New Studio Ghibli Film to Debut in English
Legendary animator announces retirement
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 12:09
Few foreign film studios have made as much of a splash on the international stage as Japan’s Studio Ghilbi has. Producing national and international hits such as “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “My Neighbor Totoro,” and the award-winning “Spirited Away,” the studio’s animated films have become classics in homes around the world. But as the English version of the film “From Up On Poppy Hill” is finally released, news breaks that founder Hayao Miyazaki has announced retirement.
“From Up On Poppy Hill” proves to be one of the studio’s more relaxed films, focusing on a love story between two high school students in post-World War II Japan. Slower scenes and panoramic artwork give the movie a softer atmosphere than that of most American films, yet the well-written plot contains some surprising twists.
Set in the past, it also offers a unique look into the Japan of the early 1960s, just before Japan hosted the summer Olympics. It focuses mainly on Umi, a high school girl, as she juggles both running the family boarding house and school. Then she meets Shun, one of the boys trying to save the school’s Latin Quarter where many of the academic clubs meet, but basically comes off as one giant clubhouse. They form a relationship as they band the boys and girls together to save the old building.
Focusing mainly on the character relationships and cultural setting, this heartwarming film is an encouraging second chance for director Goro Miyazaki. As the son of one of the studio’s leading animators/directors/writers (and perhaps the most famous), he no doubt endures great scrutiny. His 2006 debut, “Tales of Earthsea,” an adaptation of the famous book series by Ursula K. Le Guin, suffered harsh critique from audiences and the author herself, though it still reached number four in Japan’s yearly box office. Goro’s newest film has garnered mostly positive reactions, getting an 83 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Ghibli fans should savor this newest release, because this month Hayao has finally announced retirement. Along with Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki, he founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 after the success of their movie “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.” They then went on to create 18 more feature films, at least six of which were highest grossing for their year in Japan; “Spirited Away” is the top-grossing film in Japanese history and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
This is not the first time he has announced retirement, but it seems it will be his last. In a recent press conference, Hayao said that their newest film took five years to complete, and any movie afterwards will probably take longer because of his age. However, he only announced that his days making feature-length films were done, but hinted that he may continue to work on shorts or manga (Japanese graphic novels).
It is a bittersweet time for fans of the studio. Hayao’s last movie, “The Wind Rises,” will make its English debut this November, marking the end of a remarkable era.