Tag Archives: Studio Ghibli

Review: The Red Turtle (DVD)

The Red Turtle is an animated feature film collaboration between French company, Wild Bunch and famed Japanese animation house, Studio Ghibli. It’s at times beautiful, haunting, suspenseful and ultimately depressing and sad but don’t let that detract you from watching this stunning film.

The film tells the story of a young man who finds himself shipwrecked on an island who quickly learns that he has to fend for himself on this idyllic remote land. He sets about building a raft to take him away and hopefully back to civilisation however the first two times in his attempt, the raft crashed into something under water which ultimately destroys the raft leaving him to swim back to shore. It isn’t until his third attempt that he encounters the source of the impact, a large red turtle.

After making it back to shore and watching from a mountain, he sees the turtle come to land which leads him to running back to it and flipping it onto its back, believing that this time his attempt to escape will be successful. However during one night, he has a strange dream which convinces him the turtle is actually his salvation so after waking he tries to flip the turtle back but he’s unable to to and it appears that the turtle dies. However the next day, the turtle transforms into a woman who the man nurses back to life and the story delves into their life from surviving a massive natural disaster which rocks the island to raising their baby son together.

I don’t want to disclose more of the story suffice to say, this isn’t what you would call a feel good story and to be quite honest, during the viewing I had mixed emotions ranging from bemusement, sadness and hopelessness. There are funny moments during the film such a family of crabs which follow the man around during his solo days and almost seem to see him off during his escape attempts yet are waiting for him on the sand when he emerges from the water each time. It’s quite beautiful how Ghibli films have a knack for not just having the main characters being the focus of the story but how the most unassuming objects in the setting lend a hand to carry the narrative. In this case, the makers know that the film is quite depressing and inject these moments to add some levity and softer moments and for the most part they do their part.

One important thing to note is that there is no dialogue during the film whatsoever so it’s a testament to the storytellers that they can run a film for close to 90 minutes without having a slow or boring moment. Just when you think you know how the film’s going to end up, something changes to keep you on your toes and it’s moments like this that make you realise you’re not just watching another animated feature. The animation is very Ghibli-esque and in particular, the three characters have all look amazing. I couldn’t find out what technology was used to animate but it looks like they’ve been motion captured as the end result is quite stunning with a striking visual look.

It’s because go the way that it’s presented that I found it hard to score this film so I’ve had to go with two scores. One for the story and one for the animation and overall presentation. Keep in mind that despite the foreboding message throughout the film, it’s still quite essential watching for any Studio Ghibli fans and only serves to build their impressive roster of rich storytelling and, at times, adult concepts. If you get the chance, give it a watch and let us know what you think of it.

*Thanks to Madman for review copy*

Final score:

Story: 6.5/10 – Dark, moody, depressing. Watch when you’re in a really, really good mood.

Overall presentation: 8.5/10


Ok, this next bit of news is probably the most excited I’ve been in a long time! Madman recently announced that they’re bringing a Studio Ghibli celebration to Australian cinemas with CELEBRATE STUDIO GHIBLI. This is an event that will run for one month showcasing the beautiful Ghibli movies beginning from August 24th through to September 20th, 2017 across Australia and New Zealand.

The event will see all 22 Studio Ghibli movies in a theatrical release format to entertain long time fans and newcomers alike. Here’s a brief list of what you can expect to see in the cinema: My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, Porco Rosso, My Neighbors The Yamadas and as a special treat for the first time in Australia and New Zealand cinema, Ocean Waves.

As well as showcasing the Ghibli animated catalogue, there will also be special screenings of documentaries including The Kindgom of Dreams and Madness and Isao Takahata and His Tale of The Princess Kaguya. not to be left out, Ghiblies Episode 2 (2002) short film, and On Your Mark (1995), the animated music video for Japanese rock duo Chage & Aska will also feature.

And as a bonus, the opening night of each film will see attendees receiving an exclusive, commemorative CELEBRATE STUDIO GHIBLI A1 print designed by multi-award-winning Australian artist, writer and filmmaker, Shaun Tan (THE LOST THING, THE ARRIVAL).

For more info on the opening night specials, keep checking Japandaman for updates. We’ll have the updates on our Facebook page and Twitter as well. And don’t forget to check the official site for session times and screening locations.


Today we went to Tokyo Skytree to check out the amazing stores there…but really to try and find a Mimikyu plushie at the Pokemon Centre. (SPOILER: They were all sold out). We found an amazing Studio Ghibli store, had some lunch and heaps of other cool stuff. Oh, and towards the end, our camera broke 🙁 So that night we had to rush to Akihabara to buy a new one!

ACMI Presents Essential Anime Heroines

If you’re short on having something to do in the lead up to Christmas, then check out the Essential Anime Heroines movie festival which kicked off yesterday at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Federation Square in Melbourne.

There’s a great array of films up for selection with classic Ghibli fare My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, Arrietty, Princess Mononoke and other more contemporary titles like Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.


The festival runs through til December 23rd and films are available in both subbed and dubbed versions, just make sure to check the guide when making a booking. For more info, head on over the festival page on the ACMI site.

Studio Ghibli Meets The Real World In Evocative Video

Ever wondered what Studio Ghibli characters would look like in the real world? How Totoro, Kiki, No Face and more would interact in real life? No need to wonder anymore. Thanks to YouTuber Kojer, you can now see what that would look like. They’ve expertly and lovingly crafted a clip with the beautiful viola cover of Spiríted Away: One Summer’s Day over the amazing footage and the result is quite breathtaking. Crank up those speakers!


Review: Only Yesterday (Blu Ray)

Review copy from Madman.


Only Yesterday is an absolutely charming movie from Studio Ghibli about a young lady named Taeko who travels to the beautiful Japanese countryside town of Yamagata to assist with the annual harvest of the safflower. The film jumps back in forth from Taeko’s upbringing in Tokyo as a ten year old living with her grandmother, parents and two older sisters to the present time as a 27 year old woman.


The film was released back in 1991 and is set in the 60’s and 80’s time era with a fairly heavy hand on realism for that period. It was aimed at adults when it received its theatrical release and surprisingly went on to become the highest grossing movie of the year in Japan.

Yamagata is where the family of her brother in law lives who she assists in the harvest as well as drawing the attention of her in law’s second cousin, Toshio. As the film jumps back and forth in time, you can sense the nostalgia within Taeko and the memories which she can’t let go of. From her earliest interest in a boy at her school going awry to what could have possibly been a promising career in acting going off the rails thanks to her very stern father. Her father is the very strong head of the family while her mother tries to help Taeko navigate her way through childhood even if it comes across heavy handed as well. Her sister, Yaeko, in particular seems to spend a lot of her time ridiculing and putting young Taeko down.


Anyone familiar with past works from Studio Ghibli should feel right at home with this one. First off, the animation is simply exquisite. And I don’t mean that in a fancy way however the very reduced colour palette and basic drawing style only helps to push the story along and really immerses you in the character development as there isn’t anything distracting in the way. In an age where anime is full of 3DCG and lush colours, it’s really nice and makes for a welcome change of pace. You almost feel like you’re watching animation in its infancy, far earlier than the 1991 in which this film was released. The environments are just to die for and really draw you into the film in a way which makes you feel like you’re really there. It’s a Ghibli trademark where they can make you feel like in this way by only using basic animation and colours, they really masters of what they do.


Even the characters, while not extremely lifelike in drawing, have very human nuances. As in the way people in real life interact with each when talking by doing things that seem automatic like pulling hair from their eyes, scratching the back of your neck if unsure or put on the spot about something or even fidget about nervously, the Ghibli animators haven’t left anything out, it’s quite remarkable really.


The music is another standout, from the beautiful classical pieces to the choral voices used sparingly throughout, it’s quite stunning to the ears. And it’s yet another stroke of genius to Ghibli.

I really really loved this movie from the start to the end and when the credits start rolling, don’t turn it off as you’ll miss literally the best part of the movie! Ghibli films can be quite evocative and really pull at your heartstrings and this is no different. From her difficult and testing childhood to her time as a young woman, you’ll find yourself really drawn to Taeko, she’s such a multifaceted character.

Final score: 10/10

Studio Ghibli And Totoro Go Virtual

With the rise in popularity of virtual reality, thanks to the decrease in price of the tech involved, a lot more companies are starting to branch out into this new platform. Now, if you happen to own a HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, you can explore some pretty cool worlds recently made available to the public.

Nick Pittom from Fire Panda has been hard at work on some worlds from the Studio Ghibli universe. Specifically, there are sections from Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro which you can check out in the VR world. To get a better idea, have a look at the clip below:


Fire Panda is a British virtual reality development studio who amongst other projects were also behind the Apollo 11 VR experience. You’ll be able to walk around these environments and be able to check out Totoro at the iconic bus stop scene in full detail which sounds great.

catbus totoro

You can pick up the demo from WEARVR and start checking out these amazing fantastical worlds today!