I finally got around to watching the second half of Ghibli’s Ronia series, produced by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro Miyazaki. The entire series is made up of 26 episodes, and I had really loved the first half. As I wrote back then, there are times where the cel shaded CG can feel a bit, well, CG, but overall it’s a gorgeous series, with lovely vibrant colors that make it a joy to watch. It gets pretty intense – in the sense that it’s not all fun and games – and watching the final 8 episodes in a one go really made me feel like I was experiencing an interesting and emotional journey for the main character. I really hope that Ghibli produces more TV series like this.
Even though I’ve always loved Ghibli films (and for the record, my favorite is still My Neighbor Totoro), I never got around to watching the last few films that came out of the studio, starting with From Up on Poppy Hill, and those that followed. I’m finally rectifying that, and started by watching Poppy Hill tonight, and wow, what a fantastic film – I’m ready to include it in m list of favorite Ghibli films. The story is a simple one, but what really drew me in was the atmosphere of the film, as well as the beautifully animated recreation of 60s Yokohama. It’s a true visual feast, and it just goes to show that you can achieve beauty in animation even if the core of the story that you’re telling is a grounded and fairly mundane and dramatic one. It’s really great to see how Goro (Hayao Miyazaki’s son) followed-up on his disappointing directorial debut of Tales from Earthsea, but I’ve already seen him do quite well with Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, the 26-episode TV series he directed, which I quite liked (and it reminds me that I need to get back to it, as I haven’t watched the second half of the series yet). Another realization I had while watching Poppy Hill is that I wonder if the sudden adult turn that Ghibli films took starting with this one (followed by The Wind Rises, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and When Marnie Was There) didn’t contribute to the semi-closure of the studio – these are not kids movies, and so I’m assuming they didn’t draw as big an audience, and you obviously don’t have the merchandise opportunities as well. I just selfishly hope that Ghibli can get back on track, and continue producing beautifully animated films like this.
This is turning into a fantastic series. Produced by Ghibli and directed by Goro Miyazaki (Hayao’s son), you definitely feel the the Ghibli pedigree as you watch it – especially in the pacing – and although the cell shaded CG animation did feel a bit weird to me at first, I quite enjoy it now. I really can’t recommend this enough.