Earwig and the Witch (2020) [Blu-Ray/DVD]

I’m one of the traditionalists that think Studio Ghibli should have stuck to hand drawn animation, but sometimes there’s just no fighting change. With “Earwig and the Witch” there’s so much new, that you’re almost tricked in to forgetting that the movie almost has no real narrative. At all. This is one of Studio Ghibli’s more aimless movies that doesn’t have a whole lot to it. Substantially, the movie packs in some great animation, and it’s quite startling how some of the motion for some scenes looks so realistic. I’m not going to say that the movie is an accomplishment in regards to Ghibli because Pixar has pulled off so much better.

Hell, Dreamworks has accomplished so much more with this medium.

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The Wind Rises (2013) [Blu-Ray/DVD]

It’s apropos and yet somewhat inexplicable that Hayao Miyazaki would end his career on one what is easily his most divisive film. Miyazaki has spent so much of his career delivering masterpieces of animation that discuss the horrible fall out of war, destruction of the environment, and war machines. So it’s absolutely confounding that Miyazaki takes a more objective approach to Jirô Horikoshi and his creation of what would become certified weapons of war.

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TV on DVD: Infinity Train: Book One (DVD)+Gift/Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter: The Complete Series [Blu-Ray]

I truly hope you’re doing well in the current social climate and are celebrating Friday the best way you can. This week, I’m reviewing two brilliant animated series that’s female oriented, but fit for every audience imaginable. They’re two very complex and amazing animated series you can sit down and watch with the whole family, that promote strong female heroes, complex ideas about youth and discovery, and confronts very real overtones about loss of innocence and growing up way too fast.

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Spirited Away (2001): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/CD/Book]

With their partnership with GKids, Shout Factory has managed to obtain a remarkable chunk of Studio Ghibli’s library and have given choice titles some truly deluxe treatment. Among some of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces is the incredible “Spirited Away” a film that owes a lot to “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz,” that also evokes subtle social commentary on child trafficking. In either case, “Spirited Away” is still a remarkable and stellar piece of art, with some of Miyazaki’s most memorable creations including No Face, and the Soot Sprites.

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Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) (1997): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray/CD/Book]

Twenty years ago, Studio Ghibli and the master Hayao Miyazaki opened my mind up to a new dimension of animation and storytelling that pretty much changed my life. It also inspired me to look toward telling bigger tales with richer characters, because Miyazaki is very much about rich characterization and brilliant metaphor. Much of his films revolve around the love of nature, the vastness of the open sky, and the effect humans can have on the environment and the world around us.

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Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki (2018) [Blu-Ray]

“Never-Ending Man” is a meaningful documentary that explores the thoughts and ideas of Hayao Miyazaki that we can’t really find anywhere else. While some may go in to this expecting a more biographical and fluffy film about the man and his life, Kaku Arakawa seeks to give us more of a thoughtful and subtler peek in to the man, who is late in to his career and his life.

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You Have to See This! Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) (1988)

Opens Friday January 4th for a New York Premiere 30th Anniversary Theatrical engagement!

The idea of the cost of war has never been more thoughtfully and emotionally conveyed than in Isao Takahata’s “Grave of the Fireflies.” The 1988 animated film is still one of the most emotional and powerful films I’ve ever seen, it’s a film that completely transcends all ideas of storytelling, and destroys any stigma that animation is a child’s medium that is limited in scope and substances, especially when telling human stories.

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Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki (2018)

“That song “Let it Go” is popular now. It’s All About Being Yourself. But that’s terrible. Self-satisfied people are boring. We have to push hard and surpass ourselves.”

Hayao Miyazaki has reached a point in his life where there is so much change but he doesn’t know what to do with any of it. He’s reached an old age and has barely any strength any more to sit down and draw all day, but he has no idea what he’d be doing without a pencil or paper in his hand. At his old age he’s still a very curmudgeonly individual who demands perfection and treats his protégés with harsh criticism when they fail to deliver storyboards that meet his pitch perfect idea of what life is. Miyazaki has lived a full life, and in a way he’s ready to go.

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