COURTESY OF COMIX WAVE FILMS

Do Not Read This Review of Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name

For some reason, movie critics like to use the descriptor “the new Miyazaki” to refer to Makoto Shinkai, director of the blockbuster anime hit Your Name (titled Kimi no Na wa in Japanese). All questions of the quality of Shinkai’s movies aside, this is a completely bizarre comparison because there is very little in common between the work of these two men, besides the fact that they both direct animated Japanese films. Shinkai does introspective romantic drama, while Miyazaki (very, very broadly) does fantasy coming-of-age. Regardless, a combination of the enduring comparisons to Hayao Miyazaki and the film’s own runaway success has led the easily-embarrassed Shinkai to say, “I don’t think any more people should see [Your Name],” in a Japan Times article.  Perhaps Shinkai was glad that, despite its massive commercial and critical success, Your Name wasn’t nominated for an Oscar after all. The premise of Your Name is a body swap scenario: two teenagers, one a boy, Taki, living in the Tokyo metropolis and the other a girl, Mitsuha, living in the countryside, begin to inhabit each other’s bodies during their dreams, creating plenty of opportunities for romantic and comedic hijinks.

Drawing from Eleanor Davis' How to be Happy

GUEST ROOM | Six Women Cartoonists You Should Know About

This article was originally going to be about sexism in the comics industry. It’s no secret that the comics scene has done a notoriously poor job recognizing women creators and readers, particularly in America’s superhero-choked testosterone-fest. This was no clearer than at this year’s Angouleme Grand Prix, a sort of Cannes Palme d’Or for the comics world, when none of a whopping 20 creators nominated were women. This resulted in a major fracas among smarter members of the community, resulting in boycotts from attendees and nominees alike and the hashtag #womendoBD (short for bandes desinees, the French word for comics), predating #OscarsSoWhite’s highlighting of award show prejudice by over a month. However, when I described the premise of my article exploring this heady topic to my peers, I generally got the same response: Are there even that many major cartoonists who are women?

Photo Courtesy of Studio Ghibli

MANGA MONDAYS | Anime and Rural Japan

I recently watched Only Yesterday at the Cornell Cinema (highly recommend it!) and the show really got me thinking about the role of rural settings in Japanese popular culture. Note that I didn’t just say anime there! I’m broadening my horizons a bit this week. To which end, we’re going to start with some cultural background. Modern Japan has a bit of a problem: during the postwar period, the country urbanized at an unprecedented rate (if I recall correctly, it was the highest rate in history, though I don’t have a source for that).

Photo Courtesy of Roosterteeth

MANGA MONDAYS | RWBY, Guns and Important Questions

I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time now. Since about the middle of RWBY volume 3, in fact. However, I kept putting it off to make sure I addressed the topic appropriately. Well I’m going for it now, so no turning back one way or the other. Oh yeah, and beware of spoilers.

COURTESY OF STUDIO GHIBLI

Memory Drips Down: Only Yesterday at Cornell Cinema

Animation has always held a distinct position within the realm of film, enchanting viewers with its unique advantages. One of its most powerful capabilities is its ability to infuse fantastical elements into otherwise totally realistic settings. Before the advent of CGI, animation was pretty much the only way to create convincing epic fantasy worlds such as those we see in contemporary blockbusters like Avengers or Lord of the Rings. When it comes to the history of western animation, Disney towers above almost everyone else. Virtually every American child in the 20th century has come into contact with the ideals expressed in films like The Lion King.

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JONES | Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday and Animation for Adults

To many, animated movies seem like a medium for children: pretty, colorful and reassuring, with straight edges and corners, gaudy colors that fit just inside the lines, and a lack of  the moral ambiguity that cannot help but enter a film when the characters are played by actual humans. The work of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio best known for Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, has proved again and again that animated films can be complex, provocative and even disturbing, and remain enthralling for children. However, the intrigue of Studio Ghibli’s films hardly expires at a young age. I’ve only recently come to them (I haven’t even seen the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away yet), but I have been captivated by the few I’ve seen so far. The 1991 Studio Ghibli film Only Yesterday, directed by Isao Takahata, has only just been given a United States release with an English dub, 24 years later.