Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Porco Rosso

Certainly an improvement over the confused Nausicaa and the vapid Ponyo, both of which it's hard to imagine anyone over the age of 5 enjoying. The animation in Porco Rosso is of a wonderfully high standard, consistently wowing you with its incredible attention to detail and the way the screen is always teeming with life and movement - making a lot of anime look static by comparison.

This makes it worth the price of admission alone. But add to that a perfectly coherent (if rather simplistic) story and you have an enjoyable anime. My problem with Ghibli remains that a lot of their films are just so damn childish. I know that's the point - I know that Miyazaki, by and large, makes anime for children, but I can only dream of what he could achieve with such a talented animation team if he made a film purely for adults.

Dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 1992

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

I'd read this was an early Miyazaki masterpiece - I didn't find it to be that exactly. The animation is stunning, especially when you consider the year of the film's creation; 1984. The fluidity of movement and attention to detail is light years ahead of any other anime I've seen from this period. The mood too, especially in the forest scenes, distills a quiet magic, as spores float through shafts of sunlight and strange creatures amble around. It's almost enough to make up for the cringe-worthy synth cheese that passes for score.

But then we come to the plot, and that's where Nausicaa falls down for me. In short, I couldn't make head nor tail of it! Ostensibly, it's an eco parable about man's pollution of the Earth and how the Earth fights back, threatening the existence of mankind. Now I'm not against an environmental message (although Nausicaa actually hugs a tree at one point for crissakes!), but the specifics of the plot are such that I couldn't tell you at any given moment what the hell was going on. Nausicaa herself is a kind of elemental horse whisperer (except the horses are giant insects), there's a wasteland which is encroaching on human territory, propagating through 'bad spores' or 'bad soil' or some shit, there's a petrified forest under the wasteland,
there are giant, many-eyed trilobites called Ohmu, there are rival human factions, neither of whose aims are at all clear... for the first half hour or so I found myself frustrated at not being able to get my head around what was happening or why, then resigned myself to the fact nothing was going to make sense and just enjoyed the visuals. Which are very nice.

Dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 1984