Watch While You Can: Only Yesterday by Studio Ghibli

image-1This beautiful, nostalgic film is in select US theaters, and if you like Studio Ghbili’s work and anime that captures the magic in the quotidian, you should seriously consider seeing Only Yesterday (おもひでぽろぽろ). I love the way the film immerses viewers in Japan of the early 80s and mid 60s to reveal the quiet unfolding of protagonist Taeko’s quarter life crisis in connection to seminal moments of her childhood. This Studio Ghibli gem has a way of capturing that feeling of 物の哀れ (mono no aware)—the transience of things. Whether it’s work in the safflower fields or conversations with family, scenes of Taeko’s present and childhood (the latter shown in pastel shades as if faded with time, sometimes playing out amidst almost dreamy watercolor backgrounds) have so much… presence and immediacy, yet everything is ultimately in flux, including Taeko’s seemingly timeless, idyllic vacation helping her extended family with their farming.

On the one hand, the story presents Taeko with a contrast (then choice) between urban and rural lifestyles, and on the other hand, the story affords an attempt to reconcile past and present selves. On all levels, it’s splendid storytelling that I’ve been able to further appreciate with successive viewings.

If you’re comfortable reading subtitles or willing to push yourself to do so, the subbed version is the way to go.

The Travails of Takemoto: Honey & Clover and Self-Actualization

If I find my own way, how much will I find? …Will I find you?

That’s the question intensely and even agonizingly posed by Joseph Arthur’s “In the Sun”, a question the anime Honey & Clover explores and answers for at least one of its characters. Does figuring out where we have to go or where we have to be us bring us closer to those we care about?

Although this anime series is almost ten years old now and is almost claustrophobically small in its world of self-absorbed college students, Honey & Clover is still quite an odyssey into personal circumstances that middle-class, creative millennials can relate to—a journey that attempts and sometimes manages to navigate the challenges of creativity, career, romance, loss, identity, belonging, friendship, family—you know, growing up.

That’s what made Honey & Clover so compelling; if you could buy into Continue reading

Nausicäa at 30: as relevant as ever

Nausicaa posterHappy 30th, Nausicäa

I require all of my environmental science students to watch this film, in hopes that they’ll see it for the first time ever, or if they’ve seen this anime classic before, that they’ll reconsider its themes with new perspectives.

Nausicäa of the Valley of the Wind is an amazing film and has aged remarkably well. The world it immerses you has been so completely, enthrallingly crafted that soon, once you’ve oriented yourself in the post-apocalyptic landscape, you’ll relate to the characters and their circumstances. Then the action begins, and it’s a riveting ride to the end. And in all that—the huge, monstrous bugs, the fleets of massive warplanes, the Sea of Decay—Hayao Miyazaki shows us perspectives about what it means to be a human surrounded by and dependent upon nature, caught in the complexity of society, thrust into the struggle to shape the future. This is why I’ll be having future students in my classes watching this film as long as I’m involved in environmental education. It’s an epic masterpeice about environmental health, environmental justice, leadership, empathy and so much more.

Admittedly, Nausicäa is almost too perfect of a protagonist. Her will and values are unbelievably strong, but I think that incredulous mettle of hers is necessary. Nausicäa is the stuff of legend, of an ecological mythology that maybe we need now more than ever.

If you’re going to (re-)watch Nausicäa, I suggest going for the subtitled version.

Can’t Wait: Evangelion 3.33

Looks like the wait is almost over. Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo is out on DVD in late April. Going to have to bag that. With 2.22 having so many interesting developments, I’m sure it’ll be enthralling to see where the story goes from there, now that Kaoru is on the scene. So far, Shinji’s existential screaming in the TV series has been much stronger. I’m hoping 3.33 changes that.

boku wa… (I am…) from MITikari on Vimeo.