Isao Takahata’s “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” Screening at the Barbican on June 03rd

The Barbican are running an exhibition about Japanese homes and domestic architecture called The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945. It began on March 23rd and lasts until June 25th. As part of the exhibition there will be films screened. The third film in this exhibition is The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

Here are the details:

The Tale of Princess Kaguya  The Story of Princess Kaguya Film Poster

かぐや 姫 の 物語 「Kaguya Hime no Monogatari

Running Time: 137 mins.

Release Date: November 23rd, 2013

Director: Isao Takahata

Writer: Isao Takahata, Riko Sakaguchi (Screenplay)

Starring: Aki Asakura (Kaguya), Kengo Kora (Sutemaru), Nobuko Miyamoto (The Bamboo Cutter’s Wife), Takeo Chii (The Bamboo Cutter),

Website   IMDB

This is a beautiful film helmed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, writer and director of Only Yesterday, Pom Poko Grave of the Fireflies and Little Norse Prince Valiant. It is an adaptation of a famous ancient Japanese folktale originally called Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) which is about a princess named Kaguya who is discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a growing plant by a bamboo cutter and adopted. While I wouldn’t rate it as my favourite Ghibli anime, it is visually stunning and this Barbican presentation comes with the Japanese voice track.

Synopsis: When a bamboo cutter discovers a miniature girl living inside of a shining stalk of bamboo, he names her Princess and raises her as his daughter. Growing into a beautiful young woman, the Princess is torn when she struggles with the responsibility of her nobility and her desire for a simple life.

Hayao Miyazaki Retires From Directing Feature Films

Hayao Miyazaki Retires PictureToday was supposed to be the start of a Kiyoshi Kurosawa season but news that Hayao Miyazaki is retiring from making feature films broke yesterday and I have to post about it. According to an NHK report as seen on Anime News Network, during a press conference at the Venice Film Festival on Sunday, Studio Ghibli President Koji Hoshino announced that “studio founder and world-renowned anime filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki will “retire from the production of feature-length films.””

I wrote about this briefly yesterday on the Scotland Loves Animation post but a sentence doesn’t seem fitting for a person who has achieved so much and made so many films I love. At 72-years-old and as one the most critically and commercially successful anime directors (the most successful?), Miyazaki has had a huge impact. He brought so many great works to the screen and was able to connect with both children and adults. His impact can be considered larger because thanks to the appeal of his films he has made anime more exportable. People come to the medium thanks to titles like My Neighbour Totoro.

Continue reading “Hayao Miyazaki Retires From Directing Feature Films”

The Flower of Shanidar, Fuan no Tane, Seeds of Anxiety, The Wind Rises, Kaze Tachi Nu, GARO Side Story: Whistle of the Phantom Peach, CULT, Children of Soleil, Things Left Behind/Those Who Were Bereaved by Hiroshima, Short Peace and Other Japanese Film Trailers

Only God Forgives Ryan GoslingAh! Summer. Although I hate the heat I feel the potential of life now more than ever before. This week has been quite a good one. Nice weather, eating out and work has been fun because I met Japanese and Spanish people during/after work and babbled about films in Japanese and Spanish while I was all dressed up kind of like Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives, white shirt, black trousers, tie and all). Speaking of work (and getting back to films), I joined the film club and have managed to talk the organisers into screening anime and Japanese short films! Potential!

Shonan Story 3It’s weeks like these I appreciate life and what I have so I’ll try and up the work rate. I managed a good rate of anime with Sunday Without God episode 2, Attack on Titan episode 14 and It’s Not My Fault I’m Unpopular episode 2. I watched some indie Japanese flicks and Source Code. Even better and I even got to watch Pacific Rim which was fun and appealed to the mecha fan in me and it reminded me that Rinko Kikuchi is a great actress and a goddess. Expect more first impressions and film reviews as I round-up reviews from the Terracotta Far East Film Festival (at the insistence of someone important) and start covering newer Japanese films and doramas. This week I posted about Gatchaman Crowds which is awesome and did a spring 2013 anime round-up.

What’s released today in Japan? J-HORROR!!!!

Pet Peeve (English Title) / Seeds of Anxiety (Literal Title)The Seeds of Anxiety Film Poster

Japanese Title: 不安の種

Romaji: Fuan no Tane

Release Date: July 20th, 2013

Running Time: 87 mins.

Director: Toshikazu Nagae

Writer: Masaaki Nakayama (Original Manga), Toshikazu Nagae (Screenplay)

Starring: Anna Ishibashi, Kenta Suga Koudai Asaka, Kanji Tsuda

J-HORROR! This looks so damn awesome! Ah, a horror manga adaptation! This omnibus movie comes from Toshikazu Nagae (Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night) who is adapting Masaaki Nakayama’s horror manga collection which is full of creepy tales. How do I know? I actually remember some of them, so they must have been effective. It stars Anna Ishibashi (Milocrorze – A Love Story), Koudai Asaka (The Kirishima Thing, Lesson of the Evil) and Kanji Tsuda who has worked with great directors like Beat Takeshi, Takeshi Miike and SABU.

When a motorbike accident occurs it unleashes a series of strange phenomenon which Yoko (Ishibashi) can see.


The Flower of Shanidar                            The Flower of Shanidaru Film Poster

Japanese Title: シャニダール の 花

Romaji: Shanidaru no Hana

Release Date: July 20th, 2013

Running Time: 87 mins.

Director: Gakuryu Ishii

Writer: Gakuryu Ishii, Hiroaki Jinno, Tomoaki Tanaka (Screenplay)

Starring: Gou Ayano, Haru Kuroki, Kanji Furutachi, Ayumi Ito, Rio Yamashita, Yuiko Kariya

I have reviewed two films by Gakuryu Ishii and they were both hugely different. Isn’t Anyone Alive? Was a slow moving quiet Armageddon film while Angel Dust was a deliciously twisting serial killer thriller. Unlike someone like Kiyoshi Kurosawa who is quite easy to identify from his visuals, Ishii’s diverse range of films are hard to categorise. This one is even more different than expected, a quiet sci-fi romance. It stars Gou Ayano (A Story of Yonosuke), Haru Kuroki (Tokyo Oasis, The Great Passage, The Wolf Children), Kanji Furutachi (The Woodsman and the Rain), Ayumi Ito (Penance)

The Shanidar Institute is is home to a strange process where a beautiful flower blooms on a selected woman’s body. These flowers go under the name Shanidar  and when they are n full bloom they are harvested and sold to drugs companies for high costs. A rookie botanist named Otaki (Ayano) and his colleague Kyoko (Kuroki), who is a therapist, both work for the Shanidaru Institute. They come to question their employer when it comes to light that constantly harvesting these flowers causes great strain on and even the death of the women hosting these plants.

Continue reading “The Flower of Shanidar, Fuan no Tane, Seeds of Anxiety, The Wind Rises, Kaze Tachi Nu, GARO Side Story: Whistle of the Phantom Peach, CULT, Children of Soleil, Things Left Behind/Those Who Were Bereaved by Hiroshima, Short Peace and Other Japanese Film Trailers”

Live Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Production Video

Kiki’s Delivery Service                         Kiki's Delivery Service Live Action

Japanese Title: 魔女 の 宅急便

Romaji: Majo no Takkyubin

Release Date: Spring, 2014

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takashi Shimizu

Writer: Eiko Kadono (Original Novel), Satoko Okudera (Screenplay)

Starring: Fuka  Koshiba

I know Takashi Shimizu as one of the big names of J-hora guy with titles like the Ju-On Takashi Shimizu, director of Ju-Onseries, Marebito and Reincarnation so when Alua ran a story about Shimizu directing the upcoming live-action adaptation of Eiko Kadono’s novel Kiki’s Delivery Service I was surprised and unsure how to interpret it because his filmography is filled almost exclusively with yurei tormenting cute Japanese women and not heart-warming coming-of-age tales. Perhaps he’s expanding his range into the more family friendly area. Whatever the case a production video has been released showing the cast filming scenes on Shōdo Island and giving interviews.

Kiki (Koshiba) has turned 13 and must leave home to start her apprenticeship in witchcraft and become independent. She hops on her broom with her cat Jiji and bids farewell to home, friends and family and settles in a coastal city where she must decide what sort of area in the witching profession she should specialise in. The trouble is her only skill is flying her broom…

Continue reading “Live Action Kiki’s Delivery Service Production Video”

Film4 Gives the UK a Studio Ghibli Easter

Spirited Away Bathhouse ChihiroSometimes Film4 does magical things. It is a major part of UK film production and it helped bring about the magic of great films like Shame, Submarine, Berberian Sound Studio and Attack the Block… Well that last one has lost a lot of its appeal for me. Other times it screens great films at a time when I will actually watch them. It also has the rights to screen nearly every Studio Ghibli and pre-Studio Ghibli film ever made and screens those on special occasions. This Easter, starting with the channel premiere of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Film4 is going to screen 19 Ghibli films from the earliest titles like The Little Norse Prince all the way to Arrietty!

I may have only two Ghibli film reviews (Ponyo and Arrietty) but I have seen all of these with the exception of Ocean Waves. I cannot recommend these films highly enough. My personal favourites are Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns. Each of them is brilliant and Spirited Away ranks as one of the most magical experiences I have ever had in a cinema. The only one I will refuse to watch is Grave of the Fireflies because I was left an emotional wreck the last time I viewed it and it’s on at 1 in the morning and I have work the next day 😛

Enough from me. GHIBLI dates and times and titles and images:

Princess Mononoke

Tuesday 26th March – Saturday 13th April 2013

Tuesday March 26, 6.3o p.m.: Spirited Away (2001), Director: Hayao MiyazakiSpirited Away Sail Away

Wednesday March 27, 6.05 p.m.: Princess Mononoke (1997), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Thursday March 28, 11 a.m.: The Cat Returns (2002), Director: Hiroyuki Morita

Thursday March 28, 4.35 p.m.: Porco Rosso (1992), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Friday March 29, 4.45 p.m.: Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Director: Hayao MiyazakiWhisper of the Heart

Saturday March 30, 4.55 p.m.: My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Sunday March 31, 5.15 p.m.: Arrietty (2010), Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Monday April 1st, 4.35 p.m.: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Tuesday April 2nd, 3.15 p.m.: Castle of Cagliostro (1979), Director: Hayao Porco Rosso KissMiyazaki

Wednesday April 03rd, 2.50 p.m.: Ponyo (2008), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Thursday April 4th, 11 a.m: Ocean Waves (1993), Director: Tomomi Mochizuki

Thursday April 4th, 2.35 p.m.: Pom Poko (1994), Director: Isao Takahata

Friday April 5th, 2.40 p.m: Whisper of the Heart (1995), Director: Yoshifumi Kondo

Friday April 5th, 12.15 a.m.Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Director: Isao Takahata

Saturday April 6th, 4.35 p.m: Spirited Away (2001),

Sunday April 7th, 3.00 p.m.: The Cat Returns (2002),Arrietty gazes at her reflection in a bauble/Mirror

Monday April 8th, 2.25 p.m: Tales from Earthsea (2006), Director: Goro Miyazaki

Tuesday April 9th 12.55 p.m.: Only Yesterday (1991) Director: Isao Takahata

Wednesday April 10th, 1.10 p.m.: Princess Mononoke (1997),

Thursday April 11th, 11 a.m.: The Little Norse Prince (1968), Director: Isao Kiki's Delivery ServiceTakahata

Thursday April 11th, 2.30 p.m.: Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Friday April 12th, Time N/A: Howl’s Moving Castle (2004),

Saturday April 13th, Time N/A.: Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind (1984), Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Check the Film4 website for more info!

Princess Mononoke Gaze 2

BFI Anime Season in June

The British Film Institute (BFI) is holding a special showcase for recent anime (including the chance to rediscover Akira) from the 8th to the 10th of June. The line-up is excellent and contains some of the best theatrical titles to come out of Japan with titles from Studio Ghibli, Production I.G., and Madhouse. Of all the titles on display none intrigue me as much as A Letter to Momo which got a theatrical release in Japan last week and has had excellent reviews. Here’s the line-up:


Date: 10 Jun 20:40 NFT1Akira End

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo, Starring: Mami Koyaa, Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Running time: 125 mins.

This is a stone-cold classic. Like Ridley Scott’s movies Alien and Blade Runner it’s aesthetics have influenced the look of a lot of animation and film. I have seen it on multiple occasions and I highly recommend it.

The year is 2019 and thirty-one years have passed since World War III. Neo-Tokyo is wracked with riots and clashes between the authorities and extreme political opponents. A child from a top secret government project interested in psychic powers is spirited away by one of these political extremists but gets caught up in a clash between young delinquent motorcycle gangs. This gang finds itself suddenly catching the interest of the authorities when one of the gang-members, Tetsuo, exhibits psychic powers. He is taken by the army to be experimented on but his mind might be more powerful than anybody could have guessed.

Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below

Date: 9 Jun 18:30 NFT1Children Who Choice Lost Voices

Director: Makoto Shinkai, Starring: Miyu Irino, Kazuhiko, Hisako Kanemoto Running time: 116 mins.

Makoto Shinkai’s films are stunning to watch and feature such beautiful and melancholy stories full of more humanism than most Hollywood output. As the numerous OS wallpapers on my computer attest I am a fan (he answered two questions I put to him in a recent interview!). This is his latest film which looks stunning.

Asuna is a girl who spends her days listening to mysterious music coming from the crystal radio, a memento she received from her father. She embarks on a journey in the underground realm of Agartha which some believe has the properties of bringing people back from the dead. With a brave young man named Shun, Asuna will see the cruelty and beauty of the world as she evades dangerous beasts and a ruthless group of soldiers from her world.

Continue reading “BFI Anime Season in June”

4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival: Full Line-Up Announced

Terracotta Far East Film Festival Logo

With the 4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival kicking off next week now is the time to take a gander at the full line-up. This festival is London’s premier celebration of film from the Far East and shows a selection of the latest and most interesting titles getting on the big screen as well as bringing over the big names from the cast and crew of the films for Q&As and master-classes and parties. This year there are a selection of great titles from Taiwan, Burma, China, South Korea and Japan. On top of live action films there is even anime.

The Terracotta Far East Film Festival is also an event to socialise and a platform for Asian culture at all levels; for this purpose the organisers have organised a new FOOD PASS, giving access to a number of restaurants in Chinatown. There will be other related events such as photo exhibitions and competitions announced on social network sites.

Joey Leung, festival director says: “New look, same ethos. We worked with our creative agency, What is Bobo, to roll-out the re-brand of the festival with their ‘pixels’ concept. This lends maturity and longevity to our festival positioning, fitting now that we have passed the infancy of our festival and into our fourth edition.”

Here is the full line-up of films!

12th April Opening Film:

My WayUK premiere

Dir: Kang Je-Kyu Running Time: 137 mins. Starring: Jang Dong-gun, Joe Odagiri, Fan Bingbing

My Way Action ShotMy Way is the latest film from Kang Je-Kyu who directed the awesome action picture ‘Shiri’, and tells the story of two marathon runners, one Korean and one Japanese during Japan’s colonisation of Korea who are drafted into the Japanese army, and develop a close friendship through battles in Russia and Germany. It stars familiar actor Jo Odagiri (Bright Future, Adrift in Tokyo) and Jang Dong-gun who seems to have survived The Warrior’s Way.

Continue reading “4th Terracotta Far East Film Festival: Full Line-Up Announced”

Studio Ghibli Christmas, K-ON! Movie (Eiga Keion!), Liar Game: Reborn, Tales of Genji: A Thousand Enigma Trailers

Christmas is drawing near and Japanese lessons are drawing to a close for the year. One more and then a party. Last lesson was a total blast since we talked to native Japanese speakers and it exposed us to the language in natural conversations. It was fun and enlightening!

Also fun was ordering my Christmas batch of Japanese DVD’s so expect more reviews… That’s not a threat by the way. I’ve also got a schedule for the Studio Ghibli films that Film4 will screen over Christmas as compiled by an Anime UK News forumite. That’s at the very bottom of this post.

Yet another week where the trailers are linked by the fact that the films are all based on manga/books but there are big changes at the top of the Japanese box-office. Kaibutsu-kun is still number one but Tintin enters… at number three… it has been beaten by K-ON: The Movie, Despite writing about this for Anime UK News I haven’t really paid attention to it but K-ON is pleasant and the girls are coming to the UK which is cool. Fun K-ON! AMV at the end!

K-ON! Movie (Eiga Keion!)

Released: 3rd December 2011

Running Time: N/A

Director: Naoko Yamada

Writer: Reiko Yoshida, Kakifly (manga)

Starring: Aki Toyosaki (Yui Hirasawa), Yoko Hikasa (Mio Akiyama), Satomi Sato (Ritsu Tainaka), Minako Kotobuki (Tsumugi Kotobuki), Ayano Taketatsu (Azusa Nakano)

The four members of Sakuragaoka High School’s light music club are nearing graduation and decide to go on a post graduation trip to London together with a new fifth member named Azusa.

Continue reading “Studio Ghibli Christmas, K-ON! Movie (Eiga Keion!), Liar Game: Reborn, Tales of Genji: A Thousand Enigma Trailers”

The Secret World of Arrietty 借りぐらしのアリエッティ (2010)

The Secret World of Arrietty   The Secret World of Arrietty Film Poster

Japanese: 借りぐらしのアリエッティ

Romaji: Kari-gurashi no Arietti

Release Date: July 17th, 2010 (Japan)

Running Time: 94 mins.

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Writer: Hayao Miyazaki (Screenplay), Mary Norton (Original Novel)

Starring:  Saoirse Ronan (Arrietty), Tom Holland (Sho), Mark Strong (Pod), Olivia Colman (Homily),

Arrietty is Studio Ghibli’s adaptation of Mary Norton’s 1952 book, The Borrowers. Written and adapted for the screen by Hayao Miyazaki, the film is the directorial debut of long-time Studio Ghibli animator, Hiromasa Yonebayashi and it shows the sure confidence, wit and humanity at the core of every Ghibli film.

The film begins when Sho (Tom Holland) moves into his grandmother’s house in the Tokyo suburbs where a 14-year-old Borrower named Arrietty and her family live under the floorboards in a closet. Arrietty (Saoirse Ronan) is about to turn 14 herself and is eager to prove her worth by helping her father Pod (Mark Strong) “borrow” much-needed items from their human landlords but Sho discovers their existence. A relationship develops between Sho and Arrietty even though it puts the existence of the Borrowers’ in danger which means they must work together to protect the existence of Arrietty’s family from an over-zealous housekeeper named Haru. 

The first thing to note is that this film is gorgeous.

Arrietty Tree Continue reading “The Secret World of Arrietty 借りぐらしのアリエッティ (2010)”


This is the third Ghibli film that I have seen in a cinema. My first two were Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, two stories that are dark, detailed and emotionally moving. Ponyo may be moving but it’s carefree. Its simplicity is its strength and Ponyo is brilliant and challenging in its own right.  

This is the second time I have seen Ponyo but something irked me from the first showing and I’d like to get through my disquiet and what this film must be addressing.  

Continue reading “Ponyo”