Studio Ghibli: “Only Yesterday” (1991) and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989)

“…What drives animation is the will of the characters” (Hayao Miyazaki).

Only Yesterday” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” are two completely different in plot animations, but both were produced about the same time by famous Japanese Studio Ghibli, an animation film studio known worldwide for the quality of their animations. While “Only Yesterday” focuses on grown-up concerns and largely targets teenager/adult audience, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a completely child-friendly movie, which also has important messages to deliver.

OYpostOnly Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday” has a plot filled with highly emotional undercurrents and intelligence: a 27 years old unmarried woman, Taeko, from Tokyo, visits countryside while reminiscing over her childhood of when she was a shy and creative fifth grader at school. Through her nostalgia, we get to learn about many situations which have had the biggest impact on her up until her present life, and get to understand her past choices, hopes and regrets. Directed by Isao Takahata (“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” (2013) and “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)), “Only Yesterday” is a beautiful animation which touches upon such often overlooked in films/animations topics as the “grip” of persistent childhood memories and their traumatic or positive impact on one’s later life and development, the benefit of re-discovering of oneself in a different setting, the importance of staying true to oneself no matter the circumstances, and the imperative of letting go and forgiving “one’s former self”, as well as people from one’s past, to be able to carry on and lead a happy, fulfilled life.  Read more of this post

“Perfect Blue” (1997) vs. “Black Swan” (2010): Is Aronofsky’s Black Swan Perfectly Blue?

perfect-blue-movie-poster-1997-1010247694affiche_black_swan_by_linds37-d3fp171

Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 featureBlack Swan” is an Academy Award-nominated film, telling the story of a young ballerina Nina Sayers, whose transformation from a shy ballet dancer to a leading heroine ballerina of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” production causes a psycho-sexual breakdown. “Perfect Blue” is a lesser known 1997 Japanese animated movie based on a novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, telling the story of Mima Kirigoe, whose rapid descent from an admired pop-idol into a “tarnished” rookie actress has disastrous consequences.

In this piece, I will compare the two films closely, arguing that the two films share substantial similarities in terms of the plot, character, style, design, execution and the little details, pointing to the conclusion that the very underrated “Perfect Blue” was – at the very least – the direct and main inspiration for “Black Swan” (and even something much more than that), though Aronofsky himself denied the claim. Going further, the similarities are so striking that it could even be said that Aronofsky essentially re-made “Perfect Blue”, but changed the setting to a ballet, and re-modelled some characters, disguising them as others. 

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10 “Must-See” Animated Films from 2010s

  1. Inside Out (2015)

inside-outThe winner of the Academy Award in the category of the Best Animated Picture of 2015, “Inside Out” is a film about a little girl who moves with her parents from suburban Minnesota to San Francisco. The movie is a little masterpiece, and it is a great injustice it was not nominated for an Academy Award in the general category. The main brilliance of the movie is its originality and intelligence – it teaches young children about psychology: the movie is divided into the “real world”, and the “world inside the mind” of a person. There are different emotions that govern the decision-making processes: joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust, each represented by an “entity”, as well as other processes such as short-term and long-term memories, personality-building, dream processes, etc. The movie is laugh-out-aloud funny, extremely entertaining, and flawless in its execution and content, even though very young kids may fail to grasp the meaning of everything that is going on. Overall, “Inside Out” is an instant classic, and, easily, one of best animated films I have ever seen. 10/10

  1. April and the Extraordinary World (2016)

april-in-the-extraordinary-worldApril and the Extraordinary World” is a French-Belgian-Canadian animated film co-directed by Christian Desmares (animator behind “Corto Maltese in Siberia” (2002) and “Persepolis” (2007)) and Franck Ekinci. It tells of a teenage girl, April (voiced by Marion Cotillard in a French version), who, together with her talking cat Darwin and her grandfather Pops, is looking for her long-lost scientist parents. The year is 1941, and it is an alternate reality: there are no scientists left who could have made the “progress”, such as electricity, possible. The world is “stuck” in a steam age, and the city’s scientists have been “witch-hunted” for decades. The final act of the film may be too brutal and “over-the top”, and the relationship between April and her love interest is reminding too much of that found in “Anastasia” (1997)[1].  Sometimes reminding in its setting and ideas of  Schuiten & Peeters’s comic Brüsel, sometimes reminiscing of some Tintin adventure, the movie is a great one overall: clever and very imaginative, full of exciting adventure. 9/10 Read more of this post

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