Favorite Bromances


Bromance.

It’s a pop culture term that summarizes two guys (usually fictional characters) who have a deep/brotherly relationship (and/or often pertaining to actual romance, which I leave out when I use the word.) I don’t use this term that much but sometimes it’s feels appropriate when I’m trying to talk about a great friendship between two male best friends.

Personally, I love seeing deep, platonic relationships between guys in my movies and TV shows–usually those connections reach out from the screen to me and are near-unbreakable, which is why the movies and shows become near-unbreakable too!

These below are my personal favorite fictional best friends. They’re listed in an attempted alphabetical order to avoid the heartache of ranking favorites. XD

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Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee | The Lord of The Rings Trilogy

I’ve worked on this post for a long time but I could never complete it for some reason. Now, after seeing The Lord of the Rings, I know why. It’s because this list was incomplete without Frodo and Sam, one of the best bromances ever. 🙂 These two were easily my very favorite part about The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Sam such a bad*ss best friend–he always had Frodo’s back, even when the ring began effecting Frodo’ judgement for the worse. And Frodo, when he was thinking straight, really appreciated Sam’s loyalty and brotherhood.  And of course, the moments on Mordor: #THEFEELS

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Han Solo and Chewbacca | The Star Wars Trilogy

I think they’re usually viewed as “character with sidekick” sort of relationship but just because Chewbacca isn’t a main character in the Star Wars movies doesn’t mean that he and Han Solo aren’t bros for life. Besides Wookies are very intelligent and all, so their connection is completely legitimate.

The movies don’t even need to make a big sub-plot demonstrating their strong friendship because it looks so natural and real on the screen. They’re a classic addition to idea of brotherhood and kick-butt partners.

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Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings | A&E’s Agatha Christie’s Poirot

Ever since I first watch the show over five years ago, I’ve absolutely loved this detective duo. They’re such a great addition to the bromance group since, in many ways, they’re a rather mismatched pair. Poirot is very particular, sharp, and proper, while Hastings is a relaxed chap who walks the line of being a little clueless.

But they work because they care for each other’s companionship! I’ve loved these guys since day one over five years ago, so the fact they’ve managed to stay within this list speaks to their true and memorably fun friendship.

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Jake the Dog and Finn the Human | Adventure Time

Adventure Time is one of my more recent favorite shows because of its quirky stories, characters, and stylistically simple, magical world. The two main characters are unquestioningly one of the best broships you’ll ever find on TV. They were even raised to together as brothers. Finn and Jake go on adventures, take quests, woo princesses, play video games, and contemplate simple life lessons of friendship.

It’s sounds similar to many kid shows, but Finn and Jake’s friendship feels so special and authentic in a simple way. They’re partly why Adventure Time’s been embraced by young adults like myself. ❤

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James P. Sullivan and Mike Wazowski | Monsters Inc/University

I shouldn’t even have to talk very much about these guys: you should know Sulley and Mike are the best of classic besties ever. Their song to each other in the credits literally goes “I wouldn’t have nothin’ if I didn’t have you.” Pixar perfectly captures the epitome of best friends with a big fuzzy monster and a one-eyed being shaped like a beach ball. They’re one of my most favorite duos in film and they absolutely had to get placed here. 😀

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Jenko and Schmidt | 21 /22 Jump Street

I have a soft spot for these high school rivals-turned-cop partners. While these films are quite adult, they are among my favorite comedies: This is thanks to the fantastic chemistry between characters Jenko and Schmidt. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are exceptional together in these films, and the characters combined with wonderful comedic timing carry the movies from meh to great.

I absolutely love Jenko and Schmidt together as best buddies and cop partners, so they very easily get to make my list of best bromances.

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Kuroko and Kagami | Kuroko’s Basketball

These two were the first anime duo to pop in my head when I was creating this post. Even though I’ve only see the first season so far, these guys still easily make my best of the best list. Kagami’s passionate about basketball but struggles to control his strengths while Kuroko can barely do anything on the court outside of his amazing passing ability. The two discover that they perfectly compliment each other in-game, even if they can butt heads off the court, and their unlikely friendship is formed.

The partnership turned friendship in this anime had me hooked. The two have these epic fist bump moments where I want to fall out of my chair for love of them. Kuroko’s lack of presence annoys Kagami at first, but they eventually find, heart to heart, that they can only be better at what they love if they work together. ❤

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Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute | The Office

A little more one-sided than you might think, the duo of well-meaning but idiotic Michael Scott and the cold-with-secret-soft-side Dwight Schrute is a priceless pair for both comedy and friendship. During the first few seasons, Michael just barely puts up with Dwight’s intense devotion as “Assistant Regional Manager,” while Dwight is completely devoted to Michael’s every wish and whim.

However, as the seasons pass, Dwight’s devotion is slowly repaid by Michael with real friendship and brotherhood, which is why they’re make it on this list. Also they’re hysterical together.

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Mitchel and Cameron Pritchet| Modern Family

Mitch and Cam are the only official couple to be included here (because what’s the point of this post if I don’t mention these guys?!) While Modern Family has an amazing cast of characters, the standouts to me are the uptight yet steady redheaded Mitch who’s balanced by the bubbly jack-of-all-trades Cam: These guys are one of my favorite duos ever.

Mitch and Cam are wonderfully developed characters, both encompassing and simultaneously shattering the idea of”the gay couple” on several levels. I absolutely respect and admire the show’s writers for so thoughtfully creating such vivid, realistic, hysterical people–I will never get tired of watching these guys react to life together.

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Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon | The Walking Dead

Although not a main theme to The Walking Dead’s plot like in Adventure Time, the brotherhood between a former Sheriff’s Deputy, Rick, and a rough-around-the-edges red neck, Daryl, is one of the best parts of the show! Especially since these two guys are my favorite characters!

Daryl’s real brother Merle was abusive and bad-tempered, so when Daryl is no longer around his bad influences and begins to mature, he finds a better older brother-like friendship in the group’s leader, Rick Grimes. It’s not at all a quick friendship to say the least, but that’s why it feels so authentic. And without the zombie apocalypse it would never have been formed!

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Sherlock Holmes and John Watson

Easily one of my favorite duos of all time (if not my ultimate favorite,) the classic literary duo are represented here with my two personal favorite pairs (technically the only two sets that I genuinely love) with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman from Sherlock and Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce’s 1940’s classics. Of course I adore Holmes and Watson in the books, especially since those are from Watson’s perspective.

Much like Poirot and Hastings, they sometimes seem a bit mismatched (especially in Sherlock) but they have one of the truest friendships in all fiction, as far as I’m concerned. Not because they have a perfect friendship without flaws, but because through the flaws they still can stick together.

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Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Many Character Duos | in The Cornetto Trilogy

I’m encompassing three sets of bromances here, all portrayed by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The characters they play have very different types of friendships which are all priceless. Shaun and Ed from Shaun of the Dead are the hysterical duo where the one character is more worried about his future while the other acts a burden. The fantastic friendship in Hot Fuzz is between the uptight Sergeant Angel and the soft-hearted sidekick Danny: they create a a wonderful cop duo (and the purest bromance of these three.) And in the last one, Pegg and Frost portray a broken friendship which is poorly reunited.

This British trilogy of stand-alone films features these brothers and it’s FANTASTIC due to excellent writing, character development and amazing comedy chemistry between Pegg and Frost. ❤

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Stewie Griffin and Brian Griffin | Family Guy

Although Brian’s creation was as sidekick for family patriarch Peter Griffin, the absolute best episodes of Family Guy are when he’s teamed up with the one-year-old, English-accented, evil genius Stewie Griffin, in the “Road To” adventures. They’re another badly mismatched pair who start off hating each other but eventually become great buds.

Even non-“Road To” episodes with the two characters interacting are hysterical and completely awesome as zing each other and time travel. I adore them too much to leave them off this list!


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The original list of guys to include here was twice this big but I kept only my favorite of favorites for length, which means Woody and Buzz, Arthur and Merlin, Tamaki and Kyoya of “Ouran,” and Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are only honorable mentions. But that’s life, I suppose. (And to tell the truth, I enjoyed Steve and Bucky more when it was only The First Avenger; all the fangirls got annoying during Winter Soldier and nearly ruined them for me. 😦 )

So: How many bromances have you seen from my list and would you agree with me? What are some of your favorite pairs of best guy friends? Any pairs you would include that I didn’t (I can think of some popular pairs that are very absent from my list)?

~Jamie

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Announcing! “Jamie Talks Anime”


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The short version: the topic of anime on this blog is moving to a brand new blog written by yours truly!  Those of you who dislike anime can breathe a sigh of relief. To those of you who are going, “aw?”–it’s okay, you can follow that blog too, if you so wish. 😉 This is a big moment for me as blogger and I’m incredibly hyped!

The longer version: I’m really, really loving my journey into anime; I’m watching so many shows and I want to talk about all of them!…except that this isn’t the right place to do it. This isn’t an anime blog. You’re not following me for my thoughts on every single anime I watch. I want “Through Two Blue Eyes” to be where I can talk about anything and everything–but within limit. No one topic should take over this blog. So.

I’ve created “Jamie Talk Anime”, where all my anime love shall be contained ! I hope to post on it at least once a week as things start. Ultimately, it’s where I can freely discuss, review, and fangirl to my heart’s content–without having to change “Through Two Blue Eyes” in terms of content. It’s literally a win-win situation, and I love those types, don’t you?!

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Click for link!

Whether you follow me over there or not, I’d still love it if you hopped over to cruise through the different pages and admire my theme! It took me several days before I could settle on the right one and get it completely designed the way I like it, so I’m proud of the result! (Any feedback or critiques would be awesome too!)

Click here to go visit now!

How do I feel about all this?–glad you asked. 😉 This feels really great. Outside of this blog, it’s been awhile since I’ve come across something so enjoyable that I thought, “Yeah, I could create an entire second blog for that and it could run for a while!” Not even reading has made me want to start a book blog. So, I’m pretty excited to take on the “running two blogs” challenge and see where they each go (Random: this blog’s fourth anniversary is coming up in a few weeks!) Hopefully, one day I can build a following over there like I’ve done here, and ultimately, have heaps of fun!

~Jamie, who now talks about anime

My Latest Guest Post!


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If you remember, I briefly talked about a couple of my recent favorite anime in a post here. In that post I declared the rom-com Princess Jellyfish to be my current top favorite. Today, I got to share a few reasons why, in a review over on James’s blog J and J Productions, which is fitting since he got me into anime in the first place. This review will only be available over there, so I highly recommend you jump through the links and check it out for me!

Click here or the picture above to read!

~Jamie

This Year I’m Thankful For…


Happy Thanksgiving

Among many things this year, I’m grateful for:

a. My soul mate, music.

b. Earning $5,000 doing something I love and am excited about, along with the mental journey of confidence the contest took me on.

c. My family and how hard we’re working to make things better for ourselves and each other.

d. Finding a school that has helped me begin to  catch up on everything I didn’t learn during homeschool. 

e. Yummy food. 

f. Getting to Skype nearly every week this summer and fall with my best friend.

g. My home and getting to live in it.

h. Studio Ghibli and anime, for renewing my love for exceptional animation and story-telling.

i. My blog readers and followers and all the people who comment.

j. Getting to attend my first comic-con and having a chance to attend another one this winter.

k. My overall good health.

l. Precious memories of past friends who I miss.

and m. Christmas, because I already have Christmas on the brain. (sike, if you thought this was going to be the full alphabet! XD Have a good Thanksgiving everyone.) 

~Jamie

My Summer with Studio Ghibli


studio-ghibliWhat sets this Japanese animation company apart from most other studios is their ability to perfectly capture the precious moments in life; like good food, affection between friends and family, and respect for neighbors and nature. If you are into movies or animation, then most of these films I saw this summer are must-sees, all drawn in the most enchanting animation style!

This summer, I got introduced to Studio Ghibli’s anime films; I ended up watching nearly all of them too fast because they were so good! Even the overrated ones displayed some of the most beautiful animation. I want to bring more attention to these movies, so I’ve compiled single paragraph thoughts on the ones I’ve seen below. they’re presented in the order I watched them and are spoiler-free! I’m also incredibly proud of this post as it took about a month to create, write and design! I don’t do this for everything, so consider this a demonstration of my strong feelings for these films (many of which I now own on DVD!)

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A strong shout out and thank you needs to be said to my best friend, James, for suggesting I give Studio Ghibli a try, and for recommending Whisper of the Heart so many times. 😉 Ghibli has definitely been a big highlight of my 2014 summer! The studio definitely changed how I look at anime and animation in general and greatly expanded my film world (and Top 100 Favorite Movies list!) Thank you so much, James!

Notes: The only Ghibli films I haven’t seen include Only Yesterday, Ocean Waves, and Tales from Earthsea. I have seen Nausicaa, but since it’s technically not Ghibli, I opted to leave it out. Just a personal choice on my part.

arrietty-disneyscreencaps.com-1368The Secret World of Arrietty || 2010 || G 

“Human beings are dangerous. If we’re seen, we have to leave. My parents said so.”

My first Studio Ghibli film. It appealed to a childhood love of mine for tiny people, so it turned out to be perfect starting point. Arrietty was whimsical, breathtakingly beautiful, and quite endearing. I found it very enjoyable, even though it wasn’t a rousing epic or a heart stopping adventure. It was a very sweet tale that elevated your boring objects like sugar cubes and sewing pins to a completely new perspective within the hands of a Borrower. Everything was just very delightful, from endearing heroine Arrietty (many of Ghibli’s films are filled with some of the most wonderful female leads!) and her unique little family, to the most gorgeous animation. A highlight for me was the original score that was a very gentle Celtic. It definitely lifted the story to special heights as it guided story’s emotion. Overall, this is personally special to me because it was my first Ghibli film, so I give it an extra half a star. 🙂

Final Comment: A Whimsical Wonder || 5/5  stars

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mimiWhisper of the Heart || 1995 || PG 

“Take me home, concrete roads!”

This was highly recommended to me, a beautifully told coming-of-age story. Set at the point when the libraries were preparing to computerized their systems, Shizuku’s interest in piqued by seeing a familiar name on all her checkout cards-she eventually meet the person and their stories become entwined. The atmosphere of Tokyo’s neighborhoods, antique shops, apartment complexes, and the people who pass by them, made for a very comforting backdrop for the story to unfold and one that I was fascinated to watch. The film handles young romance exceptionally well, never once feeling awkward or weird–a gigantic plus! I loved Shizuku as a female lead and would certainly love to revisit her life in a sequel if it could be handled well. At times, Whisper of the Heart can feel rather slow at the beginning but do not let your impatience get in the way of the perfect character handling and atmosphere. By the end of this movie, I was in puddle of tears from happiness and I’m still trying to figure out how they made such a small ending feel so monumental.

Final Comment: Sneak Attack On The Emotional Zone|| 5/5 stars

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216299-the-wind-rises-1The Wind Rises || 2013 || PG-13 

“Airplanes are beautiful, cursed dreams, waiting for the sky to swallow them up.”

This is one of Ghibli’s most beautiful films to date! I consider it almost a “sin” that Frozen took the Oscar this past year instead of The Wind Rises, especially when I saw how the Academy voted. A loose biopic, the film beautifully depicts the a life of Jiro Hirikoshi, who helped develop aircraft for the Japanese right before World War II and how his life’s passion was taken and used for harm. Airplanes have never been so interesting to me as they were throughout the running time of this film. The romance that developed during the second half  was so heartbreakingly beautiful that I ended up crying from the pure emotion. The animation in and of itself was basically flawless (especially character designs; for the most part, Ghibli creates some of the most pleasant and innocent looking characters I’ve ever seen that’s refreshing to the eyes!) A surprise was hearing John Karinski’s voice in this film (Jim Halpert of The Office, people!) and I actually liked Joseph Gordan Levitt’s acting too! The highlight of this film was simply the entire story and how it was presented. It was incredibly enjoyable and moving to behold in its entirety. Personally, I am still battling my temper that this film is so unknown compared to Disney’s very lacking ice and princess flick.

Final Comment: Oscar Worthy || 5/5 stars

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QualitŽ: deuxime gŽnŽration.   Titre: Le Royaume Des Chats.The Cat Returns || 2002 || G 

“Always believe in yourself. Do this and no matter where you are, you will have nothing to fear.”

As this film is loosely connected to Whisper of the Heart, which I loved terribly, I ended up watching this sooner than later. Sadly, it does not live up to what Whisper of the Heart delivered. The cat, The Baron, who originated in Whisper, was the best part; sadly, the rest of the film I didn’t enjoy half as much. It was a decent kids film, it simply tasted different from the previous three Ghibli films I’d seen. It wandered into more children’s stereotypical territory in a hit and miss type fashion. Overall, it was alright but I probably won’t watch again. (I should note that it is still better than some of America’s extremely cheesy and crude kids movies.)

Final Comment: Meh, Kids Will Like It || 3/5 stars

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Howl’s Moving Castle || 2004 || PG 

“Here’s another curse for you – may all your bacon burn!”

Very imaginative and fantastical, Howl’s Moving Castle is one of Studio Ghibli’s more popular films with a very large fan base, which at points has caused me to scratch my head to a degree. Frankly, I think it’s rather overrated but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an enjoyable watch. I did love the fantasy elements a lot; for example, the magical walking castle was really neat. The cast of characters was great; the fire demon Calcifer (English voice done by none other than Mike Wazowski’s voice, Billy Crystal!) was an imaginative fantasy creature and entertaining without being too silly. Christian Bale was great as the wizard Howl too! The film starts out quite strong, but gets too busy with different story threads during the last half, ultimately failing to resolve a major problem set up in the beginning. So, sadly I was left rather disappointed when the film ended. Still, it’s a good watch, especially for fantasy lovers.

Final Comment: Fantastical but Overrated || 4/5 stars

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neighbor-totoro-disneyscreencaps.com-3771My Neighbor Totoro || 1988 || G 

“There was a great big Totoro!”

Easily one of Ghibli’s most recognizable films, this is one of the best animated films I have ever seen in my life. Not only is it a timeless classic, but it’s depiction of family and sisterhood was pulled off better than in nearly any Disney film I’ve ever seen. This is by far the best and most realistic set of fictional sisters ever and that definitely made the film for me–they were so endearing! Little moments in the girls lives as they moved into a new house, settled into a new community, and glimpsed the forest spirits, was what made the film so monumental in heart and soul–it’s a quiet movie with massive heart. It’s also very entertaining, as little Mei is incredibly adorable and says and does some humorous things. The animation is a little old but it doesn’t hurt the film at all–in fact it has a charming, timeless quality to it that adds to the film’s quaint, sweet atmosphere of childhood. I’ve rewatched this film many times now with my seven-year-old brother and have teared up nearly every time by end. In short, this is a must-see.

Final Comment: Definition of Your Timeless Classic || 5/5 stars

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Ponyo || 2008 || G 

“That’s the most boring goldfish I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

I fell in love with this movie almost instantly and I would rank it highly among one of my top favorite Studio Ghibli films. The animation of the water blew me away, as it looked so fluid and soft! The world of and above the sea, and their meeting together, was captured in perfect detail, charm, and awe through the story of two little children. Title character Ponyo was enthusiastic and strong-willed without being obnoxious, while the little boy Sosuke was adorably mature, bright, and kindhearted for his age; with such lovable leads, it was very hard not to adore this film! I absolutely loved the flow of the story’s plot and the level of emotion it took me to. The cast of characters was relatively small but also incredibly enjoyable and memorable; Ponyo’s wizard father and Sosuke’s spunky mother were both especially fun characters. In many ways, words fail me to describe how beautiful this movie was. From thrilling adventure, heart-tugging moments of joy, breathtaking animation, and a beautiful score, this was simply a masterpiece. Talk about going above and beyond for a children’s movie!

Final Comment: Favorite Tale From The Sea || 5/5 stars

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Spirited AwaySpirited Away || 2001 || PG 

“I finally get a bouquet and it’s a goodbye present. That’s depressing.”

Boy, this movie is loved to insane heights but I didn’t click with it on the first watch. While I was sick, I gave it a second try. While I still hold to my opinion that it’s kinda overrated, I did enjoy it more the second time through. It is a great feat in the animation universe. Incredibly bizarre yet solid, we get to follow human Chihiro as she becomes stuck in the nighttime world of a bathhouse for spirits, separated from her parents. Yep, this film is your classic fantasy adventure! Although some of the characters are a little ugly to look at, mostly the animation is fascinatingly interesting and hard to look away from. Spirited Away also manages to communicate emotion that gives the adventure some gravity, which overall helped it while on my second watch. I did have a problem with a poorly presented back story of one character, but I cannot go into detail without spoiling things. Overall, it’s… an interesting movie; it will probably grow on me a little bit at a time with each rewatch.

Final Comment: Crazy but Worth The Time|| 4 /5 stars

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kikis-delivery-serviceKiki’s Delivery Service || 1989 || G 

“You’d think they’d never seen a girl and a cat on a broom before.”

Kiki’s Delivery Service perfectly captured what a family film should feel like, hitting a well-balanced mark that some animated films miss; it was not too silly yet also not too serious. It was deliciously delightful and quaint, thoroughly soaked in a nostalgia for a simpler time. Kiki was a fantastic character to get behind as her simple journey of becoming an independent young adult unfolded through adventures, mishaps, and lots of heart. Her talking cat Jiji was adorable and funny without being ridiculous or weighing down the film with too much silly dialog. In fact, the whole cast of supporting characters were great! Kiki herself was a big highlight; I really wanted my younger brother to watch this film as she displayed an optimistic, strong will to work hard for herself, without seeming perfect or unrealistic. The film continues to grow on me with each rewatch, of which I’m very happy!

Final Comment: Wonderful Family Film || 4.5/5 stars

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960__castle_in_the_sky_blu-ray_x04_Laputa: Castle in the Sky || 1986 || PG 

“Oh, no! There goes my crystal!”

Laputa: Castle in the Sky is Ghibli’s first film and it’s a great children’s fantasy adventure, packed with space pirates, a lost civilization, a magical necklace, puzzles needing solving and a roller coaster of adventures that almost never stop. However, in some ways, it felt a little young for me, so I didn’t enjoy it  quite as much as, say, Kiki (my brother would LOVE this film though, and I need to show it to him soon!) There was just a tad more silliness mixed in–not in a bad way; it just felt a little hit and miss to me personally. However, for Ghibli’s first official film, it’s pretty decent! Lead characters Sheeta and Pazu are easy to get behind and were fun to follow throughout the story. Mark Hamill’s voice acting as a certain character was a pleasure to hear, too! I’m probably ranking this a little too low but until I can give a proper rewatch, I’ll have to stick with how I feel right now.

Final Comment: Decent Kids Adventure || 3.5/5 stars

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Princess Mononoke || 1997 || PG-13 

“You cannot change fate. However, you can rise to meet it, if you so choose.”

The versatility Ghibli has to tell so many different types of stories is amazing–from children’s adventures to bizarre fantasy to heartfelt drama. Ghibli is a master at their craft of storytelling! This versatility is especially clear in this rather mature epic, Princess Mononoke. Although the environmental theme became so overpowering that it felt more a sermon than a plot theme, the film still delivered a solid fantasy epic. Led by the likable but doomed Ashitaka, we get to watch as he’s caught up in a battle over the forest, some fighting to keep it safe and others wanting what it can give them, with little regard of the spirits that live within it. An extremely fascinating part of this film was that there practically no ‘bad’ side. Nearly all the characters were cast in shades of grey, each having good and bad motivates that gave a very large, telling image of humanity. I hope to revisit this film in the future, to form a more solid opinion of it, and to enjoy the animation, of course.

Final Comment: Preachy yet Epicly Beautiful || 4.5/5 stars

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poppy-hill-disneyscreencaps.com-3998From Up on Poppy Hill || 2011 || PG 

“There’s no future for people who worship the future and forget the past.”

This made me think of Whisper of The Heart, in a small ways. Poppy Hill, for some reason, isn’t that popular, so I’m among the few who really enjoyed this movie. As a high school attempts to save their clubhouse, we get to peek into the private lives of a couple of students in particular and their budding relationship; all with the backdrop of Japan’s struggle to move forward after WWII without loosing touch with their heritage. Like most Ghibli films, it handles the sweet beginnings of romance wonderfully. As a period piece, the bits of drama throughout the film were enjoyable to watch, as was the look into the Japanese culture. My only complaint was that the end felt a bit abrupt–but only because I wanted see more! Like Whisper, I could have sat for hours watching the lives of these characters if the movie had kept going! So, overall, this was a very pleasant animation!

Final Comment: A Precious Throwback to What Was “Whisper” || 4.5/5 stars

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Porco-Rosso-porco-rosso-29177479-1200-713Porco Rosso || 1992 || PG 

“I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.”

Drenched in playful romanticism of yesteryear and accompanied by sea planes, air bandits, big Italian families, hidden coves, lost loves, and oh! a man cursed to have the face of a pig? Yes, you read that right; while that part felt random, somehow it still managed to work. Porco was an endearing yet serious character; I found myself drawn into his story and really enjoyed the stay, watching him handle pirates, his delicate sea plane, and eventually fight for honor. The plot, once it got going, was a fantastic ride and beautifully delivered. A special highlight was the smart and optimistic young engineer Fio and I consider her one of Ghibli’s most underrated characters. She was an absolute joy to watch, but I never see her mentioned by most fans.  Overall, except for a less than satisfactory last ten minutes, I was pleasantly surprised by this film and almost instantly in love!

Final Comment: Yes! The Pig Thing Does Work!|| 5/5 stars

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968full-my-neighbors-the-yamadas-screenshotMy Neighbors The Yamadas || 1999 || PG 

“The reason the Yamadas get along fine is because all three adults are nuts. If one of you were normal it would unbalance the rest.”

Very different from Ghilbi’s other films, this film was a comical commentary on your regular, middle class family. Although it’s almost two hours, it plays out like a bunch of shorts, and not your typical, single overarching plot. It was a sweet film, with some fun moments and some wonderful watercolor-like animation, perfectly capturing each family member’s perspective of life. Although I wouldn’t consider it a favorite of mine, I would consider it worth watching if you consider yourself a Studio Ghibli fan or an animation buff in general. It had a very unique feel to how it’s told and how it looks and even its own sense of humor. Being an animation geek myself, I did make the effort to watch this one.

Final Comment: Had Some Good Moments || 3.5/5 stars

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pompoko-4592Pom Poko || 1994 || PG 

“I have no face!”

Of all the Studio Ghibli films I’ve watched, this is the one I’ve liked least of all, and I think it’s almost universally unpopular. Following shape shifting raccoon-dogs fighting for their forest, those shape shifting moments were pretty much the only enjoyable parts for me. Sadly, I didn’t like the rest, as it was unbelievably strange and weird to say the least. You would not believe what part of the male anatomy they decided to animate in this film–I did not care for that part. 😯 The all-too familiar environmental message was quite in-your-face, which I always find intrusive of my mental personal space–if that make sense? Overall, the film felt very odd. It’s the only Ghibli film I actually completely dislike.

Final Comment: I Shoulda Skipped It || 2.5/5 stars

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la-tumba-de-las-luciernagasGrave of the Fireflies || 1988 || NR 

Once again, Ghibli’s ability to deliver a variety of stories is shown by this epicly devastating yet somehow beautiful piece of animation. Following two siblings and their will to survive after their city is bombed near the end of WWII, the price of war is depicted very clearly through their struggles, nothing sugar-coated to say the least. The two main characters are breathtakingly realistic, endearing, and well-balanced. Little Setsuko is a heart-stealer, unbelievably cute and sympathetic. Seita, the older brother, is also an easy hero to get behind as he attempts to shelter his sister from the effects of war. On an overall scale, everything is fantastic in this film, from voice acting, to animation, to story flow. However, I must note that the film got so depressing that I had to stop near the end before finishing it later. The fact that I never want to watch this film ever again lowers the score just a bit. I think everyone should see this at some point in their lifetime but it should not be expected to be an easy watch and rightfully so. Well done, Ghibli, well done.

Final Comment: The Definition of a Tear-Jerker || 4.5/5

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Shall we tally the scores? Out of sixteen movies, there are four that are marked under 3.5 and two the acceptable 4. With the remaining ten films all being above average/raising the bar of the animation genre, with four gaining near perfect 4.5, and six claiming 5 out of 5 stars, I say, where have you been all my life, Studio Ghibli?! Sure, they’re not perfect, just like every other film, but that’s not why they’re marked so high. What they are is genuine. Imaginative. Relate-able. Gorgeous. Touching. In the end, to me, they’re priceless and well worth the time to share.

This summer will definitely be one I’ll remember as the year I realized I could watch anime and love it. I now happily own (yes, I put my money where my mouth is) My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart, The Secret World of Arriety, and even Howl’s Moving Castle on DVD. I hope to buy The Wind Rises, From Up On Poppy Hill, and maybe even Spirited Away in the near future! That’s how much I love them and need them accessible, right at my fingertips!

If even one of these films piqued your interest, I strongly recommend you find a way to watch it! Hopefully Studio Ghibli can bring happiness to your life as it did mine! If you’ve already seen some (or all!) of these films, what did you think of them? Did you like them as much as I did? I surely hope that you did!

~Jamie