Apologies, we’re late again with this entry. In truth though, neither of us could stomach watching this one over the weekend. Released as a double feature with the next film in our series, the two couldn’t be more different. _Grave of the Fireflies_ is a wonderful film - another moving tale by Takahata - but a truly heart-wrenching one.
The success of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind afforded Director Hayao Miyazaki and Producer Toshio Suzuki, with some additional financial backing, to strike out on their own with the formation of Studio Ghibli in June 1985.
We’ve had a busy couple of weeks, but time to pick up where we left off with the next instalment in our series. We’re entering more recognisable territory here with Nausicaä being affectionately considered the beginning of Studio Ghibli, despite being released before its official founding a year later.
We’re back after a brief hiatus with a change of pace yet again from Director Isao Takahata. Where before we had the bawdy humour of Chie the Brat, and the childlike innocence of Panda! Go, Panda!, Gauche the Cellist is a serious yet whimsical tale with a small, intimate cast. Originally a children’s tale by Miyazawa Kenji (1896 - 1933), the story has seen several adaptations but Takahata’s is the most beloved.
Our fourth film by Director Isao Takahata is a bit of a wildcard. Originally released in Japan in 1981 and later in France in 2005, it’s a rather niche film that hasn’t quite entered public consciousness elsewhere. Inspired by the popular Japanese manga series by Etsumi Haruki, there’s been no official English release and neither the Japanese nor French releases include English subtitles.
This next film on our list is quite a departure from those we’ve already seen. Where The Little Norse Prince gave us a square-jawed hero of the people, and the Panda! Go, Panda! films showed us tales of child-like innocence, The Castle of Cagliostro gives us a story of greed, possession and violence, and its anti-hero, the devious and wise-cracking Lupin III, master thief.
After Toei Animation, both Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki joined A Production in 1971 where they were reunited with their former mentor Yasuo Ōtsuka, his having left Toei after completion in 1969 of The Wonderful World of Puss N’ Boots.
We start off Project Ghibli with a look, not at the first Studio Ghibli release, but at the directorial debut of one of the studio’s founders, Isao Takahata. Hayao Miyazaki, the other founder of Studio Ghibli, also worked on the film assisting with key animation and scene design at Takahata’s request.
It will come as no surprise to those of you who know me to confess that I adore animation. From the 80s cartoons that I watched growing up - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Count Duckula - and many beloved Disney feature films - The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, The Great Mouse Detective - to the modern 3D offerings from Pixar and Dreamworks - Toy Story, Shrek, Wall-E, The Incredibles, How To Train Your Dragon - and on and on.