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Diretor da Semana Isao Takahata

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Isao Takahata



Nascido em 29 de outubro de 1935, Isao Takahata (高畑 勲 - Takahata Isao) é um cineasta de animação japonês que ganhou reconhecimento crítico internacional por seu trabalho como diretor. Takahata é co-fundador do Studio Ghibli, junto com Hayao Miyazaki, parceiro de longa data. Ele já dirigiu filmes como o drama de guerra Túmulo dos Vagalumes (segundo o crítico de cinema Roger Ebert, um dos melhores filmes de guerra já feitos), o drama romântico Only Yesterday, a aventura ecológica Pom Poko e a comédia My Neighbors the Yamadas. Ao contrário da maioria dos diretores de animes, Takahata não desenha e nunca trabalhou como animador antes de se tornar diretor.

De acordo com Hayao Miyazaki, "Música e estudo são os seus hobbies". Ele nasceu em Ujiyamada (hoje Ise), mesma cidade do diretor Kon Ichikawa, enquanto o gigante do cinema japonês Yasujiro Ozu foi criado pelo pai na vizinha Matsusaka.

Takahata formou-se pela Universidade de Tóquio, no curso de Literatura Francesa, em 1959.

Carreira
[TR]

O interesse de Takahata pela animação surgiu depois de ter visto o longa de animação francês La Bergère et le Ramoneur (ou "A pastora e o limpador de chaminés", que só seria finalizado e lançado em 1980, como O Rei e o Pássaro - Le Roi et l'Oiseau), baseado em um conto de fadas de Hans Christian Andersen. Ele ficou impressionado pelo filme, perguntando: "Esse tipo de coisa pode ser feita por animação?"

Enquanto procurava emprego em sua universidade, Takahata foi tentado a se juntar à Toei Animation por um amigo que sabia que a empresa precisava de um diretor assistente. Por diversão, prestou o exame de admissão e acabou ingressando na companhia.

Após ter sido recomendado para o cargo por Yasuo Ōtsuka, instrutor tanto dele quanto de Miyazaki, Takahata finalmente dirigiu seu primeiro filme, Horus: O Príncipe do Sol (1968). Horus foi um fracasso comercial, o que tornou a vida de Takahata difícil dentro da companhia.

Em 1971, para fazer uma animação baseada em Pippi Longstocking, Takahata deixou a Toei Animation, junto com Yoichi Kotabe e Hayao Miyazaki, transferindo-se para "A Production" (hoje Shin-Ei Animation), um estúdio de animação fundado por seu ex-superior, Daikichiro Kusube. Eles viajaram para a Suécia para adquirir os direitos da animação e procurar locações, mas a autora, Astrid Lindgren, lhes negou permissão e o projeto foi cancelado. Embora o plano deles tivesse sido frustrado, Miyazaki encontrou inspiração na cidade fortificada de Visby e, mais tarde, tanto Estocolmo como Visby serviriam como palco para O Serviço de Entregas da Kiki.

Miyazaki e Takahata acabaram trabalhando juntos em várias séries animadas de televisão, como na primeira temporada de Lupin III, a partir do oitavo episódio. Mais tarde, ainda em 1971, a Zuiyo Enterprise convidou Takahata, Kotabe e Miyazaki para dirigirem uma série animada do romance Heidi e os três aceitaram a oferta. O resultado foi Heidi, A Garota dos Alpes (exibida no Brasil pelo SBT) e o ingresso de Takahata na Nippon Animation. Seguiram-se Marco (exibida pelo SBT e pela Record) e Anne of Green Gables.

Em 1981, com a recusa do colega Miyazaki, Yasuo Otsuka, também pertencente à Tokyo Movie Shinsha/Telecom Animation Film, ofereceu Chie the Brat a Takahata, que acabou aceitando a proposta, saindo da Nippon Animation e se mudando para a Telecom. O filme foi bem recebido e acabou gerando uma série de TV, com Takahata como diretor-chefe.

Em 1982, Takahata foi eleito o diretor de Little Nemo, um trabalho com o qual a Telecom pretendia ingressar no mercado norte-americano. Discórdias entre as equipes de produção japonesa e americana, no entanto, fizeram TAkahata, Miyazaki e outros saírem da Telecom.

Quando a Tokuma Shoten propôs a Miyazaki transformar o mangá de Nausicaä em filme, a única condição requerida por Miyazaki foi que Takahata fosse o produtor. Foi a primeira vez que Takahata trabalhou como produtor e ele viria a repetir a função em outro filme de Miyazaki, Laputa, O Castelo no Céu. Com o sucesso de Nausicaa - A Princesa do Vale dos Ventos, Takahata foi convidado por Miyazaki para participar do Studio Ghibli, junto com o produtor Toshio Suzuki.

O primeiro filme dirigido por Takahata para a Ghibli foi Túmulo dos Vagalumes, lançado em conjunto com Meu Vizinho Totoro, em 1988. Desde então, dirigiu filmes como Only Yesterday, Pom Poko e My Neighbors the Yamadas, além de um segmento dentro de Winter Days. Outros créditos incluem a direção musical de O Serviço de Entregas da Kiki e a produção de Ocean Waves.

Atualmente, Isao Takahata trabalha em uma adaptação do conto folclórico japonês Taketori Monogatari (literalmente, O Conto do Cortador de Bambu).

Influências e estilo
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Takahata foi influenciado pelo Neo-realismo italiano, por Jacques Prévert e pelos filmes franceses da New Wave dos anos 60. Ladrões de Bicicleta, em específico, tem sido citado como uma influência importante em Marco. Essas influências tornam o trabalho de Takahata diferente da maioria das animações, que se concentram na fantasia. Seus filmes, ao contrário, são realistas com toques expressionistas.

A influência do Neo-realismo é evidente pela grande atenção aos detalhes que Takahata demonstra ao exibir eventos mundanos do dia a dia. Episódios inteiros de seus antigos seriados de TV foram dedicados a observar eventos tais como ir à igreja toda semana, trabalhar limpando garrafas ou a esmiuçar o trabalho que os agricultores fazem nos campos. Todos esses eventos são mostrados em detalhes minuciosos e, frequentemente, formam uma parte importante do trabalho do diretor. Com exceção de Horus: O Príncipe do Sol (uma aventura a la Disney, mas com tons mais sombrios e políticos), Pom Poko (um filme ambientalista sobre tanukis tentando salvar a terra deles) e Gauche the Cellist (um filme sobre um violoncelista que é ajudado por animais falantes), a maioria de suas obras são dramas que se passam em ambientes em grande parte realistas.

Um dos filmes mais elogiados de Takahata é Only Yesterday. Direcionado inteiramente a um público adulto, Only Yesterday gira em torno de Taeko, uma mulher solteira que trabalha em um escritório em Tóquio, cuja viagem de férias a leva ao interior, junto com a família de lavradores de seu cunhado. Durante a estadia, Taeko descobre-se revisitando nostalgicamente sua juventude, uma estudante crescendo em 1966, enquanto tenta, simultaneamente, resolver seus problemas atuais com o amor e a carreira.

As influências expressionistas no trabalho de Takahata são geralmente marcadas por cenas onde a imaginação de um personagem ganha vida na tela. Por exemplo, em Only Yesterday, após Taeko encontrar seu primeiro amor, ela, desafiando a lei da gravidade, corre e flutua pelo céu avermelhado. A cena termina com ela lentamente deslizando para a cama e depois corta para uma tomada fora da casa, onde um enorme coração emerge da janela dela. Essas sequências expressionistas opõem-se à história e animação realistas de Takahata, mas são conscientemente utilizadas pelo diretor para fazer a transição entre o realismo e o mundo irreal da fantasia animada, de modo a enriquecer ainda mais o personagem. Essas cenas podem ser encontradas em algum grau em toda a obra de Takahata, começando com a sequência da "floresta de enganos" de Horus: O Príncipe do Sol.

Os filmes de Takahata têm tido uma grande influência sobre Hayao Miyazaki, o que levou o animador Yasuo Ōtsuka a dizer que Miyazaki adquiriu seu senso de responsabilidade social de Takahata e que, sem Takahata, Miyazaki provavelmente estaria apenas interessado em quadrinhos.

Tal como ocorre com Miyazaki, Takahata e Michel Ocelot são grandes admiradores do trabalho um do outro. Ocelot nomeou Túmulo dos Vagalumes e Pom Poko entre seus filmes favoritos, enquanto Takahata usou Kirikou e a Feiticeira como exemplo-chave de objetividade usada para um efeito positivo, e também adaptou e dirigiu a dublagem japonesa desse filme.

Filmografia
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Winter Days (Fuyu no Hi, 2003)



IMDb | Wiki

Sinopse disse:
É baseado em um dos renku (encadeado de pequenos poemas onde cada poema retoma um aspecto do anterior) da coletânea homônima de 1684, do poeta japonês Bashō.

A criação do filme seguiu a tradicional natureza colaborativa do material de origem - o visual para cada uma das 36 estrofes foi criado independentemente por 35 animadores diferentes, de diversas partes do mundo.


My Neighbors the Yamadas (Hōhokekyo Tonari no Yamada-kun, 1999)



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Sinopse disse:
A vida e desventuras de uma família no Japão contemporâneo.

Os Yamada são: Takashi (o pai, um trabalhador comum), Matsuko (a mãe, dona de casa), Shige (a sogra), Noboru (o filho adolescente), Nonoko (a filha criança) e Pochi (o cachorro da família). A história é dividida em quadros curtos, cada qual focando algum ponto interessante do cotidiano da família.

An oddity at the time, and still arguably one, My Neighbours the Yamadas to many, goes against the grain of what a Studio Ghibli film was/is. The standard gloriously animated visual, dynamic movement and intricate background artwork are nowhere to be seen, but rather replaced with simplistic caricatures and half filled watercolour frames. The roots of the Isao Takahata film are similarly different to the usual cinematic and soaringly adventuristic Ghibli fare – based on the serialised comic strip as first seen in the Asahi Shimbun paper, Nono-chan was later to be collected in manga compendiums. It told the tale of the ordinary, everyday trials and tribulations of a standard middle class family living in a present day suburb of Tokyo. Hardly in keeping with a studio known for its output of material that hinges on glorious flight sequences, sumptuous eco-themed visuals and spectacular finales.

On the face of it, the barebones frames, devoid of detail in the centre and frankly anything usually around the outer edges hint at a childish narrative - the kind of thing that is given to pre-school kids as the bright colours and chunkily lined faces are easier for them to follow. However, scratch below the surface and what you will find is an emotionally mature eulegy to the modern family unit encompassing all its strengths and flaws. The Yamadas are a five fold unit of dysfunction and bickering, comprising of the traditional patriarchal father Takashi, his lazy homemaker wife Mitsuko, her judgemental mother Shige and the married couple’s two children Noboru (a teenage boy with the weight of studying on his shoulders) and Nonoko (a young girl with the wide eyed enthusiasm and innocence that only such a child is capable of).

There is no overall story arc as such, obviously middle class families and everyday happenings rarely bring about exciting cinematic fodder, but the fabric of the film is woven around daily routines. Segmentalised into sections titled Paternal Supremacy Restored and the like, the result being arguably fragmental in nature but unique in the manner, as with all collections of vignette, in evoking a wider message of the smaller elements of life and combining with the pieces of the jigsaw around it to complete a whole picture that is somehow more than the sum of its parts. The drama manages to have something still of the Ghibli about it though, with animals and nature popping into frame and forming a handy segue feature from one shot to the next no matter how disparate they initially appear. The opening sequence is a wonderfully heady dream-like journey that can bounce around from a conversation about dinner to a wild boar springing across the screen into the next frame for no apparent reason. The groundwork is clear and concise though, the lines between reality and daydreams (and thus action and desired action, the world and its metaphors) is blurred. A wedding speech introduces us to the family as we see giant snails, windswept seas traversed against the backdrop of Katsushika Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa and finally babies born from cabbages and cut from bamboo stems; zany, comedic and instantly bewitching.

The rainbow effect of pastel colours, all muted and perfectly recreating the watercolour aesthetic, aid this leap, and far from it being an art style that is more at home on the page, the act of motion actually enhances this simplistic beauty. Isao Takahata has managed to orchestrate the sequence of shots in a manner that evokes the sweeping of a brush across paper, the tangibly gentle strokes that bring to life whatever is infused with colour beneath its bristles. In subject it may be odd but in many ways it is by far the most organic Ghibli feature there has been, even the drudgery of a train station cannot truly swaddle the sense of a frame populated with life.

The family dynamic is in essence the entire story, from which a general message will be drawn. Each character has a journey of sorts that they will progress on throughout the feature, but as with the story being centred around a typical patriarchal family, the role of the male breadwinner is often at the centre. Takashi the father is a bespectacled worker for a nameless company, smoking more than he should, constantly stressed and irked by his mother-in-law and his family’s lack of appreciation of his daily grind to put food on the table – the feeling that you are viewing a stereotype that couldn’t be more hackneyed if he were called Japanese Joe Average, is entirely intentional though. It is the commonality of families everywhere that should prove My Neighbours the Yamadas to be a universally apt film for all age groups and all nationalities. When terseness seeps in, such as an exchange of words between husband and wife after Takashi’s long day, it inevitable ends in humour – dry, unsmiling but all too familiar scenes that will unfold in households the world over.

The atmosphere has something of the Charlie Brown about it (emphasized all the more so by the use of child actors for the voices of the offspring and cutaway shots to the family’s pet dog, full of knowing looks and yawns), with melancholic life lessons permeating through each scene that could so easily have stumbled into joyous “happy ever after” territory. But the truisms are too hard to ignore and cut deep to the very core of what it means to share your life with someone you, at times, can resent but simultaneously care for. For instance, a simple walk taken by mother and daughter Shige and Matsuko, upon commenting on the glorious cherry blossoms the aged woman remarks that she is saddened by the thought that she will not see many more, at which time – as any dutiful daughter would – Matsuko remarks that she is only seventy, the inference is clear but upon hearing her mother’s reply that she will see thirty more seasons Matsuko drops to the ground in the wake of the comment in true cartoonish slapstick fashion. There is never any question of whether those we are watching love each other, but it is in the acceptance of each other and their own foibles, little resentments and acts of one-upmanship, that they retain their bonds as a unit.

For a film with such a unique artistic style, it is telling that towards the end there is one notable shift to slightly more realistic figures. As Takashi is bullied by his wife and mother-in-law to confront some rowdy motorbike and scooter riding teenagers congregating near their house, his walk towards them is shown in a new, less squashed and caricatured fashion, the outlines more noticeably human now, with the nervous middle aged man and the tough ne’er-do-well astride his bike highlighting the change due to the disparity between their forms. Reality can seep into even the most happy-go-lucky and artsy worlds, and the return to familiar shapes, seen in tandem with an act of manly failure, hammer home the sense of melancholy in jarring fashion. As with all the most enduring comic strips that can be appreciated by both adults and youngsters alike, a la Peanuts, humour without poignancy and reality without fantasy are too one sided to hit at the core of their audience. The true beauty of My Neighbours the Yamadas is its ability to mix the mundane failings that we all likely recognise in ourselves and others, with humour and the nonsensical flights of fancy that fill our daydreams, not dwelling for too long on either and wrapping both within an art style that is infinitely emotive. Like a magic eye puzzle, the level of detail seems to grow the more you stare at the often barren watercolours, as with any artwork the more meaning you attach to it the greater the significance of each minute stroke of pen or brush appears.

“As long as a family hold each other tight, they can somehow weather the wildest seas”

It may not be the most magical animation in terms of subject matter or story arc, but to me, thanks to its eye-catching style and insightful comedic observations about family life, it remains one of the most human and universal of the modern era, and that is a hard feat to achieve.

Mark Botwright, AVForums

Pom Poko (Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko, 1994)



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Sinopse disse:
O crescimento de Tóquio durante os anos 60 originou uma explosão urbanística nos subúrbios; montanhas foram aplanadas e florestas abatidas. Os tanuki* vêem-se ameaçados pelo desenvolvimento dos humanos: a área habitável reduz-se, bem como os recursos alimentares. A falta de comida conduz a guerras internas, mas a sabedoria dos anciões canaliza a energia e a frustração de todos os tanuki contra o inimigo comum: o Homem.

* O Tanuki é uma espécie do gênero Nyctereutes, família canídea típica do Japão. No folclore japonês, o Tanuki possui grande força física e poderes sobrenaturais. Assim como a Kitsune (raposa vermelha) e o Bakeneko ("gato-monstro"), ele é mestre em mudar sua forma física e se disfarçar, e é uma criatura travessa, utilizando todas as formas de disfarces para iludir ou perturbar os viajantes.

Pom Poko may not stand among Studio Ghibli’s most famous films, but it is a lot of fun to watch. Directed by Takahata Isao, it is built on a foundation of Japanese legend and lore and told in an almost documentary style. This could have made the film inaccessible to outside audiences, but instead instills it with a strong sense of creativity and culture. The film does a good job of explaining the history and abilities of the tanuki and uses both elements to its advantage. This, combined with a good dose of humour, makes for an enjoyable tale.

Takahata’s pet themes of environmentalism and family come into play once again. With the destruction of the forest as the central conflict, the film does not attempt to hide its central message. At one point one of the tanuki even addresses the audience directly about the need to protect nature. However, the humans are never portrayed as evil or purposefully driving the tanuki out. Similarly, the plot is more than just a simple case of tanuki versus humans. While the tanuki may agree on their objective, they don’t agree on the strategy. One faction, led by Gonta, favours all-out terrorism; one of his attacks leaves two construction workers dead. The other tanuki can’t argue the effectiveness of this tactic, but they hesitate. Is terrorism really the best option? Should they experiment with other options? How long can they wait before drastic action is necessary? Or, even worse, it is too late? If it comes to that, can the ends justify the means? Or should they simply give in and submit to human society? These weighty decisions offer no clear path.

Differing opinions also lead to the emergence of new leaders. Some are placed in positions of power due to age and experience, but others, such as young Shukichi and Tamasaburo, step in to take key roles and defend their ideas. Conflicting ideologies and experiences cause some tension amongst the tanuki. They are torn among the action-oriented Gonta, the experienced elders and the passionate Shukichi. Of the three factions, Shukichi seems the least comfortable in his new role, pushed by his need for rational discussion and desire to avoid a battle. This group of characters, along with a few other tanuki that form the main cast, are built from basic character archetypes, but their interactions are believable and familiar.

For all of its intriguing questions and conflicting politics, Pom Poko never gets bogged down or feels heavy. The atmosphere is light. Nothing is ever taken too seriously. Several short tanuki folk songs enhance the feeling of good cheer as the tanuki spend much of their free time celebrating and enjoying life. The drawing style of the tanuki when not in sight of humans is decidedly cartoony; with an endless choice of objects or people to turn into, the story moves along swiftly. Indeed, it is the fun the tanuki have that keeps me smiling. The humour is often simple and silly but manages to be endearing.

It would be easy for a film like this to have an exceptionally cheesy happy ending, with the tanuki regaining their home and living in peace. For a story grounded in reality, such an ending would ring false. Through our own experiences, we know that in the end development wins out over a small band of animals. In this sense, the tale could be considered a tragedy, but despite the final result for the tanuki, the filmmakers manage to instill that optimism and love of life into the conclusion.

There is more to this film than there might seem at first glance. Though it’s simple, it rings true, with characters and situations that reflect our own society, and yet silly enough to be fun and entertaining. It may not be as instantly memorable as some other Studio Ghibli films, but it’s certainly one that serves the studio well.

Kaikyaku, The Nihon Review

Only Yesterday (Omohide Poro Poro, 1991)



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Sinopse disse:
Conta a história de Taeko Okajima, uma mulher de 27 anos, ainda solteira, com um trabalho burocrático num escritório em Tokyo, cidade na qual nasceu e cresceu. Ela viaja para o campo e passa a relembrar a infância.

Isao Takahata is not a name most Americans will recognize. Mention his name, and more often than not, you will be greeted with shrugs. But make no mistake: Takahata is a poet who has revolutionized animation as an art form. If you see his Grave of the Fireflies, you will be tempted to call it his masterpiece. I felt the same way myself, but I was wrong. Omohide Poro Poro is his masterpiece.

I'll be even bolder and declare this to be the finest animated picture ever made; a grand achievement of animation as art form. It proves to be deeply moving, at many times overwhelming; yet is also close, small, intimate. This is one of the great movies of our lives.
Takahata only made one fantasy adventure picture, his first, The Adventure of Hols, Prince of the Sun, in 1968 with Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki fell in love with adventure movies; Takahata moved in the opposite direction, towards realism. He strove to create animation influenced by neo-realism, a naturalism in the style of Jean Renoir and Yasujiro Ozu.

Omohide Poro Poro best incorporates the traits and skills Takahata developed during the 1970's, when he revolutionized animation in Japan with World Masterpiece Theatre, presenting television renditions of Heidi and Anne of Green Gables, and then in 1982 with his great Goshu the Cellist.

His style is reflective and deeply personal, very much like Ozu, but Takahata's greatest gift, for me at least, is his ability to take us inside the heads of his characters as their imaginations take flight. That trait is what made his version of Anne so memorable; here, he takes one story and molds an entirely different story from within.

Omohide Poro Poro is the story of a Tokyo office worker named Taeko. At age 27, she feels dissatisfied, unhappy with her life. She slowly begins to question some of her life decisions, her choice in careers. When we first see her, she has decided to spend a week with her sister's in-laws who live out in the country.

Taeko puts on a happy face and gets along well with others, but we discover that much of this is a shell, a cover. Over the course of the movie, she wonders out loud if her whole life has been a front to pacify the outside world. Perhaps she is entering another moment of growth in her life, and she begins to reflect upon another similar time, her childhood and early adolescence.
The movie dances about, from the present day (1982) to Taeko-chan's tenth year (1966), and back again. For almost anyone's first viewing, it's the flashbacks in Poro Poro that leap out in our minds. These scenes are drawn in a style I've never seen before in an animated film. The screen is drawn very sparsly, with colors and details fading away at the edges of the screen. The amount of visual detail is striking, almost like sketches from a beloved children's book, painted with spring-tone watercolors.

The 1966 episodes capture that painterly sense of nostalgia better than just about any other movie I've seen. One obvious comparison I could make is Wild Strawberries; imagine Bergman's classic, drowned in Warhol pop, echoing song lyrics like Bob Dylan in his prime. It's a thing of beauty to watch the past and present intertwine, commenting on one another, dancing in grand celebration of the joys and sorrows of life.

How can I describe this to someone in America who only knows animation in the language of Walt Disney and Chuck Jones? Our first time watching Grave of the Fireflies is a lot like being hit in the chest with a cinder block. It's impossible not to be deeply moved, and I've discovered that Takahata achieves that feat in all his work. Fireflies, of course, has its poetic tragedy; this film affects me far more with its beauty and grace.

Looking at the life of this woman, we identify with her awkwordness and tragedies. Taeko-chan's life is a series of setbacks, losses great and small. Granted, she is on a path to her self-discovery, but it isn't until the very end that you realize the great unspoken conflict in the movie. Namely, how did this precocious, curious child become the polite woman in a stale desk job? Her story is much like the Japanese saying that the upright nail gets the hammer; it's Takahata's thinly-disguised stab at his country's conformist culture.

There are so many brilliant moments in the 1966 scenes that describing them would mean reciting the entire plot. I love the episode involving Taeko's crush on another boy in school; a baseball game is skillfully played as duel, chase, and showdown that captures all the magic and fear of first loves. I love the sequence involving the girls' emerging puberty and emergence into womanhood; it's both endearingly funny and sobering from a boy's point-of-view. I'm endlessly enamored with Taeko's short stab at acting, which leads to interest by the local college theatre group; it's a masterpiece of editing and pop montage, it turns horribly tragic, all set against the backdrop of a popular children's show called Hyokkori Hyoutan Jima. The final moment is a redemptive triumph that beautifully sums up Taeko's whole life, and maybe Takahata's, too. It may be the best scene he's ever filmed.

By contrast, Poro Poro's other half - the story set in the present - exchanges the faded pop nostalgia for luminous, bold colors, family drama, and an almost documentary realism. Taeko's arrival in the country brings her in the company of Toshio, a young man who walked away from the punishing city life for the simple life of a farmer. "Do you like this music?" he asks Taeko as he walks her to his car. "It's music for peasants. I like it because I'm a peasant, too." His cheery demenor and thoughtful disposition begin a series of conversations between the two, very often in that tiny car.

Toshio's conversion to a more traditional rural life fits in with much of the nostalgia in Studio Ghibli's films; I strongly suspect this may also be a direct conversation with the audience. By 1991, Japan's bubble economy had burst, plunging the nation into a cycle of endless recession that only now is ending. Takahata (who doesn't quite share Hayao Miyazaki's legendary work ethic) has little respect for the unrelenting corporate culture. His world resides in the quieter, rural Japan of the past.

This life is neither shown to be light or trivial; it is hard work at long hours and little pay. A brilliantly moving sequence goes into great detail showing the process of picking safflowers to make cosmetic dyes, and then brings us to the fields at dawn as Taeko and her relatives pick flowers. Now maybe I was mistaken before; maybe this is the greatest scene Takahata has ever filmed.

This moment is so sparse, so perfectly zen, that we almost think we're watching nothing at all. But watch them pick flowers. Listen to that majestic Hungarian folk and choir music - such marvelous music! - and just wait, enjoy the moment. Gradually, slowly, almost in real-time, we see the sun peak behind the mountains, and it dawns on us: we're watching the sunrise. It's just about the most beautiful scene I've ever witnessed.

When you look at Isao Takahata's greatest works, you find a crucial common denominator: Yoshifumi Kondo. Kondo served as the charcter designer and animation director on Anne of Green Gables, a role he reprised faithfully for years at Studio Ghibli. His drawing style is superb, absolutely perfect for a naturalist style. His sensibility is also close to Takahata's, who later remarked that both Grave of the Firefles and Poro Poro could never be made without him. I say Kondo was the best character artist in the business, and his death in 1998 remains a terrible loss.

The official western title to this film is Only Yesterday, though I confess I much prefer the original Japanese title. It translates as "Memories of Falling Teardrops," which is far more poetic and betrays its strong Ozu influence. It seems fitting to me that both Japanese filmmakers should be mentioned in the same breath. This is a work of genius - Ozu painted with watercolors.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes, Ghibli Blog

Túmulo dos Vagalumes (Hotaru no Haka, 1988)



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Sinopse disse:
Um trágico filme que trata da luta de um menino e sua irmã mais nova para sobreviver no Japão durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial.

In the waning days of World War II, American bombers drop napalm canisters on Japanese cities, creating fire storms. These bombs, longer than a tin can but about as big around, fall to earth trailing cloth tails that flutter behind them; they are almost a beautiful sight. After they hit, there is a moment's silence, and then they detonate, spraying their surroundings with flames. In a Japanese residential neighborhood, made of flimsy wood and paper houses, there is no way to fight the fires.

"Grave of the Fireflies" (1988) is an animated film telling the story of two children from the port city of Kobe, made homeless by the bombs. Seita is a young teenager, and his sister Setsuko is about 5. Their father is serving in the Japanese navy, and their mother is a bomb victim; Seita kneels beside her body, covered with burns, in an emergency hospital. Their home, neighbors, schools are all gone. For a time an aunt takes them in, but she's cruel about the need to feed them, and eventually Seita finds a hillside cave where they can live. He does what he can to find food, and to answer Setsuko's questions about their parents. The first shot of the film shows Seita dead in a subway station, and so we can guess Setsuko's fate; we are accompanied through flashbacks by the boy's spirit.

"Grave of the Fireflies" is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation. Since the earliest days, most animated films have been "cartoons" for children and families. Recent animated features such as "The Lion King," "Princess Mononoke" and "The Iron Giant" have touched on more serious themes, and the "Toy Story" movies and classics like "Bambi" have had moments that moved some audience members to tears. But these films exist within safe confines; they inspire tears, but not grief. "Grave of the Fireflies" is a powerful dramatic film that happens to be animated, and I know what the critic Ernest Rister means when he compares it to "Schindler's List" and says, "It is the most profoundly human animated film I've ever seen."

It tells a simple story of survival. The boy and his sister must find a place to stay, and food to eat. In wartime their relatives are not kind or generous, and after their aunt sells their mother's kimonos for rice, she keeps a lot of the rice for herself. Eventually, Seita realizes it is time to leave. He has some money and can buy food--but soon there is no food to buy. His sister grows weaker. Their story is told not as melodrama, but simply, directly, in the neorealist tradition. And there is time for silence in it. One of the film's greatest gifts is its patience; shots are held so we can think about them, characters are glimpsed in private moments, atmosphere and nature are given time to establish themselves.

Japanese poets use "pillow words" that are halfway between pauses and punctuation, and the great director Yasujiro Ozu uses "pillow shots"--a detail from nature, say, to separate two scenes. "Grave of the Fireflies" uses them, too. Its visuals create a kind of poetry. There are moments of quick action, as when the bombs rain down and terrified people fill the streets, but this film doesn't exploit action; it meditates on its consequences.

The film was directed by Isao Takahata, who is associated with the famous Ghibli Studio, source of the greatest Japanese animation. His colleague there is Hayao Miyazaki ("Princess Mononoke," "Kiki's Delivery Service," "My Neighbor Totoro"). His films are not usually this serious, but "Grave of the Fireflies" is in a category by itself. It's based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Nosaka Akiyuki--who was a boy at the time of the firebombs, whose sister did die of hunger and whose life has been shadowed by guilt.

The book is well-known in Japan, and might easily have inspired a live-action film. It isn't the typical material of animation. But for "Grave of the Fireflies," I think animation was the right choice. Live action would have been burdened by the weight of special effects, violence and action. Animation allows Takahata to concentrate on the essence of the story, and the lack of visual realism in his animated characters allows our imagination more play; freed from the literal fact of real actors, we can more easily merge the characters with our own associations.

Hollywood animation has been pursuing the ideal of "realistic animation" for decades, even though that's an oxymoron. People who are drawn do not look like people who are photographed. They're more stylized, more obviously symbolic, and (as Disney discovered in painstaking experiments) their movements can be exaggerated to communicate mood through body language. "Grave of the Fireflies" doesn't attempt even the realism of "The Lion King" or "Princess Mononoke," but paradoxically it is the most realistic animated film I've ever seen--in feeling.

The locations and backgrounds are drawn in a style owing something to the 18th century Japanese artist Hiroshige and his modern disciple Herge (the creator of Tin Tin). There is great beauty in them--not cartoon beauty, but evocative landscape drawing, put through the filter of animated style. The characters are typical of much modern Japanese animation, with their enormous eyes, childlike bodies and features of great plasticity (mouths are tiny when closed, but enormous when opened in a child's cry--we even see Setsuko's tonsils). This film proves, if it needs proving, that animation produces emotional effects not by reproducing reality, but by heightening and simplifying it, so that many of the sequences are about ideas, not experiences.

There are individual moments of great beauty. One involves a night when the children catch fireflies and use them to illuminate their cave. The next day, Seita finds his little sister carefully burying the dead insects--as she imagines her mother was buried. There is another sequence in which the girl prepares "dinner" for her brother by using mud to make "rice balls" and other imaginary delicacies. And note the timing and the use of silence in a sequence where they find a dead body on the beach, and then more bombers appear far away in the sky.

Rister singles out another shot: "There's a moment where the boy Seita traps an air bubble with a wash rag, submerges it, and then releases it into his sister Setsuko's delighted face--and that's when I knew I was watching something special."

There are ancient Japanese cultural currents flowing beneath the surface of "Grave of the Fireflies," and they're explained by critic Dennis H. Fukushima Jr., who finds the story's origins in the tradition of double-suicide plays. It is not that Seita and Setsuko commit suicide overtly, but that life wears away their will to live. He also draws a parallel between their sheltering cave and hillside tombs.

Fukushima cites an interview with the author, Akiyuki: "Having been the sole survivor, he felt guilty for the death of his sister. While scrounging for food, he had often fed himself first, and his sister second. Her undeniable cause of death was hunger, and it was a sad fact that would haunt Nosaka for years. It prompted him to write about the experience, in hopes of purging the demons tormenting him."

Because it is animated and from Japan, "Grave of the Fireflies" has been little seen. When anime fans say how good the film is, nobody takes them seriously. Now that it's available on DVD with a choice of subtitles or English dubbing, maybe it will find the attention it deserves. Yes, it's a cartoon, and the kids have eyes like saucers, but it belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made.

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Artigo: Transcending the Victim's History: Takahata Isao's Grave of the Fireflies

The Story of Yanagawa's Canals (Yanagawa Horiwari Monogatari, 1987)



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Sinopse disse:
Documentário sobre a luta dos habitantes de Yanagawa para preservar os canais que fazem parte da história da comunidade, e o esforço que foi feito para despoluí-los.


Gauche the Cellist (Sero Hiki no Gōshu, 1982)



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Sinopse disse:
Um violoncelista de uma pequena orquestra recebe ajuda de animais para praticar sua música.

What a moving, entrancing movie is Gauche the Cellist. It is another sterling example of the very best Japanese animation has to offer. At its core, this movie is a love letter to classical music and pre-war rural Japan, but is so much more. I've often wondered what it would be like if Isao Takahata made a movie like Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro. I think he has.

Gauche is an adaptation of the poem by Kenji Miyazawa, one of Japan's most beloved storytellers. It tells the story of a young, musician who belongs to an orchestra in 1920's rural Japan. He struggles to keep up, but only frustrates the conductor, who scolds and berates him in front of the other musicians.

He can hit the notes, but he lacks the necessary passion. He can listen to Beethoven, but he can't hear him. So Goshu spends evening alone in his humble home, practicing and playing again again. It is then that he hears a scratch at the door.

And so begins a series of encounters, comic, surreal, and moving, with a number of forest animals. Each come to Goshu with their own requests and suggestions, usually asking him to play his cello for them. In each encounter, he believes he is teaching the animals (or in the case of the cat, teaching him a lesson), but at the story's end, he discovers that he has been the student all along. They have taught him how to hear the music.

Gauche the Cellist is a film of remarkable grace and beauty. The art style is unique among Japanese animation. People are rounded and carry weight, slightly pudgy. It's neither the lean look of the later Studio Ghibli films nor the bug-eyed, cupie doll anime style. Animation is fluid, but the directing is sparse and clean, with minimal camera movements.

The background artwork is simply spectacular, and it sticks with you in your head for days. Everything is drawn in richly saturated tones, and carries a weepy melencholy. You feel as though you are watching memories of long, lost rainy days projected on the screen.

Takahata had already long since mastered his style of natural realism, firmly in the style of Ozu and Renoir, and I find it a tremendous joy to watch this great artist in full command of his powers. He is also blessed with the talents and skills of animators and artists who spend several years creating this movie as a labor of love (the lead key animator, Shunji Saida, took cello lessons so that he could accurately capture the finger movements).

A good indication of this devotion is the remarkable way the music is integrated with Miyazawa's story. Beethoven's Pastorale comprises most of the score, filling this small, peaceful world with soul. Gauche is as much a film about Beethoven's symphony, a celebration of the transcendent power of music.

Gauche the Cellist carries a lightwieght, dreamy realism, blessed with the same flights into imagination that brought a mythic romanticism to Anne of Green Gables and later in Omohide Poro Poro. Unlike Miyazaki, who also masterfully fuses fantasy and realism, Takahata's fantasy sequences have a special intimacy; hallowed moments where you share another person's heart and soul. It's intensely personal, and there has never been another filmmaker, animated or otherwise, who does it better.

I think this is an astonishingly beautiful movie, perhaps because of its unique qualities, perhaps of how many details are crammed into its 63 minutes. There is a scene, almost a throwaway scene, when the orchestra plays at the local theatre for the silent movies. What does this have to do with the overall plot? Nothing at all. It just feels like a snapshot of life, and then quickly becomes wickedly funny as the cat-and-mouse cartoon on the movie screen is interrupted by a real mouse. The women are in a panic, and the children are cheering with abandon.

The movie climaxes with the orchestra's recital at the music hall in front of the town. Notice the sheer dedication to the music here. Observe how carefully the movements of the musicians are captured. For his encore, Gauche performs alone with "The Indian Tiger Hunt," a very complex and intense piece of music. The audience in the hall is silent, captivated, awed. So are we.

After the symphony, the normally gruff conductor is so awed by the cheers of the audience that he abruptly runs into the bathroom. He is overcome with emotion, and we are given a moment to pause and share the tears. Takahata brings out more pure emotion in his animated films than nearly every live-action filmmaker who ever lived.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes, Ghibli Blog

Chie the Brat (Jarinko Chie, 1981)



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Sinopse disse:
Chieko (Chie) é uma garota que vive com o pai divorciado, em um pequeno bar/restaurante localizado em algum ponto da região de Osaka. Mesmo jovem, ela é perfeitamente capaz de se defender e administrar o restaurante - afinal seu pai, Tetsu, é preguiçoso e um pouco calhorda.

Jarinko Chie is a slice-of-life comedy, centering on the young heroine and her misfit family, and the oddball assortment of characters in orbit. The film is very much tribute to Japan's western Kansai region and the city of Kobe, where it is set. Takahata presents many details of daily life, giving the city a real sense of atmosphere and beauty.

The slightly episodic structure is closely paralleled in 1999's My Neighbors the Yamadas, although Chie's overall plot is more solid. Chie's yearnings for her parents - a hopelessly mismatched couple if ever there was one - to come back together and reunite their family. This isn't the sole storyline to the movie, but it does largely serve as the main trunk where all the other subplots cling to.

You may be surprised at the amount of blue humor and slapstick comedy in this picture. If you're one of those Westerners who couldn't get past those Tanuki testicles in Pom Poko....well, you're really in for it this time. Heavy on the slapstick, some genuine gross-out gags (that scene with the crime boss and the omelet...ah, don't eat anything), and testicle jokes galore.

In any case, you might be surprised. Takahata's penchant for emotional human drama doesn't lend itself into Adam Sandler territory. And yet he still demonstrates a complete mastery of his craft, managing to weave several tapestries together with considerable ease. The wide emotional scope is there for all to see; the humanity, the warmth, that ability to chuckle at humanity's foibles, with a tear in the eye.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes, Ghibli Blog

Panda! Go, Panda!: The Rainy-Day Circus (Panda Kopanda: Amefuri Circus no Maki, 1973)



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Sinopse disse:
Um filhote de tigre chega à cidade junto com o circo e logo fica amigo de Mimiko e sua nova família.
Finally, here it is: The Panda Kopanda review! (I watched it about a week ago so some of my thoughts may seem a bit fuzzy, and the usual warnings of my reviews should be taken in affect for this, as it probably will get pretty rambly).

For those who don't know, Panda Kopanda and Panda Kopanda and the Rainy Day Circus, were two 30 minute featurettes, directed by Takahata and written by Miyazaki, that were released theatrically in the early 70's. I have heard some say they came out on TV and not theatrically, but, though the video is pan and scan, in some scenes like the credits it's obvious you're missing some of the picture on either side.

The main interest for this film for Ghibli otakus, and the one that's made it rather infamous among fans who haven't watched it than other obscure Miyazaki/Takahata anime is that it's often called a Totoro prototype. It definitely is, but the two films are so vastly different, and I don't think Panda would appeal to all for the same audience of Totoro.

Both featurettes start with similar credits, and the same song. This is one of the most infectious songs I have ever heard, not so much for its beat, or even memorable melody like many anime songs, but for its simple, child-like tune and easy to remember chorus of "Panda Kopanda Kopanda" (repeat ad infinitum). The opening sequence for both Panda and Totoro (which are basically the same, with individual, brightly colored cards, with the credits and around the credits, cute [often adorable] pictures of the films lead characters in funny poses, etc) strike me as quite similar, and I think it must be because this song in a way reminds me of the comparitively far more complex "Sampo" (the OP for Totoro, of course). And the actual drawings remind me as similar, I guess they're in a similar style to the cutsiefied (almost super-deformed) Mei and the animals in the Totoro OP. Also [the] Panda [theme] starts with a row of bouncily-animated pandas who join together and explode (as it were, though I mean explode abstractly) to reveal the title, much as the Totoro's bounce and turn into the characters for the title of Totoro, and in both OPs near the middle we see the bouncing characters again briefly.

Anyway the basic plot is that Mimiko's grandma is leaving to visit some friends, and must leave little Mimiko by herself (!!). Mimiko is quite small, I guess around Mei's age, and reminds me of Pippi Longstockings, both with her red hair and pig tails (tho they don't stick right out like Pippi's) the fact that she lives alone and her playful attitude when trouble or problems occur. Maybe she was a remnant left from Takahata and Miyazaki's ill-fated Pippi feature?

After finally persuading her Grandma to leave, and seeing her off on the train, Mimiko returns home to find by her house a tiny, baby panda. It turns out he's alive (Kopanda), and they quickly become friends and then big Panda arrives. And he's big! But very friendly, and he becomes as it were Mimiko's surrogate father while her Grandma's away, and Mimiko becomes something of Kopanda's mother, although she truly seems to bw mother for the big Panda as well. Many really CUTE adventures, and little scenes happen between them, then Mimiko's policeman friend sees the panda and is afraid it seems that he's dangerous to Mimiko. But in the end of course it ends happily with a reprise of the song. :) The sequel, Panda Kopanda and the Rainy Day Circus is quite similar, with Grandma away (unexplainably) again, but this time with a circus arriving (complete with a cute baby Tiger who becomes fast friends with Kopanda), and a rainy day that rains so much that the rain floods up to Mimiko's house, and with Panda's help she saves the Circus animals who are trapped in the circus train under water.

Both short films are incredible innocent fun to watch! The second being the better of the two overall (in fact I think my memories of the first are clouded and overshadowed by the second). The animation style will tell you from the start that it's quite different from Totoro. Imagine all of Totoro animated in the style that it's opening is done in and you begin to get the picture. No pains are taken to making backgrounds or anything look realistic, and Mimiko almost has an agressive tho compelling cuteness! (Whenever she's really happy she stands on her hands with her legs in the air stretched right out, something Kopanda often tries to do and finally succeeds in doing, and Panda himself tries on numerous occasions to disastrous results. The baby Tiger can do it too but by standing on his tail [CUTE!] ) The story really is quite straightforward and complex, I don't see how any real meanings could be breathed into this, it's just *fun*. I think this may be what Miyazaki had in mind for his original plan of Totoro which would be for preschoolers and be quite short. Because of these reasons I don't think it has the adult appeal Totoro does, tho it doesn't suffer the fate of many things for kids here, in that adults can enjoy it even by themselves and not feel embarassed or insulted by it. :) Oh, one moreTotoro comparison, Kopanda, Mimiko and even the little Tiger jump and "stick" onto Panda much like the girls do to Totoro.

"Panda Kopanda, Kopanda...."

Eric J. Henwood-Greer

Panda! Go, Panda! (Panda Kopanda, 1972)



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Sinopse disse:
Quando sua avó vai embora em uma viagem, Mimiko fica em casa sozinha em seu pequeno e acolhedor vilarejo. Quando ela retorna da estação de trem, descobre que tem um visitante, um bebê panda. Ela rapidamente fica amiga dele e o nomeia Pannie. Mais tarde, encontra o pai de Pannie, um grande panda que ela chama de Papanda. Juntos, os três tornam-se uma família feliz com suas próprias aventuras.


Horus: O Príncipe do Sol (Taiyō no Ōji: Horusu no Daibōken, 1968)



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Sinopse disse:
Horus, um garoto que vive durante a Idade do Ferro em alguma região da Escandivávia/Europa Oriental, recupera a Espada do Sol do gigante de pedra Moog e descobre, de seu pai moribundo, que precisa retornar à aldeia de seus ancestrais, que foi devastada pelo perverso bruxo Grundewald.

Hols is one of the classic masterpieces of anime in Japan. Released in theaters in 1968 by Toei Douga (Toei Animation Studio), it was epoch making in many ways.

This was the first feature film Isao Takahata ever directed. It was made by young, idealistic staff members, who wanted to make something totally different from anything Disney and previous "Toei Kid's stuff". It was made during the height of a huge labor dispute at Toei Douga, and the story and the production process reflected the situation.

The theme of the movie was "the unity among people", and the staff members tried to make Hols in a "democratic" way, meaning many ideas from all the staff members, including Miyazaki (who worked as a key animator on the project), were incorporated into the final film. In fact, Miyazaki's contribution was so great that they had to create a new job title, "Scene Design", just for him.

The film took more than three years to complete, way beyond the initial schedule of eight months. Although it was highly acclaimed critically and many organizations recommended it, Toei only ran it for 10 days! As a result, Hols was the lowest grossed anime in the Toei history. Takahata was demoted because of this, and was never again allowed to direct a movie at Toei Doga.

However, it was embraced enthusiastically by many young Japanese, such as university students (considering that anime, or manga movies as they were called, were considered "kid's stuff" even more than now, this was really something). The theme of the movie, "the importance of being united," really appealed to those who were in the student and union movements.

Hols is also the origin of Miyazaki anime in many ways. The beginning of the movie is very similar to Conan, the first TV series which Miyazaki directed. With his incredible strength and strong love towards the heroine, Hols is definitely the prototype of Conan, as well as Pazu from Laputa.

The heroine, Hilda, is the archetype of Miyazaki heroines. Hilda is probably one of the most complex heroines in Japanese animation history. She is very strong, though her strength was unfortunately shown primarily through her evil side. She carries both good and evil inside of her, and in Miyazaki's later works, she is reincarnated as pairs of heroines: Nausicaa and Kushana in Nausicaa, Lana and Monsley in Conan, and Clarisse and Fujiko in Cagliostro, to name a few.

After receiving many inquiries as to where the names in Hols came from, we asked Mr. Kanoh of the Takahata Miyazaki Research Lab, a well-respected fan organization in Japan. He in turn asked Yasuo Ohtsuka, who was the supervising animator of Hols. Kanoh returned with the following reply from Ohtsuka:

"Actually, there is no record on how Hols, Hilda, and Grinwald were named...I think that Hols was not named after Horus of Egypt, but was named after northern European names such as Holhel, Holhes, or Holt." [The spelling on these last three names may be off.]
Nausicaa.net

Filmografia Completa

Entrevistas
[TR]

An Interview with Isao Takahata

By Cedric Littardi
AnimeLand (a French anime fanzine), issue #6 (July/August 1992) pages 27-29

Translated from French to English by Ken Elescor in October, 1993
Edited by Steven Feldman



Mr. Isao Takahata was without a doubt the main personality at the Corbeil-Essonnes festival. Our meeting was quite surprising (in fact, I think I was the one who was really surprised). I met him in the second evening during the official days of the festival, at the dinner. He showed such an interest for everything which surrounds him, such a sensibility and such a curiosity that I don't know if I could call these pages an interview. As far as I'm concerned, I rather felt it as a situation of confrontation between two cultures, each one giving proof of a very deep curiosity towards the other. I don't know if, writing it down, I could give you this feeling which expresses itself in his whole behaviour and not only in his speech. For instance, he recorded some of our talks with a beautiful miniaturized Sony radio set, perhaps to study French language when he'd be back in Japan (come to that, this gave me the occasion to be quoted in ANIMAGE). Doing that, he showed the extreme relativity of our respective parts. In a way, he was inverting the parts of the interviewer and the interviewee.

Perhaps the first thing to do is to describe him to you. Physically, he looks like a standard 50-year-old -- maybe younger -- Japanese man, a little smaller than the average. He spends a lot of time smoking. (Philippe LHOSTE said: "I saw Mr. Takahata stand up to take an ashtray. I'll be able to tell it to my grandchildren!")[1] Moreover, he has a deep voice, talks little, and thinks silently for a long time when asked a question before answering, which doesn't prevent him from asking for the question to be repeated as soon as his curiosity is awakened. Isao Takahata is the main lead of Studio Ghibli, along with his friend and colleague Hayao Miyazaki. He is the great author of Serohiki no Goshu (Goshu the Cellist), Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies) and Omohide Poro Poro (Falling Tears of Remembrance).

I met this exceptional man at table while he was coming back from the location from whence comes the famous rose of Versailles. After a few brief presentations during which I talked with him about European paronama, we began the present discussion.



Key to the dialog
T:Isao Takahata
I:Interviewer Cedric Littardi


I: Mr. Takahata, I quite admire Japanese animation in general. It's why I'd first like to know what your favourite anime are, besides the ones you or Mr. Miyazaki produced.

T: To tell the truth, I don't really have time to watch my contemporaries' anime. My work keeps me very busy and allows me little time to do anything else. On the other hand, I'd like to know what you'd answer if you were in my place.

I: I admit this is a delicate question. If I excepted Studio Ghibli's works, I'd pick the spectacular Honneamise no Tsubasa (The Wings of Honneamise) produced by Gainax. Do you know this work?

T: Yes, I know it. I've already had an occasion to watch it.

I: And, did you enjoy it?

T: -pause- No, not really.

I: Oh?! And why?

T: I'd like to get a better understanding of why you admire this work so much.

I: It is not evident to explain. Perhaps, because it is a wonderful science-fiction work, produced in a exceptional way, with deep and expressive characters who experience a spectacular evolution. Moreover, there is this parallel world, created in a very accurate way, even in the very details. It is true that it is very different from your own works. Is that why you don't like it?

T: I'd simply say that it is a matter of personal taste.

I: Nonetheless, there should be some anime which had influenced you. Which ones induced you to do this job?

T: I have to say that I'm very happy to be in France because it is a country I really like.[2] My career perhaps began thanks to my admiration for Paul Grimault. That's why I'm very glad to be able to show my movies here.

I: How do you place yourself in comparison with the international reference in matter of anime, i.e. Walt Disney?

T: I really enjoyed the first ones -- namely, Fantasia, Pinocchio and Snow White. But my own sensibility gradually and naturally took me away from the Disney Studios' full length films.

I: So, which are the works which influenced you the most?

T: Well, I quite admire the Canadian, Frederick Back, and the Russian, Yuri Norstein.

I: Then, why don't you try to use similar drawing techniques (i.e. cut pieces of paper or pastel drawings)?

T: It's simply a question of money. Their techniques are much more expensive than ours, much more conventional. That's why they are not used in Japan; production costs would be too high.

I: You said that you like European cinematography. Did it influence you?

T: Yes, that's right, I watched many European films and especially French ones. They help me a lot to obtain such a result in my work.

I: However, some of your full-length films, in particular the splendid Omohide Poro Poro, could have been done as live films. So you chose to make them anime films to convey visual expressions, to express emotions, feelings, that you'd never be able to reach with actors in the cinematographic reality.

T: That is exactly what I intended to do in Omohide Poro Poro, and I'm very glad you realized that.

I: Congratulations! You were really successful in doing it.

T: This is possible. I'd have something else to say to you about what inspired me, as well as any other anime producer in Japan. But, for this, I need some documents. So, I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

I: I really thank you for this. About the production, I'd like to know exactly which are the respective roles you and Mr. Miyazaki play, since in Europe, there is a tendency to confuse your two works and to accredit them to your colleague.

T: Yet, there is a noticeable difference. You don't see it because you don't speak Japanese.

I: Did you work on some series like Shojo Alps no Heiji (Heidi, Girl of the Alps) or Lupin III, for instance?

T: I was the editor for Heidi during the whole series. As for Lupin, I managed the production committee in which Miyazaki was working.

I: I see. I'd also like to know why you suddenly began to produce full length films.

T: Simply because I couldn't achieve any personal satisfaction with short length films. Besides, today, to produce a beautiful anime for TV is impossible, since the budget for one TV episode hasn't increased for the last ten years, in spite of the increase in price of production costs.

I: How much is the budget of an anime in Japan?

T: It depends a lot; between ¥100 and 800 million.

I: I seize this opportunity to ask you: to whom are your movies aimed?

T: To everyone, in general. I wish, nonetheless, to make clear that Omohide Poro Poro isn't suitable, of course, to the youngest; let's say you could watch it above 10 years.

I: Are your movies extracted from novels?

T: In general, I choose to produce adaptations of literary works. I often used to work on foreign works, already at the time when I was producing series. Hotaru no Haka is the adaptation of an autobiographical Japanese novel written by Nosaka AKUYUKI; but the book became famous only after the movie was out. With regard to Omohide Poro Poro, only some parts of the storyline come from a novel -- which was already more than ten years old.

I: Don't you think that Hotaru no Haka is a little sad for a child? I have not met yet someone who was not reduced to tears after having watching it.

T: I think that today we can hardly watch a natural death. For instance, people generally die in a hospital nowadays. I'd call it a scientific death. All I wished to find, beyond sadness, it is a straighter way to show things.

I: And, what about grown-ups? For a European person, it seems impossible to see grown-ups watching anime. The cultural barrier which separate each one from the other seems quite incommensurable. Could it be because they grew up, watching anime?

T: It is quite likely. In Japan, grown-ups very much like anime, especially since Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa (Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind), and they often take their children to watch them on week-ends, thus allowing the two generations to bring themselves together through entertainment. The average public is between 15 and 20, but, as I said, there are still more grown-ups since 1984.

I: Yes, I understand well the part that played the first big Miyazaki('s work) for every public. Of all Miyazaki's works, which one do the young Japanese like the most?

T: I think I can state positively that it is Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro), a movie every child in Japan really loves.

I: So do I. But I think I prefer the famous Tenku no Shiro Laputa (Castle in the Sky Laputa). What were your expectations in producing this movie? And where does its name come from?

T: The name of the island comes from Gulliver's Travels, the famous Swift work. Laputa was an island which was floating in the air and wasn't receiving sunshine because it was too evil -- which explains the negative connotation of its name which is derived from the word "bitch" ("puta" in Spanish, and "pute" in French). But the storyline was modified considerably and now has nothing to do with the original Laputa. Miyazaki and I worked to make a real adventure movie. Yet, nowadays, there is no uneducated country, because they all know the world's secrets. We decided not to do like Spielberg, i.e. to locate the world's secret beyond the earth, in the universe. We wanted to make a movie whose action takes place on earth, because it is our earth.

I: I also greatly admire Joe Hisaishi's music. His works are acknowledged outside the context of the movies for which he wrote the soundtracks.

T: Indeed, he wrote magnificent pieces of music. Come to that, I was the one who was in charge of putting them in the full length films. Before Nausicaa, he was composing "minimal music" -- a very different kind of music.

I: I never heard about it. What is it?

T: It is modern music, composed with a limited number of sounds which are repeated continually, from which comes the name. I'd have liked to have had such a talented composer for my movies.

I: But, at the beginning, all Studio Ghibli's movies were made profitable. It is very difficult to pay off such expensive anime in only one country.

T: It has only been since Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service) that our productions have become profitable. None of the previous ones paid off, in spite of their great popularity -- unless we take into account the selling of derived products and rights, in which case, we can consider the balance positive.

I: With such a budget, you nonetheless have never used computer means to make the animation, have you?

T: No, everything was done manually.

I: In France, our national pride circulates the rumor that there could be a collaboration between Mr. Miyazaki and Jean Giraud (Moebius). What is the truth?

T: Surely, both men regard the other highly. However, at the present time, we have to exclude the hypothesis of any work in common for a simple reason: both have very strong personalities.

I: I understand; but on the other hand, were your works issued in foreign countries? For instance, we watched tapes from the American version (with 30 minutes cut) of Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa.

T: Yes, indeed. They showed me this version, as well. It is absolutely horrible! They did an enormous and aberrant censorship; they cut Hisaishi's pieces of music, without forgetting the changed dialogues. It was a great error of Studio Ghibli and we haven't given broadcast rights to foreign countries since; and we'll never again give such rights without an attentive examination of the condition beforehand.[3] For that matter, the international rights for Nausicaa given to the U.S.A. will be over in 2 or 3 years. All these movies are grounded strongly in Japanese culture and are not conceived with an eye towards exportation. Censoring them is worse than betraying them.[4] This festival constitutes the first public broadcasting in a foreign country and I have to admit that I am very surprised by the public's reaction. Anyway, we're still very afraid of how our products will be used in foreign countries.

I: Indeed, we know these problems. We try to obtain a better respect for Japanese anime, so as to maintain a level the nearest possible of the original work. Most certainly, this attempt is often hopeless, but we remain a dissenting voice.

T: [Here, Mr. Takahata begins to speak French] I... er... agree with what you're doing.


Then we had to part company: he had to rest to prepare himself for the hard events of the day after. But the next day, once again, as he promised, he talked to all the magazine's staff (that was there this time) and to myself (we ate breakfast together) to explain some of the reasons of his inspiration, fundamentally based on Japanese culture.

T: Here. This book contains the reproduction of a Twelth Century Japanese parchment. (He showed us a book containing the representation of a Japanese parchment which must be very long since each page represented a part of this parchment; thus, if they were torn out and placed side by side, we would have the entire linear parchment.) The original is made with two tubes around which are affixed the rolled parchment. Thus, the two tubes would be rolled by hand simultaneously so as to unthread the scenes. Thus, we have the first Japanese animated scene of history. On the other hand, the scenario is explained in ideograms at peculiar passages.

So the story took place: of an incendiary who is eventually found and punished by the Emperor. Stylistic effects are plentiful: movement in the reading direction or in the opposite one, the presence of the same character several times in the same scene to show his movement, the characterization of faces, all expressing different emotions (for these, the work was focused solely on manipulations of the effects of light and shade which was very elaborate)... It would be very difficult to explain everything, since we'd have to show you these documents to explain their plastic meaning... In a methodic way, thus revealing a pedagogical mind -- so much so that he took care to describe each scene and each detail which he talked with us about later -- he kept on turning the pages, helping us discover the document. His ostensible purpose was to make us understand that the style used nowadays in the anime industry did not date back to the discovery of Walt Disney, but longer ago. In this document, we recognized the strokes of the outlines which made the characters, cinematographic plans, and an idea of the (virtual) movements, thanks to only the reading direction.

T: The basis of such works have to be understood. They are mere scenes of everyday life, expressed in the slightest detail. This is an integral part of the Japanese culture, this is a very old translation. Moreover, please note the very expressive features of every face. You see, when I wanted to produce these full length films, no one thought that the subjects chosen could be done as an anime. They were wrong. The culture, the one which comes from our culture, explains for the most part all that we can find in anime nowadays. And, try to remember one thing, which counts the mosT: it is not the real, nor even the relationship with the real; it is only the line and the way of drawing.


Notes from the translator
1.According to Olivier Cao, Philippe LHOSTE is "a head person among French otakus. A french otaku personality, if you will. He wrote many articles in many anime French fanzines, and even one in a Canadian anime fanzine -- namely, Protoculture Addicts; it was an article about anime in France -- and founded an anime APA [Amateur Press Association club] in France."
2.Cedric Littardi, the interviewer, noted: "I acknowledge some time after that he reads French -- even if his conversation was a little limited -- and that he even translated some works on some French artists."
3.It seems like France has filled these conditions since we have the rights to broadcast (this will be done next year) both Porco Rosso and Totoro.
4.There is an Italian proverb that goes, "Translator, traitor" ("Traduttore, traditore," if my memory serves me). ;)
Nausicaa.net
A Personal Conversation with Studio Ghibli Director Isao Takahata

Last February a special visit was made to the Anima 2006 in Brussels, Belgium. Of course this could have been to watch the beautiful animations of for example Youri Norstein, the Russian animation director who Hayao Miyazaki greatly admires. Or perhaps to see the short animated features which took part at the Palmares International Competition. However, this time the visit had a different reason. A better reason. The 25th edition of the Anima had a special guest this year: master animation director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli Isao Takahata. As guest of honour a retrospective of his movies took place, most of them never released in Belgium or even Europe, as well as a 2-hour conference by Takahata-san about Japanese animation. In addition, GhibliWorld.com had the chance to meet the director in person himself and ask him about his works during a personal interview at the 5* Metropole Hotel.


One of the unique things about your movies is the fact that they are all completely different. Not only story wise, but most notably stylistically. You have once said that you originally planned Hotaru No Haka (Grave of the Fireflies) to look really different but had to go for a more regular look because of the time limit of the production. Can you tell me something about your original ideas for the film and how would it have looked like?

“Well, that is not completely true. I originally wanted to research it more thoroughly, but around that time it was to be released March next year so unfortunately there was little time. So yes, I did wanted to do more research to look for more ideas for the film, but style wise I wasn’t planning to make it look completely different. Even though I couldn’t explore my directions completely, I am still very glad with result and I thank Hayao Miyazaki for this! During the pre-production stage of the film he was the one who advised me to make it, because this would probably be my only chance and otherwise it would have never been made.”

(note: again Takahata shows his gratitude towards Miyazaki in relation to the making of Grave of the Fireflies, something he has done in other interviews as well).

Linking back to the first question, about your films all having different styles, is there a particular reason for this?

“Well, I do not fit in this logic of where I should change collaborators each time. I don’t know if this is normal in Japan, but animators do not let them be pushed into a corner of having only one clean animation style. They‘d rather have the capacity to adapt, like for example manga, which must have a graphic personality.”

Except for the uniqueness of your films being all completely different style wise, they also one particular similarity. You could say that you have a preoccupation with realism with a oeuvre of films that all flirt with documentary.

“I am unaware of my films being perceived like that in Europe, but there is indeed a documentary part in them. For My Neighbors the Yamadas, which was inspired by a manga, the heart is described in such a manner that one can see a documentary aspect there. I want to avoid inserting something completely unreal in the middle of a scene. This is a process which I refuse.”

Sometimes this preoccupation with realism leads to propose harder scenes or images…

“It is my intention to build a film with the aim of causing some particular emotion”, corrects Takahata. “I absolutely do not want to manipulate the reaction of the viewer. But the choice of using hard images is necessary: like it was necessary for Grave of the Fireflies to tell the story about how life was in a bombarded city.”

Could you say that Grave of the Fireflies has an anti-war message?

“I can understand people think it has, but I did not deliberately put an anti-war message in it.”

Some current manga seem to portray the opposite and justify Japans part in World War II in terms of not having had a choice. What do you think about that?

“I am not aware of this as I don’t read many manga, but if there would be such a trend in current Japanese manga I am fiercely against this. Also I completely disagree with that Japanese people that claim that Japan had no other option than to go to war. It was no reaction to something that happened, but Japan’s own choice to attack the other Asian countries and also the war with America was a result of this wrong choice.”

With the exception of the short feature you made for Fuyu no hi (Winter days) we haven't heared a lot from you after My Neighbors the Yamadas was released. A contact from the French Buta-Connection informed me about your visit in France of yesterday where you told them something about three future animation projects. What have you been doing lately and could you tell something about this possible next Takahata-features?

“This is true, I have been working on several projects. The first project is a traditional epic story about the large war between clan lords during the 12th century. I have also been busy with a project about the Ainu, a ethnic minority who live in the northern part of Japan (Hokkaido) from who it is said the Japanese people originated from. They have their own culture and left an oral literature. They also have remarkable lyric poetry and I would very much like to adapt one of these poetries. Then the final project I’ve been working on. Perhaps you know that Gauche the Cellist is an adaptation of one of the works by Kenji Miyazawa. Another project I’ve been working on is another adaptation on one of his works. I wrote many texts and I would very much like to adapt one of these projects, but they’re all still in their research stage. Unfortunately, they don’t advance much and I cannot tell you when they will be finished or even if they will actually be made.”

Pompoko is your only film which is not an adaptation of a novel or a manga. Why?

“I really do not regard it as a personal work. Anyway, not more than my other works. However, I had often wondered about the tanuki. They are part of the Japanese ecosystem, but one does not know them anymore in their true biological surroundings. Only the folklore remained. According to traditional Japanese tales tanuki are able to transform into humans. These stories stimulated my imagination. In Japan, a lot of tanuki get killed by cars when passing roads. It was difficult to explain that when they are able to take human form. The easy way was to justify it by a loss of their ability and their knowledge. Like us, they forgot their instincts. Another reason is that the tanuki always lived close to men near the forests, which made it possible for me to approach another topic as well: the relationship between men, nature and his environment. By destroying the forests, the tanuki disappeared, just like what happened with the extension of Tokyo.”

Some people link Pompoko with eco terrorism. What do you think about that?

Takahata-san laughs. “I did not know about this point of view. They consider the tanuki to be terrorists? But they are the victims. The film depicts a drama; it is the end of a world, the end of the tanuki world. I wanted the viewer to look from the point of view of the animals and try to make us perceive how our world appears to us seen from the outside. However, the terrorist label does not disturb me. Today, terrorists are public enemy number 1. But historically, terrorism was sometimes a mean of asking attention of the established society. This state of mind existed until in the seventies. Terrorism sometimes had the capacity to make the world or people reflect on their condition.”

Your works are often anchored in realism. When something imaginary does happen, it is never related to any of the often used anime subjects like fantasy or science-fiction. Why is this?

“I cannot speak for other countries, but in Japan there is indeed a domination of what I consider as "fantasy", in cinema or in manga. For these types of art, there are of course often interesting works. However, it’s because of its monopoly that the young people tend to consume only these types of works and only live in these chimerical universes. All of the video games or the films water the young spectators of these universes. Another element which strikes me is that aesthetically speaking, these works tend towards ultra-realism, either using real photos which are manipulated using a computer or using 3D often blurring the border between the real world and the "fantasy" world. The problem with this is that when the young people find themselves in reality, they find it dull and depressing and only dream of living in a factitious universe. I think this is a shame and consider it as dangerous. This is why I do not appreciate "fantasy" in general.”

What is your opinion regarding people who say your work (Grave of the Fireflies and Pompoko) appear to have one constant: humans are not having it’s best day. They claim your films to be a little pessimistic.

“Indeed, I have been told sometimes that my films tend to be pessimistic, but I do not agree / understand how one can come to this conclusion, even if this manner of perceiving them interests me.” Takahata-san looks at his characters and their story differently: “The end of Pompoko is completely clear. In the end it’s not all good, but if one chooses to live, it is necessary to have hope. It is the only way of living. That is my message, and I hope that my films contribute to that message!”

GhibliWorld.com

Curiosidades
[TR]

Apelido
Paku-san

Marcas registradas
Frequentemente os protagonistas aparecem pegando trem, exceto em Horus: O Príncipe do Sol.
Sempre mostra uma área não-urbana em algum ponto de seus filmes (ou até mesmo durante o filme todo), exceto em Chie the Brat.

Trivia
Não é um grande fã de fantasia.
Gosta dos filmes de Nemuri Kyoshirō.


Fontes
[TR]

Biografia e Filmografia:
Entrevistas:
Resenhas:
 
Última edição por um moderador:

Vëon

Do you know what time it is?
Re: Diretor da Semana - Isao Takahata

Apesar da filmografia relativamente curta conheço muito pouco dele, só assisti Túmulo dos Vagalumes e Only Yesterday. Gosto bastante de ambos.
 

[F*U*S*A*|KåMµ§]

Who will define me?
Re: Diretor da Semana - Isao Takahata

Cara.
Excelente!

Apesar de Miyazaki ser celebrado, Takahata é quase como um Kubrick aos meus olhos, filmografia curta mas toda obra dele é fantástica.
Me surpreendi em ver que só faltam 2 dele pra eu fechar essa filmografia, vou fechar isso correndo. Achava que seriam mais. Fuyu no Hi eu assisti e não lembrava que tinha participação dele, é das animações recentes mais belas e experimentais graficamente.

Eu só estranhei um pouco no inicio quando diz-se que ele se interessou por animação em 1980, e depois comenta que ele iniciou sua carreira em animação em 68.


PS: Le Roi et l'Oiseau realmente vale a conferida.
 

Quickbeam

Rock & Roll
Re: Diretor da Semana - Isao Takahata

Apesar da filmografia relativamente curta conheço muito pouco dele, só assisti Túmulo dos Vagalumes e Only Yesterday. Gosto bastante de ambos.

Esses dois são os meus favoritos do Takahata e talvez sejam os melhores da carreira dele, mas gostei de todos os que assisti. Lembro que comprei o laserdisc de Pom Poko no lançamento, sem nunca ter visto o filme, só por ser da Ghibli. Foi difícil entender o filme sem legendas, mas ele me cativou já na primeira vez. Diria que sofre um pouco com a longa duração (para uma animação, já que tem 2 horas) e o caráter episódico que adquire, mas em geral é divertido (os tanuki não aguentam ficar muito tempo sem brincar, comer e beber XD), inusitado (uma palavra: testículos! :lol:), exuberante (a sequência da parada rivaliza a casa de banhos de Chihiro) e tocante (aquele final...). Deve ser o filme mais abertamente "japonês" de Takahata, inteiramente imerso na cultura e no folclore japoneses, mas acho que isso o torna mais fascinante.

Meus Vizinhos, os Yamada eu vi pela primeira vez com minha mãe e nós rimos bastante. São sketches da vida em família e não há trama, o que interliga os segmentos é só a temática. De novo, Takahata é bem minucioso em retratar o cotidiano daqueles personagens e, por mais que sejam quase arquétipos de uma família japonesa tradicional, ele consegue explorar aspectos universais do comportamento humano. Ao mesmo tempo, adoro o estilo de animação empregado, que lembra aquarelas infantis, mas que, por baixo da aparência simplista/minimalista, revela um olhar aguçado sobre a essência do que se pretende retratar.

Só vi Horus, Gauche e Chie ano passado e, embora tenha gostado dos três, talvez precise revê-los para apreciá-los melhor. Horus é o que mais se aproxima de uma aventura típica, mas possui um tom mais sério e uma dose de ideias interessantes, inclusive lidando com temas políticos.

Tirando o tom por vezes didático de Gauche, que me incomodou um pouco, o resto é deveras interessante, principalmente para fãs de música. Há um momento que me lembrou The Band Concert, o curta com o Mickey regendo uma orquestra, mas aqui o efeito é bem melhor explorado, ao mostrar o poder transcendental da Música.

Chie é bem diferente do que se espera de um filme do Takahata. Por vezes é bem engraçado (pastelão, até), outras é wtf (como na luta entre os gatos), certamente offbeat para muitos.

Winter Days é, como a maioria dos filmes colaborativos, irregular por natureza, mas também é experimental e atípico. No mínimo, vale a pena assistí-lo para apreciar o trabalho de gênios da animação como Yuriy Norshteyn e Aleksandr Petrov.



Eu só estranhei um pouco no inicio quando diz-se que ele se interessou por animação em 1980, e depois comenta que ele iniciou sua carreira em animação em 68.

Também estranhei isso, mas achei que eu é que tinha entendido errado.

Hmm, traduzi a informação da en.wiki, devo dizer que descobri que há muito pouco escrito sobre Takahata na web, pelo menos em inglês (até tentei ler páginas em francês e japonês para checar as informações, mas não tive muito sucesso). Por outro lado, fui eu que incluí a data de lançamento de O Rei e o Pássaro no texto, mas tenho a impressão de que Takahata pode ter visto a versão incompleta desse filme, que foi lançada em 1952/53 pelo produtor André Sarrut, contra a vontade dos autores, Paul Grimault e Jacques Prévert. O Rei e o Pássaro tem uma história de produção bem conturbada e levou décadas até ser finalizado e lançado, em 1980. Vou mudar o texto do post, porque o filme que foi lançado em 53 tinha outro nome, La Bergère et le Ramoneur (ou "A pastora e o limpador de chaminés").

Pesquisei na Wiki francesa e acho que foi isso mesmo.



PS: Le Roi et l'Oiseau realmente vale a conferida.

Vale mesmo, no mínimo pela importância histórica dele.
 

Hugo

Hail to the Thief
Re: Diretor da Semana - Isao Takahata

Wow, nada vi do diretor ainda. Bora encher a fila de downloads aqui ...
 

Melian

Período composto por insubordinação.
Re: Diretor da Semana - Isao Takahata

Que tópico lindo, Quickbeam!

Takahata formou-se pela Universidade de Tóquio, no curso de Literatura Francesa, em 1959.
:amor:

Gente, Takahata também gosta de Kirikou e a Feiticeira :grinlove:.

Entendo, perfeitamente, o fato de ele ter se interessado por animação depois de ver Le Roi et l'Oiseau. Se eu não gostasse de animação antes de ver essa, certeza de que mudaria de ideia, depois de ver. Btw, no meu caso, eu vi Le Roi et l'Oiseau por gostar de animação. Foi uma experiência muito válida.

Não sei como, mas vi alguns, poucos, episódios de Akage no An. Certeza de que foi na casa de alguma amiga, via VHS e talz.

Vi O Serviço de Entregas da Kiki, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Túmulo dos vagalumes e Only Yesterday. Gosto de todos. Mas Only Yesterday é o meu preferido. E eu duvido que os outros que ainda não vi vão tirá-lo do trono. Tenho paixão por cada segundo de Only Yesterday. Sério, é lindo demais. É sublime. (A Quézia concorda comigo. XD) Aí que eu tava olhando o trailer, ali, e senti vontade de ver novamente. É nessas horas que eu tinha de ter o dvd, né?

Dos trabalhos dele como produtor, junto do Miza (olha a intimidade, gente!), gosto muito de Laputa, O Castelo no Céu (mas gosto mais de Nausicaa), tanto que até ensinei minha sobrinha mais velha (ela fará 10 anos, dia 4) a gostar. Quer dizer, não precisei ensinar nada, só vi o filme com ela, e ela ficou apaixonada.


*Quézia = minha sobrinha
 

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