Yes, I have caught whatever Ben has had all week. I am calling it the Death Flu, though it’s really not that bad (at least for me, but hey I don’t smoke and I TAKE MY B12) – I’m just stuffed up and sore-throaty and have no energy for anything besides watching anime and reading the entire cracked.com archives.
(Favourites: this one, this one, and OMIGOD this one.)
Before the Nyquil (actually Neo Citran, which makes you much less loopy but much more tired) kicks in, I thought I’d knock out a quick post.
So once I ran out of lists of “5 Most ______y ______s that ever ________ed”, I decided to watch a movie. I was originally going to watch My Neighbour Toroto for the third time, but I remembered that I’ve seen the entire Studio Ghibli oeuvre, except for Howl’s Moving Castle. I don’t know why I missed that one. Ben’s seen it, and he didn’t like it that much, so maybe I skipped it based on his opinion.
Well, that was a mistake, because I LOVED it.
Because I’m too viral and drugged to write a real review, a list of things I liked about it:
****Spoiler Alert – The English dub of this movie came out in, like, 2004, so go see it already****
– There is a friendly old basset hound who, while he doesn’t exactly save the day, is instrumental to the plot/happy ending!
– Wise-cracking fire demon voiced by BILLY CRYSTAL!
– Cute junior wizard kid who puts on a ridiculous fake beard whenever he leaves the house!
– Old Sophie is clearly the same person as Young Sophie, but with a believable aging of character as well as body.
– Awesome steampunky/Victorian design.
– Appears to be set in an 1890’s Germany (like a lot of Studio Ghibli films – don’t know why) with magic, hovercrafts, and airships with flapping wings.
– Quite nuanced social insights built into the plot.
Let me expand on that one. At the beginning of the film Young Sophie is harrassed by two soldiers. She is apparently in enough danger from them to be seriously frightened. Later on Old Sophie passes some soldiers who offer to help her down some stairs. Simple and perfect example of how your place in the social heirarchy affects what happens to you – Young Sophie is in danger of rape or at the very least unwanted groping, while Old Sophie is offered a hand down some stairs.
And while Sophie, Howl, and the fire demon whose name escapes me at the moment all get a happy ending, none go exactly back to the state they were in before. Sophie’s face and body become young again, but her hair stays gray. Howl’s hair never goes back to blond. The experiences they have change them permanently, just like in real life.
Also – and this is a thread that runs throughout Studio Ghibli’s more adventure-y films – the “villains” are not really villains. Like Sophie they are humans acting in what appears to be the only possible way given their situation and their goals. There are no “OOOOO I love being evil! Watch me be evil evil evil!” kinds of mustache-twirling cat-stroking sharks-with-fricking-laser-beams supervillians in the Studio Ghibli universe. All of the characters are nuanced and show capacity for good and bad actions. THANK YOU. I wish more adventure stories had that kind of antagonist.
– And of course there is a friendly basset hound who, in spite of flying without a seatbelt in a hovercraft piloted by an elderly woman with no flight experience, being in an air-raid, being in a rickety walking house that falls apart, falling down a cliff in part of said house, time traveling a bit, and generally being in lots of unsafe situations involving open flames and flying objects, survives to the end of the movie and gets to romp about on a lawn during the end credits.
The one thing I didn’t really like was the dualism – the metaphorical heart being a thing that can be separated from the body – but that’s a minor quibble, and most magical universes contain a concept of the soul.
OK, I’m starting to feel dopey…maybe I will edit this tomorrow for coherence, or maybe I’ll create a separate page to index my “Blogging whilst under the influence of legal over-the-counter pharmaceuticals”.