Apologies for the slightly neglected blog — this has been a busy week for me! One of the things keeping me busy has been the Studio Ghibli film series showing at Toronto’s TIFF Lightbox Theatre this month.
You’re probably familiar with Studio Ghibli even if you don’t know it. They’re the Japanese animation studio behind Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Ponyo, and the Howl’s Movie Castle movie. I’ve enjoyed all the Ghibli films I’ve seen, but there are a bunch I’ve missed, so my husband (who loves everything Ghibli) and I are getting to catch those on the big screen. The first one we saw, Whisper of the Heart, I’d particularly recommend of YA fans.
At first glance, this is a fairly simple story about a girl in her early teens (she’s finishing her last year of middle school, which in Japan would put her at 14 or 15) dealing with the typical challenges of family, friends, and boys. But the characters are so well-written that they don’t feel typical at all, and the movie explores some pretty deep themes, like taking risks in order to pursue your passions and the idea that you discover your talents by working at them — you’re not going to be born with an already perfect skill. It also has a very sweet and believable romance, based on an emotional and personal connection rather than “OMG he’s so good looking!”
And if that isn’t enough, you also get to hear the classic song “Country Roads” translated into Japanese! 😀
Even if you’re not already an anime or Ghibli fan, I highly recommend checking it out.