this time tomorrow, and I'll have my review of his very first film. It hit theatres in Japan in 1979, and is based on one of the most beloved anime franchises of all time. And, according to urban legend, Steven Spielberg declared it "the greatest adventure film ever made."

First on the list: Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro

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