Dec. 11, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
“The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness,” a documentary that offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at the famed Studio Ghibli in Japan, is out on digital platforms this week. Hero Complex readers get an exclusive first look at a scene from the film, which depicts the inner workings of the animation studio behind the acclaimed films “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke” and the Academy Award winner “Spirited Away,” among others. In “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness,” director Mami Sunada (“Death of a Japanese Salesman”) follows legendary director and Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki (“The Wind Rises”), co-founder and director Isao Takahata (“Grave of the Fireflies”), and producer Toshio Suzuki over the course of a year. Sunada documented the studio’s rush to complete Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” and Takahata’s “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya,” both released in 2013. The exclusive clip […]
April 07, 2014 | 1:12 p.m.
The second installment in Hayao Miyazaki’s memoir is out Tuesday, offering a glimpse into the legendary animation director’s career of more than three decades, and Hero Complex readers get an exclusive sneak peek. “Turning Point: 1997-2008,” from Viz Media, traces the Japanese director’s most successful years, which saw the release of “Princess Mononoke,” the Oscar-winning “Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Ponyo.” During this time, Miyazaki’s work received critical acclaim and began to garner an international audience. The 452-page tome includes Miyazaki’s essays about Japan’s animation culture, the differing perspectives of children and adults, and his memories of youth, among other topics; interviews with various publications and panels, including one with Roger Ebert; illustrations for Studio Ghibli holiday cards and films; and even poetry, written to aid composer Joe Hisaishi. “Turning Point” is the companion second volume to 1996’s “Starting Point: 1979-1996,” which […]
Feb. 20, 2014 | 1:16 p.m.
“The Wind Rises” opens in select U.S. theaters Friday before an expanded release next week, and a new clip has been released, spotlighting a scene from what legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki has said will be his last film. The Studio Ghibli film, which is up for an Academy Award next month, tells the story of real-life Japanese engineer Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who designed the Zero fighter plane. Inspired by the work of Italian aeronautical designer Caproni (Stanley Tucci), Jiro grows up dreaming of flying and designing beautiful planes. After his nearsightedness keeps him from realizing his goal, he instead becomes one of the world’s most innovative airplane designers. The tale follows Jiro through key historical events including Japan’s devastating 1923 earthquake, a tuberculosis epidemic and economic troubles that preceded the nation’s plunge into World War II. […]
Jan. 10, 2014 | 10:05 p.m.
Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” features a whimsical sequence that pays tribute to Hayao Miyazaki, the legendary animation director and animator and cofounder of animation Studio Ghibli. A clip from Sunday’s episode (watch it above) includes references to many of Studio Ghibli films: Otto Mann, the show’s school bus driver, is transformed into the Catbus from “My Neighbor Totoro”; Springfield’s police Chief Clancy Wiggum appears as a pig, like the hero of “Porco Rosso”; Marge’s sisters Patty and Selma Bouvier ride brooms like the young witch in “Kiki’s Delivery Service”; Mo resembles the scarecrow Turnip-Head from “Howl’s Moving Castle”; and the Kwik-E-Mart becomes the castle itself. The episode also includes references to “Spirited Away” and other Miyazaki films. PHOTOS: Hayao Miyazaki, an animated icon The episode, titled “Married to the Blob,” focuses on Comic Book Guy, the owner of Springfield’s […]
Nov. 19, 2013 | 12:22 p.m.
A new trailer for “The Wind Rises” is out, offering a glimpse at the film legendary animation director Hayao Miyazaki has said will be his last. The Studio Ghibli release tells the story of real-life Japanese engineer Jiro Horikoshi, who designed the Zero fighter plane. The film, based on a short story by Japanese poet Hori Tatsuo, follows Jiro through pre-World War II Japan, the country’s devastating 1923 earthquake, a tuberculosis epidemic and economic troubles that preceded the war. It’s a departure from Miyazaki’s previous work, which often relied on myth, magical realism and a strong focus on nature. “The Wind Rises,” which marks Miyazaki’s first time directing since “Ponyo” five years ago, was released briefly earlier this month for an Oscar-qualifying run. Originally in Japanese with English subtitles, “The Wind Rises” will be released for North American audiences under […]
May 16, 2013 | 3:58 p.m.
Two classic Studio Ghibli films are getting the Blu-ray treatment. Disney is releasing Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” on May 21. This year marks the 25th anniversary for “My Neighbor Totoro,” which follows sisters Satsuki and Mei (voiced by Dakota and Elle Fanning, respectively, in the Blu-ray’s 2005 Disney dubbing) as they move to the countryside and discover their new neighbor, a furry forest spirit named Totoro. Only children can see the strange animal ghost — “a seven-foot forest spirit who looks like an outsized cross between a bunny rabbit and a fuzzy throw pillow,” critic and historian Charles Solomon wrote in his 1993 Times review of the film. “Guided by their supernatural friend, the sisters share a series of adventures, soaring over the landscape while Totoro’s roars make the winds blow,” Solomon wrote. “But the story […]
Feb. 05, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.
Studio Ghibli fans can get a glimpse of the Japanese animation studio’s latest film “From Up on Poppy Hill” in a new trailer released Monday. “Poppy Hill” follows high school students Umi (voiced by “Once Upon a Time” actress Sarah Bolger in the English-language version) and Shun (“Star Trek Into Darkness” actor Anton Yelchin), who find love when they team up to save a historic building from demolition in 1963 Yokohama. The film deals with nostalgia for a bygone era and hope for a modern future, as the country heals after World War II and prepares to host the 1964 Olympics. The film is based on a 1980s manga by Tetsuo Sayama and Chizuru Takahashi. Studio Ghibli’s co-founder Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay and his son, Goro, directed. “Poppy Hill” was a box office hit in Japan and went on to win […]
Jan. 21, 2013 | 1:17 p.m.
Some of Hayao Miyazaki’s most popular films — including “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Princess Mononoke” — are returning to the big screen as part of a Studio Ghibli retrospective hosted by the American Cinematheque. It’s a return engagement after last year’s series at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica enjoyed sold-out screenings. The retrospective begins Friday at the Egyptian with a double feature of the Academy Award-winning “Spirited Away” and the tanuki tale “Pom Poko” — two of 11 films being showcased through Feb. 10. Miyazaki could be considered Japan’s answer to Walt Disney. Studio Ghibli — founded in 1985 by Miyazaki, his mentor Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki — releases films that are immensely popular in Japan and have been growing in recognition in the United States. The films are known […]
Feb. 09, 2012 | 1:43 p.m.
BATFILMS OF THE FUTURE? The end is near — when the credits roll on “The Dark Knight Rises” this July, it will mark the close of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and the final adventure for Christian Bale as the caped crusader of Gotham City. Warner Bros. executives have made it clear they won’t leave the iconic property sitting on a shelf, however, and a new director and star tandem could be inhabiting Wayne Manor by 2014. But how on earth will any filmmaker follow the work of Nolan and company? Working together, Hero Complex lead writer Geoff Boucher and graphic artist Sean Hartter came up with 15 imaginary Batman reboots — and, yes, they did it with tongue in cheek. Martin Scorsese’s “Caped Fear”: The acclaimed director delivers a “Shutter Island”-style thriller as Batman (Jim Caviezel) is trapped in a Gothic castle by […]
Feb. 03, 2012 | 1:14 p.m.
Gary Rydstrom is a wizard with sound. In the last three decades, he’s worked with James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Pixar, racking up seven Oscars and nine more nominations for his contributions to such films as “Titanic,” “Minority Report,” “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” and “Finding Nemo,” among others. Although the new film “The Secret World of Arrietty,” the latest production from Japan’s revered animation house Studio Ghibli, finds Rydstrom in the director’s chair for the second time, he’s sticking close to his field of expertise — he directed the actors as they recorded the audio portion of the English-language release of the film, which Disney is opening in the U.S. on Feb. 17. Hayao Miyazaki co-wrote the Japanese screenplay for the film, which is based on “The Borrowers,” Mary Norton’s 1952 children’s book about […]