Castles in the Sky: Japanese anime retrospective

My Neighbor Totoro movie scene

My Neighbor Totoro screens as part of CASTLES IN THE SKY: THE MASTERS OF STUDIO GHIBLI retrospective Dec. 14 – Jan. 3. Photo credit: VIFF

Fans of Japanese animation (and some soon-to-be-fans) will be delighted to know about Castles In the Sky: The Masters of Studio Ghibli, a retrospective in Vancouver Dec. 14 – Jan 3. Studio Ghibli is the world renowned anime studio founded in Tokyo in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki.

Among its films are the classics Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro (pictured) and perhaps the best animated film of the last twenty years.

That would be Spirited Away.

Many of the films were directed by Hayao Miyazaki. In Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro (1988), two little girls and their father move into a beautiful old house in the countryside to be near their mother, who is seriously ill in hospital. Largely left to fend for themselves, Mei and her big sister Satsuki encounter a world of forest sprites named Totoros. Perhaps Miyazaki’s sweetest film, My Neighbor Totoro has developed a cult following worldwide.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) is a spirited adventure movie set in a feudal, toxic future. Led by the courageous Princess Nausicaa, the people of the Valley of the Wind are engaged in a perpetual conflict with powerful insects called “ohmu”, guardians of a poisonous (and spreading) jungle.

And in Spirited Away (2001), often hailed as Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, Chihiro and her parents are en route to a new home when they drive through a mysterious tunnel and enter a deserted town. When her folks start gorging on food and transform into a pair of pigs, Chihiro discovers this place is not quite as empty as she had imagined. This is a place of spirits, gods, monsters and… bathhouses.

Other Ghibli films that will be screened include Ponyo, Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service and more.

Both Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour Street) and Pacific Cinematheque  (1131 Howe Street) will screen the movies. The Studio Ghibli films at the Vancity will be in 35mm in the English-language versions. Films at the Cinematheque will screen in Japanese language prints with subtitles.

The Ghibli films are open to all ages. Princess Mononoke is classified 14A, all other titles are rated G or PG. The Vancity Theatre offers a special rate of $7 for youth under 19. For a complete list of films, tickets and showtimes visit the Vancity website.

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