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Archive for April, 2014

Wolf Children

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So I saw this movie over last weekend. And I quite enjoyed it. It is a story about relationships: between men and women, between parents and children, between children. The story starts out with a college girl named Hana noticing a guy in one class and getting to know him better – including the fact he has the ability to turn into a wolf. They have two children, and then he is killed in wolf form one day. So Hana is left alone to raise two children who can also turn into wolves. This quickly becomes complicated, and so she moves the family to a rural area where it is less likely anyone will find out their secret. But less likely doesn’t mean impossible. And Hana has no idea how to raise wolves, or how to live on a farm. But she learns, or finds those who can teach her children. Some of the background art was amazing – you almost couldn’t tell it wasn’t real. I love Hana as a character – she has a ton of optimism, but it is realistic. She does feel the pain of her hard times, but she is also determined to still do the best she can – for her children if nothing else. The two children are also interesting. Yuki, the girl, is from the beginning more outgoing, but she is also the more desperate to join human society. Ame, the boy, is far more shy, and ends up becoming far more attached to nature. This is a good movie for just about anyone. I look forward to seeing what else this director ends up doing.

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Ponyo

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This is Hiayo Miyazaki’s second to last film. It is loosely based on”The Little Mermaid”. There are lots of differences, of course. One primary difference is Ponyo’s transformation to be a human is more an accident than anything else. Her father, the sorcerer Fujimoto, actively is trying to keep her from being human. Neither he nor her mother Grandmare are really evil and they care for Ponyo. The only real enemies are the consequences of choices and nature. Another twist is the modern Japanese setting. And yet another one is the fact that both Ponyo and the boy who falls for her, Sousuke, are both quite young – five years old. All of this makes for quite an endearing film, which Miyazaki’s trademark style fits perfectly. The pluses are the realistic relationships – parent and child, between parents, and friendship of many sorts. The first half of the story is practically perfect. The tsunami is quite a breathtaking scene. The trip in the boat is rather slow and dreamlike, but still very nicely done. The ending works well also. The problem is, Grandmare says that Sousuke will have to go through a challenge to save Ponyo and turn her into a human permanently, but all he does at the end is make a choice. That perhaps should have been thought through a bit better. Consequently, I can’t call this Miyazaki’s best work, but it is still a worthy addition to his body of work anyway.

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This series is only four volumes in the manga version. A pity, since this is less than even the  anime, though like with Saiunkoku Monogatari I can appreciate that making a manga out of all of the original light novel would be quite a task. Interestingly enough, while the first two volumes cover the first two episodes basically of the anime, the second two volumes are a story not covered in the anime. It involves a missing girl, another girl who is trying to capture Edgar’s attention but who is in turn being used by an evil fairy, and more revelations about Edgar’s past. I don’t know how the light novels go, but this is actually a smart idea. It sheds a little more light on things without getting into the whole complex thing with Kelpie. It is also wise that while there is clearly a ton more  that could be said and done, it leaves us with a good stopping place where the immediate threat has been dealt with and things are back to normal – for the moment. What can I say. I like shojo style, I like fairies, I like a bit of romance, and I like historical settings. If you enjoy these things too or if you enjoyed the anime, this might be a good manga for you to try out.

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