Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle is the latest Studio Ghibli release from acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. Dustin and I saw the film with its original Japanese dialog and subtitles at one of the theaters here in town.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the movie. It was as beautiful as Spirited Away and as mysterious as Princess Mononoke. Miyazaki has the incredible ability to create a modern animated film that looks like it was originally drawn decades ago during the early years of animation.. on the surface. Suddenly, though, you see the enormous amount of detail each and every scene incorporates. On animation alone I’d be tempted to say that this film surpasses Spirited Away.

It’s the story, however, that differentiates the two. While Spirited Away had a fairly straightforward plot, Howl’s Moving Castle has a plot full of twists, turns, subplots, and dead-ends. Overall it is a fairly simple story: Sofie, a young girl working in her late father’s hat shop, gets cursed by the Witch of the Waste and turns into an old woman. Sofie then sets out to find Howl to have the curse removed. I won’t give any more of the story away, as you should definitely see it yourself. I will say however, that there are plot elements that just do not seem to flow well with the rest of the movie. At some points, I was left wondering what I had missed.

This confusion led me to read the book by Diana Wynne Jones that was the basis for the movie. It is an excellent book and an easy read; I think it took me around five to six hours straight to finish it. The book differs greatly from the movie and while it does provide some useful additional information, most of the more puzzling movie scenes are not in the book at all. If you do read the book before you see the movie, don’t be surprised when the two bare little resemblance to each other.

Overall, I think I still think Spirited Away is my favorite Miyazaki film, with Howl’s Moving Castle coming in a close second. Perhaps if I see it again, or in English, I might change my mind. If you have not seen it yet, it is definitely worth the eight plus dollars of admission to see it in the theater.

Fullmetal Alchemist

Finally! Fullmetal Alchemist premiered on Cartoon Network last night. I hope you all watched it and now have your Tivos, Replays or (Heaven forbid) VCRs set up to record it every Saturday. While I tend to strongly dislike the English dub of most anime, Funimation did a pretty good job. The dialog is fairly true to the original Japanese, which is always a plus. Also, as far as I can tell, they didn’t edit the show for either content or time, at least with episode one. Overall I’d say this is one of the better dubs I’ve watched. The DVDs are not supposed to be out until February, so for all of you who haven’t seen the first few episodes in Japanese, you better double check those record settings.

The Inuyasha Movie Experience

The Inuyasha Movie Experience

Yes, experience. Viz had free showings of the first Inuyasha movie in theaters across the country. Dallas happened to be one of the lucky places to get the movie. So, since we had been planning a trip to Dallas anyway, we went. The movie was ok, I’d seen it before and I still don’t like the English dub, but the experience is a toss up between hilarious and very, very scary.

The movie started at 10 and it said to get there early. We arrived around 8 and quite a few people were already there. Some were in cosplay, some in Inuyasha teeshirts, and some carrying around little stuffed Kirara’s. There were lots of kids (middle school, maybe), with their moms. Lot’s of girls with high pitched voices. Heck, probably lots of guys with high pitched voices, it was hard to tell.

So, after Dustin and I played our Gameboys for two hours, it began. First, loud screaming welcomed any main character onto the screen. Then, especially loud female screaming welcomed Sesshoumaru any time a glimpse of him was seen. Then, four guys decided to be narrators and would scream out the Japanese attack names over the English dubs. I thought that was pretty funny, but apparently some other people did not, judging by the number of “Shut the hell up!” yells that followed their narration. I mean, really, “Backlash wave” is a pretty lame translation of “Bakuryuuha” even though it’s probably close to literal. Just watch the movie and wait for the building music and booming attack noises while the English voice actor is screaming “BACKLASH WAVE” and you’ll see what I mean.

The obligatory booing and hissing accompanied Kikyou any time she decided to make an appearance and a round of aaahhhs was in order for Rin. Overall, the experience was ten times better than the movie would have been by itself. At least now I know that I’m not the craziest Inuyasha fan out there.