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When Marnie Was There

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Anna is a girl who has trouble being social and has no friends. When her health becomes poor, she is sent to family friend Yoriko, who with her husband lives in a town by the ocean. Almost immediately, Anna is attracted to an old great house that at first seems deserted, but then Anna meets a girl who lives there whose name is Marnie. Finally, Anna has made her first friend. However, Marnie has her own mystery about her…

This movie is based on a book by Joan G. Robinson. I reviewed the book here. However, I actually saw the movie first. What can I say, Studio Ghibli says it all to me.

Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the director of Arrietty, directed this film. The style suits the story.

The story itself has been altered slightly. The setting is Japan instead of England. Thus Marnie is half Japanese/half European. At the beginning of the tale, the only pleasure Anna has is in drawing, but she refuses to show her drawings to anyone at first.

But the major outlines of the story are the same, with the same plot points centered on the friendship between Anna and Marnie.

This is a very sweet story, and is now one of my favorite Studio Ghibli movies.

This time we get another visit from Natsume’s old friend of sorts Shibata. Shibata ends up leading Natsume to a case of Yokai mischief, and so it is well that Natsume invited Tanuma as both someone to run interference with Shibata and as someone who knows something of the Youkai world. Then we get another story about a Youkai looking for his apprentice/friend. It is sad but sweet. Next, we have a story of Reiko actually creating peace in a portion of the Youkai world. Finally, Natsume gets called by the exorcist’s granddaughter to investigate an unnatural shadow at her deceased grandfather’s house. Of course, the then runs into Matoba there…

Yep, CLAMP has restarted Tsubasa again. Here are several observations. Watanuki gives to Syaoran the items he collected in Xxxholic Rei. This is well, since it seems Syaoran, Fai, and Kurogane are going to need them in this world of Nirai Kanai. Actually, it is two worlds, and this time our heroes must find out the link between these two worlds and how to save these two worlds which represent life and death. Also, I can’t say anyone is surprised that in this world CLAMP has included three of the major characters from Gate 7 in alternate form:)

Porco Rosso

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I recently realized that while I had seen Porco Rosso years ago, I had never reviewed it. I think I watched it either before this blog began, or about the same time I was just beginning it. I re-watched it a few months ago, and here are some thoughts.

Porco really is a nice guy at heart, or at least he has learned to be by the time this film starts. He is just very good at hiding it. His actions do speak louder than his gruff words. After all, he starts by going to rescue a group of children kidnapped by pirates. Granted, Porco does this for money.

Porco’s curse is interesting. In many ways it is a physical manifestation of his survivor’s guilt. Porco does have a blind spot: Gina. Ah well, we all are usually blind where our hearts are.

I love Flo. She is competent as a mechanic and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself (or Porco), while still being clearly a girl. And I love her family. They stick together and survive, even through hard times.

Curtis is an interesting foil for Porco. He is  just as a good of a pilot, he is charming and has good looks – enough to be an actor. And yet there is a part of him that is more selfish than Porco is.

Of course in this movie we have plenty about airplanes, one of Hiyao Miyazaki’s loves.

In the end we are left wondering about Porco’s fate. Personally I think either his curse is undone or he learns not to care about it and he marries Gina and they settle down with her running her hotel and him running deliveries. But you will have to decide for yourself.

Emma (Manga Classics)

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So I finally got around to reading this adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. First, a disclaimer. This is not one of my favorite of Austin’s works. It is probably the fifth down on my list. Maybe it is because I don’t relate to the heroine very much.

But this adaptation made me appreciate Emma’s story more. In some ways it is a mystery story. There are also parts that are quite funny. This manga adaptation does full justice to both parts of the story, as well as the various budding romances. If the three main female leads don’t exactly have period hair styles, they are cute and they work.

There is bonus information at the end about the process of making this adaptation, plus character sketches between chapters to make this a volume fully worth owning.

It doesn’t replace the original novel, but it is a worthwhile adaptation in it’s own right.

So Sailor Moon Crystal finally ended. It has been an interesting ride. There are a few changes from the manga (a bit more with the four generals in the first half, etc.), but mostly it follows very closely its source material. The good news – no filler. The bad news – a bit less room for extended character development. Your mileage may vary depending on how much you like the manga compared to the first anime series.

I miss the old music, but the new theme keeps coming into my head, so I guess it works.

Animation wise, it is gorgeous and much better than the original anime series. The bad news – the CGI doesn’t always work as well.

I think in some ways the ending of the first arc works better here. Usagi pining for Mamoru is minimized and I think the overall impact may be greater. Chibi-Usa actually comes out better in this series than the original. Less in that case is more – focusing on her desperate situation rather than comedic scenes with Usagi. Speaking of Usagi, I know she loves Mamoru, but she seems a bit too dependent on him. Still, with fewer comedic scenes it is easier to see her grow up and why the other Sailor Scouts follow her. Also, why did you not let the Sailor Scouts go help in the last episode Neo Queen Serenity? Doesn’t make sense.

Do I want another season of Sailor Moon Crystal? If it means getting through Super S, then yes since even in the original Japanese that season doesn’t work nearly as well as the manga. And though the original Japanese season of Super works well enough, I could see it working even better in trimmed form with the comedic parts left out.

Still, as cheesy as some of the filler was, especially in English, I admit I do miss more of the character work. Still, there is a lot to like in this new version. If you like the manga, you should give this series a try.

Xxxholic Rei #3 Manga

Ah, so we are right – there is something off about what is happening to Watanuki, and this sense is if anything heightened in this volume. We finally get some answers as to what is going on. But first we have the usual list of people that come to the shop or that Watanuki runs into that need to be helped, including a girl who was given three coins… For fans, this is a volume not to miss. I don’t know if this is the end of this series. The one thing that is clear is that it really can’t continue until things are resolved in CLAMP’s new series Tsubasa World Chronicles. Yep, Syaoran and gang are back! Yes, I will be following that series as well once it finally begins this fall.