Posts Tagged 'animation'

Wick-Quoting #41: 9

“You owe me a new cape.”

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9 is an animated film by Tim Burton.
That just seemed kind of important to throw out there.  Burton’s signature gothic, sort of cartoon-ish vibe is present in all of the movie, albeit in my opinion diluted into an even more kid friendly form with less genuine weirdness.  9 is a film detailing 9 little bag shaped creatures, who look like mere toys but have actual selves trying to make sense of their lives in a post apocalyptic world.  Burton creates a very vast and lonely world that still shows creepy old signs of the humans that once populated the area.  As pretty much every post apocalyptic film I can think of does, the animacy of humans is pitted against technology becoming too powerful for humans to handle.

What are these things?

There’s nothing really wrong with 9.  It has a lesson to teach its viewers, and does so in a not overly didactic way.  The film has a range of characters, each with their individiual characteristics, and has a good deal of excitement and scary technological villians as well as discovery moments as the audience watches these little creatures attempt to find out the meaning of their creation and exactly how the world fell apart.  However, perhaps ultimately the problem with the film is that it is just a bit too well calculated – a bit too, seen that part over here, and that part over there already – very tried and true.  The film overall just feels very safe.  Burton takes concepts that he knows audiences will embrace and throws in the requisite fight and escape scenes as well as a smattering of romance (which is actually a bit creepy considering the nature of the two involved.  Those of you who have seen the film and know what I’m talking about may know why).  So it all goes on that I have nothing more to really complain about but nothing to really praise either.  Each individual character is based off a perfect little blueprint of characters typical of a lot of movies – the one strong and sort of bossy female, the slightly wimpy but good hearted main character, the big dumb strong lug, etc. etc.  And yeah sure, the movie’s enemy designs are scary enough and there’s a proper feeling of creepiness throughout the film.  It just feels very tried and true.  You know?

There's something behind you...

So overall, kids and their parents too may enjoy the film on the first showing.  Staying true to the movie and watching it time and time again after that?  Well… you probably gave that level of love to the handful of movies that did everything 9 did first.

6.3

Quoted by Sawazz

Check out my new site: http://www.mrwickedproductions.com/wickquoting/?p=137

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Wick-Quoting #40: Rango

“I tip my hat to you… One legend to another.”

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Well, the trailer for the film delivered a bunch of heard-em-before oneliners and an iffy concept – an chameleon named Rango fools his way into becoming a town sheriff and then is faced with numerous comedic hardships upon realizing that being the sheriff actually comes with some dangerous work.  But since Johnny Depp is voicing Rango, I naturally assumed that there must be some kind of off-kilter, whimsical factor to the movie as well.  I mean, Johnny Depp!  The man doesn’t just do normal animated movies like that!

How goofy!

And, long story short, he really doesn’t.  Rango is basically a film about what I just briefly explained.  Except that there is a handful of strangeness – a mystery afoot involving water, Rango’s silly and light headed qualities that remind one of Jack Sparrow’s own method of don’t act serious and don’t get taken seriously, then find yourself in trouble later on yeah sure but bust your way out of it in a cool manner, and well… some other strange things that you can see for yourself.  The other characters as well as the villains and the fight scenes also deliver a taste of originality that proove to be funny and fairly exciting.  Not to mention the over-arching mystery of the plot – that one got to me, and it delivers an environmental message in a pretty interesting way.  Although those who don’t really know the background of what Rango is trying to tell audiences may not get the full impact of the message, as a Society and Environment major I appreciated what the filmmakers were trying to show young audiences.  And it is certainly nothing for older audiences to scoff at either – I don’t want to preach here, so lets just say, water is important and SCARCE folks.  Yes, in our real world too, not just the world of Rango.

Especially in a desert!

Now, if there are any problems with the film that I felt myself and gathered from friends who also saw the film, it is that as an animated movie – it is a bit difficult to concisely explain, but – I suppose there isn’t a lot of magic to it per say.  Rango is actually a pretty factual film despite the whimsy of a lot of what happens and the characters, and there is no rosy and teary moment of revelation and comraderie or whatever as audiences might expect from watching pretty much the only reliable House-of-Good-Animated-Movies these days, Pixar.  And there aren’t as many friendly laughs and oneliners for kids and feel goodness as a Dreamworks movie like Shrek or Kung Fu PandaRango doesn’t really do feelgood and has a more abstract comedic feel, but I did still appreciate it.  Although its appeal seems to be somewhat hit or miss, I’d recommend giving Rango a try.  I think the filmmakers did try to make a film that stands out a bit from the bumpercrop of other animated films out there, and they have succeeded.  Now it’s up to audiences to accept the film or not.

Rattlesnake Jake is a pretty cool character

7.1

Quoted by Sawazz

MWP: 7.8

Check out my new site at: http://www.mrwickedproductions.com/wickquoting/?p=129

Wick-Quoting #37: Rio

“I have beautiful eyes.”

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Rio is an interesting case for me because I didn’t have a drive to see it, but I was greatly impressed by it overall.  At first, it may seem like your typical family-oriented animation, but it can still be entertaining for other audiences as well.  Even though the whole story is highly predictable, I would still give the film a passing grade (it is better than Hop and the later Shreks).

The voice actors match with their characters pretty well.  I was highly surprised by Anne Hathaway’s performance of Jewel, the love interest in the story, due to her singing.  It seems as though Hathaway is trying to get back into the spotlight, considering her big role as Catwoman in Christopher Nolan’s next Batman movie is appearing soon.  George Lopez is included obviously just because his voice matches with the atmosphere and location of the film.  And Jesse Eisenberg brings his loser quality into his character as he always does.

They are both such geeks

During the first 15 mins, I thought Rio was going to follow a similar pattern as Rango – a pet animal  getting separated from its owner and being forced to live in the wild.  However, Rio has a much different style, considering it is rated only G.  It is surprising how adequately entertaining a G movie can be.  Of course, however, none of the characters die in the film, unlike Rango.  I felt I was robbed the satisfaction of watching some antagonists be killed for their evil deeds.

Blu Hawk

I am not the only one who is giving Rio a good rating.  Reviews everywhere are giving Rio at least a 7 out of 10.  And Rio shows some results with making over 370 million worldwide with only a 90 million budget (and the DVD/Blu-ray hasn’t even come out yet).  Even though Rio has some cliche jokes and camera angles, it is bright, colorful, and flashy, which allows it to take full advantage of being an animated feature.  While the film may not satisfy most adult viewers with its perfect ending, no loose-ties epilogue, kids will definitely enjoy this one.

7.2

Quoted by MWP

Sawazz: 7.4

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Wick-Quoting #29: Megamind

“I was destined to be a supervillain, and we were destined to be rivals!  The die was cast!  And so began an epic enduring lifelong career… and I LOVED IT!”

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Hi everyone, I am a guest poster for Wick-Quoting, reviewing movies that Mr. Wicked hasn’t yet seen (or doesn’t want to see)!

For the past few years, movie theaters have been flooded with computer graphic animated films that often come with a 3-D option.  When was the last time any of you saw a traditional 2-D animated film in theaters?  The only high profile example I can think of in the States in recent years is Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.  Anyway, while the medium of computer animation has provided us with some great films – such as, of course, any Pixar film – the rest of these movies out there, with their similar witty banter, cool graphics, and feel good morals, all feel like part of one big series.  A couple examples of the kind of films I’m talking about here include Monsters vs. Aliens, Alpha and Omega, Legend of the Guardians, and so on and so on.  Of course, some of these movies are pretty good, but it doesn’t change the fact that their basic formula includes the requisite wittiness, graphics, and morals.

I wonder what's going on here

Megamind is no different.  The film is about the titular antihero Megamind’s endless battle to defeat his archnemesis and hero of Metro City, Metro Man.  But when Megamind finally accomplishes his lifelong goal, he suddenly faces the realization that maybe he was aiming for the wrong thing all along.  Oh, and just like a certain other anti-villain film that came out this year, a minion is featured!

MINION!!

The above is spoiler free Megamind in a nutshell.  Sounds a bit like the summary of some cheesy “how to change your life” book doesn’t it?

A notable aspect of Megamind is that it features a surprisingly robust lineup of voice actors from Tina Fey to Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt.  (Ben Stiller is in the mix too!)  However, honestly the usage of Brad Pitt and Tina Fey’s voices seems like a bit of a waste.  Both of them are talented individuals, but their talents aren’t really suited to voice acting since they sound pretty generic.  Whenever you hear Jonah Hill, on the other hand, you know unmistakeably that it’s him, and I must say I think his voice matches his character pretty well.

A famous cast has definitely helped the film's rep

Overall, just like Brad Pitt’s voice acting in this film, I’d say that the best word to describe Megamind is generic.  Sure there are cool graphics, witty lines, and a feel good plot with a few twists and turns.  For a mindless dose of decent entertainment, I’d say Megamind is just fine. But overall in this big overarching series created by the many other computer graphic animated movies out there, Megamind doesn’t particularly stand out.

7.0

Quoted by Sawazz

Wick-Quoting #18: Despicable Me

After I saw the first trailers for this movie, I was like, “wtf is this about?”  Then, later on, when the trailers revealed the little girls, it become all too obvious.  Basically, Despicable Me is about a villain who learns to become a caring father.  Now that we know what it’s about, why should we watch it?  To find out how it happens..

Ballet lessons?

I have to admit, Despicable Me is not a challenging or unique film.  The protagonist, Grue, and the children end up loving each other after each suffer hardships.  Because of the simplicity of the story, the film seems to be directed towards children a little more than I’d like (especially cause when watching the film at the theaters; there’s always some loud kid at a “children’s” movie).  Even so, the film is doing very well, having a worldwide gross of 188 million, with a production budget of only 69 million.  With such a low budget, it’s strange how the film has quite the popular voice actors, including Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Will Arnett, and Kristen Wiig.  Everyone’s favorite character, Agnes, the little girl, is voiced by some unknown girl.  Don’t look up who she is; it’ll just ruin your image of the cute character she plays.

I wanna go to a carnival too

The film has some addictive (and lame) lines.  Sadly, most of the good ones are shown in the trailers.  What the trailers fail to depict is how enjoyable the minions really are.  The minions are interesting characters – they have low jobs and are expendable, yet, they are key spectacles in the film.  What I mean by spectacle is they don’t help really in furthering the story.  While being fun to watch, they freeze the plot, making them only candy to the eye, similar to how women are treated in the majority of Hollywood films.  Even so, I feel they put in the right amount of scenes with the minions to make the film cute and funny, but not too much as to make the film of just adorable scenes.

Minions, get me a bapoy!!

So is Despicable Me the best animation film of this summer?  Sadly, no (it’s pretty obvious what is though).  However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the watch.  Considering that it is a new franchise, Despicable Me is doing really well in terms of both profit and popularity.  Especially when you look at how it has to compete with Inception and Toy Story 3 – both very tough opponents.

Angel? No.. I'm your inner demon!!

The film is definitely targeted towards little kids (and possibly girls), not so much older boys (like me).  The minions def make this film a popular one.

7.8

Wick-Quoting #16: Toy Story 3

This is more of an analysis than a review.  There is no need for me to persuade you to watch Toy Story 3.  It is fawesome.  And seriously, if you haven’t watched it by now then you probably 1) will never watch it anyways and you’re 2) missing the hell out!!

It’s easy to say that Pixar has “done it again” as expected.  Toy Story 3 easily makes viewers laugh out loud (literary) and cry.  So far it has made about 570 million, which is almost 100 million more than the previous film, with a production budget of  200 million.  200 million is a lot more than I expected and it got the job done.  Toy Story 3 beats its closest animated rival, Shrek Forever After considering both money made and entertainment value.  Thank god.  It’s surprising how Shrek still does so well considering that it feels like they’re beating a dead horse (or donkey).  When the film first came out, I wasn’t even sure if it was the 4th or 3rd of the series.  They should’ve stopped at 3, but that’s what happens when you got little kids’ support.  If you think about it, Shrek to kids is sort of like Twilight to fan girls.  Because of little kids supporting Shrek, DreamWorks is wasting time reusing old stories when they could be making something completely fresh and original.  And as for Twilight, I see it fucking EVERYWHERE now.  It’s all about freaking vampires and werewolves – commercials, advertising, movies.  How can you even compare Twilight and Harry Potter?  Seriously, little kids and fan girls ruin EVERYTHING!!

Holy shit, those fan girls are crazy

Back on topic, ah yes, talking toys.  It’s really hard to choose a favorite scene in Toy Story 3, cause it’s all good really (excluding Jesse’s whining).  The opening scene is cleverly done and reminds viewers of the opening of the first Toy Story, only told in a different fashion.  But a general consensus is Buzz’s dancing scene.  It’s strange how a short time of dancing can be so freaking funny.  I laughed so hard watching it.  The only reason I was aware of my position as a spectator was cause of the laughter.  Which is a good thing, unlike being hella bored and catching yourself picking your nose or something.

Buzz Lighter al rescate!!

Pixar is known for their animated actors.  Their actors are actually much better at acting then real life actors.  They express themselves better which comes at no surprise for computer animation.  They say that acting is made up largely from the editing, which is true.  Image a man with a blank expression.  The camera then cuts to a shot of a sandwich, then back at the man.  Viewers would get the impression that the man is hungrily staring at the sandwich.  Now replace the sandwich with a fine woman.  The meaning from the man’s face changes completely from hunger to sexual desire.  It is this editing technique that helps actors in doing their jobs.  It’s what allows Kristen Stewart to act.  Now Pixar’s characters are able to completely overcome this trick, because their facial expressions are superb compared to real life actors.  This is not to say that the characters in Toy Story 3 don’t use editing to their advantage.  It happens all the time.  And some characters need the help more than others, especially the ones with limited movement (the ones made of plastic).

Their faces are not as expressive as Woody's

Yes, some of the characters I’m talking about here include Barbie and Ken.  These two characters are limited in their movement and expressions due to being made of plastic, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t great characters.  Quite the opposite, they are filled with personality, even to the point where a joke is made about Ken’s fashion statement.  These two characters, although they play minor roles, make the film a much more enjoyable experience.  Who can say no to a barbie now?

So there you were..

I’m glad that Toy Story 3 introduced a new side to Buzz that wasn’t previously seen before.  Buzz is frankly, compared to Woody, a boring character.  If you were to describe Woody, it’d be along the lines of loyal, stuck-up, wuss, determined, and leaderish.  If you were to describe Buzz, not the crazy space ranger Buzz, just plain ol’ Buzz, it’d be along the lines of brave.. and.. uh.. kind?  Having Buzz’s Spanish side brings a whole new light on the character, although it should be considered pretty much a whole new character in itself.  I’m not hating on Buzz, I’m just saying.  I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish but Woody is the greatest toy of all time.

Here we go again..

Without a doubt in my mind, Toy Story 3 beats the previous two and is one of this year’s best films.

9.1

Wick-Quoting #8: Imagination Within Imagination

I wanna get private lessons

Introduction

Pretty much every one of Miyazaki’s films contains imagination one way or another.  All of his films are a product of his own imagination after all; however, what about the supposed imagination of the characters within Miyazaki’s films?  Do the characters really imagine these dream-like worlds or fantasies, or are they actually part of the real world within the film?  For example, in Spirit Away, the young girl, Chihiro, is trapped in another world, distant from her own.  At first, she even mentions the possibility that it is all a dream – she even tries hitting herself on the head a couple of times with no avail.  And the film tricks you at the end, when the parents notice the car covered in twigs and leaves, as if it was sitting there for days.  Why does Miyazaki do this – making it a possibility that his characters may be imagining certain important elements and characters – in his films, which realms created by his own imagination?  Miyazaki is known for never being direct with his audiences.  An imaginative world with characters getting lost within their own little imaginative worlds shows Miyazaki’s circuitousness.  So what exactly results from this?

In films, the overall goal for directors is to immerse their audiences into the film, and connect them with the story and characters.  To do so, many different strategies are used, including relatable characters and the following of the growth of the protagonist.  Nowadays, directors rely on 3-D, the cheap and easy method, to further immerse viewers with their films.  Miyazaki’s strategy is to have his characters create an imaginative world of their own, inviting viewers to enter the world of the characters, rather than the world of Miyazaki.  It is, after all, much easier for viewers to relate with the character and her world than with the director and his world.  For starters, characters are seen on screen, while directors are hidden as puppeteers.  So, for Miyazaki to have his viewers engross in his character’s imagination rather than his own makes watching his films a much more enjoyable experience.  In Spirited Away, watching Chihiro interact with characters from her imagination is much more believable and interesting than watching Chihiro interact within another’s world, such as Miyazaki.  In this way, Miyazaki should be viewed as the creator of Chihiro, not Chihiro’s imaginative world.

Spirited Away – Young Fears

Chihiro, the young protagonist, can be easily related with young audiences, and “serves as a potential role model for today’s generation of apathetic Japanese youth” (Napier 288).  The horror of her parents being turned into pigs is something which young audiences can relate to – the fear of transformation and shape shifting.  With this act of transformation, the film is able to mix humor and horror.  Young adults constantly experience transformation in their lives – whether it has to do with ghastly puberty, or just natural steady growth of height.  Young audiences can relate with Chihiro and her world, especially because it is a world created and experienced by a young adult as shown on screen.  It would have been much different, and not as smooth in narration, if Chihiro was an older adult experiencing the trauma of watching her parents turn into pigs.  In that case, the film would eradicate all humor and settle with just horror.  That’s one of the benefits of young adults: the world which Chihiro experiences is acceptable mainly due to the fact of her age; so age has a determining factor of viewers accepting creativity and their willingness to follow it.  We as audiences succumb much more to Chihiro as a character and her imagination because she is at the acceptable age to have these sorts of wild fascinations.  An older character experiencing such imagination would only constitute as a crazy individual, belonging in a mental institution.  Chihiro’s young, imaginative world allows for comfortable, enjoyable viewing.

Now it is not certain that it is Chihiro who creates this other world or that this other world existed and Chihiro just happens to stumble into it.  But this really doesn’t change the fact of who the person in charge of the world is.  Miyazaki created Chihiro, and Chihiro could have possibly created this other world with Haku in it.  Chihiro is still the one who’s in question of imagining this world.  She is also the one experiencing it.

Spirited Away borrows from earlier works, including Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, both stories containing little girls driven by their imagination.  Alice, who experiences a wild adventure in her “dream,” and Dorothy, who enters another world after being knocked out from a tornado, have similar elements with Chihiro.  All three of them enter their world of imagination through a certain portal: a rabbit hole for Alice, a tornado for Dorothy, and a tunnel for Chihiro.

Tunnels are an important medium in Spirit Away.  Chihiro went through a tunnel, which sparked the beginning of the imaginative world.  The tunnel is key to handing over the creative power from Miyazaki, to Chihiro.  This act is necessary in order for viewers to have the mentality that it is now Chihiro’s imagination that they are experiencing.  Even though the tunnel is Chihiro’s portal into her imaginative world, it is not as apparent as Alice’s or Dorothy’s, in that Chihiro is not shown falling asleep.  This only emphasizes Miyazaki’s pleasure of confusing his audiences by not being completely clear in his storytelling.  All that is shown is Chihiro walking through the a red tunnel while clinging desperately onto her mother.  It is clear, however, that the tunnel is the link between the real and fantastic, by the different environments at the opposite ends.

Into the rabbit hole you go...

Within their worlds of imagination, they experience fears which are shared by young adults alike.  And upon conquering them, they all “wake up” to find that it could all have been just a part of their imagination, a dream.  This repetition of a young character exploring her own imagination is apparently a popular storyline in mainstream media.  Winsor McCay, a very successful animator during the early 1900s, made this plotline popular through his comic strip, Little Nemo.  In this comic strip, Nemo went to sleep in order to get to Slumberland, a world built in his dreams.  There, he battled monsters and saved princesses; but in the end of it all, he’d wake up and be scolded or comforted by one of the grownups of the household.  As history proves, having a story told through the imagination of the main character, is a successful and appeal tactic in story telling.  It is no wonder that this way of dreamlike storytelling is used again and again.

As mentioned before, immersing in a character’s imagination rather than Miyazaki’s, makes for a more enjoyable experience.  In Chihiro’s world, she comes across problems and fears that a typical young adult would have.  One of them is the illusion of disappearing from the minds of peers and family members.  This is a common problem young adults face, especially in high school, where being popular and noticeable are one of the main worries to have.  In order to prevent the fear of disappearing or being forgotten, young adults go great lengths, including dressing nicely, having intricate hair styles, and emphasizing on a certain skill.  Chihiro experiences the fear of disappearing in her imaginative world and initially refuses to eat the pill that Haku offers her.  Her fear of disappearing is evidently seen in her expression as he realizes her body becomes see-through.  With the image of horror on her face, viewers can share her fear of disappearing.  Sharing fears between characters and viewers means that a successful viewing experience is being had.

Chihiro realizes she has special powers

Another fear which is universally shared is the fear of heights.  This is a typical fear amongst humans, especially those of a young age.  Chihiro’s fear of heights is apparent in the scene when she attempts to crawl down the side stairs to Kamajii’s work area.  Chihiro’s imaginative world containing such familiar fears makes the film believable and amusing to watch, because we can relate to her fears as our own.  If we are to watch Chihiro as part of an imaginative world of Miyazaki, then we as viewers would have to cut all ties with Chihiro and her experiences, because we would have to view her and her fears as experiences of Miyazaki.  Therefore, Miyazaki acts as a barrier between his viewers and his characters and the adventures that they experience.  So Miyazaki directing his films through his character’s imagination removes himself as a wall, and allows viewers to be closer with his characters.   A good film can be partially determined by the linkage between viewers and characters: the stronger the link, the better the film.

Totoro – Childhood Memories

Totoro has the similar imagination-from-little-girls-is-socially-acceptable-and-interesting experience.    Throughout the whole film, it is unsure if Totoro is a figment of Mei and Satsuki’s imagination, or if Totoro is an actual real being who appears only before them.  Nonetheless, Totoro is coined as part of the girl’s imaginative world, as seen in the scene where the girls first meet the grandmother figure and she explains to them how she was able to see the soot spreaders when she was little.  This explanation tips off the fact that the film from that point on will be seen as part of the girls’ imagination.  Being able to see things when you’re little obviously pertains to a child’s tendency to make believe and imagine.  Imagination as a child is something everyone has done in their life, so the way Mei and Satsuki act is familiar to everyone – from their hallucination of strange creatures down to their childlike fits.  These make the film a lot more interesting, especially considering Miyazaki’s concern that the film wouldn’t be that appealing due to its lack of plot.

How long can you balance for?

The film is filled with imagination from the girls, such as the soot spreaders in the new house to the infamous cat bus.  If you look at the film as a work of Miyazaki’s imagination, you see a plain, Japanese countryside with two young girls trying to satisfy their need of motherly affection through their imagination.  When you view the film as an imaginative world of the girls, the film becomes a lot more interesting.  No one but them can see Totoro.  Totoro helps the girls cope with everyday life.  Using their imagination, Mei and Satsuki allow audiences to see the world through their eyes.  Mei and Satsuki’s imaginative encounter with Totoro shows the excitement that rain can have in the umbrella scene.  Through their imagination, the girls also show an alternative explanation of how wind is made.  Having wind made by Totoro flying about is a much more captivating explanation than saying that wind is made when there exists a difference in pressure.  Through the eyes of fascinated children, audiences see how wind is created, seeds grow, and Totoro travels.  The girls’ imagination not only makes the story more attractive, but also life in general.  Most people would be much more excited in life if they could meet Totoro themselves.

The girls’ imaginative world not only makes the film more enjoyable to watch, but also makes their lives more enjoyable to live in.  With the absence of their mother, a busy father, and a recent move of place out in the country, the girls are in a bit of a tough spot in their lives.  Therefore, it is only natural for them to resort to their imagination to make their lives more exciting (they’re children afterall).  To see children enter their own world of imagination increases the satisfaction of the film twofold.  First of all, watching little kids playing around in their own imaginative world is naturally enjoyable to watch.  People feel good watching others having fun; it’s a natural reaction.  Secondly, watching children play in their own imaginative world allows viewers to reminiscence about their own childhood, which is usually a place marker of pleasurable times and memories.  Also, recollecting old childhood memories allows viewers to link their childhood with Mei and Satsuki’s, further increasing the bond between character and viewer.

Kiki’s Delivery Service – Inclusion of Comedy

Pleasurable memories are usually associated with specific people in a person’s life.  In Kiki’s Delivery Service, Kiki shares a lot of her memories with her black cat, Jiji.  For some reason, whether it’s Kiki’s imagination or just plain magic, Kiki is able to understand Jiji during the beginning part of the film.  As Kiki builds relations with others in town, such as with Osono, Tombo, and Ursula, she begins to lose her understanding of Jiji.  It seems as though as she becomes more mature, she loses her childlike imagination of talking to animals.  This is a bit regrettable due to the fact that Jiji, like Calicifer in Howl’s Moving Castle, is the comic relief character of the film.  He has the lines which make the film a lot less heavy to watch, such as his comment of Kiki posing nude for Ursula and his whole scene with the female cat, Lily.  Not only do viewers benefit from Jiji’s humor of entertainment, but Kiki does as well.  Because it is her imagination which allows her to hear Jiji talk, perhaps she hears him as a sarcastic, comedic character, because that is what she needs most in her life at the moment.

Kiki’s imagination allows the audience to borrow her imagination and enjoy the sequence of Jiji acting like the toy with the old dog.  If it was not for Kiki’s imagination of being able to understand Jiji, then this priceless sequence would probably not contain the same elements of humor.  Jiji the cat would fail to deliver in this situation.  Jiji the comic relief character on the other hand is perfect, with his expression of terror as the dog sniffs him out and cuddles next to him.  Also, thanks to Kiki’s imagination, we as viewers are able to accept the fact of a sweating cat, which adds all the more humor to the sequence.

Cat's can sweat? In animation they CAN!!

Just because young audiences can connect with Miyazaki’s characters easier than older audiences doesn’t mean that only young people can enjoy his characters and their world of imagination.  True, a lot of Miyazaki’s films are focused for a younger audience, such as Kiki’s Delivery Service, which is very popular among the young female viewers.  However, it’s not to say that older viewers can’t enjoy his works.  Older people were once young people as well, sharing the perks and uncertainties of what imagination could bring.  Also, Miyazaki is ultimately the one pulling the strings of the characters and their imaginative worlds, so if older audiences don’t directly connect with the characters and story, then they should still indirectly be able to tie with the film as a whole.

In Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service, the characters express their own imagination to various extents.  By developing a world of their own, they are able to take some part of Miyazaki’s imaginative world and make it theirs.  It’s almost like the characters are stealing some of the spotlight.  In doing so, Miyazaki is removed as a barrier, further increasing the bond between the characters and the audience.  Being involved with the characters’ imagination rather than Miyazaki’s heightens the experience of believability and the impact that the characters have on the viewers.  In Chihiro’s case, the relation of fear, in Satsuki and Mei’s case, the recollection of childhood times, and in Kiki’s case, the inclusion of humor to prevent a lonely adventure.  It is amazing what Miyazaki as a director and storyteller can achieve.  By allowing his characters the unsure vision of an imaginative world, he is able to put emphasis on the characters of the film rather than on his storytelling.  It’s almost as if the characters are the ones controlling the plot of the story; afterall, the films are based on their imagination!

Work Cited

Napier, Susan. “Matter Out of Place: Carnival, Containment, and Cultural Recovery in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.” 12 May 2010.

<http://www.ideonhosts.com/Miyazaki/Library/Spirited_Away/Napier-MatterOutOfPlace-Miyazaki-SpiritedAway.pdf>

Wikimedia Foundations, Inc. “Little Nemo.” 12 May 2010.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Nemo&gt;


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