Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
×
Hello, everyone! Sorry, been busy with 2 jobs, chores, cooking, caring for my family, and trying to help save Net Neutrality.

A few weeks ago, I posted a journal telling you guys how here in the United States, the FCC and Ajit Pai is trying to gut net neutrality and make the internet a corporate business, which will strip us of fast internet, our freedom of speech and communication through the internet, and so much more. I've been calling my senators about this and asked them to oppose the FCC and save our net neutrality. After all, the internet is a stable of democracy, a tool that we use to spread education, communication, and freedom of speech. If the FCC privatize the internet, they get to decide what you can and can't access online, especially to internet sources that exposes their corruptions that they don't want you to know about.

So for my followers who live in the States, you can help by putting a stop to this: call your representatives and senators and ask them to please oppose the FCC's plan to gut net neutrality. You voted them into office, and you, as their constituents, have the right to voice your concerns on the matter of something that you know and believe is wrong. And it is their duty to listen to you. I will provide a video link and the link to help you call your state's senators about this subject. Remember to NOT demand that they do this or else. Be polite and calmly state that you would like your senators and representatives to oppose this subject. Don't worry, the instruction will have a pre-written message to help you when you're trying to call your senators. We now only have a week until December 14! C'mon! We can do this! The internet must remain neutral!

www.battleforthenet.com/

Hello, everyone. I'm sorry that you have to hear from me again with bad news, but this is important. Since the campaign for the presidential election of 2016, I've been paying attention to some political news, and sadly the subject of Net Neutrality is one of them.

I'll get to the point: the US government wants to abolish net neutrality, and if they pass it, then we can all say goodbye to speedy internet, fast Netflix streaming, and going onto our favorite Youtube channels and websites. Why? Because the FCC wants to turn the internet into their own private company which will allow them to control what we can or cannot visit when it comes to websites and such online! Think of it this way: right now we're all speeding nicely on a freeway with fast internet. But if the FCC were to succeed, then we'll find ourselves stuck in traffic, going very slowly. If you glance to your left and you see the faster lane, you'll realize that they won't let you on unless you pay A LOT OF MONEY!!!

This is an atrocity because it infringes upon our right for freedom of speech, communication, and now we use the internet as a whole! How conspicuously that they're trying to repeal it this December 14 when we're all too busy celebrating the holidays to notice? Well, we HAVE noticed!!!

www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…

Ajit Pai, who's been working for the FCC and has been trying to push for this monstrosity for months, have and will be telling you otherwise. He and his fellow corporate shrills have been trying to use flowery languages, making us think that they're improving it for the better good and that they're doing it to help people. No, for progressives who have done their research, this is far from true. The only people they're interested in helping is themselves and their pockets. Can any of you imagine that you wake up one day and suddenly, you discovered that your internet is extremely slow, you're denied access to some sites that you've known and loved! You find out that YOU HAVE TO PAY TO GO TO THESE SITES! Yes, we do have to pay for our internet services, but to pay more money to visits the sites that you love? The government is telling you what you can and can't do online. What does this sound like? Personally, this sound very similar to communism in my parents' homeland where freedom and speech on the internet is strictly controlled. This isn't fare to us because living in the digital age, we now have to rely on the internet for many reasons just as businesses, paying our bills, communication, education, creativity, etc, etc.!

This is sadly one of the many realities that America is going through right now and it does make us lose our faith in humanity more each day. Our president is an idiot who either doesn't know how to govern his country or just doesn't care. Instead, he spends his time Tweeting, insulting, firing a lot of his staff, makes insensitive remarks and accusations without a shred of proof and tries to deny or covers it up. Our government is constantly trying to repeal our healthcare, which will force us to may higher amounts for worse medical coverage. At the same time, they're constantly trying to find ways to exempt taxes for the rich while the people still toil and pay our "fair" shares. I have seen citizens who tried to protest against oil pipelines (ex. the KeyStone pipelines) that would undoubtedly cause damages to their lands branded as terrorists! Recently, it's been revealed that the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, had rigged the primaries against Senator Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton all along. And when we try to question the Democrats about it, they dodge the question and kept insisting on looking to the future. These politicians aren't considering learning from their mistakes, instead choosing to ignore it and us. And now, abolishing net neutrality is just another one of their attempts to fill their pockets with more money.

Expressing our opinions on the internet is a part of our right in terms of freedom of speech. According our our 1st Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Our freedom of speech and communication is in danger. And the Government and FCC is violating this very Amendment because the Internet is a Freedom of Speech just like in reality how we have a freedom of speech. IF THEY DO NOT RESPECT THAT Amendment then they are a disgrace to our Ancestors who created the Bill of Rights!
 
Our democracy is in danger because people like Ajit Pai, the FCC, and many American politicians are more than happy to forsake our lives, our health, our future, and now our freedom of speech so long as they get rich. This cannot stand! These duplicitous politicians and filthy corporate shrills have been trying for months to get rid of net neutrality! They know that we hate it and that we've been trying to stop them. Now, they're trying to sneak it in again around the holiday season, hoping that we're too busy celebrating with our family to notice what they're trying to do! 

www.cnet.com/news/reddit-sees-…

For all of our sake, our lives, our future, and our democracy, we have to stop this from happening. Is it not enough that we pay so much for our television cable companies, for our phone services, our medical insurances, our children's education, and such? Please, let us all work together to stop this from happening and protect Net Neutrality-Now and forever.

To learn more about this and see how you can help, I will provide for you links to videos about this issue. Since I live in California, I have called my state's senators as well as the representative of my California district and left them messages about this important issue. As our state's representatives and senators, they are to listen and help their people, you as citizens, have the right to voice your concerns to them. You can also call Ajit Pai, (202)418-1000 and leave him a message. You can contact your state's congressmen and women about this issue and state (politely, but firmly) that if they do not help, we'll be voting them out of office next term! You can also help by spreading the words about this before it's too late. This isn't something that you can say, "Oh, it's just another political issue. This doesn't involve me. I'll let other people handle it. I have my own life to live." No, this DOES involve you. It involves all of us because it affects how we live due to our reliance on speedy internet to conduct our daily businesses and entertainments. As citizens, it is our duty to speak up and fight back when we see the foundation of our democracy being undermined by corrupted people in power. 

Hey, guys.

Last week, my uncles in Australia called, telling us that my grandmother is getting weaker with age. Hearing this, my mother decided to fly back home to take care of her elderly mother, leaving me in charge of taking care of my family here. These past few weeks and the next several months will be busier than ever for me because I have to balance with work, finding a second job, chores, cooking, and many, many, many more. Because of my busy schedule, I won't have free time to draw or write as much as I want to. So if you guys see less activities from me on Deviantart, this is why. I will try to finish my To-Do list and I'm still technically opened for commission during my free time. Just expect a little bit of a slow progress from here on out.
Hey, guys. Yeah, it's been a while since I've last done a "To-Do" list. The past two years have kept me busy with work and going back to college to learn new things. I should have done this on New Year's Day, but better late than never. ;p

Anyway, before I get to the "To Do" list, I like to mention that this year, I just started 2 new groups here on Deviantart. The first one I've already mentioned, is a fan club for LoliRock called "LoliRock-World" :iconlolirock-world: The second one is also a fan club but for this idol anime series Aikatsu! and its spin-off Aikatsu Stars! called "Aikatsu Stars Academy" :iconaikatsustarsacademy: Please come and check it out and if you're interested join and have some fun! Membership is automatic and so are submissions into the groups' galleries.

Okay on with the To Do List. Note that this list is subjected to change as time will go by. Personally, I don't think I'll be able to finish all of these ideas this year, but we'll see. Some things won't be done in time but will be moved to next year and other ideas will be added on later depending on my mood or sudden spur of inspiration.

*If you see stars next to something, it means I'm currently working on it.
:star::star-empty::star-empty::star-empty: 25% complete
:star::star::star-empty::star-empty: 50% complete
:star::star::star::star-empty: 75% complete
:star::star::star::star: 100% completed and will have thumbnails or links to it

:bulletblue::bulletyellow:Writing Projects:bulletblue::bulletyellow:


:bulletred: W.I.T.C.H. season 1 and 2 episode reviews
:bulletorange: Winx Club season 7 episode reviews
:bulletyellow: WoW: World of Winx episode reviews
:bulletgreen: H2O: Just Add Water episode reviews
:bulletblue: (Mako Mermaids and H2o Mermaid Adventures episode reviews will probably be moved to 2018 OR will be written at the same time as the original series...whichever comes first)
:bulletpurple: W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria Chapter 8 Part 4 "A Mermaid's Tear" [COMPLETED]--> www.fanfiction.net/s/8731586/2…
:bulletpink: W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria Chapter 8 Part 5 "A Mermaid's Tear" [COMPLETED]--> www.fanfiction.net/s/8731586/2…
:bulletpink: W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria Chapter 8 Part 6 "A Mermaid's Tear" :star::star-empty::star-empty::star-empty:
:bulletwhite: W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria Chapter 9 Part 1 "The Sacred Treasures"
:bulletblack: W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria Chapter 9 Part 2 "The Sacred Treasures"
:bulletred: W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria Chapter 9 Part 3 "The Sacred Treasures"

:bulletyellow::bulletblue:Commission Projects:bulletyellow::bulletblue:

To be available...


:bulletblue::bulletyellow:Drawing Projects:bulletblue::bulletyellow:


Winx Club

:bulletblue: Bloom's Tynix [COMPLETED] --> Fire of the Unicorn
:bulletgreen: Aisha's Tynix [COMPLETED] --> Cry-Cry Drops
:bulletpink: Flora's Tynix [COMPLETED] --> Strength of the MagiWolf
:bulletorange: Stella's Tynix [COMPLETED] --> Shinygreed Enchantment
:bulletpurple: Tecna's Tynix [COMPLETED] --> Techsquirrel Flash
:bulletred: Musa's Tynix [COMPLETED] --> Harmony of the Quillcat
:bulletyellow: Roxy's Tynix [COMPLETED] --> Instinct of the Yaffles

:bulletblue: Bloom's Dreamix
:bulletgreen: Aisha's Dreamix
:bulletorange: Stella's Dreamix
:bulletpink: Flora's Dreamix
:bulletred: Musa's Dreamix
:bulletpurple: Tecna's Dreamix
:bulletyellow: Roxy's Dreamix



W.I.T.C.H.

:bulletpink: Will's 4th Transformation (design sketch finished) 
:bulletblue: Irma's 4th Transformation (design sketch finished)
:bulletorange: Taranee's 4th Transformation (design sketch finished)
:bulletgreen: Cornelia's 4th Transformation (design sketch finished)
:bulletpurple: Hay Lin's 4th Transformation (design sketch finished)
(No spoilers! The 4th transformation does have a name that will be revealed later. No, the 4th transformation that I created WON'T appear in my Dreams of Lusteria story.)

:bulletblue: Cassidy concept art: [COMPLETED] --> Cassidy's Transformation Concept Art
:bulletorange: Halinor concept art[COMPLETED] --> Halinor's Transformation Concept Art
:bulletpurple: Yan Lin concept art: [COMPLETED] --> Yan Lin's Transformation Concept Art
:bulletgreen: Kadma concept art: [COMPLETED] --> Kadma's Transformation Concept Art
:bulletpink: Nerissa concept art [COMPLETED] --> Nerissa's Transformation Concept Art

:bulletred: W.I.T.C.H. vs the Runics (had this idea for a few years already. Never got to it)

:bulletpink: LoliRock Will [COMPLETED] --> LoliRock Will
:bulletblue: LoliRock Irma
:bulletorange: LoliRock Taranee
:bulletgreen: LoliRock Cornelia
:bulletpurple: LoliRock Hay Lin

Dreams of Lusteria

:bulletblue: Cover for Chapter 8 A Mermaid's Tear :star-empty::star-empty::star-empty::star-empty:
:bulletred: Cover for Chapter 9 The Sacred Treasures
:bulletorange: Cover for Chapter 10 A Fiery Passion

:bulletyellow: Character Concept Art - Hwang-Ryong
:bulletpurple: Character Concept Art - Seiryuu
:bulletred: Character Concept Art - Zhu Que
:bulletblue: Character Concept Art - Xuan Wu
:bulletgreen: Character Concept Art - Byakko
:bulletblack: Character Concept Art - The Prince of Darkness
:bulletyellow: Character Concept Art - Supportive Characters part 1 (Lusterian Royalties)
:bulletorange: Character Concept Art - Supportive Characters part 2 (Other Lusterian Characters)
:bulletblue: Character Concept Art - Supportive Characters part 3 (Heatherfield Characters)
:bulletwhite: Kimi's first transformation
:bulletblack: Kyochi's first transformation
:bulletwhite: Kimi's Power Girl
:bulletblack: Kyochi's Power Boy
:bulletwhite: Kimi's 4th transformation (design sketch finished)
:bulletblack: Kyochi's 4th transformation

LoliRock

:bulletpink: Iris
:bulletblue: Talia
:bulletorange: Auriana
:bulletgreen: Lyna
:bulletpurple: Carissa
:bulletred: LoliRock: BFF
:bulletorange: LoliRock: Higher
:bulletyellow: LoliRock: We Are Magic
:bulletgreen: LoliRock: Revolution [COMPLETED] --> LoliRock: Revolution
:bulletblue: LoliRock: Celebrate
:bulletpurple: LoliRock: Never Give Up
:bulletpink: LoliRock: New Star Generation
:bulletyellow: LoliRock: LoliStep
:bulletgreen: LoliRock: Reach the Stars
:bulletorange: LoliRock: Party Talking

Star Darlings

:bulletpurple: Sage (Sagittarius)
:bulletpink: Libby (Libra)
:bulletyellow: Leona (Leo)
:bulletblue: Vega (Virgo)
:bulletblack: Scarlet (Scorpio)
:bulletwhite: Cassie (Cancer)
:bulletgreen: Piper (Pisces)
:bulletred: Astra (Ares)
:bulletgreen: Tessa (Taurus)
:bulletblue: Adora (Aquarius)
:bulletpurple: Clover (Capricorn)
:bulletorange: Gemma (Gemini)
:bulletyellow: Star Darlings band

Aikatsu!

(No particular plans as I tend to just recreate whatever I feel like on a whim, but yes, there will still be plenty of fanarts of this awesome anime series)
Hearty Eyes

H2O Mermaid series

(No current plans for this either. I do tend to draw more fan arts of these mermaids, but I don't know what at the moment)

I am currently opened for commission:


This is an updated version of my Commission Rules and List, as it offered more choices. By commissioning me, you agree with the follow TERMS OF AGREEMENT listed below:

:bulletred: Please DON'T claim my artwork as your own.
:bulletorange: Please DON'T re-edit the artworks that you've commissioned from me and post it on your Deviantart account as if it was your own.
:bulletyellow: Please DON'T post the drawings you've commissioned from me on ANY other internet accounts such as Photobucket, Facebook, Twitter, etc. You can share the link to the drawing on Facebook or Twitter.
:bulletgreen: Payments are in USD (United States dollars only.)* Don't worry because your payment is automatically converted to the currency you choose on PayPal.
:bulletpurple: I reserve the right to refuse your commission for whatever reason and I also have the right to keep this reason to myself if needed be.
:bulletpink: It's first come, first serve.
:bulletred: Be aware that there are some situations in life (such as family emergencies or health problems) that may force me to either postpone your order, or if it is too severe and problematic, I will have to cancel it.
:bulletorange: Your commission will start once I have the time, so DO NOT ask me if it's done yet.
:bulletyellow: Please pay AFTER your commission is done. It will be uploaded after I have receive the payment.
:bulletgreen: I have the right to refuse your commission if the order is to draw something that I may consider too inappropriate.
:bulletblue: Once the commission order has been accepted or your ordered drawing have passed the final sketching stage, there is NO CANCELLATION, meaning that you will have to pay!
:bulletpurple: *Please send me a DA Note to discuss payment and commission order.

Commission Menu is listed below:

:star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star:

Sketches

1.) Simple Sketch: $5
Ex: Commission: Wera the Frilly Guardian by Galistar07water

:star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star:

Colored

1.) Gradient-colored (no backgrounds): $12
Ex: Commission: Will and Hay Lin by Galistar07water Commission: We Are the Other New Guardians by Galistar07water Commission: Susan Mill by Galistar07water

2.) Gradient-colored (with backgrounds): $15
Ex: Commission: Team M.A.G.I.K. by Galistar07water W.I.T.C.H. 2010 October by Galistar07water W.I.T.C.H. 2010 September by Galistar07water

3.) Cell-shading (no backgrounds): $25
Ex: Kimi at the 2016 Rio de Jeinaro Olympics by Galistar07water Dreams of Lusteria Hay Lin Concept Art by Galistar07water Zoe at the 2012 London Olympics by Galistar07water

4.) Cell-shading (with existing backgrounds): $30
Ex: Three Mermaids, Magical and Brave by Galistar07water Cleo's Hydrokinesis by Galistar07water The Winter Queen by Galistar07water LoliRock: Revolution by Galistar07water

5.) Cell-shading (with backgrounds): $40
Ex: A Wish to the Milky Way by Galistar07water Sweet Rewards by Galistar07water Invitation From an Ageha by Galistar07water WITCH GothicLoli by Galistar07water

6.) Blended (Cell-shaded characters with traditional technique backgrounds): $50
Ex: Happy Birthday, Cornelia by Galistar07water A Day at the Beach by Galistar07water Hua Lin by Galistar07water Cleo's Aerokinesis by Galistar07water

7.) Comic covers or Movie posters: $45
Ex: WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: Brave New World by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: The Sealed Portal by Galistar07water W.I.T.C.H. 10th Anniversary by Galistar07water


NOTE 01:
If a drawing has more than one character presented, an additional $5 will be charged into your bill for EACH character.
Ex:

NOTE 02: Special effects and colored line-arts will cost you an additional $5
Ex:

NOTE 03: If you want me to design something for your characters or any existing characters, such as a transformation, there will be a $5 creative fee.
Ex: 

NOTE 04: There will be an extra $2.75 added to your bill as tax.


:star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star::bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple::bulletpink::star:

One-Page Comic

1.) Gradient color: $45
Ex: C.H.Y.K.N. Special pg. 21 by Galistar07water

2.) Cell-shading: $50
Ex: C.H.Y.K.N. Special pg. 28 by Galistar07water

3.) Cell-shading (with colored-line arts): $55
Ex: C.H.Y.K.N. Special pg. 33 by Galistar07water
Ponyo (2009)

:star::star::star::star-half:



(Apologies. I was supposed to review this movie before I did Arrietty. Better late than never, I supposed.)

In Hayao Miyazaki's previous film on Howl's Moving Castle, I was left feeling both underwhelmed and overwhelmed at the same time. As gorgeous as it was, it got too convoluted later on in the story for my taste. It did left me wondering if Miyazaki has lost a little bit of his touch. I can say that I'm happy to be wrong as he has redeemed himself in Ponyo on the Cliff By the Sea or simply Ponyo for short. Like both Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away, Ponyo is a visually breathtaking film. While it's not as epic and grand as Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke, this movie is certainly as magical, charming, and poetic. It really reminds me of Miyazaki's earlier work with Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro mixed with a little bit of The Little Mermaid-esqued theme.

Ponyo is a film that starts off in the depth of the ocean. We see a sea wizard/scientist named Fujimoto (Liam Neeson) who seemed to resemble both Willy Wonka and the Mad Hatter doing some spells. Unbeknownst to him, one of his daughters, a little fish named Brunhilde (Nosh Cyrus) decided to sneak off to see the world beyond her bubble. She winds up trapped inside a glass jar as she is washed up on the beach of a small Japanese coastal town. A five-yeah-old boy named Sosuke (Frankie Jonas) rescued her and decided to take care of her, giving her a new name: Ponyo. Sosuke lives with his mother Lisa (Tina Fey) in a small house on top of a hill while his father Koichi (Matt Damon) captains a ship off to sea.

Thinking that Ponyo is a special goldfish, Sosuke keeps Ponyo in a green pail and took her to his pre-school located next door to a senior shelter where his mother works. After a hit and miss introduction with his classmate and elderly friends, Sosuke accidentally lost Ponyo when her father sent water spirits to fetch his daughter home. The thought of his daughter swimming around with "destructive" humans disgust Fujimoto, but to his horror, Ponyo not only refused her real name but wants to become a human. Through sheer will and her powers, Ponyo grew hands and feet and attempted to escape back to her true love again. Not wanting to lose her, her father traps her in a bubble which she later escapes with the help of her hundred sisters. During her second attempt to escape, Ponyo accidentally spilled some of her father's powerful potion that threatens to sink the world under the sea, plunging all of it back into the Age of Fish. But Ponyo doesn't care because she only wants to be with Sosuke.

The two share and joyful and surprising reunion and Ponyo experienced the cozy life as a human child under the care of Tina. The story takes a turn when Fujimoto called his titanic sea goddess wife, the beautiful Gran Mamare (Cate Blanchett) to help restore the balance of the world. Ponyo's parents decided to give both Ponyo and Sosuke a test: if Sosuke's love for Ponyo isn't true, she will transform into sea form. The next morning, Ponyo and Sosuke found their town under water and must use their wits and skills to get to the senior shelters and save Tina and the town.

While Ponyo does share some similarities with Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid, it still stands on its own. Rather than a regular western mermaid, Ponyo and her sisters resembled tiny goldfish with a human face. As creepy as it may sound, Studio Ghibli always managed to make something look terrible look so cute and adorable. (I do question why Ponyo's human form sometimes devolve into something that looks like a chicken, though.) Unlike Howl's Moving Castle, the story and the concept is simpler and more focused. You can't help but love all of the characters. Like some of Miyazaki's earlier films, there are no real villains in Ponyo. Even Ponyo's father isn't evil. Rather, he turned his back on humanity and believed that they don't appreciate the beauty and power of the sea. Despite his deed,s Fujimoto truly loves his daughters. All the chracter's English dubbed voice actors were well chosen and well matched to fit this film. What I also love is the visual backgrounds. Rather than intricate, Miyazaki gave it a more of a watercolor and coloring pencils look, making it feel like a charming children's book story. Whatever the case, it works.

The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)

:star::star::star::star-half:



I remember seeing this animated film as a child. It was based on Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale Thumbelina and sadly, it wasn't by Disney. It's a story about a girl as tiny as your thumb getting lost and having a very strange adventure and ends up marrying a fairy prince. Needless to say, the 1994 film was quite dreadful to watch with very little to like. So far, Disney has adapted two of Anderson's fairy tales into successful films with The Little Mermaid and Frozen, but they have yet to produced other works such as Thumbelina. Perhaps this is because no one at Disney has yet proposed the idea of adapting it into a featured film and no one has figured out how to make the story more intriguing. After all, it took them several decades to finally adapt Beauty and the Beast and Frozen.

Even though Disney hasn't yet produced a Thumbelina story, Studio Ghibli has with The Secret World of Arrietty. In reality, The Secret World of Arrietty is based on, not from Anderson's Thumbelina fairy tale, but on the children's novel called The Borrowers. It still has the feel of a very simple Thumbelina-styled fairy tale, but in a more exciting plot and more interesting characters.

The story focused on a sickly boy named Shawn (David Henrie) who spent his summer at his mother's childhood home with his aunt and the housemaid, Hara (Carol Burnett). He spends his time there while waiting for a heart surgery that may either kill him or save his life. Unbeknownst to him, the house is also inhabited by tiny people called Borrowers who lived under the floor board of the house, wary of humans. The Borrowers consisted of a family of three, Pod the stoic father (Will Arnett), his paranoid wife Homily (Amy Poehler), and their adventurous daughter Arrietty (Bridgit Mendler). These little Borrowers only come out at night and "borrow" things that are rarely missed by the humans for survival, such as sugar, needles, cookies, and tissue papers.

Despite the arrival of a new human in the house, Arrietty is anxious to finally explore the house with her father. To her surprise, she is spotted by Shawn and the thought of being in danger plagued her family's mind. Believing that once a human spots them, their curiosity will never die and will never stop hunting for the little thieves. Luckily for her, Shawn showed kindness to them and eventually struck up a friendship with Arrietty. But some of his kind actions led to trouble when the selfish housemaid went looking for her thieves. The film became a confined but entertaining adventure as Shawn and Arrietty teamed together to save Arrietty's family from the curiosity of other humans.

I don't need to remind you how gorgeous the film looked, but what Studio Ghibli managed to succeed in this film is to make it feel small and grand. The way the scenes are animated and seeing the world from the perspectives of these little people, you get a new sense of wonder. Drops of water are large and heavy, the ticking of the grandfather clock is deafening as it reverberates through the air, and you are so small that you have to use doll's tea set as your utensils and pins and needles as your swords against roaches!

In previous films such as Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away, Studio Ghibli takes a simple concept for a story and managed to make feel large and grand. But here with The Secret World of Arrietty, the story is small and confined and you literally see the world bigger and grander from the perspective of the Borrowers. Despite the difference, this film has a lot of heart and it managed to speak to us with it. The story and the characters balance each other other with gentleness and even though it's not as epic as Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, it's still a spectacular film worth watching again and again. Trust me, it beats the animated film Thumbelina (1994) anytime!

:star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star:

Previously on W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria
Kimi suffered from pneumonia after her battle against Xuan Wu. Although Cornelia was victorious and has achieved her new transformation, she and her friends could do nothing to mend Kimi's broken heart. Since her last ordeal, Kimi has changed and became an entirely different person. Hoping to cheer her up, W.I.T.C.H. decided to invite her to see a concert. Unbeknownst to them, a dark portal lies in wait...

:bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple:W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria, Chapter Eight"A Mermaid's Tear":bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple:

In this chapter, Irma struggles with her inner demon as she grew more and more distant from her friends. Irma's irrational behavior is driving everyone away and she grew more alone. Can the mysterious Yami help her find old self? Can Meanwhile, the Guardians must return to Lusteria to stop Zhu Que siege, but things get more difficult when it's revealed that their enemy is the husband of their caretaker, the Jade Dragon. Secret plots new relationships bombard this chapter as Irma fights to free herself from her inner demon, gain her new power and save everyone, or die trying...

www.fanfiction.net/s/8731586/2…

:bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple:Guardians, Unite!:bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple:

:iconbummy1::iconbummy2::iconbummy3::iconbummy1::iconbummy2::iconbummy3::iconbummy1::iconbummy2::iconbummy3:

WITCH: Dreams of Lusteria: The New Guardians by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: Brave New World by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: To Have and to Hold Back by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: A Wall of Earth and Iron by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: A Heart of Ice by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: Reflection of Pain by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: The Sealed Portal by Galistar07water

Feedback and reviews (on the story's fanfiction.net site) are highly appreciated

Film Review #215 Tales from Earthsea

Sun Jun 19, 2016, 7:37 PM


Profile | Gallery | Inbox



Tales From Earthsea (2006)

:star::star::star::star-empty:



Despite Howl's Moving Castle being a little bit underwhelming and confusing of a film, following the success of Spirited Away, it still raked in some popularity and grossed a lot of money. Seeing how successful Studio Ghibli was with Howl's Moving Castle, the novelist Ursula K. Le Guin finally allowed them to adapt her Earthsea book series into a film. In truth, the novelist saw the film My Neighbor Totoro a few years ago and finally allowed Studio Ghibli to adapt her books into a film. However, Hayo Miyazaki was currently busy doing Howl's Moving Castle at that time, and the reign fell on his son, Goro Miyazaki to direct this project. Tales From Earthsea is somewhat of a film that adapted themes from several books of the series into one. Not to say that this was a recipe for disaster, but in truth, father and son were already on bad terms at this point. Hayao didn't felt that his son have the necessary experience to direct a film and the two were not speaking to one another throughout the movie's development.

In truth, the first time I saw this film, it was a bit of a mess. Seeing it again, I must change my perspective. I actually enjoyed it. Perhaps a little bit more than Howl's Movie Castle, unfortunately there were some part that seemed underwhelming. The film opened to a spectacular scene of a group of people riding out a storm at sea. The weather wizard couldn't remember the true names of the wind and water to calm them down for the crew! Before the ship's captain and his men could figure things out, they witnessed two mighty dragons battling each other to the death! This is an unprecedented and impossible occurrence because dragons haven't been seen for centuries!

The scene then changed to a beautiful kingdom ruled by a wise and compassionate king who is also beloved by all of his people. The King of Enlad (Brian George) is troubled by news all over the kingdom: crops and harvests have failed, pestilences and diseases sprouting here and there, and people going insane! The Balance of the world is out of order and no one knows why! They received news of the dragons' battle from earlier and are very troubled by this news, not to mention the news of the king's missing son, Prince Arren (Matt Leven). Suddenly, the prince stabbed and killed his father in the dark hallway for no apparent reason and stole his father's magical sword, abandoning his kingdom. Already, this was a recipe for a great film as it leaves the audiences wondering why did this happened. Does the prince's sudden and unexplained behavior has something to do with this growing darkness that has upset the Balance of Earthsea? All in all, curiosity perked inside of us as we continued to watch and understand more of what was going on.

The film then introduced us to a lonely traveler, a powerful wizard by the name of Sparrowhawk (voiced by the incredible Timothy Dalton), also known as the Archmage. Sparrowhawk encountered Prince Arren on the run from hungry wolves and saved him. The two became traveling companions, going from place to place. They winded up in a huge city by the sea were not only do people trade and sell goods, but also slaves. Arren is haunted by something and is desperately trying to get away from it. Constantly paranoid, Arren hoped to seek a way out of misery and pain, but Sparrowhawk warned him against tempting the idea of drugs and other ways to escape such a thing. Pain and misery is a part of life and must be experienced by all mortals.

They are separated and Arren rescued a girl with a scar on her face from slave catchers, headed by Hare (Cheech Marin). Darkness overcame Arren, allowing him to defeat Hare and his minions from taking the girl, but the girl only saw Arren as a monster who doesn't value life rather than her savior. Arren is later captured and sold into slavery by Hare, but luckily is rescued by Sparrowhawk in the dead of the night. The wizard took his young friend to a a cottage in the middle of nowhere, belonging to a very special friend of his: a kind woman named Tenar (Mariska Hargitay). It turns out, the girl that Arren saved earlier is Tenar's adopted daughter, Therru (Blaire Restaneo). As expected, Therru viewed Arren with contempt, despite the prince showing a kind, shy and meek side.

Sparrowhawk and Arren stayed with the women for a while, helping them out on the farm. Little did they know that Hare is working for Cob (voiced by Willem Dafoe), an evil wizard who had a score to settle with Sparrowhawk and is doing what he can to become immortal, even resorting to the forbidden dark magic. It's up to Arren to save Sparrowhawk and his new friends with the help of Therru, all the while discovering for himself that life is precious because it is short.

The first two thirds of this film, I fairly enjoyed as I love seeing how the characters interact with one another. Once again, Studio Ghibli managed to make the smallest things in life that we take for granted seemed enjoyable to watch, whether its a wizard and his apprentice going around town or just helping around the farm. However it's the third arc of the film that fell apart. As established from the beginning, I was expecting something grand and big such as Arren and Therru finally restoring the Balance of the world by defeating the evil Cob. Did they actually did it? It was very unclear, leaving me wondering what did I missed. Despite the confusing and underwhelming ending, the entire film itself is a gem itself. Sadly, it's unappreciated by many, including fans of Studio Ghibli.

The characters themselves are very enjoyable and as always, Disney managed to select its cast perfectly for the English dubbed. Timothy Dalton's deep voice and kindness gives Sparrowhawk a very badass and awe-inspiring figure, reminding you that he is the Gandalf and the Dumbledore version in the world of Earthsea and you should not mess with him. Cheech Marin, the famous Mexican American comedian and actor did amazingly as the voice of Hare, the head henchman to the evil Cob. However, it is Willem Dafoe who took the prize in this entire dubbed cast as Cob. With his whispering voice, he really brings the creepiness, the evil, and the darkness into this terrifying figure. As the Nostalgia Critic once described, Dafoe's whispering voice is like a spider, crawling up and down on your back, always giving the the spine-tingling chills whenever Cob opened his mouth to speak. It was brilliant!

Overall, while I do think that Tales From Earthsea isn't one of Studio Ghibli's best or most memorable, it is still a gem on its own. It's a rough work that still needed to be polished, and like Goro Miyazaki, he should continue to polish his work if he ever hopes to be a great filmmaker on his own without following in the footsteps of his father. In truth, I do love Tales From Earthsea (at least the first two thirds of the film). It really has that Middle Earth-esqued feeling, yet unique in a way. I just wished they spent a little bit more time exploring this strange world.




Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

:star::star::star-half::star-empty:



The movie opens up with a fog on a meadow-liked mountain side. Suddenly, a large shadow emerged from the fog like a monster! Lo and behold, it's a monstrous looking metallic beast with various parts put together like some sort of Frankenstein project gone wrong. This thing is actually a moving castle in the shape of some horrible head on legs. From an artistic viewpoint, the design of the castle is intentionally ugly, but the details of this monstrosity is so incredible, we can't help but be awe by it! Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki are known for putting a lot of effort into tiny details in their arts. While the design of the castle is horrible, their great attention to the details of all of its wooden frames, metallic structures, bolts, and smoke towers are so great, I was confident that this was going to be another spectacular and magical film.

It wasn't meant to be. Unfortunately, Howl's Moving Castle is just as unfocused, messy, and a clunk of a lot of stuff crammed into one as that moving castle seen throughout this entire film! Don't get me wrong, the film isn't terrible, but when you compare it to previous Studio Ghibli's films...heck, previous films by Miyazaki himself, Howl's Moving Castle is a great disappointment. The visual arts in the characters and the background design is stunning as always, but sadly it doesn't help to mask the clunkiness and the unfocused story overall! Yes, it's true that previous films such as Kiki's Delivery Service and Whisper of the Heart doesn't exactly have a focused story, but the films' plots were so simple that it doesn't feel disorganized whatsoever. Unfortunately, you do noticed how unfocused the plot became in Howl's Moving Castle as it jumps from one scene to the next.

The story is based on the first book of a series with the same title by British author Diana Wynne Jones. The world she created here for her series seemed to be inspired by The Wizard of Oz as well as the Brothers Grimms' Fairy Tales. The style era seemed to be at the turn of the century between the 19th and the 20th century where people go about their daily lives, living side by sides with wizards and witches. There lived a handsome wizard by the name of Howl (voiced by Christian Bale from the Dark Knight trilogy as Batman) who is known to have a magical mobile castle in the Waste land on the outskirt of town. Rumor has it that he will steal the hearts of beautiful young girls...quite literally. In a nearby town, there lived a 19-year-old girl named Sophie Hatter (voiced by Emily Mortimer) who works in her late father's hat shop. According to the original book, as the oldest of three children, Sophie must live a dull and unsuccessful life in comparison to her younger sisters.

One day during a walk to meet up with her sister in town, Sophie is rescued by the handsome wizard Howl. Unfortunately, the jealous Witch of the Waste (Lauren Bacall) took notice of Sophie because she was seen with Howl whom the Witch is in love with. Furious, the Witch of the Waste cast a curse on Sophie, turning her into a 90-year-old woman so that no one will fall in love with her. The worst part is that Sophie can't tell people what really happened to her. Afraid and ashamed of herself as a croon, Sophie ran away into the Waste land, hoping to find someone who can break her curse. She encountered a sentient scarecrow with a turnip head, we'll call him Prince Turnip (Crispin Freeman). The scarecrow thanked Sophie for her help by leading her into Howl's moving castle where she meets Howl's assistant, a boy named Markl (Josh Hutcherson), and Calcifer (Billy Crystal), a fire-demon who moves the castle and control all of its portals.

Disgusted with the mess of the place, Sophie appointed herself as Howl's new cleaning lady and made a deal with Calcifer: if she could break his contract with Howl, Calcifer will break Sophie's curse. We get an entertaining moment of Sophie furiously cleaning the house like a mad woman, getting the others to help her. Her stay allowed the others to appreciate and loved her and Sophie began to find her peace and happiness living with them.

Had the film stayed this way, it would have been perfect. Unfortunately, the story then focused on a war between some nations or cities we don't know of, and the motive seemed to be involved in a missing prince that we don't know or see until the very end. Howl is summoned to the palace to face his old master, Madam Suliman (Blythe Danner). The story jumps back and forth, involving Howl's own curse that we don't specifically know about, Sophie befriending the Witch who cursed her as well as Suliman's spy dog...it's all very confusing. It got even more confusing when we see Sophie transforming back into her younger self from time to time throughout this film. Even to this day, fans of the film can't decide whether it was true love that breaks it or if it has something to do with her emotions. I've heard plenty of other theories, but the point is that we never knew exactly what broke the curse in the end.

Overall, Howl's Moving Castle is visually stunning, but its artistic beauty and charming characters cannot do anything with the mess that it's in. However, I don't believe it's the film's fault. After reading the original book myself a few years before, I found the source material to be just as strange and unfocused. Miyazaki did well enough to give the book justice, despite a lot of changes. Despite the film's clunkiness and unfocused plot, it's characters are very likeable and charming. There are even moments between them doing something as simple as cooking breakfast and doing chores that really reminds us of the magic that is in Studio Ghibli films, bringing life in the simple things that we take for grant and make them interesting! Howl's Moving Castle may not be Hayao Miyazaki's best work, but it's still one of Studio Ghibli's most famous. Despite its messy and incoherent story plots, it still retained enough magic to make us want to enjoy it once in a while, if not for the gorgeous artistry. In other words, it could have been a lot better.

The Cat Returns (2002)

:star::star::star::star-empty:



When we last saw the Cat Baron in Whisper of the Heart, he was merely a statue in an antique shop. His character only existed in the main character's daydream as she writes her story about him and his long lost love. The concept of this character itself was so intriguing that many Studio Ghibli fans had hoped for his own film. Lo and behold, Baron finally got his own film in The Cat Returns a few years later in 2002. Whisper of the Heart was originally directed by the late Yoshifumi Kondo who sadly died not long after his only Studio Ghibli film. The screenplay was by Hayao Miyazaki and he only returned to head the project concept for The Cat Returns. This film takes on a unique and different look and feel in comparison to all other Studi Ghibli films. The art is much simpler in style, but retain much of Studio Ghibli's charm and magic.

The story focused on a ditzy high school girl named Haru Yoshioka (voiced by a much younger Anne Hathaway) who's trying to find her place in the world. Haru has a unique ability to talk to cats, a talent that she has forgotten she has since she was a child. Haru finds it difficult to be accepted, despite having a caring mother named Naoko (Kristine Sutherland) and a good friend.

One day after school, Haru saved a cat from being run over by a truck. To her surprised, the cat she rescued can stand on two feet like a human and talks like one, too! She has rescued the Cat Prince Lune (Andrew Bevis). Gratitude for saving their royal prince's life, the prince's father, the Cat King (voiced by the legendary Tim Curry) and his subjects showered Haru with gifts of mice and catnips, much to Haru's disgust as she's allergic and hates rodents. They decided to offer Haru a chance to marry Prince Lune (without the Prince's knowledge) and due to a misunderstanding, they thought she accepted the proposal and will whisk her away to their kingdom soon!

A mysterious voice tells Haru to search for the Cat Bureau and a large white cat will take her there. The large in question is none other than the same Muta (Peter Boyle), a fat and annoyed cat from Whisper of the Heart. Muta takes her to the Cat Bureau located in a secret alley and there she meets the legendary Cat Baron himself: Baron Humbert von Gikkiengen. Cary Elwes returned to voice this character as he promised Haru to protect her from this so-called arranged marriage. The Baron advised Haru to remember to believe in herself or else she'll lose who she's truly is. Before they knew it, Haru is kidnapped by the Cat King's subjects and is brought into the Cat Kingdom along with Muta, leaving the Baron and the crow Toto (Elliott Gould) behind to search for the portal.

Haru meets a beautiful white cat who works as one of the servants in the castle named Yuki (Judy Greer) who told her to escape. Not heeding her words, Haru stayed longer out of curiosity as she's lavishly treated like a royal princess. To her horror, her lack of confidence is slowly turning her into a cat herself! The Baron came to rescue her and the trio found themselves in a hilarious effort to escape back into the human world. The crazy Cat King refused to let his future daughter-in-law go and ordered his guards to chase them down, resulting in mazes and explosions. Luckily, they are rescued by Prince Lune who arrived in time to save them from his father's wrath. During her adventure, Haru found her confidence and to her surprised, she's crushing on her hero! Rather than rejecting her, the Baron replies kindly, "Just for the record, I admire a young woman who speaks from the heart."

Much like Whisper of the Heart, the spin-off of The Cat Returns is also based on the manga by the same author who wrote "Whisper of the Heart". This time, the film is directed by Hiroyuki Morita who seemed to have taken a more crude and realistic scene of the world in this film. Not just its different animation style, Morita had the film become more loony in comedy (such as the cliche of throwing a cat/person out the window) than compared to other Studio Ghibli films. However there are some things that still remained the same. There are shots of things as references to Whisper of the Heart such as the Baron as a statue staring out of the shop's window, the design of the Cat Bureau is reference to the antique shop Shizuki visited in the previous film and the return of both the Baron and Muta. Although one thing still remained the same: despite having appeared only as a dream in Whisper of the Heart, the Cat Baron retained his regal, poised, and gentleman mannerism and Cary Elwes retained that beautifully when he returned to voice this character. Coincidentally, The Cat Returns has a tone similar to The Princess Bride, a film that Cary Elwes was known to have starred in. Not surprisingly, other cast members were well chosen. One of Hollywood's biggest star Anne Hathaway gave voice to Haru, projected her younger self as a reminder to us that she was from The Princess' Diary and voice acting legend Tim Curry gave a stunning performance as the crazy and villainous Cat King. While The Cat Returns isn't what I hoped it would be after seeing Whisper of the Heart, it is still nonetheless a very charming film. It's simpler and more crude style may turned off Studi Ghibli fans at first, but once given the chance, it's a great and fun film to watch.


Spirited Away (2001)

:star::star::star::star:



I've always been fascinated by mythologies ever since middle school, which is roughly around the time when this film first came out. Obsessed, I spent my summers and weekends checking out books from the library on the subject. When I ran out of Greek, Norse, and Egyptian myth books to read, I began to look to other cultures' myths and folklores, including Japan. Asian mythologies has become a great fascination for us in today's pop-media. Not only do they also have their own gods and heroes, but the belief in various types of spirits and a spirit world that exist parallel to our own is enough to make you want to explore. Unlike most western mythologies, Asian myths, such as Japanese folklores, are still told and worship in today's modern time. As a child growing up in a Vietnamese household, I was taught to honor the spirits of the dead and give offering to the kitchen god so he may report good news back to the Jade Emperor in the heavens. My distant relatives in the rural areas of Vietnam still believed in superstitions, especially spirits who drowned in water. Japanese culture is no different. Despite living with some of the most advance technologies, the people of Japan still held on to some aspect of their spiritual beliefs. There are still ceremonies and shrines to spirits and respect to them. While it's true that many had forsaken spirits and nature, there are still aspects of folklore in their lives, most notably during celebrations and holidays. Yet to see Studio Ghibli's greatest story teller, Hayao Miyazaki, show it all to us in this film is absolutely breathtaking. The spirits and the magic that's in Spirited Away is so influential that its concepts and gorgeous style is looked to by other film or television industries. A famous example would be seen in the Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra series as the creators of both shows looked to Miyazaki's work and this film for inspiration on the concepts of spirits and Asian culture.

Personally, I find Spirited Away the greatest out of all of the Studio Ghibli's films and it is still Miyazaki's greatest masterpiece. To prove it, it's the only one that won the Academy Award for Best Animated Featured Film, it grossed more than $200 million before opening in America, and knocked Titanic out and became the top-grossing film in Japan of that year. For all of its achievement, it's greatest strength isn't just its characters and beautiful artistic style, but its originality. Many people may compare Spirited Away to films such as Alice in Wonderland, but this film is its own strength and originality. It's magical, enchanting, frightening, suspenseful and delightful in its own way. It has been dubbed flawlessly into English by Disney Pixar's John Lasseter, the man who helped Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli by introducing their work to American audiences beyond the borders of Japan.

Spirited Away is seen and experienced through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl named Chihiro (Lilo and Stitch's Daveigh Chase). Chihiro and her parents are moving into a new town and Chihiro couldn't be less miserable to leave her old life. Little did she knew what awaits her when her father accidentally took a wrong turn and they ended up in what appeared to be an abandoned themed-park full of restaurants. Strangely enough, the restaurant is still in business but no one seemed to be operating it. Famished, her parents unwisely ate the food. Chihiro felt something something was wrong with this place and refused to touch the food and instead wandered off. She came across a large building on the other side of a bridge, a giant industrial Japanese bath house. In reality, they have crossed the portal into the spirit world and Chihiro find herself trapped in what appeared to be a nightmare as her parents are turned into pigs for daring to eat the offerings of spirits as she is surrounded by strange and ghostly spirits.

Luckily, a boy named Haku (voiced by the famous Jason Marsden) appeared as her friend and guide. Haku warns Chihiro that the sorceress who owns the bathhouse, named Yubaba (voiced by the late Suzanne Pleshette), is cruel and powerful and she will turn Chihiro into a pig if she is discovered. The only way to protect herself from the same fate as her parents is to find work in the bath house. Chihiro finds herself trying to survive in this strange world full of spirits, all the while making friends with those who works in the bath house, including the boiler man (David Ogden Stiers) who has spider-liked arms. Chihiro also finds herself protected by an older sister character in Lin (Susan Egan), one of the slug-woman spirits who attends to the guests and cleans the baths. One of the spirits whom she befriended is a mute and dangerous ghost-liked spirit with a Japanese mask called No-Face (Bob Bergen).

At first, many of these spirits appeared dangerous, frightening, and cruel. Perhaps its because spirits are wary of humans due to our pollution of their environment and forgetting to respect nature and the spirits as the force of the universe. When they all first met Chihiro, these spirits are disgusted by her humanity, but eventually, saw that this child has goodness in her that even amazed them, despite her brattish impulses. It seemed that Chihiro has her own magical ability: making friends out of those who are enemies and turning them into allies that could help her. Yubaba's huge baby son named Boh (Tara Strong) threatened to kill Chihiro, but after being turned into a squeaky mouse by his aunt, he appreciate and enjoys Chihiro's company later on. Even Yubaba's twin sister, Zaniba, who also appeared cruel and heartless is amazed by Chihiro's loving heart and caring nature for Haku.

One of Hayao Miyazaki's talents is embodying environmental messages in his films in a way that isn't so forceful. Japanese myths and folklore often tells of spirits that can shape-shift, where their bodies are nothing more than facades that conceal a deeper reality than what is. We've seen this before in Pompoko with the racoon dogs trying to fight against human encroachment upon their forests. In Spirited Away, it's spirits such as Okutaresama, No-Face, and Haku who are in need of Chihiro's help. The great and powerful Okutaresama came to the bath house as a disgusting stink spirit. In reality, he's a river spirit whose home has been polluted by humans with trashes and other cesspool. His body has absorbed the cesspool of human's trash for years and is only free when Chihiro helped him be free. No-Face has become corrupted by the greed and craziness of industry of the bath house, turning himself into a grotesque monster that eats other people. Haku revealed himself a dragon and a river spirit, but unable to remember his name, he lost most of his memories.

What amazed us about this film is how balanced it can be with its characters and its moments. There are spirits and monsters everywhere and we cannot help but be terrified and cautious like Chihiro as she goes about carefully. At the same time, we are in awe of them and their unique designs and different characteristics. There are moments where things are frantic and crazy, while others are slow and peaceful. Yet it all blended so well that we can't find any fault with it. Everything in Spirited Away is the encapsulation of the creative mind of both children and adults. It's utterly dazzling and gorgeously drawn as well as it is enchantingly told. To this date, we simply cannot see this film being getting a reboot. It is simply a great masterpiece that would naturally go down in history as one of the greatest animated feature films ever to exist.

My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)

:star::star::star-half::star-empty:


So far, Isao Takahata is mostly notable for his dark film, Graveyard of the Fireflies and his Only Yesterday was wonderfully done, despite not garnering as much fame. Personally, I do prefer it when his films are a little more light-hearted and more focused on some aspect of real life. In a sense, that's exactly what I got when I saw his next film, My Neighbors the Yamadas. Like Only Yesterday, this film is very light-hearted and comedic as it focused on different situations of the daily lives of the Yamada family. One of the few differences isn't just its simpler, cartoonish style that resembles that classical Japanese comic strips in the newspapers, but the entire film is a series of vignettes. If you're wondering what a vignette is, it's a short impressionistic scene that focuses on one moment or character and gives a trenchant impression about said character, the idea, setting, and/or object. In other words, it's a bunch of random clips of various scenes put together and call it a movie.

As said before, My Neighbors the Yamadas is a film consisted of vignettes about certain scenes about the members of the Yamada family, allowing us to have our own impressions of the characters in that certain situation. The family consisted of Takashi Yamada (James Belushi); his wife, Matsuko (Molly Shannon); Takashi's mother-in-law, Shige (Tress MacNeille), his teenage son, Noboru (Daryl Sabara); and youngest daughter, Nonoko (Liliana Mumy). As the narrator, the voice of David Ogden Stiers is often heard as he reads the titles of a scene, such as "Father as Role Model" or "A Family Torn Apart". Often these scenes are very comedic. One scene shows both husband and wife fighting over the remote to watch their own preferred television shows. Others are little bit more realistic, showing the Yamada shopping one day during a family outfit and panicked when they realized they had forgotten their youngest daughter at the mall.

Each of these individual scenes are presented with a lot of humor. At the same time, Isao Takahata paints a very believable picture of family life that crosses cultural boundaries. Scenes of the three adults and their teenage son is very well focused on, often omitting the youngest as her innocence and young age makes her more oblivious to the dynamics of her odd family. What I love about the most is the focus on the husband and wife. As funny as it is to watch them fighting over the television, we do see them frustrated with each other over food, bills, responsibilities in raising their children and more. Yet, the love that they have for each other is very strong and it's so powerful that they accepted each others' flaws, fueling their desire to be the best parents possible for their children.

As much as I understand the concept which Isao Takahata was going for, I believe the vignettes is also the film's downfall. While it was important and fun to allow the viewers to have our own impressions of the characters in a certain situation, it doesn't change the fact that the film was a bit too random. There is no plot, no consistency, no real goal to the characters and their story. There's really no room for character development or any complexity. The art style and direction reflects this as the animation is very simple, showing nothing more than simple lines, colors, and shapes. The film allows us to observe and judge it for what it is: simplicity. It may not be as strong a movie as other Studio Ghibli films, but nonetheless, it's still quite a charming and cute film about the simple lives of the members of a very odd and funny Japanese family.

Princess Mononoke (1997)

:star::star::star::star:



We've all praised Hayao Miyazaki for his charming and incredible films in the late 1980's and 1990's. Films such as My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service were enough to make him famous. However, it wasn't until 1997 that one of his greatest masterpieces, Princess Mononoke debuts in Japan. No sooner after that were American audiences exposed to it and fell in love with its raw beauty. Looking back at films such as Princess Mononoke, the existences of spirits, demons, and the supernatural appears natural with the human characters. In animation, we can make the beauties of fantasy sing on screen. With its gorgeous animation, strong characters, and very intriguing plot, Princess Mononoke remained one of Japan's highest grossing films at the box office before Titanic.

Hayao Miyazaki is also know for his very strong female characters as the main protagonist. We've seen that with Nausicaa, and Kiki in his previous films and we will see more in future films. Despite the film's title, Princess Mononoke isn't the main focus. Rather, its main protagonist is actually a young warrior prince!

The film opens with a dialogue, explaining that in ancient time, Japanese people would respect nature and worship gods as big as trees and mountains. But in the age of human's technological progress, we became more disrespectful and angry gods turned into demons. The film then focused in the Muromachi period of Japan, where a young prince named Ashitaka (Billy Crudup) is trying to defend his Emishi village from the wrath of a demon. Originally a boar god, the giant beast is entirely covered in slimy, writhing worms and with several swift shots from his arrow, Ashitaka killed it, but not without a price. The demon has touched right arm with his slimy worms. The wise woman of the village, Hii-sama (Debi Derryberry) tells Ashitaka that the scare it left behind will cause him great pain and eventually it will kill him. They found an iron bullet lodged into the boar god's body, which caused it great pain and turned him into a demon. Prince Ashitaka cuts his hair and left the village in order to face his fate: find out where the demon came from and understand why nature is out of balance and see if there is a cure to his curse. With his trusty elk, Yakku, Ashitaka rode West, seeing the world with "eyes unclouded by hate".

Eventually, Ashitaka arrives in a forest guarded by the wolf god, Moro (Gillian Anderson) and her children, one of them a human girl she raised named San, whom is also dubbed Princess Mononoke (Claire Danes), the guardian of ghouls and beast of the land. Together with her giant wolf mother and brothers, San battles against the encroachment of the humans, led by the powerful Lady Eboshi (Minnie Driver). Her people lived on a man-made island fortress called Iron Town, where the humans are digging up iron ores and melting them down as resources to sell. Desperate to survive and make enough money for themselves, the humans are forced to chop down trees, angering the gods. Yet Lady Eboshi isn't afraid as she and her people are equipped with guns and iron bullets, poisoned to gods and spirits. Ashitaka finds himself caught in a war between nature and human development. He falls in love with San but along the way has become friends with Lady Eboshi and her people who are grateful to him for saving their fellow clansman. With his eyes unclouded by hatred, Ashitaka hopes to find a compromising solution where both man and nature can live in peace, side by side.

The movie isn't your typical black and white message of mankind vs nature. Lady Eboshi may appeared ruthless, but in reality she cares deeply for human suffering, going out of her way to rescue every lepers and young girls from prostitution, giving them a new life with food, shelter, and work. Nature isn't always good as it is ruled by a mysterious deer-liked spirit with a human face. A powerful lord of the forest, it takes the form of an ethereal walking giant by night and has the power to give life and kill. Life and death are his domain.

In reality, there are no real antagonists in this film. Princess Mononoke isn't the kind of cliche story depicting man as evil and nature is good. Instead it's trying to show us how both sides are merely trying to survive in an age where Japan is slowly advancing to a new age. Bows and arrows are slowing becoming more obsolete, as iron and other metals and its uses are discovered by humans for new weapons, tools, and other necessary materials. With demands for iron increasing, the people of Iron Town are merely trying to provide for themselves. In the process, they have become detached from nature, considering it too primitive. All the while, nature is trying to survive, its gods and spirits desperately clinging to their last hope of remaining powerful and respected. With every trees chopped, the gods are becoming less intelligent and will soon become nothing more than wild animals for the humans to hunt as their meat and games. We cannot rule out Jigo (Billy Bob Thorton), a mercenary monk who befriended Ashitaka earlier in the film as an antagonist. Like everyone, he's in need of money and wanted some gold provided that he gets the head of the Forest Spirit to the dying Emperor.

The artistry in Princess Mononoke is stunning and breath-taking, more so than before in Hayao Miyazaki's previous films. Perhaps its because of animation technology advancing, allow the animators of Studio Ghibli to incorporate CGI images of rotting and writhing demon skins onto their traditionally drawn characters and giving us fantastic wide screen shots of still landscape and other fast moving scenario.

Nearly all the characters are very well depicted and in the English dubbed version by Miramax, were very well cast. Prince Ashitaka is the kind of hero that isn't typical. He's your usual wild and brave hero, rather he's a melancholic young man who's trying to lead a valuable life and protect those he comes to care for the most. His voice actor, Billy Crudup, does an excellent job in portraying his calm and gentle demeanor, as well as giving him an air of princely grace and warrior's courage. Minnie Driver gave a great performance as Lady Eboshi in which her character is not just an ambitious warrior and innovator, but a also a kind and compassionate protector. Others include legendary voice actor John DiMaggio who voiced Gonza, an paranoid, proud, and somewhat comical personal bodyguard to Eboshi. John DeMita voiced the comical ox-driver Koroku and Jada Pinkette Smith voiced Koroku's wife and leader of Eboshi's women, Toki. Legendary voice actress Tara Strong gave her voice to Kya, Ashitaka's younger sister who gave her brother her precious crystal dagger, something which he then gave later to San. Keith David joined the cast as the blind, white boar god Okkoto as he and his clan seek to kill the humans in a last but glorious effort. Yet for all of these amazing cast and character, I find myself see a lot of lacking in Princess Mononoke/San, the wolf girl herself. As stunning and fierce as this character is, that is all she is. Despite a strong voice performance by Claire Danes, Princess Mononoke is perhaps the least interesting character in a film that bears her name. There is no character development for her as she constantly condescends the humans and insisted that she's born a wolf, never thought to consider the fact that her mother had hidden the real truth from her. Perhaps the film would be a little stronger had Miyazaki shown San questioning the existence of her humanity or spirituality.

Despite one or two small setbacks, it's not enough to pull the movie down a level of excellence. Princess Mononoke is a great achievement and a wonderful experience by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, well worth the long run time. It remained one of his best films and no doubt would have won an Academy Award for Best Animated featured film had the category been created before the 21st century. Today, it is still considered of the greatest animated film that inspired cultural media. After nearly twenty years since its release, Princess Mononoke is a great film to enter the historical archive, ready to be viewed and looked upon for inspirations from the newer generation of filmmakers.

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

:star::star::star::star-half:



As I watch Whisper of the Heart, I suddenly see a little bit of myself in the main character, due to our common love for books and fairy tales. It is said that books can take you anywhere without leaving the comfort of your home. What's interesting is that once again, Studio Ghibli managed to take a simple concept such as this and gave it charm and magic in ways that we cannot understand. Whisper of the Heart was a 1989 manga under the same name by Aoi Hiiragi. To transfer it into a motion picture, the story was then written for the silver screen by the famed Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Yoshifumi Kondo. Sadly, Whisper of the Heart was Kondo's only film as director before he died in 1998, three years after this film's release. It is said that Studio Ghibli had hoped Kondo would become the successor to Miyazaki and Takahata. While his early death was unfortunate, his touch of magic remained forever in Whisper of the Heart, and fans of Studio Ghibli is lucky enough to at least been expose to his talent once.

Unlike previous films by Studio Ghibli, Whisper of the Heart contains no magical or supernatural inspired storyline. There is no witch flying around town on her broomstick, no giant forest spirit named Totoro, or a pig flying in a seaplane. The real magic is within the storytelling of a young girl who loves to read and write as she struggle to deal with everyday problems, ranging from exams, teenage romance, and friends. A film about the coming-of-age of a teenage bookworm may not seem very exciting, but we can always count of Studio Ghibli to give it magic and charm in ways that seemed impossible.

The story focused on 14-year-old Shizuku Tsukishima (Brittany Snow)  during her last year of junior high. In Japan, that's the time when students are pressured to cramming and studying as much as possible in preparation for their high school entrance exams. Unlike most kids' parents, Shizuki's parents don't constantly remind her to do well, giving her a little bit too much freedom to enjoy her passion, reading books and writing lyrics.

Shizuku constantly spends her time going to libraries to check out fairy tales, thus procrastinating on her reviews, much to the displeasure of her older sister, Shiho (Courtney Thorne-Smith). As the new semester draws near, Shizuku and her friend, Yuko Harada (Ashley Tisdale), found themselves distracted by the ideas of romance. Middle and high school crushes are not portrayed the same as it is here in the United States. Yuko received a love letter in her locker, but she is in love with another boy, Sugimura (Martin Spanjers), who unfortunately is in love with another girl.

As complicated as her life is, Shizuku became fascinated with the mysterious Seiji Amasawa (Disney's Kingdom Hearts David Gallagher), a person who checked out all the library books before she did! At the same time, she stumbled upon an antique shop owned by the elderly Shiro Nishi (Harold Gould) and became friends with him. Nishi showed her fascinating antiques such as the beautiful grandfather clock and his prized statue of a cat in a gentleman's suit, the Baron (Cary Elwes). Things came up to speed when Shizuku realized who Seiji was. While their relationship was rocky at first, the two grew to respect each other's dreams and talent. Much to her dismay, Seiji's dream to become a professional violin maker will take him far away from her as he flies to Cremona, Italy and study with a master luthier. Until his return, Shizuku wanted to prove herself to be his equal and set focus on becoming a master novelist. As Shizuku focused on her first novel, "Whisper of the Heart", inspirations came to her from her friends and a tragically romantic past about Mr. Nishi.

When most of us first heard of Whisper of the Heart, we may not feel a significant need to watch it as much as we would with other Studio Ghibli films. How could a film about the life of a simple Tokyo teenager be worth your time? I assure you that coming from Studio Ghibli, their films are often never a waste of our time. Their directors and writers have an uncanny talent in turning the most cliche and simple idea into a project that will enchant your heart. Whisper of the Heart is a remarkably honest film about a young girl going through an age where life may seemed very difficult with her family, friends, school, and finding love. As Shizuku wants to cling on to whatever fairy tale fantasy world she's in, she must often come to grip of a real future that her life is about to take. This film is full of beautiful moments, using animation to enhance it with simplicity. Goes to show you that Studio Ghibli doesn't need that much glitter to make their film feel and look good. Kondo and Miyazaki gave us real characters here, charming ones that you want to attach to. If anything, Whisper of the Heart may not be Studio Ghibli's most recognized films, but it's definitely one with real depth, soul, and a heart. As I watch this film, I find myself wanting more, hoping for a sequel where Shizuku really did fell into the world of her own writing, carried off into the wind with the Baron by her side as they search for the vein of lapis lazuli, all the while with the song "Country Road" humming in the background.


Pom Poko (1994)

:star::star::star::star-empty:



Ever since as a middle-school student, I became obsessed with learning about mythologies. Thanks to my teachers, I became obsessed with reading Greek myths. When I have read all the books that they had, I turned to Egyptian myths, then Norse, Chinese, and eventually I stumbled across Japanese folklore. While not as familiar with them as I am with western myths, I had learned enough to know about Japanese's cultural beliefs in spirits, shape-shifting beasts, demons, gods, and notable historical and mythological references. Growing up watching anime and manga, I noticed how very popular the Japanese integrated their traditional folklore and mythologies into their stories. For some of you, you may have noticed a few of those integrated Japanese folklore in series such as Naruto or xxxHoLic. However, Studio Ghibli has done this long before some of those popular manga series even hit the American shelves.

In 1994, Studio Ghibli has given us another fantastic film that is in Pom Poko. Famous for his work on Graveyard of the Fireflies and Only Yesterday, Isao Takahata has once again spun an amazing tale about a long and hard (one-sided) war between the Japanese raccoon dogs against the growing urban city of Tokyo as it's encroaching upon their natural habitat. While his previous two films had been more adult and serious, Pom Poko borderlines between comedy and an awareness for destruction of nature.

Known as Tanuki in Japanese, these racoon dogs are anything but ordinary animals trying to scavenge our garbage for food. In Japanese folklore, many animals are believed to be shape-shifting spirits, such as foxes, and often they became mischievous amongst the humans. As mischievous and spiteful these little creatures are, a group of raccoon dogs have their own motives for attacking the humans. With the end of the war, the Japanese began to rebuild their country, making cities bigger and bigger. With more people in the city, demands for more housing flew, forcing various construction companies to bull-doze and carve mountains away to make rooms for concrete buildings. With their home in danger, the Tanuki banded together and tried fruitlessly to fight against the humans using their amazing shape-shifting powers. However, these Tanuki are very lazy creatures. Distracted by pleasurable things such as human junk food and watching television, they often forget their real goals.

Even with their lethargic behaviors set aside for the good of their survivals, the raccoons' plan to thwart the human's industrial development is often considered to be nothing more than hoax and pranks. As Japan came closer and closer to the modern 20th centuries, tales of Tanuki and their shape-shifting powers are considered stories told in ancient times. Humans began to bury their ancestors' beliefs and superstitions under cement and steel. Desperate, the raccoons asked for the help of legendary Tanuki masters, three who came from a distant Japanese island where development is not a problem and the Tanuki are still worshipped by humans in respect to nature. Hoping to re-establish the respect for the supernatural, the our heroes took their powers to the next level and staged a massive Japanese ghost parade in order to make the humans think the town is haunted. Setbacks among setbacks, the Tanuki are pushed to the brink of extinction, and as a last resort, are forced to abandon those who cannot transform as they integrated themselves as humans leading stressful lives.

As always, Studio Ghibli delivered a fun and fantastic film filled with comedy and detailed animations that is in Pom Poko. The Tanuki are portrayed with big round eyes, large Buddha bellies, and long pendulous testicles as an extension of their powers. Yes, you've heard me correctly, the male raccoon dogs used their phallus to help them transform and fight against humans. As disgusting and abnormal as this may sound, prominent testicles are an integral part of Japanese tanuki folklore. Unlike American society, Japanese have embraced sexual jokes more openly and they're not afraid to show it throughout this film. It may seemed uncomfortable to watch, but the animation artists managed to make it look silly and cute to an extent that you don't care. Surprisingly enough, Disney found a way to go about this without censoring anything. In the English dubbed version of this film, male raccoon dog's testicles are referred to as their pouches. Apparently it's better to treat these cute little guys as if they were kangaroos.

Overall, Pom Poko may not be considered among Studio Ghibli's greatest masterpieces, but its ecological concerns and beloved characters are still worth watching and rooting for. As usual, Disney went all the way by hiring notable voice actors such as Tress MacNeille, John DiMaggio, Clancy Brown, and J.K. Simmons to do the voice overs of these band of cute, funny, and nature loving Tanuki. The jokes of using their private male parts may seemed too silly, but the animation of their transformations into traditional Japanese spirits and demons is worth watching alone!

Porco Rosso (1992)

:star::star::star::star-half:



One of the great things about Hayao Miyazaki and his films is that he has a talent in working with strange concepts and making them feel...well, natural! He takes the supernatural and incorporate them in a world of normality, and yet the normal medium accepts the strange and wonderful as if it has always been a part of their everyday life. In My Neighbor Totoro, two sisters find it exciting to move into a seemingly haunted house where spirits are cute, cuddly, big, and plant acorns. In Kiki's Delivery Service, a young witch is easily accepted as the local heroine and delivery girl as soon as she flew into a new town. What's next in Porco Rosso? Miyazaki takes his watercolor album about a seaplane pilot who is cursed to look like a pig and spends his time bounty hunting while being caught in a comedic, romantic story of his own. Instead of treating the main characters as if he was an outcast or a monster, the film's setting accepted him as a part of their norm, giving the story a surprisingly charming and heartfelt adventure. It's a shame that it's one of Miyazaki's most underrated and unappreciated works.

Porco Rosso stars a veteran WWI fighter ace under the same name (Michael Keaton) who is cursed to look like a pig. He spends his time as a bounty hunter, constantly giving several seaplane pirates of the Adriatic Sea trouble, such as the members of the Mamma Aiuto Gang (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Transformers' Frank Welker), headed by their captain, Boss (Brad Garrett).

Fed up with the pig getting in their way, the Mamma Aiuto Gang teamed up with the other pirate teams and hired Donald Curtis (Cary Elwes), an arrogant and ambitious American ace pilot, to assist them on their next raid and to take out Porco. After defeating the pirates at the beginning of the film, Porco goes to a hotel restaurant owned by his childhood friend, Gina (Susan Egan), whom all the pilots are madly in love with, including the pirates and Curtis himself. Curtis thought no difference when she told him she had married three pilots and they all ended up dead, but when she tells him that she is more acquainted with the great and notorious Red Pig, he is dismayed.

Curtis accepted the pirates' offer and wanted to make a name for himself in the Adriatic Sea by shooting down the famous Porco Rosso. After a short dogfight, Curtis shoots down Porco's red seaplane, destroying it, saved for the fuselage. Nearly everyone thought he was dead, but Porco discreetly heads back to Milan, Italy to get his old mechanic friend, Mr. Piccolo (David Ogden Stiers), to fix his plane for a rematch. However, Porco is wanted by the Italian authorities because he refused to join Mussolini's Fascist party. But that's the least of Porco's problem as he finds Piccolo's sons gone elsewhere for work, leaving his damaged plane in the cares of women, including Piccolo's young teenage granddaughter, Fio (Kimberly Williams-Paisley).

Fio proved herself to be a talented engineer who not only managed to fix his seaplane, but improved it into a work of art! Despite Porco's insistence on being indifferent to her, Porco soon found himself fighting against Donald Curtis in a dogfight of a lifetime for Fio's honor...as well as Gina's.

Another great thing about Miyazaki's films is that he has a talent of giving life to his characters, whether they are good or bad. His strongest points are his female characters, and in this movie, we have Fio. Not only is she smart and a genius of an engineer, but she's a savvy negotiator and a go-getter with a big heart. She's so fun and spunky that even the pirates and Donald Curtis fell for her charm, much to Porco's irritation. Donald Curtis is an arrogant, but also a fun and flamboyant American superstar. I cannot help but see his character being inspired by the famous Glen Curtis, the American daredevil who went heads against the Wright brothers and invented some of the first war planes, including the seaplanes as seen in this film, to the army planes during WWI. Like in most of Studio Ghibli's films, Porco Rosso doesn't really have any real antagonists. Even the pirates were comical and charming throughout the story! You can't help but love the Boss and his Mamma Auito gang. They're not bad or evil, just opposed to the hero of the film.  Porco himself, is a very gruff and abrasive character. Although he's not always the nicest pig out there, he still has a good heart. His past haunts him, blaming himself for being selfish and he thinks he deserved God's punishment by turning him into a swine. Only when he flies, does he feel more at peace.

Another great aspect of this film is the gorgeous visuals. You can tell Miyazaki has a great passion for planes and his flying scenes are some of the best! The ending match in the air between our pig hero and American dreamer boy is as exciting as it is real. You can feel the weight and the physics as the planes woosh and whirl in the sky, trying to outdo the others while dodging bullets. Leave it to Hayao Miyazaki to create such a beautiful, dangerous, and dreamlike atmosphere. In the end, Porco Rosso really gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "When pigs fly!"

Only Yesterday (1991)

:star::star::star::star:



Whenever we hear something about Studio Ghibli, we instantly think of the name Hayao Miyazaki as the master of story-telling. Yet some fans even forget that this wonderful Japanese animation studio has another great master. He may be lesser known than Miyazaki-sama, but his ability to tell stories is nothing short of brilliant. Isao Takahata is one of the studio's co-founders and while his films were released in the United States, people often associated his name with the emotionally heart-aching Grave of the Fireflies. While his other films, such as Pom Poko and My Neighbors the Yamadas got a US DVD released. Unlike Grave of the Fireflies, which has the air and power of a Schindler's List-esque, these two films were more light-hearted and comical.

But then last year, Isao Takahata's name became more well known when Disney translated and released the English dubbed version of his wonderful The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Yet, there was still one more of his film that went unnoticed until now. Only a few weeks ago, Only Yesterday remained the only Studio Ghibli film that hasn't been dubbed by Disney. First released in 1991, this film was based on the manga of the same name and it tells a story about a woman named Taeko Okajima (Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Daisy Ridley), a Tokyo office worker planning to take a 10-day vacation. Her sister's husband owns a farm in Yamagata, and since she had such a nice time there previously, she wanted to visit her distant in-laws again. Throughout her trip, Taeko suddenly remembered her childhood back in 1966 and the audience would occasionally see the young Taeko (Alison Fernandez) in the the 5th grade following her around. Taeko doesn't understand why her mind drifted back to her 11-year-old self or why this 5th-grade version of her followed her to her trip, bot Taeko remembered both the times that were good and bad for her.

Needless to say, Only Yesterday isn't a Studio Ghibli film about fantasy and wonder, not even the kind where children discover wonderful and magical things like in My Neighbor Totoro. But who is to say that Only Yesterday isn't magical in itself? Hayao Miyazaki may be the master of taking his characters' stories off the ground, but Isao Takahata is the man who grounds them and still able to make them interesting. Seriously, this man can even make a scene where cutting a pineapple is interesting in this film! There is even a scene where Taeko is picked up by one of her brothers-in-law's second cousins, Toshio (Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel) in Yamagata and they simply talk about life, farming, and harvesting safflowers for nearly ten minutes. While scenes like this may be too slow for children, it is nonetheless quite realistically engaging for older teens and adults to watch.

I'm very surprised that new-coming British actress Daisy Ridley who just made her biggest debut as Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens last month was able to don an American accent for the English dubbed version of this film. Another great surprise is casting Indian actor Dev Patel as Toshio's, Taeko's love interest. Throughout the film, Taeko reminiscent about her childhood in 1966 Japan. Some were quite comical when it comes to dealing with school and family. During that age, the 5th-grade-Taeko was a selfish brat who didn't do well in school and didn't care. But she does care when girls her age started to experience menstruation bleeding and soon found themselves teased by immature boys as they lift up their skirts, demonizing periods as if it were contagious "cooties". However, other flashbacks were quite sad and disturbing as Taeko is slapped by her father, scrutinized by her mother and older siblings (then again, she did deserved it), and is forced to participate in a semi-pro theatrical endeavor by her cold, indifferent, and strict father. We see that her difficult childhood molded her into the adult we see today.

Only Yesterday shows that Studio Ghibli was will into take chances in making a film that went with a much deeper matter than normal magical fantasy. Like The Tale of Princess Kaguya, this film shows how a woman tries to function in Japanese society, all the while trying to discover what she truly wants in her life with breath-taking animation and artwork. While Only Yesterday may have been originally made over twenty-years ago, it's still as fresh as if it was only made yesterday, capturing our hearts. (No pun intended there.) If you cannot find this film in English dubbed, try watching it in its original Japanese with subtitles. I promise it is just as amazing

:star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star::bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple::star:

Previously on W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria
The final battle between the Guardians and Xuan Wu, the Celestial Warrior of Water, took place in an epic showdown. During their ordeals, both Cornelia and Kimi struggled to reflect on the pains and misery they've faced these past few years. Meanwhile, Orube investigate the "mole" as she and the Guardians raced to prevent a tsunami-liked flood from destroying the capital city. As they faced the oldest Celestial Warrior, Cornelia must search within herself for the true power of Earth and discover her Virtue.

:bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple:W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria, Chapter Seven "The Sealed Portal":bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple:

In this chapter, Kimi suffered from pneumonia after her battle against Xuan Wu. Although Cornelia was victorious and has achieved her new transformation, she and her friends could do nothing to mend Kimi's broken heart. Since her last ordeal, Kimi has changed and became an entirely different person. Hoping to cheer her up, W.I.T.C.H. decided to invite her to see a concert. Unbeknownst to them, a dark portal lies in wait...

www.fanfiction.net/s/8731586/1…

:bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple:Guardians, Unite!:bulletpink::bulletblue::bulletorange::bulletgreen::bulletpurple:

:iconbummy1::iconbummy2::iconbummy3::iconbummy1::iconbummy2::iconbummy3::iconbummy1::iconbummy2::iconbummy3:

WITCH: Dreams of Lusteria: The New Guardians by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: Brave New World by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: To Have and to Hold Back by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: A Wall of Earth and Iron by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: A Heart of Ice by Galistar07water WITCH Dreams of Lusteria: Reflection of Pain by Galistar07water

Feedback and reviews (on the story's fanfiction.net site) are highly appreciated