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The Rise and Fall of Studio Ghibli [TALKING IMAGES]

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St. Gloede
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The Rise and Fall of Studio Ghibli [TALKING IMAGES]

#1

Post by St. Gloede »

Image

Hi all,

We are back. Season 2 is here! Welcome to Talking Images in 2021!

And what better way to kick of a magical collaborative project in all its virility and flourish, than to look at the perhaps most magical and beloved collaborative project in film history.

In this episode we will not just discuss the magical work of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, or the mediocre work of everyone else - we will look at how their careers developed in contrast to each other from their first double feature, to their last.

That is to say, the 1988 double feature that in so many ways showcased what Studio Ghibli could do:
  • My Neighbour Totoro
  • Grave of the Fireflies
And the studio's, at the time, proposed swansongs of 2013:
  • The Wind Rises
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Almost every film before, in between and after will also get a mention - some in detail - as we marvel at just how these two giants of cinema changed the landscape of anime.

We will also push the arguably already accepted claim that Studio Ghibli - rather than being the Japanese Disney, really was a platform for two great artists to develop their own unique style - screw everyone else!

The fact that the studio has been withering away, is as such no true fall - but a showcase of how it truly was Takahata and Miyazaki holding it all together - and with the older Miyazaki coming out of retirement - and the lesser Miyazaki (Goro) seemingly fumbling into 3D, Studio Ghibli is at an odd place in its own history.

You Can Listen Here:

Sounder: https://talking-images.sounder.fm/episode/studio-ghibli

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/3GhRXnb6OzOnfae2Uvkvus (not synched yet)

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/t ... 80739?uo=4 (not synched yet)

Let's give these masters and this topic the discussion it deserves!

Join in by answering these questions - and any other views you have on your mind!


What is the first Studio Ghibli film you saw, what do you remember and how did it impact you?

Has your impression changed over the years?

Who do you prefer Miyazaki or Takahata? (and why?)

What is your favourite Studio Ghibli film?

Are any of the non-Miyazaki/Takahata films actually great?

Do you agree with Matthieu that they never wanted/needed an heir and it was all about Miyazaki and Takahata?

What do you think will happen to Ghibli in the future? Is there even a future after Hayao Miyazaki?

Will Miyazaki be able to stop? Can we expect more films?

What are your early impressions of Earwig and the Witch/the move to 3D? (Which we did NOT know about when recording 4 months ago ...).
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#2

Post by Torgo »

St. Gloede wrote: February 8th, 2021, 4:53 pm What are your early impressions of Earwig and the Witch/the move to 3D?
I'm just gonna leave this here
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#3

Post by Onderhond »

I think Ghibli was always destined to whither, as the studio has always been way too focused on Miyazaki's film. I'd say that Takahata was there, making films, simply because he was everyone's superior. That allowed him to do what he wanted to do, but the rest had to bow to the will of Miyazaki. Younger talent was allowed to push boundaries in shorts and commercials, but all feature-length films were in line with the Ghibli signature (unless they were directed by Takahata). Like most of these animation houses, they are great when they started and pushed the medium forward, but they became quite stale and unadventurous later on. That's not to say there's no quality in the later Ghibli films, but they are quite predictable and far from envelope-pushing.

While I really love most of Miyazaki's work, I have a love/hate relationship with the effect Ghibli had on the animation industry, especially the past 10 years.
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#4

Post by Teproc »

What do you mean by that Onderhond? Meaning: what negative effects do you think Ghibli's had on the animation industry?
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#5

Post by Onderhond »

Teproc wrote: February 8th, 2021, 6:25 pm What do you mean by that Onderhond? Meaning: what negative effects do you think Ghibli's had on the animation industry?
I think they stifled creativity. Their (international) success got so big that others simply tried to copy them rather than find a voice of their own. There's a clear move to Ghilbi-like projects from the mid/late 00s to the mid/late 10s I think, with very few being able to come close to the quality of Ghibli. And the talent was there to go beyond their signature style. If you see some of their shorts then they had the chops and budget to move the genre forward, instead they stuck to making "Miyazaki-like" films. I think that's a waste of potential, regardless how good their films were.

I think it's something you see quite often when 1 person from a smaller niche makes it (too) big. Koreeda's success cast a shadow on Japanese drama, Hou/Tsai stifled Taiwanese cinema in the end. And it only gets worse when the rest of the world doesn't even care to look beyond these representatives anymore.
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#6

Post by St. Gloede »

While I think the rest of the world focused on Miyazaki I'm not sure we can say the same is really true internally in Ghibli, ie everyone needing to bow to Miyazaki. It was, if anything, Takahata who seems to have been the more tireless and demanding - to the point he was accused of killing Kondo (who many, me included, think would have been the one director who would have become a principal Ghibli director). But Takahata in his perfectionism (and some imply alcoholism) also disappeared - for a long time.

From their double feature in 1988, and 1999 they each made 4 films, one after the other - then Takahata did not make another film for 14 years - and Miyazaki also spoke of retirement, but that is one of the things he just can't seem to do. (Obviously Kondo died in '98 and this is all quite possibly linked). But it is quite clear that it was not Miyazaki calling the shots, if you will. He had clearly no control and power over Takahata, who literally procrastinated of Kaguya for 8 years. It was worth it, IMO, as it may be Ghibli's best film - but when you spend months (if not more) animating a melon being cut open there may be an issue - and he had a massive team doing this.

I think the idea that Ghibli was only/mainly lead by Miyazaki is a bit of a misnober born out of his extreme success and personal brand in the West - and yes, I can undoubtedly see the effect of his style in modern anime. Too bad Takahata does not seem to have had a similar effect.

That said, I think the direction Ghibli took anime in was much better than what came before. They brought a degree of poetry and cinematic magic you could hardly find elsewhere - especially in their early work - and in many ways they opened the doors for different animated stories hitting the big screen. While he died early, I think Kon for instance both owed and did not owe anything to them, and the same goes for the poetic films of Shinkai - or the utter madhat films of Yuasa. I don't think they are trapped copycat ting Ghibli, but rather walking onwards. I suppose Hosoda could be placed in the Ghibli category, but who else are we thinking about (beyond the obvious continuation with Studio Ponoi).
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#7

Post by Onderhond »

St. Gloede wrote: February 8th, 2021, 9:50 pm But it is quite clear that it was not Miyazaki calling the shots, if you will. He had clearly no control and power over Takahata
Like I said in my first post, I believe Takahata was pretty much untouchable, if only because he was Miyazaki's mentor. But everyone else seemed limited by the visual signature that Miyazaki gave to Ghibli. All the other directors that got a shot made films that referred to Miyazaki's visual style, none were allowed the experimentation that Takahata enjoyed. That's just disappointing.
St. Gloede wrote: February 8th, 2021, 9:50 pm That said, I think the direction Ghibli took anime in was much better than what came before. They brought a degree of poetry and cinematic magic you could hardly find elsewhere - especially in their early work
I guess you have to define how early we're talking about. But from the mid-80s onward, I don't think they had a real edge on other big names. And I think artists like Oshii, Otomo, Hiroyuki Yamaga and Rintaro did just as much, if not more, to define anime and its richness.
St. Gloede wrote: February 8th, 2021, 9:50 pm While he died early, I think Kon for instance both owed and did not owe anything to them, and the same goes for the poetic films of Shinkai - or the utter madhat films of Yuasa. I don't think they are trapped copycat ting Ghibli, but rather walking onwards.
I think they're walking entirely different paths and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them got where they are today by revolting against the type of anime Ghibli made (though that's just a personal feeling, not based on anything specific). Apart from mainstream popularity, I think Ghibli didn't really add much to the world of Japanese animation after Totoro/Grave of the Fireflies (except for Takahata's latest films).

As for their influence the past 15 years, I think films like Letter to Momo (how you go from Jin-Ro to that is just baffling), Summer Days with Coo and the work of Hosoda are clear examples of what I was talking about. But also the lack of pretty much anything else when it comes to high profile anime features. Even Yuasa's latest plays like a lesser Ghibli film. It's all a bit disappointing when you lived through the 90s-mid 00s.
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#8

Post by Teproc »

I mean, what you're describing is also artists being influenced by other artists. I'd argue Hosoda's work, while obviously indebted to Ghibli (and Miyazaki specifically) more than stands up on its own. No art exists in a vacuum: yes, an artist/group of artists expressing themselves is what we want, but them being influenced by what's happening around them is not a bad thing. Of course, sometimes it turns into derivative and unimaginative work, but that's true for literally anything that's succesful in any shape or form: it will inspire other people, for better or worse. I'm not sure why people "revolting against" something that's popular is inherently better than trying to follow in its footsteps, by the way.
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#9

Post by Onderhond »

Because a healthy industry is an industry that offers a variety of things. Choice, options, a richness in creativity. That might very well be a selfish statement, I know there are people out there who love endless repetitions of the same thing, but for me that makes it boring. It takes the wonder out of experiencing new things, especially animation.

The late 00s and early-mid 10s of original feature length anime have been dominated by summery drama with added fantasy elements and not much else. I think that's just disappointing and a failure to live up to the potential of the art. Other types of project have struggled to find proper funding, which diminished the overall reputation of the niche imo.

It's not so much about revolting or inspiration and all that, it's about not everyone trying to do that one thing that makes a lot of money and/or brings international fame for a certain studio/director.
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#10

Post by prodigalgodson »

St. Gloede wrote: February 8th, 2021, 9:50 pm It was worth it, IMO, as it may be Ghibli's best film - but when you spend months (if not more) animating a melon being cut open there may be an issue - and he had a massive team doing this.
Wow, I don't even remember hearing about this film, but sounds up my alley!
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#11

Post by mjf314 »

I haven't listened to the podcast yet, but I'll answer the questions.
What is the first Studio Ghibli film you saw, what do you remember and how did it impact you?
Spirited Away. I guess it made me want to watch more Miyazaki films.
Has your impression changed over the years?
I'm not sure what you mean by this. I think both Miyazaki's style and Takahata's style have changed over time, if that's what you mean.
Who do you prefer Miyazaki or Takahata? (and why?)
Miyazaki. Takahata has made great films too, but I don't think he's as consistently good as Miyazaki.
Are any of the non-Miyazaki/Takahata films actually great?
I assume we're only talking about Ghibli films. I think Whisper of the Heart and When Marnie Were There are good, but not great.
Do you agree with Matthieu that they never wanted/needed an heir and it was all about Miyazaki and Takahata?
I don't care if there's an heir. Great anime films will continue to get made, with or without Studio Ghibli. If talented directors don't work at Studio Ghibli, they can work somewhere else.
What do you think will happen to Ghibli in the future? Is there even a future after Hayao Miyazaki?
They might continue to exist, but they'll probably lose some popularity.
Will Miyazaki be able to stop? Can we expect more films?
I think he'll continue to make films as long as he's able to. I think that's what he enjoys doing.
What are your early impressions of Earwig and the Witch/the move to 3D? (Which we did NOT know about when recording 4 months ago ...).
I haven't seen it, but it has bad reviews, and I'm not a fan of Goro Miyazaki, so I probably won't watch it.
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#12

Post by St. Gloede »

Onderhond wrote: February 8th, 2021, 10:13 pm
St. Gloede wrote: February 8th, 2021, 9:50 pm That said, I think the direction Ghibli took anime in was much better than what came before. They brought a degree of poetry and cinematic magic you could hardly find elsewhere - especially in their early work
I guess you have to define how early we're talking about. But from the mid-80s onward, I don't think they had a real edge on other big names. And I think artists like Oshii, Otomo, Hiroyuki Yamaga and Rintaro did just as much, if not more, to define anime and its richness.
I think what they did was allow popular anime to touch on something more human, to allow quiet, poetic moments and a sense of wonderful serenity. The ability to keep a long shot of everyday life, be it nature or a bowl of rice - and keep you in that moment.

Before Ghibli a film like Totoro could not have been made - they tried to get funding for all of the early to mid-80s - and allowing for such a calm sorry of children dealing with the idea of their ill mother - with magical creatures that are likely not on screen for more than 5-10 minutes, is quite unique.

That said, Miyazaki's work is not that rich in this regard, it is primarily Takahata that pushed animation onwards, played with form and showed us what was possible. Miyazaki was, in terms of form, not very versatile, though in my opinion better than anyone at the sense of wonder, and creating magical worlds. This is just far less revolutionary/unique in the context of what came before, at least on the surface.

-

As for the directors you mentioned, I'm not quite sure if I can agree. I can absolutely buy your point re Oshii, and while I'm not a fan, he clearly had a big impact on anime and stands out with a style I can see why you'd love. It also fits well in with the wave of more madhat, slightly seedier anime, which has always been going strong, and still is - even though it may not have the same gigantic appeal (especially in the west) as the Ghibli-light films.

Hiroyuki Yamaga only made one film (I find it abysmal, but I know many love it), Otomo made the great Akira - tying in with the more madhat type of anime of Oshii - but then rather disappeared and Rintaro has not really made a lasting impression on me. I will say Metropolis looked good though.
St. Gloede wrote: February 8th, 2021, 9:50 pm While he died early, I think Kon for instance both owed and did not owe anything to them, and the same goes for the poetic films of Shinkai - or the utter madhat films of Yuasa. I don't think they are trapped copycat ting Ghibli, but rather walking onwards.
I think they're walking entirely different paths and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them got where they are today by revolting against the type of anime Ghibli made (though that's just a personal feeling, not based on anything specific). Apart from mainstream popularity, I think Ghibli didn't really add much to the world of Japanese animation after Totoro/Grave of the Fireflies (except for Takahata's latest films).

As for their influence the past 15 years, I think films like Letter to Momo (how you go from Jin-Ro to that is just baffling), Summer Days with Coo and the work of Hosoda are clear examples of what I was talking about. But also the lack of pretty much anything else when it comes to high profile anime features. Even Yuasa's latest plays like a lesser Ghibli film. It's all a bit disappointing when you lived through the 90s-mid 00s.
I never saw Letter to Momo as the animation style looked a bit off-putting, but I can definitely see Summer Days with Coo and Hosoda - and while I'm not a big fan of Coo and think Hosoda would be lesser Ghibli, I don't have any complaints. If Ghibli, or rather Miyazaki senior, can be blamed for pushing a kind of either magical realism or (Totoro and Coo) or broader magical worlds (not really unique - but I suppose the approach might be) I take a different angle where this is very much welcomed and diversifying.

Before Ghibli we had the dark and seedy anime for adult, and the manga-style child adventures, which Miyazaki in many ways is a development from - and the addition of something more universal and grounded to the mix - seems quite good + as you are not really including Kon, Yasa, Shinkai, etc. there has been even more variety since - and likely in part because Ghibli opened up for more adult animation without the seedier/madcap elements.

And I think we see even more variation as well, with more traditional dramas being animated, as well as other genres. I'mn not as involved in anime as you, and there were of course elements of everything before Ghibli - but I do think they popularised Anime being able to "do more" - and when you see something like Only Yesterday, which is just a drama about a wayward young woman looking back at her life as a child in the 60s - I think we see just how much they were able to push anime forward, to expand even small, dramatic stories with a degree of cinematic magic. This is arguably something Shinkai went on to develop even further, with meditative films often leaving elements of plots behind (and it is incredible to see that his short and beautiful Garden of Words is the 10th most rated anime film from the 10s).
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#13

Post by St. Gloede »

prodigalgodson wrote: February 8th, 2021, 11:18 pm
St. Gloede wrote: February 8th, 2021, 9:50 pm It was worth it, IMO, as it may be Ghibli's best film - but when you spend months (if not more) animating a melon being cut open there may be an issue - and he had a massive team doing this.
Wow, I don't even remember hearing about this film, but sounds up my alley!
Woah, how did you miss The Tale of Princess Kaguya? It was even nominated to an Oscar (while The Wind Rises was not). The minimalism is spectacular, and I think some plays on animation will be right up your alley for sure.
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#14

Post by Onderhond »

I more or less agree with most things you said (apart from typecasting the few directors I mentioned - which very much reads like "I really don't watch anime apart from what international buzz is telling me to watch"), to be clear I'm also a very big fan of Ghibli.

But I think there's a big difference between the impact they had (which, as you describe, has been extremely positive and diversifying) and the legacy they leave (which is less so). I love Miyazaki's sense of wonder and his detail to small gestures, I love Takahata's sensibilities to express the mundane with extreme care. You won't hear me doubting their skills, dedication and love for the artform. I have three of their films amongst my Top 100, so I'm not out to discredit them. They both delivered superb films and have indeed opened new doors for many other directors.

But I still believe that in the end the overwhelming success of Ghibli became stifling to Japanese animation, as too many people wanted a piece of the Ghibli cake, which made it a lot harder for others to get their non-Ghibli-like projects funded. There's a point where a studio or director becomes the only point of reference (either because of critical or financial success) and that's never good for an industry. They may have opened new doors at first, but in the end everyone was trying to go through the Ghibli door. I'm kinda glad they shut down in the end, the past few years you finally see some improvements in the type of projects that are being funded and released again.
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#15

Post by mjf314 »

St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 9:45 am Before Ghibli a film like Totoro could not have been made - they tried to get funding for all of the early to mid-80s - and allowing for such a calm sorry of children dealing with the idea of their ill mother - with magical creatures that are likely not on screen for more than 5-10 minutes, is quite unique.
Watch about Gauche the Cellis (1982)? That was a calm children's film too. Also the short film Panda Kopanda (1972) is somewhat similar to Totoro.
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#16

Post by Onderhond »

Also, re: the double bill of Totoro/Grave ot Fireflies I've always heard they were released together because nobody had any trust in the marketability of Takahata's film. So they kinda forced audiences to sit through it based on the strengths and appeal of Totoro. At least, that's the story that did the rounds during the late 90s/early 00s :)

Also interesting (and not touched upon) is that Grave of the Fireflies was intended as a critique on its main character, which hasn't been perceived by most people as such. The original story is (semi?)autobiographical, with the writer representing the brother in the story. He felt guilty that his pride and stubbornness cost the life of his little sister in the end. I think that's a much more interesting take then the usual "war is bad and oh those poor kids" take found in Western critiques of the film.
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#17

Post by St. Gloede »

mjf314 wrote: February 9th, 2021, 10:09 am
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 9:45 am Before Ghibli a film like Totoro could not have been made - they tried to get funding for all of the early to mid-80s - and allowing for such a calm sorry of children dealing with the idea of their ill mother - with magical creatures that are likely not on screen for more than 5-10 minutes, is quite unique.
Watch about Gauche the Cellis (1982)? That was a calm children's film too. Also the short film Panda Kopanda (1972) is somewhat similar to Totoro.
Low budget in the first instance (and barely a feature), shorts in the second instance. I am also talking at the trend in acceptance, and popularity of these films. You still had something like Night on the Galactic Railroad before Ghibli, though of course based on a popular novel.
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#18

Post by St. Gloede »

Onderhond wrote: February 9th, 2021, 10:41 am Also, re: the double bill of Totoro/Grave ot Fireflies I've always heard they were released together because nobody had any trust in the marketability of Takahata's film. So they kinda forced audiences to sit through it based on the strengths and appeal of Totoro. At least, that's the story that did the rounds during the late 90s/early 00s :)

Also interesting (and not touched upon) is that Grave of the Fireflies was intended as a critique on its main character, which hasn't been perceived by most people as such. The original story is (semi?)autobiographical, with the writer representing the brother in the story. He felt guilty that his pride and stubbornness cost the life of his little sister in the end. I think that's a much more interesting take then the usual "war is bad and oh those poor kids" take found in Western critiques of the film.
Interesting, re: first instance - I heard it the other way - that nobody had any trust in Totoro and pushed for it to be a double feature to draw more attention. Which seems odd, given how much more marketable it would seem Totoro was.

Great point re: Fireflies.
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#19

Post by Onderhond »

St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 10:57 am Interesting, re: first instance - I heard it the other way - that nobody had any trust in Totoro and pushed for it to be a double feature to draw more attention. Which seems odd, given how much more marketable it would seem Totoro was.
I think Totoro mostly had problems with funding (trust outside of Ghibli), not so much Ghibli themselves not believing it would do well commercially. Whereas nobody believed kids and their parents would be interested in watching a depressing war story, so they lured them with cute magical creatures and overwhelmed them with Takahata's film. Which still did pretty badly I believe.

The problem is that I remember most of these stories from my Production I.G forum days (which had great threads with links on these subjects), a forum that is long gone, so it's hard to dig up any references :)
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#20

Post by St. Gloede »

Onderhond wrote: February 9th, 2021, 10:00 am I more or less agree with most things you said (apart from typecasting the few directors I mentioned - which very much reads like "I really don't watch anime apart from what international buzz is telling me to watch"), to be clear I'm also a very big fan of Ghibli.
That's a nice surprise.

I didn't think I typecasted any of the directors, except perhaps Oshii - who I lost all interest in after Ghost in a Shell. If you have some recommendations similar to Angel's Egg, shoot away. I can always give him another shot or two.

Pretty much :D - well - depends on the extent of "international buzz". I am not an anime fan (must be a term for it), i.e. I don't watch anime shows (only seen Cowboy Bebop, though I always intend to see Evangelion) and I have very little interest in the more popular/commercial/standard anime - whatever you want to call them. I really wasn't aware these films were in trouble as I kept seeing references to these types of action films, even internationally.

According to IMDb I have seen 88 anime films (subtracted 3 co-productions) - I'm not sure how to measure them against international buzz - as that is what we see regardless - i.e. the films that get subtitles and distribution and has some degree of word of mouth (otherwise, why watch) - but there are some bizarre exceptions too.
But I think there's a big difference between the impact they had (which, as you describe, has been extremely positive and diversifying) and the legacy they leave (which is less so). I love Miyazaki's sense of wonder and his detail to small gestures, I love Takahata's sensibilities to express the mundane with extreme care. You won't hear me doubting their skills, dedication and love for the artform. I have three of their films amongst my Top 100, so I'm not out to discredit them. They both delivered superb films and have indeed opened new doors for many other directors.

But I still believe that in the end the overwhelming success of Ghibli became stifling to Japanese animation, as too many people wanted a piece of the Ghibli cake, which made it a lot harder for others to get their non-Ghibli-like projects funded. There's a point where a studio or director becomes the only point of reference (either because of critical or financial success) and that's never good for an industry. They may have opened new doors at first, but in the end everyone was trying to go through the Ghibli door. I'm kinda glad they shut down in the end, the past few years you finally see some improvements in the type of projects that are being funded and released again.
Going through IMDb it does seem like the 00s/10s had their fair share of other types of anime films too, but perhaps it is the kind of darker artistic expression that suffered?

There were some films that broke through the mould like Redline (2009), is that the kind of project you think there was less off?

Feel free to put a focus on the new big projects that are being greenlit now.
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#21

Post by Onderhond »

St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:06 pm I didn't think I typecasted any of the directors, except perhaps Oshii - who I lost all interest in after Ghost in a Shell. If you have some recommendations similar to Angel's Egg, shoot away. I can always give him another shot or two.
I don't think any film really compares to Angel's Egg, not even within Oshii's oeuvre, so no obvious recs from me I guess. But I think everything up until Fast Food Grifters is really worth a try if you're interesting in what anime can deliver. It's telling that even a director like Oshii couldn't raise enough funds anymore to do proper animated features after that (Fast Food Grifters was already borderline - a project he was allowed to do for rendered services and on a limited budget).

And I mean, saying Otomo "kinda disappeared" after Akira, when he played a huge part in Memories and released Steamboy is a bit odd (and I'll forgive you not knowing about Short Peace, or Mushi-Shi). He has never ceased to be a tremendous force within the manga/anime scene, but I get he may have appeared less visible when purely relying on international buzz). I also don't see how you could mention Oshii and "seedier" anime in the same sentence? Is it because he showed a boob in Ghost in the Shell? :blink:
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:06 pm Pretty much :D - well - depends on the extent of "international buzz". I am not an anime fan (must be a term for it), i.e. I don't watch anime shows (only seen Cowboy Bebop, though I always intend to see Evangelion) and I have very little interest in the more popular/commercial/standard anime - whatever you want to call them. I really wasn't aware these films were in trouble as I kept seeing references to these types of action films, even internationally.
TV anime has been doing great, but I don't really care for that myself. A lot of the feature films released between mid-00 and mid-10 were derivatives from anime TV shows (and looked the part too). Since they came with a built-in audience and didn't cost too much to produce, they were seen as doable. But there's always that (big) gap between commercially viable films and broad international buzz. If you look at 2004, one of the peak years of anime, you'll see Howl's Moving Castle competing with films like Mind Game, Dead Leaves, Innocence and The Place Promised in Our Early Days. Even so Ghibli came out the winner, while Howl was just Miyazaki doing his usual thing, whereas the other films all tried to push the medium to new places.

Yes, there was the odd film (like Redline - which totally flopped - or Hells, which couldn't even get a proper release until 3 or 4 years after it was finished) that broke through, some anthologies (Genius Party, Short Peace) that are worth a look (but no buzz), but apart from that it was pretty barren. It's only the past few years (with Netflix pushing some sci-fi cel-shaded stuff, Imaishi being allowed to make a new original feature (Promare), Studio 4°C getting back into the feature film game and Yuasa rearing his head again) that feature film anime got interesting again.

For reference, my high-rated anime features from 2004 - now. I think that paints a pretty clear picture (though of course, entirely based on my own subjective ratings).
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#22

Post by Onderhond »

Also, I kinda think I know where you draw he line between "commercial anime" and Ghibli, but it's pretty artificial when Ghibli's shtick is mostly a direct continuation of extremely commercial TV series like Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, The Yearling and quite a few other, similar series that were pretty popular in Europe during the 80s, but not necessarily seen as Japanese/anime.
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Onderhond wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:46 pm
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:06 pm I didn't think I typecasted any of the directors, except perhaps Oshii - who I lost all interest in after Ghost in a Shell. If you have some recommendations similar to Angel's Egg, shoot away. I can always give him another shot or two.
I don't think any film really compares to Angel's Egg, not even within Oshii's oeuvre, so no obvious recs from me I guess. But I think everything up until Fast Food Grifters is really worth a try if you're interesting in what anime can deliver. It's telling that even a director like Oshii couldn't raise enough funds anymore to do proper animated features after that (Fast Food Grifters was already borderline - a project he was allowed to do for rendered services and on a limited budget).
Fast Food Grifters does look interesting, I can give it a try.
And I mean, saying Otomo "kinda disappeared" after Akira, when he played a huge part in Memories and released Steamboy is a bit odd (and I'll forgive you not knowing about Short Peace, or Mushi-Shi). He has never ceased to be a tremendous force within the manga/anime scene, but I get he may have appeared less visible when purely relying on international buzz).
Oh, no, I was referring to the massive gap from Akira to Steamboy, which was 16 years (Memories was an omnibus film).

I see he made a film called World Apartment Horror in '91 though - that took me by surprise - never heard anything about i - so technically a gap of 13 years.

Never saw Steamboy, but very aware of it - the buzz was that it was perfectly adequate but nothing special. I can give it a shot if you say its worth it.
I also don't see how you could mention Oshii and "seedier" anime in the same sentence? Is it because he showed a boob in Ghost in the Shell? :blink:
Sure, among other things. Sexualized robots and dark, gory sci-fi fantasy.
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:06 pm Pretty much :D - well - depends on the extent of "international buzz". I am not an anime fan (must be a term for it), i.e. I don't watch anime shows (only seen Cowboy Bebop, though I always intend to see Evangelion) and I have very little interest in the more popular/commercial/standard anime - whatever you want to call them. I really wasn't aware these films were in trouble as I kept seeing references to these types of action films, even internationally.
TV anime has been doing great, but I don't really care for that myself. A lot of the feature films released between mid-00 and mid-10 were derivatives from anime TV shows (and looked the part too). Since they came with a built-in audience and didn't cost too much to produce, they were seen as doable. But there's always that (big) gap between commercially viable films and broad international buzz. If you look at 2004, one of the peak years of anime, you'll see Howl's Moving Castle competing with films like Mind Game, Dead Leaves, Innocence and The Place Promised in Our Early Days. Even so Ghibli came out the winner, while Howl was just Miyazaki doing his usual thing, whereas the other films all tried to push the medium to new places.

Yes, there was the odd film (like Redline - which totally flopped - or Hells, which couldn't even get a proper release until 3 or 4 years after it was finished) that broke through, some anthologies (Genius Party, Short Peace) that are worth a look (but no buzz), but apart from that it was pretty barren. It's only the past few years (with Netflix pushing some sci-fi cel-shaded stuff, Imaishi being allowed to make a new original feature (Promare), Studio 4°C getting back into the feature film game and Yuasa rearing his head again) that feature film anime got interesting again.

For reference, my high-rated anime features from 2004 - now. I think that paints a pretty clear picture (though of course, entirely based on my own subjective ratings).
Cheers, thanks!

I never actually saw Dead Leaves, but kept meaning to at the time. Will watchlist Hells. Several interesting looking films from your website that stand out as well.

I'll also likely give Short Peace a shot.

Really surprised you liked Oblivion Island so much though - that's the film that made me really worried CG was the future of anime. :D
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#24

Post by St. Gloede »

Onderhond wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:51 pm Also, I kinda think I know where you draw he line between "commercial anime" and Ghibli, but it's pretty artificial when Ghibli's shtick is mostly a direct continuation of extremely commercial TV series like Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, The Yearling and quite a few other, similar series that were pretty popular in Europe during the 80s, but not necessarily seen as Japanese/anime.
"Commercial" is just another term for films made for money rather than artistic expression, which is why it was part of the /////. In general, Ghibli seems committed to the craft/the art rather than simply churning out films on a conveyer belt.

As for the later claim, I can't really make a learned comment as I have not seen any of the series in question, but it is my understanding that Ghibli symbolized a clear shift from this form of anime - in favor of self-expression.
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St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:06 pm I didn't think I typecasted any of the directors, except perhaps Oshii - who I lost all interest in after Ghost in a Shell. If you have some recommendations similar to Angel's Egg, shoot away. I can always give him another shot or two.
You might like Fantascope Tylostoma. Both this film and Angel's Egg have artwork by Yoshitaka Amano (he made several films, so if you like this one, you might want to check out the others too).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewcmjDtbc0Y
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#26

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St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 1:27 pm Fast Food Grifters does look interesting, I can give it a try.
Myeah, if you find good subs for that one please share! I bought the French release of that one, but there's so much dialogue (and the topic/comedy is so particular) that it was still quite hard to follow. For Oshii, maybe you should try Red Spectacles (live action), as I do wonder what you'd make of that film. It's not unlike Godard's Alphaville, but with some added overt slapstick scenes. And it ties into the whole Fast Food Grifters mythology. It's a very odd mix of genres (noir, slapstick, arthouse?) and getting through the first 10 minutes can be somewhat of a hurdle, but everything after that was pure genius imo.

As for Ghost in the Shell, it sure has nerdy sci-fi bits aplenty, but can't remember any gore, nor are the robots very sexualized (I'd argue the contrary, with cyborg bodies as commodity objects). It's one of the ways Oshii's version differs from the original. I do remember that was the prevalent idea when it was released, but has been revised in the years that followed.
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 1:27 pm Never saw Steamboy, but very aware of it - the buzz was that it was perfectly adequate but nothing special. I can give it a shot if you say its worth it.
It depends what you want from the film I guess. The story is pretty basic alright, the animation and the amount of background detail is anything but and describing it as "nothing special" makes me think some people watched it with their eyes closed :D

As for Memories, it may be an anthology but at least 2 of the 3 short are among the best of what anime had to offer during the 90s. Otomo's bit is stunning (a 20-minute no-cut animation sporting a superb steampunk aesthetic)
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:06 pm Really surprised you liked Oblivion Island so much though - that's the film that made me really worried CG was the future of anime. :D
I just watched the trailer again and those characters models surely didn't age well :D

I do remember liking the creativity of its fantasy world a lot. I'm sure the rating will go down once I watch it again, but that's not going to happen in the near future I'm afraid.

But I don't we're getting somewhat off-topic now. I guess I should seek out Earwig :)
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#27

Post by St. Gloede »

Onderhond wrote: February 9th, 2021, 1:54 pm
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 1:27 pm Fast Food Grifters does look interesting, I can give it a try.
Myeah, if you find good subs for that one please share! I bought the French release of that one, but there's so much dialogue (and the topic/comedy is so particular) that it was still quite hard to follow. For Oshii, maybe you should try Red Spectacles (live action), as I do wonder what you'd make of that film. It's not unlike Godard's Alphaville, but with some added overt slapstick scenes. And it ties into the whole Fast Food Grifters mythology. It's a very odd mix of genres (noir, slapstick, arthouse?) and getting through the first 10 minutes can be somewhat of a hurdle, but everything after that was pure genius imo.

As for Ghost in the Shell, it sure has nerdy sci-fi bits aplenty, but can't remember any gore, nor are the robots very sexualized (I'd argue the contrary, with cyborg bodies as commodity objects). It's one of the ways Oshii's version differs from the original. I do remember that was the prevalent idea when it was released, but has been revised in the years that followed.
Godard comparison? Now that's how you capture my attention. :cheers:
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 1:27 pm Never saw Steamboy, but very aware of it - the buzz was that it was perfectly adequate but nothing special. I can give it a shot if you say its worth it.
It depends what you want from the film I guess. The story is pretty basic alright, the animation and the amount of background detail is anything but and describing it as "nothing special" makes me think some people watched it with their eyes closed :D

As for Memories, it may be an anthology but at least 2 of the 3 short are among the best of what anime had to offer during the 90s. Otomo's bit is stunning (a 20-minute no-cut animation sporting a superb steampunk aesthetic)
You're a good salesman! I'll give it a shot soon-ish (or at least sooner than I otherwise would have).
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:06 pm Really surprised you liked Oblivion Island so much though - that's the film that made me really worried CG was the future of anime. :D
I just watched the trailer again and those characters models surely didn't age well :D

I do remember liking the creativity of its fantasy world a lot. I'm sure the rating will go down once I watch it again, but that's not going to happen in the near future I'm afraid.

But I don't we're getting somewhat off-topic now. I guess I should seek out Earwig :)
:D

I remember seeing it around the time it came out and I already wasn't impressed - though a perfectly good film otherwise. Been too long to remember anything but flashews of the animation though.
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#28

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mjf314 wrote: February 9th, 2021, 1:39 pm
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 12:06 pm I didn't think I typecasted any of the directors, except perhaps Oshii - who I lost all interest in after Ghost in a Shell. If you have some recommendations similar to Angel's Egg, shoot away. I can always give him another shot or two.
You might like Fantascope Tylostoma. Both this film and Angel's Egg have artwork by Yoshitaka Amano (he made several films, so if you like this one, you might want to check out the others too).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewcmjDtbc0Y
That definitely looks interesting, thank you.
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#29

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St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 1:31 pm As for the later claim, I can't really make a learned comment as I have not seen any of the series in question, but it is my understanding that Ghibli symbolized a clear shift from this form of anime - in favor of self-expression.
I think what Ghibli did was making the "drama" genre a viable option for animated films in Japan, while upping the technical bar, certainly in the beginning. Their signature art style is still quite commercial and more of an evolution of the very commercial anime series of the 70s (some of which Takahata/Miyazaki worked on themselves). Later on Takahata would experiment with other styles, but Miyazaki never really abandoned that vibe.

I don't think they really brought self-expression into the mix, though they managed to pull it out of the "genre film" niche, which made it more palatable to "serious film fans" I guess. Though their biggest claim to fame is that they managed to appeal to commercial audiences and classic films fans alike. I haven't many people who actively disliked Ghibli films.

Edit: oh, and if you need more incentive to watch Memories, I believe Satoshi Kon has writing credits for Magnetic Rose.
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#30

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St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 9:47 am
prodigalgodson wrote: February 8th, 2021, 11:18 pm
St. Gloede wrote: February 8th, 2021, 9:50 pm It was worth it, IMO, as it may be Ghibli's best film - but when you spend months (if not more) animating a melon being cut open there may be an issue - and he had a massive team doing this.
Wow, I don't even remember hearing about this film, but sounds up my alley!
Woah, how did you miss The Tale of Princess Kaguya? It was even nominated to an Oscar (while The Wind Rises was not). The minimalism is spectacular, and I think some plays on animation will be right up your alley for sure.
It must've come out during those 3-4 years I wasn't much engaged with film...
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#31

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I would have liked to have taken part in this one. I had planned to re-watch a few Ghibli films but didn't end up doing so. I'm watching so few films now.

I've seen every Ghibli film and, I think, every pre-Ghibli feature by Miyazaki/Takahata. I have a huge amount of respect for Takahata. I think he regularly tried something different and brought something new in his films. For me, it didn't always work out in terms of how much I enjoyed the films (although Grave of the Fireflies is my favourite Ghibli film), I always respected that he was doing something different. I am also a huge fan of Miyazaki. I feel like Miyazaki had an ability to produce great films and is more consistent than Takahata although makes "safer" films and is excellent at what he does.

I would also have loved to see what Kondo would have gone on to do. Such a shame we didn't get to see that.

I have a plan to go back on a binge watch of Ghibli and other anime films at some point but it depends on my motivation levels for films. I'd like to watch all the Ghibli films again and rank them all (hooray for lists!).

Also, thank you Onderhond for your interesting contributions to this thread. I don't always agree with your points but it's nice to hear a different point of view and it makes me think twice about which anime films to watch and about the direction anime films have moved in over time/the influence of Ghibli on anime as a whole.
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#32

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AdamH wrote: February 10th, 2021, 11:03 pm Also, thank you Onderhond for your interesting contributions to this thread. I don't always agree with your points but it's nice to hear a different point of view and it makes me think twice about which anime films to watch and about the direction anime films have moved in over time/the influence of Ghibli on anime as a whole.
You're welcome! I'd just like to stress again that I really love Ghibli and both Takahata and Miyazaki, even though I've been somewhat critical of the studio here. It's a bit like discussing a 9/10 film and only talking about that little quirk that kept you from giving it a full score. I also don't think Ghibli bears direct blame or should've done anything different. Miyazaki and Takahata have simply been doing what they love to do. It's just that I feel their immense success (including their international position) hasn't been most beneficial for the broader anime (features) scene in their later years.
AdamH wrote: February 10th, 2021, 11:03 pm I feel like Miyazaki had an ability to produce great films and is more consistent than Takahata although makes "safer" films and is excellent at what he does.
Amen to that. My two favorite Ghibli films are by Takahata, but on average I prefer Miyazaki's films.
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#33

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AdamH wrote: February 10th, 2021, 11:03 pm I have a plan to go back on a binge watch of Ghibli and other anime films at some point but it depends on my motivation levels for films. I'd like to watch all the Ghibli films again and rank them all (hooray for lists!).
Don't forget to watch Future Boy Conan as well. I see that you haven't checked it yet.
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#34

Post by St. Gloede »

Onderhond wrote: February 9th, 2021, 2:05 pm
St. Gloede wrote: February 9th, 2021, 1:31 pm As for the later claim, I can't really make a learned comment as I have not seen any of the series in question, but it is my understanding that Ghibli symbolized a clear shift from this form of anime - in favor of self-expression.
I don't think they really brought self-expression into the mix, though they managed to pull it out of the "genre film" niche, which made it more palatable to "serious film fans" I guess. Though their biggest claim to fame is that they managed to appeal to commercial audiences and classic films fans alike. I haven't many people who actively disliked Ghibli films.
I was not thinking about animation, but rather the stories they wanted to tell: which was what they struggled to do pre-Ghibli.
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#35

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AdamH wrote: February 10th, 2021, 11:03 pm I've seen every Ghibli film and, I think, every pre-Ghibli feature by Miyazaki/Takahata.
There are a few films Takahata and Miyazaki worked on that don't seem available, including the full Heidi series of films. I'm not sure how interesting these films would actually be on their own however - but I would seek them out if they got a proper release.
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#36

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St. Gloede wrote: February 11th, 2021, 2:49 pm
AdamH wrote: February 10th, 2021, 11:03 pm I've seen every Ghibli film and, I think, every pre-Ghibli feature by Miyazaki/Takahata.
There are a few films Takahata and Miyazaki worked on that don't seem available, including the full Heidi series of films. I'm not sure how interesting these films would actually be on their own however - but I would seek them out if they got a proper release.
I excluded Heidi and Anne of Green Gables (I'm sure they weren't even on IMDb as individual entries when I was watching Ghibli films). I'm not sure they really count as feature films anyway.
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#37

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mjf314 wrote: February 11th, 2021, 2:11 pm
AdamH wrote: February 10th, 2021, 11:03 pm I have a plan to go back on a binge watch of Ghibli and other anime films at some point but it depends on my motivation levels for films. I'd like to watch all the Ghibli films again and rank them all (hooray for lists!).
Don't forget to watch Future Boy Conan as well. I see that you haven't checked it yet.
I mentioned on Discord (the podcast chat) that you've been trying to get me to watch it for years. I will one day...
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#38

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Miyazaki is a genius. Takahata is very good but there are other directors of the same level. Anyway you cant expect the next anime master to raise straight from the same tracks.
Ghibli has enough financial power and talents in the background to survive the disappearance of its two founders and stand the test of time even if is with lesser quality projects. I suspect Disney's death and studio's 70s-80s had sparked the same concerns.
Ghibli's bright future wont come from Goro it seems
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#39

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St. Gloede wrote: February 11th, 2021, 2:49 pm
AdamH wrote: February 10th, 2021, 11:03 pm I've seen every Ghibli film and, I think, every pre-Ghibli feature by Miyazaki/Takahata.
There are a few films Takahata and Miyazaki worked on that don't seem available, including the full Heidi series of films. I'm not sure how interesting these films would actually be on their own however - but I would seek them out if they got a proper release.
I'm not sure how long ago you checked, but the full trilogy is available with English subs (not officially, but fansubs). The Anne of Green Gables movie is available as well.

Also the Sherlock Hound movie is available (based on episodes directed by Miyazaki).
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#40

Post by St. Gloede »

mjf314 wrote: February 12th, 2021, 4:51 am
St. Gloede wrote: February 11th, 2021, 2:49 pm
AdamH wrote: February 10th, 2021, 11:03 pm I've seen every Ghibli film and, I think, every pre-Ghibli feature by Miyazaki/Takahata.
There are a few films Takahata and Miyazaki worked on that don't seem available, including the full Heidi series of films. I'm not sure how interesting these films would actually be on their own however - but I would seek them out if they got a proper release.
I'm not sure how long ago you checked, but the full trilogy is available with English subs (not officially, but fansubs). The Anne of Green Gables movie is available as well.

Also the Sherlock Hound movie is available (based on episodes directed by Miyazaki).
Where did you find them?
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