Anime Goes to the Movies! – CAD Edition

Here’s the list of titles I mentioned, the ones with * next to them had a clip shown:
The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
Ninja Scroll (1993)
Redline (2009)*
The Star of Cottonland (1984)
Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)
Catnapped! (1995) (2002)
Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
Porco Rosso (1992)
The Wind Rises (2013)
Yoyo and Nene (2013)
Welcome to the Space Show (2010)
You are Umasou*
Whisper of the Heart (1995)
When Marnie Was There (2014)
Patema Inverted (2013)
Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer (1984)
The Garden of Words (2013)
Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below (2011)
Gauche the Cellist (1984)
Only Yesterday (1991)
Summer Wars (2009)
Wolf Children
Perfect Blue (1997)
Millennium Actress (2001)
Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
Paprika (2006)*
Robot Carnival (1987)
Neo-Tokyo (1987)
Memories (1995)
Blood: The Last Vampire (2000)
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)
Dirty Pair: Project Eden (1987)
Steamboy (2004)
Arcadia of My Youth (1982)
Space Pirate Captain Harlock (2013)
Galaxy Express 999 (1979)
Adieu, Galaxy Express 999 (1981)
Macross: Do You Remember Love? (1984)*
Patlabor: The Movie (1989)
Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993)
Akira (1988)
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Sword of the Stranger (2007)*
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1989)
The Dagger of Kamui (1985)
Angel’s Egg (1985)
Adolescence of Utena (1999)

Japanese Horror: Film vs Anime – CAD Edition

Here’s a good chunk of the titles mentioned, if you want more check out my article HERE.
The ones with asterisks actually had a clip shown:
Entrails of a Virgin
Evil Dead Trap*
Guinea Pig 4: Mermaid in a Manhole
Tetsuo the Iron Man
Ju-On: The Grudge*
The Grudge
Dark Water
One Missed Call*
Ichi the Killer
Suicide Club*
Tokyo Gore Police
Exte: Hair Extensions
Attack on Titan
Paranormal Activity: Tokyo Night*
Legend of the Overfiend*
Mr. Arashi’s Amazing Freakshow
Perfect Blue
Wicked City
Demon City Shinjuku
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
Pet Shop of Horrors
Higurasji: When They Cry
Hellsing: Ultimate*
Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack!
Ghost Hunt
Highschool of the Dead
Tokyo Ghoul

The final film shown, Present, doesn’t have a wikipedia page. However, I did find it by reading “Flowers from Hell” by Jim Harper

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Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) Review


Studio Ghibli is no doubt the “Feel good” studio. Almost all of their films are awe-inspiring fantasies or small stories that remind you of the good things in life and give a warm feeling inside. Now this is nothing new of me to say or for anyone to say for that matter, but it bears repeating because even with one of their most controversial works, Howl’s Moving Castle, I still get that Ghibli charm I just can’t get anywhere else.

Howl’s Moving Castle is the fantastical tale of hatter Sophie who after being saved by the mysterious wizard Howl gets cursed by his nemesis The Witch of the Wastes. The spell manifests itself by aging her tremendously and she decides to travel to Howl’s moving castle to see if she can get turned back. There she meets an annoying fire demon, a child apprentice and, of course, the mysterious and childish Howl. Sophie and Howl soon develop a romance, but their love seems in jeopardy as the country’s war escalates further and Howls involvement and demise seem inevitable.

Howl’s Moving Castle‘s quality is contested by fans because while it’s a good movie… it’s really not as good as other Ghibli works. At least thats my theory, and there’s evidence to back it up. Howl’s has strong characters, animation, and sound, far above most animated features, but it’s convoluted story weighs it down for people and prevents it from hitting that Ghibli standard.

I absolutely love the characters in Howl’s. It takes a while for you to get invested in them, but once they start acting as a family you can’t help but feel attached to them and really appreciate not only the individuals, but the cast as a whole. Even Billy Crystal’s Calcifer the fire demon, who’s pretty annoying for a good chunk of the movie has a hint of charm to him at the end of the movie. The aging dog that enters in the second half and the speechless scarecrow Turniphead both have a distinct personality despite a lack of lines and screen time. There’s just something about this ensemble and their chemistry that works for me and makes me want to see more.

The animation… do I even have to say it? It’s fucking gorgeous. It’s Ghibli and Miyazaki for christ’s sake. Everything from the character designs, backgrounds, and animation itself is high quality and meshes well. I really liked the design of the castle itself and it added a steampunk element that fit in this magic/science world. There are moments where you can tell that the animation jumps in quality so for an anime junkie who will notice that kind of thing it’s rather jarring, but for the average viewer it’s sure to not be a problem.

The soundtrack is standard Ghibli fare and rather unnoticeable which I guess means it did it’s job, but what I really want to talk about it the dub. I love the casting choices for the Disney dub and it’s probably one of the best out there. For the most part it’s unknown actors, but there a few celebrities in this cast. Christian Bale plays Howl and he does a fantastic job. I wasn’t sure he’d be able to pull of the more boyish aspects of the character, but he did and admirably at that. It’s a character archetype in Japan that has no real translation in the West and changes were made so if you’re a fierce loyalist to the original you may have problems with it. Billy Crystal, as I said before, plays Calcifer and does a fine job at that giving it that annoying touch without breaching into Jar-Jar territory. THE Lauren Bacall plays The Witch of the Wastes and she’s, of course, fantastic. She has this disney villainess quality about her, but it really works in this context. The rest of the cast is great too, but if I had any gripes it’s that the actress that plays the young Sophie has an accent that doesn’t match up with the speaking mannerisms of old Sophie and when they switch back and forth it’s quite distracting.

I suppose we should get to what doesn’t work… Howl’s Moving Castle is an extremely ambitious film in that it tries to juggle several different themes and plots. It unfortunately doesn’t succeed and the two aspects that end up suffering the most are the romance between Sophie and Howl and the war subplot. Now I understand the war subplots point of existing, that being to add a little tension and action to what would have been a rather quiet movie, but it could have been implemented better as it just pops in and out and there’s very little involvement or context with it. Sophie/Howl’s relationship gets pushed to the background while all this other stuff goes on and while you get a sense that their relationship is developing, there’s a lot of stuff I wish we could have seen to clarify it. One other fatal flaw of this film is that towards the end of the movie the plot just… goes all over the place. I’m not entirely sure how half of it worked or even what happened as the film tries to cram a lot into the last half hour and it doesn’t really take the time to explain properly. Everything’s jumbled and messy until the last two minutes where everything’s tied up in a neat bow, with too much convenience for my tastes.

I’ve said this about a lot of movies lately, but Howl’s Moving Castle is a ton of fun. It’s got a great mix between dark and light content as well as just enough maturity to keep an adult engaged while still keeping that childhood innocence for kids to enjoy. I thoroughly enjoy the characters and concept, and while I know there’s story flaws, who cares? If you know what you’re getting into and you let yourself get taken away by the characters, the weird pacing and underdeveloped story won’t matter to you (as much). A rottentomatoes rating or my recommendation really doesn’t do this movie justice as this is one film where I truly believe you must form your own opinion about so please check it out.

Seven Samurai (1954) Review

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend

Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is considered a classic of Japanese cinema and has spawned many American copies, such as The Magnificant Seven and A Bugs Life. But how does this 1954 movie hold up today? Quite well actually. For its length (over 3 hours) and place at the beginning of Japanese cinema, Seven Samurai has an engaging plot, unique characters and genuine moments of tragedy, comedy, and tension.

Seven Samurai has the plot of a film you’ve seen before. It’s spawned so many clones, that it’s nice to see the original in all its glory. That being said, it’s not perfect. The films pacing is rather uneven, with the first act moving at a very quick pace, which was refreshing until the second act started dragging on way too slowly. The films length definitely is correlated to this and maybe if some cutting had been done to that second act, a more compressed and smooth story could have been created. That’s not to say that the second act is bad, it still upholds the good writing and acting the other two have, but it just slows down to concentrate on various smaller issues. Great for character development, but not as necessary as it one might think.

The titular seven samurai are all unique characters, with solid performances backing them up. You’ll never get confused as to which samurai is which, even if you’ll never remember their names. The villagers are rather interesting too, in that they aren’t played up as the helpless, innocent victims. To the contrary, Kurosawa portrays them as human to a fault, selfishly trying to keep what they have, even if it means betraying their protectors. This fascinating dynamic between them and the samurai and how it changes is a highlight of the movie

Kurosawa’s brilliant directing is truly something to behold, and way beyond its time. The way he shoots action, comedy, and the haunting ending scene are all extremely effective. A lot of older movies, especially foreign ones, loose their effectiveness when watched today because it feels so distant. Kurosawa’s comedy is funny, particularly the scene with the horse. His action is exciting and nowhere nearly as confusing as the post-Transformers action sequences of today. In fact his use of different frame rates to either speed up the action or slow down the dramatic deaths is really effective and not as cheesy as one would think. His drama is very real; as he sets the mood well and with his strong actors delivers true heartbreaking moments. He’s also not afraid to let you be confused, as there are a few scenes where you really sit there wondering what’s going on, just like the characters are, until it’s finally explained to you.

The hardest thing for someone going into this film is the cultural difference. The names are hard to remember, there are references to things you won’t know, and a lot of the history involved that just won’t make sense. It’s the side effect of being a westerner, but try and keep an open mind. As you watch the movie, you begin to understand how this world works, just with any other movie and soon you’re just as immersed as with the latest blockbuster.

I saw this film on VHS and you know what… it wasn’t that bad. The subbing was ok, even if it wasn’t present for every line and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything because… I wasn’t. This film isn’t widescreen so don’t bother looking for a copy like that. I wouldn’t recommend pirating this movie, as it truly deserves a non-pixilated watching. If you can get this on Blu-Ray or DVD because it’s totally worth it, and you will want to show this classic to everyone you know. If you can get past the length, and the very nature of the film being a 50s Japanese movie, then you should have a remarkable viewing experience ahead of you.