I just watched the trailer for Howl’s Moving Castle, the latest epic from Studio Ghibli.
I am a fan of anime. Before Saturday morning was filled with butchered dubs, my friends and I were picking up classics like Akira and watching them for hours on end. We were lost in cyberpunk. Soon, I sought out other greats of the genre, like Ranma 1/2 and The Hakkenden.
Eventually, my passion for the medium waned. I went to college and the amount of funds available for spending on $25 videotapes went away. About that same time, I discovered the comics work of Neil Gaiman. I devoured his completed Sandman epic.
Then one day I read about him rewriting the screenplay for a film titled Mononoke Hime, or Princess Mononoke. I read about the effort he was putting into it and that Disney had signed a deal to dub and release the film domestically. I was excited, but the process was long, so it would take a while for everything to be done.
I was still in Mississippi when Princess Mononoke made its way into limited release. Needless to say, it didn’t run anywhere nearby. When it finally was released on dvd, I was in awe. I already knew what the medium of anime was capable of, but the epic nature of the story and the beauty in every frame left me in awe.
When the follow up film was released, based upon the critial success of Mononoke, Spirited Away was given a wider release. I was living in Albuquerque and I watched the first showing of it, the day it opened. Again, at the end of the film, I felt different. I had watched a film that had so much to say on so many levels. Like many Miyazaki films, there were no clearcut villains. There were just people (or entities) doing their best to do what they do. In the end, the film won that year’s Oscar for Best Animated Film, a honor that made me proud to be an American fan of film.
His works are things of such exquisitness. They transcend the screen and touch your soul.
Needless to say, I will be seeing Howl’s Moving Castle and I suggest every one else does, too.