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The Best (And Worst) Of Studio Ghibli


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grooven



Joined: 16 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:05 pm Reply with quote
Best for be Princess Mononoke. The worst is Pom Pok, what a piece of crap (art and music aside). I can totally see the hate for Howl's Moving castle, the book is awesome, the movie makes no sense, but it isn't the worst.
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angelmcazares
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:15 pm Reply with quote
I am sure I have said this before, but for future columns like this one, can we just drop the terms best and worst in favor of most favorite and least favorite? When I see the words best and worst written, I associate them with measuring something in an objective way. I have concluded, however, that most people seem to equate the term best with personal favorite and the term worst with least personal favorite.
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relyat08



Joined: 20 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:33 pm Reply with quote
angelmcazares wrote:
I am sure I have said this before, but for future columns like this one, can we just drop the terms best and worst in favor of most favorite and least favorite? When I see the words best and worst written, I associate them with measuring something in an objective way. I have concluded, however, that most people seem to equate the term best with personal favorite and the term worst with least personal favorite.


This is an inherently subjective discussion. It should go without saying that no one can reasonably and objectively determine "the best" of anything in art. The use of that term here is the same as asking which is their favorite, essentially. Your own perspective is always going to color your opinion. If it was picking "the best", objectively there would be one answer and no discussion. I get trying to differentiate between "favorite" and "best", but it's still just going to be your opinion, either way.
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:38 pm Reply with quote
Sven Viking wrote:
I highly recommend the book to people listing Howl's Moving Castle as the worst (excluding Amy obviously). I saw the film first and still really enjoy it, though the ending always seemed kind of confused. On reading the book it's easy to understand where it goes wrong. It sets up all the plot threads and foreshadowing from the first half of the book then totally throws away their resolutions to transplant an unrelated second half made up of semi-random Miyizaki hallmarks.

Imagine a Ghibli adaptation of The Sixth Sense where the first half is near-identical, but in the second half Bruce Willis builds a biplane out of scrap, has a bunch of aerial dogfights with ghosts (in the process learning that war is bad), then reunites with his estranged wife and lives happily ever after.


Specifically, because Diana Wynne-Jones specializes in playfully complex fantasies (when the first Harry Potter book came out, fans accused JK Rowling of "just ripping off Wynne-Jones's books"), there's a REASON one character was turned into a dog and another into a scarecrow, and a hundred plot threads are all tied together at the end of the story.
Miyazaki, meanwhile, pretty much threw the book out the window for the middle hour of the movie, kept a few key scenes that amused him, went back over his old Mononoke antiwar licks, and then rushed back to try and tie up the book ending, having already eliminated any context that would help them make sense.
Sort of like the anime trope of the student who forgot to do their summer homework until the last weekend before school, and then goes into a mad rush at the last minute to catch up on everything they missed while they were having fun enjoying themselves.

(In the book, Sophie hates being the oldest sister, because everyone knows, in fairytales, whenever there are three siblings going out to seek their fortune, the oldest will always find a job and work hard, the second will go out and learn an apprenticeship, and the poor youngest third with nothing will end up getting magical help...And since Sophie was the older one, she's doomed to work in the store and not go on adventures.
When she meets her two sisters again, she finds that they both wanted each other's fate, and went to Howl to switch their identities--In the book, it's one more bit of fantasy spoof to add to the complex plot, but in the movie, with most of the explanation removed, it's just...there, to baffle us some more. One more bit of Wondrous Magical Stuff for Miyazaki to throw at us because he thought it was Neat what wizards could do.)

As for the divided opinion on The Tale of Princess Kaguya, I didn't think it was the greatest ever, but didn't have the polarized opinion others had:
Can't remember what from anime/game, but I remember one anime character saying they thought Kaguya from the original story was too "cruel" and snotty to like, sending her beaus to kill themselves on impossible quests, and then ditching her parents to join the royalty on the moon...I sort of shared that opinion going in, too, so I was surprised to see how much I liked Kaguya going in.
I've always dreaded the idea of seeing any Takahata film from that one bad traumatic "Grave of the Fireflies" experience any anime fan of my generation must have had, but a movie like My Neighbors the Yamadas always surprises me that Takahata actually possesses a sense of humor and cuteness under all that artsy pretentiousness. The early part with Kaguya as a peasant-village "Lil' Bamboo" pushed into princesshood has a sentimental, playful and realistic sense of kids' POV that a good Ghibli should have, and puts her abuse of Jerk Princes (she doesn't want to be forced into marriage) into a more realistic story context.
Only got halfway through, but I liked what I saw...I won't pass final judgment until I can get it out of the library again.
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Gina Szanboti



Joined: 03 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:04 pm Reply with quote
@ angelmcazares: Best and worst are inherently subjective attributes, no less so than good or bad, since they're the superlative forms of those adjectives. Surely you don't think of good and bad as objective measurements?
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Dayomi



Joined: 20 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:15 pm Reply with quote
Fave: The tale of the princess Kaguya

Worst: Tales from the Earthsea.

I've read several replies claiming that Howl's Moving Castle is the worst movie that was made by Ghibli. I think I is not. Having watched all of the Ghibli movies several times, and as a Ghibli lover, I think that the story is even better than the one in book it was based on. Is what Miyazaki Sensei thought, in his own Japanese way, of Howl's world. The movie is way different true, but the book is just like so many other books about magic in England. The film is worth watching a second time so you can grasp all of the feelings of the director. On the other hand, take a listen to Joe Hisaishi's compositions. The OST is delightful. Way better than in other movies.
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Sven Viking



Joined: 09 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:25 pm Reply with quote
Good/bad/best/worst are often objective attributes, e.g. the best score on a maths test, but in this sort of context they'd generally be understood to be subjective. While "favourite" would make it more explicit, and it is less confronting to say you disliked a movie than to say it's a bad movie, just the fact that the article is a list of people with different Bests and Worsts is proof that they are subjective in this case.

Last edited by Sven Viking on Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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angelmcazares
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:29 pm Reply with quote
Gina Szanboti wrote:
Surely you don't think of good and bad as objective measurements?

This might sound weird, but I do see good and bad as objective measurements. I have a list of my favorite anime and another list of what is objectively the best and worst anime. For example the best 3 anime series to me are Utena, Evangelion and Penguindrum. And my favorite 3 anime series are FMA: B, Code Geass and Space Battleship Yamato 2199.

I might be alone in an island, but I believe in objectivity when it comes to critiquing anime.
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animefan1238



Joined: 28 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:50 pm Reply with quote
First Place: Spirited Away- This movie means a lot to me. I was diagnosed with Colitis at 16 and was in the hospital for a month, damn close to having my colon removed. I got out, no surgery needed and started my daily medication routine that I still do to this day. However, most of my sophmore year of high school was me being sick, nauseous and throwing up because of this medication. Spirited Away came out that fall and I had a feeling it would only be in the city, which would have been doable if I was even at 90 percent, but I was far from it. To my surprise it was a 30 minutes drive away so I asked my mom if she would take me. She did and my aunt came too. This was a well needed distraction to what I was going through and the visuals of the bathhouse inside and out blew me away. It was amazing to see all the spirits, creatures and other things in one place. The story was simple but also captivating. Both my mom and aunt loved it so it was nice to share something I loved with them. I've seen it many times after I got all better and it still pulls me in every time. This movie is great and it is the only Ghibli movie to this day I wish would continue after it actually ends.

Runner up: Princess Mononoke- From the opening sequence I knew this was going to be amazing, even at 15 years old. It is such a special film it can be argued it put anime films in the spotlight because of its story and visual prowess. It is hard not to say it's visually stunning even to non anime fans. As I told my fiancée it is possibly one of only a small group of anime films that could be consodered an epic. The story takes your on a journey through the forest to witness the quest of a young man trying to save his life but also understand human's drive for wealth and power over nature. Both picks also deserve recognition for their stupendous score by Joe Hisaishi.

Worst: Arrietty- It was between this or Earthsea. It all came down to which on I'd watch more. Arrietty had a good concept but I never pulled me in. It seemed to drap kn and on and with no real pull in the story. Earthsea is at least slightly entertaining but Arrietty is one that just didn't do much for me.

Honourable Mention: When Marnie Was There- Great story and the interaction between Marnie and Anna was great. The story was solid, the sequences of Anna going to Marnie's time was well done and the ending made me a little sad but in a good way. Probably a great date movie even for those who do like anime.
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Koda89



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 211
PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:55 am Reply with quote
SolHerald wrote:
I find the lack of Porco Rosso disturbing.

For what it is worth, it is the only Ghibli film I own merch to(outside of home video copies of the films of course).
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Codeanime93



Joined: 28 Jul 2017
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:47 am Reply with quote
Princess Mononoke
Pretty much my favorite one, don't really have a worst or least favorite though I guess I couldn't really see myself getting through Ponyo much. I have to admit Miyazaki for me loses some steam post 1997, even Spirited Away, while still a good movie, I'm not enamored with it as much as his older works. To me I find Mononoke to be his pinnacle and past that he kind of lapsed off.
And I haven't seen any of the ones not directed by him really. I plan to though.
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Wingbeats



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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:50 am Reply with quote
Favorite: Spirited Away
This movie meant a lot to me as a preteen. I first watched it at age 13, when it happened to come to the artsy local theater in my hometown. My parents took me because they heard there was a dragon in it, and I loved dragons. And it totally blew me away! I came back with a birthday party's worth of friends a while later, and they all loved it too, even those who hated anime or weird japanese things. This movie could be called my favorite animated movie period...it's one I never tire of re-watching.

Runner-up fav: Princess Mononoke
Because I enjoyed Spirited Away so much, I checked this one out not long after. I had to torrent it to do so...but holy hell, I was blown away a second time. I didn't quite understand the ending at the time, but the forest visuals still stick in my head. I think about those waterlogged trees whenever I need a moment.

Worst: Ponyo
While I did see Earthsea, and I was sorely disappointed (how can you take stuff with dragons and make it weird and boring??) Ponyo was just....infuriating. I LOVE cool ocean creatures, loved those underwater visuals...and yet i couldn't figure out what the hell was going on and why. I was left baffled. My friend tried to explain it to me, saying it was a Little Mermaid story, but I was like... ???where?
So Ponyo gets to be on my worst list for confusing the hell out of me, and having no characters I found endearing or anything. Man, the kids annoyed me, and the adults were worse.
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Jayhosh



Joined: 24 May 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:30 am Reply with quote
Key wrote:
AholePony wrote:
I'm hoping Nausicaa wasn't mentioned because A) you haven't seen it or b) it's not "technically" a Ghibli film. It would be my runner-up to Mononoke.

A lot of people forget that Nausicaa, though a Miyazaki film, is not actually a Ghibli film, so yes, there is that technicality. Even if I had considered it a Ghibli film, though, I still wouldn't rank it above Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. It would be the next step down for me, at about the same level as Porco Rosso.


I'm not sure why this idea is still being perpetuated. Yes, Ghibli didn't officially exist when the film was produced, but the staff was nearly identical and formed Ghibli like immediately after they finished the film by rebuilding from the ashes of Topcraft and not only that, the film has long been officially owned and distributed as a Ghibli film. Every modern release of the film is adorned with the studio's logo on the packaging AND feature the splash screen before the film plays so why would anyone contest that it ISN'T a Ghibli film beyond the trivial point that it initially wasn't labeled as one? Hell, it's even the next film being featured in GKIDS' *GHIBLI* Fest. Is the studio and director's word not enough of a confirmation that it is a Ghibli film for some people? Why does it even matter?

Also I'm sad to see so many people naming Ponyo, Arrietty and Pom Poko as their least favorites. They seem to be popular targets for the worst from a lot of you guys but honestly I was expecting a bit more variety in people's least favorites. I feel like if most of these people would watch Ocean Waves or Earthsea they probably wouldn't feel that those were the worst afterward though. I feel like all of the shit people give Ponyo actually made me like the film a lot more over time (same goes for Pom Poko). Like, all the reasons people list for not liking it are part of what make it so enjoyable for me. The mother's irresponsible driving? Hilarious in terms of animation and also realistic in the sense that, yeah, an ostensibly single mother with so much on her shoulders probably wouldn't always make perfect decisions. The convoluted moon conspiracy? Totally fits in thematically with how potent Ponyo's desire and love for Sosuke is. I dunno. I just love it to death. Any other Ponyo lovers in here? I'm feeling kind of lonely.


Last edited by Jayhosh on Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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Shiratori-san



Joined: 25 Mar 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:09 am Reply with quote
Just to give my humble opinion...

Best: Grave of the Fireflies

Runner-Up: Only Yesterday

Worst: Howl's Moving Castle
Not only among Ghibli, but among all anime, this is probably the worst thing I ever saw...

Oh, and Arrietty was also quite nice, I don't get the low opinions on it, but that's life.
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vanfanel



Joined: 26 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:43 am Reply with quote
Sven Viking wrote:
I highly recommend the book to people listing Howl's Moving Castle as the worst


I'll second this. The first half of the movie sticks reasonably close to the novel, but midway through it makes this 90-degree swerve away from it, and turns into a huge mess by the end.

Mamoru Hosoda was supposed to direct that movie. After "The Boy and the Beast" Hosoda isn't 100% for me either, but I'd really love to visit some parallel universe where he and Miyazaki didn't have their falling-out/creative differences/whatever, and see how his version would have turned out.

My favorite Ghibli film I can't pick. I can say my favorite Miyazaki film wobbles between Porco Rosso and Kiki's Delivery Service. In his later films, I get a feeling of Miyazaki trying to top himself in terms of spectacle each time, while his earlier films feel more natural and less self-conscious to me, with just the right amount of fantasy and magic (or sci-fi in the case of Laputa).

I think Takahata is just as good as Miyazaki, but in a completely different way. Miyazaki's films have a universal appeal, while Takahata's are very specifically Japanese, and generally appeal more to older audiences. Favorite Takahata is either Princess Kaguya or My Neighbors the Yamadas. The former is a towering masterpiece of cinema; the crowning achievement of a great director. The latter is an ode to ordinary life, and while its jokes make me smile, the movie as a whole becomes a sort of mosaic of the modern Japanese family, and I was surprised at how moving I ultimately found it.

My favorite non-Miyazaki/Takahata effort is hands-down Whisper of the Heart, a movie I'll usually watch whenever embarking on a big writing project. I also like From Up On Poppy Hill, Arrietty and yes, even Ocean Wavesquite a lot.

Least favorite Miyazakis are Ponyo because I am neither A) a five-year-old child, B) a dropper of acid, or C) a maniac driver, so I'm clearly not included in the target demographic, Howl's Moving Castle for its incoherent second half, and The Wind Rises for its cavalier treatment of biographical and historical details (though I've only seen it once, and could change my mind when I see it again).

Least favorite Takahata is Ponpoko, which is a film I like a lot; it's just that his other films are even better.

Least favorite non-Miyazaki//Takahata is either The Cat Returns for being forgettably bland or Tales from Earthsea for not making a lick of sense.
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