“I hate the Well-Red Mage.”
Finally the big reveal. StuGhiFeaFilReMo stands for “Studio Ghibli Feature Film Review Month”!
See, I more or less missed out on NaNoWriMo. Okay so I just didn’t purpose participate at all. That’s not my writing focus at the moment. So instead of undertaking that challenge, I thought why not create a challenge of my own? It shall be to watch and review every Studio Ghibli film in the month of December.
Don’t be aghast. I’m not steering this ship off course. The Well-Red Mage hasn’t suddenly become a breeding ground for all things anime. I’m not betraying my true colors. But it’s hard to argue against Ghibli’s library being a complete work of art with their commitment to hand-drawn animation, and I know the coming discussions will have some bearing on gaming, nonetheless. Who knows? Maybe I’ll still have the time to sneak in a game review anyway.
So here are the five rules I’ve set for myself.
Rule the First:
This project includes all of the Studio Ghibli produced feature length films and not merely those directed by Hayao Miyazaki. That means Takahata, Yonebayashi, Kondo, and yes, Goro, get to have their chance. This includes every film beginning unofficially and un-technically with Nausicaä and ending with When Marnie Was There, twenty-one films. I am purposefully excluding the tv movie Ocean Waves, Miyazaki’s directorial debut with The Castle of Cagliostro, and all of the Ghibli short films. No apologies.
Rule the Second:
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to be reviewing these films based on their English language presentation, where ever possible. I don’t speak Japanese but I likewise don’t have any problem enjoying a film with subtitles. I’ve seen some amazing films with subs. That’s not the point. The point is the English versions are those with which I am most familiar and feel most capable of writing on, whereas the Japanese language versions are assuredly awesome of themselves but I am not so personally attached to them so as to comment on them. Even picking out the difference between stellar and poor in an English voice cast versus a Japanese one is difficult for me. Which leads me to my next point…
Rule the Third:
My perspective is as a Westerner. I’m not an expert of Japanese culture, a weeabo, kawaii, bishie, or anything else, ‘kay? I don’t particularly care for much anime, though I do think Cowboy Bebop is a pure work of art. I’ll have to come up with an excuse to discuss that series someday. I gravitate away from lots of anime and toward Ghibli’s library because of how their films are generally antithetical to most of the anime clichés, jokes, traditions, color-coded hair, plodding and endless episode lists, and character archetypes. I don’t hate anime. I just don’t like a lot of it. If you don’t care for my opinion, that’s fine. You’re welcome to try to change it.
Rule the Fourth:
Most of these animated films are so good that they’d probably end up with solid 10’s all the way round if compared to regular movies. Therefore, I’m taking this into consideration for scoring them that I’m comparing them to themselves, the other Ghibli works. That way no one can get mad at me for not giving all of them a 10! *wink*
Rule the Fifth:
Studio Ghibli films are rich with themes and symbolism, many with profound messages, so I’m going to be doing some story analysis and therefore there will be spoilers. I will limit all spoilers to the Narrative scoring portion of the review so that you can read about a film you haven’t seen yet if you like to make the decision to watch it or not, and just skip past the Narrative portion. Take that as incentive to get a hold of these and watch them as soon as possible.
This is all sort of my Christmas gift to myself, and to anyone else who may care for this sort of thing. I get to watch all the Ghibli movies for December! Hooray!
To prep, I’d suggest watching The Kingdoms of Dreams and Madness, a provocative and moving documentary look at Studio Ghibli, its creators and employees, the future of the studio, and the heart of their art. I’m going to throw this out there: if anyone wants to participate in the challenge with me and watch all 21 movies in December, carpe noctem!
-The Well-Red Mage