Archive | 9:00 am

Review: Four Fun Miyazaki Films

6 Mar

This month, we have a new imaginary playmate at our house: Totoro.  He’s big (like Dad), he’s soft (like Dad), and he snores when you sleep on his belly (yes, just like Dad!).

Thanks to a review opportunity, my kids were introduced to the magic in the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, and the films have become fast favorites.

Miyazaki’s first co-release with Disney was last year’s Ponyo.  This story, which takes inspiration from the story of The Little Mermaid, follows a little boy named Sosuke and his adventures after he finds a little human-faced fish on the beach – that’s Ponyo.  Ponyo is magical, as the daughter of a sea wizard and a sea witch, and she can turn herself into a human and enjoy the life on land.  My kids were captivated by the fantasy, but the story line was not as complex as the other films – this was probably the best fit for three-year-old GoGoGirl.

Of all the four, without a doubt, my kids’ favorite is Totoro.  In this story, two little girls move to a house in the country with their working father, while their mother is recuperating in a hospital in the city.  The girls explore the country and find all kinds of wonderful, magical creatures including the giant, silent, lovable Totoro, the mischievous dust sprites, and even a giant cat that’s also a bus.  The hand-drawn fantasy of this movie is charming, and the relationships between the sisters and their parents and the neighbors are touching.  It was a perfect fit for both my kids, and MechDaddy and I enjoyed it just as much.

We also enjoyed watching Castle in the Sky, which is better for a slightly older audience – my seven-year-old KarateKid loved it but three-year-old GoGoGirl didn’t follow it as closely.  In this film, a young boy meets a girl floating down from the sky with a mysterious amulet around her neck, and they have to discover the meaning of the necklace while searching for a floating castle, Laputa.  This film is more action-packed than Totoro, complete with sky pirates and government agents, and has a more complex plot.

Kiki’s Delivery Service was quite good for both kids.  In this story, Kiki, a young witch, has to leave home, as all 13-year-old witches do, to continue her training and make her place in the world.  It’s a coming-of-age story, but one filled with broomstick swooping and a funny little black cat.  It may have edged out Totoro as my personal favorite of the four!

Ponyo was released this week onto Blu-Ray, and all four films were released to DVD as well.  All of the discs contain a wonderful set of bonus features including interactive areas made for the kids to explore the magical worlds of these four movies.  I can only hope that the other Miyazaki films will soon be remastered and re-released here too.

These films were provided to me by Click Communications and Walt Disney Home Entertainment for the purposes of this review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  The opinions above are the honest opinions of my family.