Technical Issue!

AsperJosh has suffered a heavy impact. Every picture on every post before the Africa one has been lost due to an album online becoming corrupted.
I have almost every picture stored across 2 laptops and will slowly begin to re-upload them to my posts over a long period of time!
I will be starting from latest posts and work backwards to re-upload the pictures.
Thank you for understanding!
Joshua :'(

UPDATE - Fixed Posts

2015 posts fixed so far:
- Tough Mudder 2015 - MCM Expo 2012 + Past Experiences - Telling People, I Have Aspergers - 5CPS - Marvel Phase Three - Attack On Titan - MCM Oct 2015 - Interstellar - Star Wars VII - Star Wars Original Trilogy - Star Wars Prequel Trilogy - Star Wars Battlefront - The Fault In Our Stars - Chronicle - Evans Night Out + Winter Wonderland 2015 -

2014 posts fixed so far:
- A Year's Progression At The Gym - 5CPS - The Land Before Time - X-Men Premier - X-Men DOFP - Halloween 2015 - Online Dating - Macbook Pro -

House MD, 3 Years Driving currently in progress.
More to be mended

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Studio Ghibli: Spirited Away (Anime Review)

Here's an Anime that I think will touch the hearts of all ages and is suitable for families to enjoy who might even be new to watching Japanese Anime. I find this incredibly talented company to be the equal rival to Disney's PIXAR thanks to stories which act like journeys, great voice cast and animation that opens your eyes to a whole new world and culture, through the work of Hayao Miyazaki and his team/ friends. Here's the story of what happens when you are Spirited Away.

Reluctant and spoilt 10-year-old Chihiro Ogino - Voiced by: "Rumi Hiiragi" (Japanese) and "Daveigh Chase" (English) is moving to a new town with her parents on one summer's day. But the family end up taking a wrong turn off the main road and end up entering the Spirit World. Having wondered off as her parent's pig out on some food in an abandoned town, Chihiro runs away as the sunsets after startling Haku - Voiced by: "Miyu Irino" (Japanese) and "Jason Marsden" (English) of her presence. But to her shock, her parents have now turned into giant pigs. Trapped and alone in the Spirit World, Chihiro must learn to survive by working in a Bath House where spirits work and resent humans. Now caught in a contract that holds her real name and freedom, Chihiro (now called Sen) must learn to grow up and work with others if she is to not be turned into a pig herself. Just how can she save her parents and get back to the real world?

It's been 15 years since this film was released to the world (and it's been 7 years since I was introduced to it). I ended up watching this one evening in my first month at College after I had joined an Anime Group (many who have been my friends since). I was being re-introduced into the world of "alternative culture" including Anime which I hadn't really indulged myself into compared to have only watched a handful of Anime's whilst growing up and still ploughing through like Pokemon, Digimon, Yugioh, Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon etc. And I was also shown Akira one evening... but let's not go their right now as that was even tough for the 16-year-old me to take in on the first time.

But the thing is that it's actually thanks to this Anime that I rekindled my love for all things Japanese because I ended up joining my friends to my first of many Comic-Con adventures, trying Japanese Cuisine and watching many kinds of genres of Anime to this date. I love this life because it's a lifestyle that millions of people have now indulged themselves in for satisfying and maybe comforting reasons too. Anime is just one the very things in life that brings people together to discuss, share, review and overall enjoy! It's just so wonderful!
Anyway, onto the story.

The story sounds sad because of the prejudice and fear of being alone in a world that you never intended to wonder into. But the uplifting thing is that the film holds wonder through animation, music and a touch of heart as one girl learns to overcome many challenges in her way in order to survive.
The spirits aren't really intimidating to strike fear into you (well except for that one part when one spirit starts to eat others out of succumbing to madness) but they actually make up the film since theirs a wide variety of well thought out and drawn Japanese spirits (many based off of Japanese Mythology). I liked Kamaji since his face reminded me a little of Dr. Robotik from the Sonic The Hedgehog games and he was a friend along with Haku (sometimes).
I've been watching this Studio Ghibli for years and it's maybe my favourite out of the collection (not just for it being my first one) but it's the music and other reasons which I've yet to explain onwards. I really like how Disney worked with the studio on this one (I don't know if that's the reason why it's critically acclaimed) but it's interesting how 2 separate animation studios on opposite sides of the globe can come together to make a masterpiece.

Studio Ghibli is famous for being the Japanese "PIXAR" of the world because it's collection of stories and character are somehow linked like the PIXAR universe thanks to connections / easter eggs in following films. Like for example, I noticed the Huge Tree from My Neighbour Totorro in the background of the beginning of the film as we see the new town that the family is moving to. Plus I think I saw a silhouette of the sister from Grave Of The Fireflies during the train scene. It's sheer genius when studios can put subtle hints in films to get the audience looking everywhere to spot and discuss just like how Disney PIXAR are famous for. I mean even "John Ratzenberger" plays one of the Assistant Managers of the Bath house in the dub!
Speaking of famous voices, the collection has quite the celebrity names to provide the English Dub for many characters in the Studio Ghibli collection. Just to mention a few names include Anne Hathaway, Christian Bale, Timothy Dalton, Liam Neeson etc. But this one most recognisably has Chihiro voiced by the same woman who does Lilo from Lilo & Stitch!
I've spent many times watching the Dub because the lip sync is perfect as well as the actors portraying the characters too. Back when I saw this the first time with my friends, we watched nothing but Eng Dub Animes and then by 2012, we all got into Eng Sub more so that we could watch things with a bit more emotion and no censorship in words and scenes. Plus we are further ahead instead of waiting for the Dub to finish... sorry I got off topic again!

The animation and artwork is beautiful for it's time back in 2001. The watercolour backgrounds and animated characters (many hand-drawn too) are what make this famous film. Every Ghibli is just as famous for it's work but also the evolution of animation, detail and beauty on screen for it's decades of work and films which never cease to amaze the world.
My favourite parts are the beginning when they are driving because we see how old the town is and how it unknowingly shares a link to the spirit world nearby. Another is once they's entered the world unknowingly because the field was beautiful and made me eager to be their myself to run around and take in the view and soothing isolation from the stress of the world.
My last one is the ocean from later on in the film, which I'll explain in a bit why it's my all time favourite moment.

My only sad thought about the film is how this film is a tribute if I may add to the amazing woman "Suzanne Pleshette" who was the voice of the villainous witch and rule of the bath house Yubaba ("Mari Natsuki" was the Japanese voice actor for her too). Yubaba was a fearsome witch with an enormous head and unmeasurable power that even sent shivers down my spine when I saw this first time.
Anyway, my point is that like how I made a similar tribute point in my The Land Before Time post to the voice actor of Ducky, I honour this film to Suzanne's memory. I recognised her the first time I saw the film in Eng Dub because I realised she was the same voice actor who played Scar's wife Zira from The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride (her song was as good as Scar's song in the first time) a few years earlier from this one.
I can still hear the same villainous powerful and gentle tone in her voice for this film (even if she's not singing this time).

One of the uplifting moments has to be when Sen saves the evening when a Spirit needs her help when his repulsive odour is affecting everyone in the bath house. She pulls through the struggle and manages to help him and is compensated handsomely (winning everyone's respect). But the bit when he arrives was hilarious to see everyone struggling to not make faces and to show respect to the stomach turning foul and repulsive odour of this spirit...
Plus it's somewhat entertaining when a spirit No-Face enters the Bath House and ends up eating other spirits because he develops a voice and ends up getting everyone's greedy attention through compensation and large cuisine till madness strikes. But he is still good overall and you'll have to see it to understand better.

Joe Hisaishi is the mastermind behind the soundtrack. I've already explained in a favourite part about the beginning which is the songs One Summer's Day and A Road to Somewhere are about the gentle piano with strings prelude into the film but also takes my mind away to the countryside and wide-open spaces of peace. Like the thought of standing in a peaceful and tranquil environment and opening your arms out, closing your eyes and just listening to everything.
Day Of The River is a similar play on the opening song but also extends into more which makes it a stand out song (even though the moment is quite emotional and sad).

There's something about that whole scene and music for The Sixth Station that really brings out the emotions in the film. I agree with the screenshot (YouTube comment from the link I've provided) because the song sometimes brings out tears because the scenery is breathtaking and the music is emotionally stirring.
I would love to be able to stand on flat water (like I mentioned in Clannad about the flat salt lake in Bolivia) because it would make unimaginable photography and to even be on a train travelling across the flat water is an even better dream. I have no idea if such a railway exists but it would be on my bucket list as is the Salt Lake (shame I'm chicken of going to Brazil because of the world's most dangerous spider X(... maybe if I had a private Jet or Helicopter someday to just arrive, do my stuff then head back haha).

The conclusion to some answers in the film was a good discovery because of the hidden connection and past memory of Haku and Sen because he somehow knew her but didn't remember why. It was the answer that saved him and gave him back his happiness and awakened a new spirit in him to help change his life again. I really admire and enjoy the story because of the deep hidden meanings behind growing up and changing for the better in order to prevail.

I'm happy with the ending but can't help but notice that the film was in fact a journey. We see how people must learn to become more independent and to have courage when clueless on what to do. The fact that she stuck to it when she was told and promised to "not look back" at the end shows that she really has matured even if it's sad to know the true meaning behind actually ever having a reunion.
The ending song The Return is a touching return to the opening song but it's been altered into a conclusion compared to the beginning's version. It's for the best but also quite bittersweet on how things must turn out because of the differences in life and worlds. But her last words are the answer to the film about now growing up and being more sensible than before. It would make a great story to tell future generations or write a book about if I was in her shoes.

The credits song Always With Me is a nice vocal version of the main theme even if I don't understand what "Yumi Kimura" is singing. But it's a very nice song like you'd play on a relaxing Sunday or when walking through the countryside in my opinion.

So overall, this film is really worth your time. It might not be the Ghibli you want to start with. But I do recommend Howl's Moving Castle or Nausicaa Of The Wind or even My Neighbour Totorro (did you spot him in Toy Story 3?) since they are just a few of the most acclaimed ones (I don't mean to sound bias but every film is actually unique and amazing). I still have a few on my list to watch and someday own. But they all have different levels of intensity, emotional stories and amazing music (Princess Mononoke is quite violent and graphical, just thought you'd know).
I hope this has intrigued you into giving Anime a ago and to discover what I've been explaining for yourselves!


  1. The Studio Ghibli films are so beautifully done and touching, aren't they? I think Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most talented directors out there. I have always admired his incredible imagination and artistry.
    My favourite Studio Ghibli film is 'My neighbour Totoro', as it was my first ever encounter with Ghibli. I even went to the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo and sat in a neko-bus (cat-bus), which was not intended for people older than 7 years old (I was bombarded by 'condemning' looks of many visitors of the museum and eventually told off by the staff. but hey, I sat in the neko-bus!)
    'Spirited Away' is very beautiful, too. A true fable with a moral. You made me want to watch it again! hahah Movie night tonight, so it seems!
    Great review, I enjoyed the read :)

    1. So sorry for the delay but I super love your comment! :D
      Aren't they just?! He's an Anime God and always will be (and all the others behind Studio Ghibli and the other directors). It's a unique anime style compared to many other companies.
      That's a great one! I saw that 6 years ago and loved his cameo in Toy Story 3. You are one lucky duck cause that's on my bucket-list as is visiting Japan's urban and rural areas. Good job, never too old for things, when I go to DisneyLand someday I intend to hug many characters :3
      The opening and closing music gets me and I use it a lot when alone or want some Ambient atmosphere. I have that affect on people sometimes ;)
      Thank you so much, glad you enjoyed it :D <3

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