Trailer Trash: Studio Ghibli
Though they have been having a rough patch of late Studio Ghibli are still most certainly a production company whose work is always worth watching out for but they are also notoriously hard to spot, with news and details on their productions oft hard to come by; though perhaps this is simply symptomatic of the distance, as they are of course based in Japan. So it is then terrific to come across the trailer for an upcoming Ghibli release and greater still to have two.
The first is only a teaser which was used to announce an upcoming project, but it still bears looking at, which you can do here:
The film is called Kokurikozaka kara or From Kokuriko Hill and is based on a thirty year old Manga about a young girl in 1963 who is forced to grow up quickly when her father disappears. Unfortunately that is all I have to go on at this stage as I am yet to read the Manga; so I can only wonder whether or not this is to be another realist piece from the Studio akin to Ocean Waves or Grave of the Fireflies or if there is something more to that mysteriously transparent man falling from the sky at the video’s strangely edited end (though all the original Japanese trailers are like that, at least all those that I’ve seen).
Either way there are still a lot of Ghibli bits in the short teaser, the fascination with water for one. It seems that the studio has the tendency to grasp onto an element of nature and string it tenuously through a number of films; their early films for example all focused on the sky and flying whereas their latest few efforts have all been more nautical than Nausicaa, preferring instead the company of the sea. It’s not a deep revelation, nor a particularly meaningful one, just interesting. A more worrisome trend though is their current habit of releasing sub-par pictures – by their standards – and so after the only OK Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea and the actually mediocre – by all standards – Tales from Earthsea, the director of which is also heading this production, it is too risky to get actually excited. Colour me interested though.
The second trailer is for their soon to be released feature Arriety the Borrower, which you can view here:
Something that you may notice that separates the two, one of many things I imagine, is that this trailer is in English and not just the language, the accents too. As Arrietty is based somewhat on the famous British children’s book series The Borrowers Disney, who handle the international distribution of Ghibli’s pieces, have decided to dub it not just for US audiences (with Amy Poehler and Will Arnett voicing Arriety and her father respectively) but also again for the UK (with Saoirse Ronan and Mark Strong in the same roles) and that is the version that you just heard. Normally dubs are the bane of anime and foreign animation but I’ve always found Ghibli’s examples to be just as good as their subs and in the case of Princess Mononoke better, though I am biased towards my own language, and this move exemplifies the kind of thought that they put into translating their work for the world audience.
With Ghibli though it is so much about the visuals that you could almost enjoy their films without either dub or sub and that looks again to be the case with Arrietty which is simply filled to the brim with marvelous and magical imagery. How they manage to make films filled with such wim and wonder without ever forcing a single moment – as good as they are PIXAR’s films still feel like a lot of effort went into them, you can see the gears turning – is absolutely beyond me but I do so love escaping into them despite the mystery. So here’s hoping that one of these two will be the film that brings Ghibli back to the top of the field (especially since there is so little animation this year that has truly wowed me, Oscar perhaps?), if it’s going to be either then my money’s on Arrietty. What about you?