Based on a British novel by Mary Stewart, Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a beautiful homage to all the great classic themes and art styles we have come to know and love from the master animators at Studio Ghibli. This isn’t surprising since this is directed by former Ghibli director, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, as the film debut of Studio Ponoc, which is made up of many former Ghibli animators. The story follows a clumsy red head girl, Mary Smith, who discovers by chance an academy of witches when exploring the woods one day, and her adventures to protect a mysterous magical flower. May of the characters and scenes in the movie are direct inspirations from Ghibil. Mary is your spunky heroine who finds herself spirited away to another world, accompianed by a black cat, and has to save the boy she likes from an evil witch. Mary herself feels like a mixture of Kiki, Chihiro, and Arrietty. The scene where the academy headmistress, Madam Mumblechook, introduces herself to Mary, is clearly inspired by Chihiro meeting the river spirit in Spirited Away. Mary’s explorations of the witch academy also draw a certain resemblance from Lin showing Chihiro the way in Yubaba’s bath house.
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Ash Ketchum has just turned ten years old and is about to embark on his Pokemon journey. Late on the day of his depature, he misses out on a chance to choose from three starter Pokemon, and winds up with the reluctant electric rodent Pokemon, Pikachu, as his partner. After Ash saves Pikachu from a flock of angry of Spearow, Ash and Pikachu witness the legendary bird Pokemon, Ho-Oh and form a stronger bond with each other. Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Pokemon anime series that has taken the world by storm. Since it’s debut in 1997 in Japan and a year later for North America, Pokemon has dominated the scene as the most popular children’s anime in the world. The series has been a major influence on children’s anime, jump starting the monster battle genre that influenced later beloved series like Digimon and Monster Rancher. The series has also been a major gateway series for many kids around the world that helped introduce them to the world of anime. I Choose You is an alternate retelling of the events of the TV series, focusing more on Ash and Pikachu’s friendshsip and their journey to find Ho-Oh than on Ash’s quest to become a Pokemon master and win the Pokemon league. Continue reading “Pokemon The Movie I Choose You”
Sakura Kinomoto is an ordinary ten year old girl who finds a mysterious book in her father’s basement one day after school. Upon opening the book, she finds a deck of cards that she unleashes into the world after she reads ther name. The book once belonged to a powerful magician known as Clow Reed who created magical cards that take on the form of powerful spirits known as the Clow Cards. The winged guardian beast of the seal, Kerberos, forms a contract with Sakura to recapture the Clow Cards using her own newly discovered magical powers. And thus begins the adventures of the Cardcaptor. Along with mainstream 90s classics like Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z, Cardcaptor Sakura was a huge gateway show for many anime fans who grew up watching Kid’s WB Saturday morning animation. The series was initially released in North America in a heavily localized adaptation as “Cardcaptors,” but due to later uncut home video releases and the release of the original manga written and drawn by the all female manga team, CLAMP, fans were able to experience the original uncut Japanese version and the show became a huge hit. Part of the show’s appeal was it combined traditional magical girl elements that fans already became accustomed to through Sailor Moon with the “gotta catch ’em all” formula of Pokemon and other similar monster battling shows that were popular on Saturday mornings at the time which gave the series a very broad appeal outside of hardcore anime fans. Continue reading “Cardcaptor Sakura Clow Card Arc”
Space Adventure Cobra is a classic sci-fi anime series that follows a man named Cobra who has learns he was originally an adventure on the run from the Pirate Guild after he experiences the Trip Movie Corporation virtual reality and that he had changed his face and identity to hide from the guild. Teaming up with his android partner, Lady, and the Galactic Patrol officer, Dominque, Cobra journeys throughout the universe to find to search for treasure and fight against the Pirate Guild. If the plot sounds similar to the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi movie, Total Recall, that was likely deliberate as the original manga author, Buichi Terasawa, was heavily influenced by Western pulp sci-fi and Hollywood films when writing the Space Adventure Cobra manga. Released in 1982, the anime obviously predates the 1990 Total Recall film, but Terasawa was likely influenced by the original short story by classic sci-fi author Philip K. Dick of Blade Runner fame. You can see the obvious influence James Bond has had on the formation of Cobra’s character who Terasawa has cited as an inspiration, Dominque is based on a French actress, Dominque Sanda, and the villanious cyborg, Crystal Bowie, is obviously based on the late singer, David Bowie. Continue reading “Space Adventure Cobra”
Sailor Moon is an important gateway series that introduced many fans around the world to the wonders of anime and been an inspiration to girls of all ages around the world. It was a genre defining series that revolutionized magical girl anime through popularizing the influences of Super Sentai tropes that have become staples of the genre since. Sailor Moon R The Movie, the first of three feature films starring everyone’s favorite dumpling head heroine, does the best job of capturing all the classic themes that define what Sailor Moon is all about. In this regard, it’s actually a perfect introduction to the franchise for newcomers. The plot is easy to follow but has a lot of inspiring emotional depth to it and all the Sailor Guardians get an equal time to shine in the film. The movie is also preceded by a 17 minute recap special, Make-Up Sailor Guardian, which explains how Usagi Tsukino and her friends got their powers and gives their basic profile information, so it’s a good way to get a quick catch up for the series if you’ve never seen it before. The story focuses on the mysterious Fiore, a childhood friend of Usagi’s destined lover, Mamoru Chiba, who becomes the masked hero Tuxedo Mask, and aids the Sailor Guardisn in their battles against evil throughout the series. Fiore turns out to be an alien who has been traveling the universe, searching for a flower to give to Mamoru to fullfill a promise he made. Twisted by the sinister flower, the Xenian Blossom, Fiore allows his jealous to take control of him and kidnaps Mamoru from Usagi. Now Sailor Moon and her friends have to rescue Mamoru from Fiore and stop his approaching asteroid from destroying the Earth. The film is essentially an extended filler-in episode with a higher animation budget, but what makes it work so well is the talents of famous anime director Kunihiko Ikuhara, who would later go on to direct such classic anime as Revolutionary Girl Utena and Penguindrum. The movie portrays how the Sailor Guardians were all ordinary girls who felt lonely and misunderstood until they brought together by their friendship with Usagi who broke through the societal pressures and saw the worth they all had inside regardless of what others thought of them. Continue reading “Sailor Moon R The Movie”