Only two films are left!
But they are two of the best. Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle are coming to theaters near you through Fathom Events over the next two months. Both are directed by acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki who co-founded Studio Ghibli which produced these films. Spirited Away is the second highest grossing anime film of all time and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003. Howl’s Moving Castle is the third highest and was also nominated for Best Animated Feature in 2006. Of the top 10 anime films, six are from Studio Ghibli. Most people know these films from Disney’s release of them under the Studio Ghibli banner for 20 years. Sadly, Disney did not renew the home distribution license but these films seem to be in good hands.
Fathom Events hosted a Studio Ghibli Fest with new distribution partner GKIDS in local theaters this summer featuring six of the studio’s most popular and influential films. Releasing once a month in both dubbed and subtitled versions, they began with My Neighbor Totoro which made the most sense with the company mascot being Totoro himself. They followed that up with Kiki’s Delivery Service (my daughter’s favorite), Castle in the Sky, and Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind. All of them are classic anime favorites and all were directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The festival continues with Spirited Away showing Oct 29 and Nov 1 in the dubbed version and Oct 30 subtitled and ends with Howl’s Moving Castle on Nov 26 and 29 dubbed and Nov 27 subtitled.
Spirited Away might be a little frightening for young kids as some of the images can be disturbing. There’s one sequence where Chichiro’s parents turn into pigs at the market and will be trapped that way forever unless their 10-year old daughter Chichiro can find a solution. Chichiro then stumbles into a spirit world where she seems to be trapped, unable to get back to her parents or the world she left behind. Even with some minor scary elements (no gore or anything like that – Miyazaki’s movies are always family friendly), this is a wonderful movie exploring a young girl coming to learn more about herself.
Howl’s Moving Castle is much lighter and funnier, featuring such wonderful vocal talent (in the dubbed version) as Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, Lauren Bacall, and Emily Mortimer. In the film, Sophie meets a mysterious wizard named Howl and well his moving castle. She also gets turned into a 90-year old woman and is in search of a way to break the curse. All the while she embarks on a fun adventure, making new magical friends along the way. Like most of Miyazaki’s movies, these films are often empowering for young girls, encouraging their creativity and self-reliance. If you are a fan of Japanese Anime, good classic animation, or just love a fun story you can share with your kids, make sure not to miss these two films.