Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli’s 1991 masterpiece ‘Only Yesterday’ finally set for North America release

From the talent that brought you Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle comes the archived masterpiece Only Yesterday. Originally released in Japan in 1991 under the title Omoide Poro Poro or translated as Memories Trickle Down, the story follows that of 27-year old Taeko as her travels to the countryside are interlaced with memories of booming metropolitan Tokyo.

Daisy Ridley (Rey of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Dev Patel (Chappie and Slumdog Millionaire) voice the main characters in the Isao Takahata-directed animation with Hayao Miyazaki as general producer.

Only Yesterday hits the IFC Center theater on January 1 and select theaters nationwide on February 26.

Akiyuki Nosaka, celebrated author of Grave of the Fireflies, passes away

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

Famed writer’s best-known novel served as basis for Studio Ghibli anime of the same name.

Born in the city of Kamakura in 1930, Akiyuki Nosaka didn’t have an easy childhood. His mother died two months after giving birth to him. His adoptive father was killed in an air raid on Kobe in the closing months of World War II, and growing up Nosaka would also lose an older sister to illness and a younger one to starvation after evacuating their home.

Nosaka would channel the pain of these experiences into his semi-autobiographical novel Grave of the Fireflies, which was published when the author was 37 and would be awarded the Naoki Prize for literature in 1967. While the novel has had limited exposure abroad, it was also adapted into an animated theatrical feature in 1988, which earned international acclaim for its powerful story, Studio Ghibli-produced animation, and direction by renowned anime icon Isao Takahata.

Nosaka suffered a stroke in 2003, and had been receiving convalescent care from his wife at their Tokyo home since then. On the morning of December 9, at roughly 10:30, Mrs. Nosaka discovered that her husband was not breathing. The 85-year-old author was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead by medical staff.

In addition to his wife, Nosaka is survived by his two daughters, both former members of the Takarazuka all-female stage troupe. The deeply respected writer’s passing brings great sorrow to fans of literature and animation alike, and its suddenness, like Nosaka’s signature work itself, is a solemn reminder of the preciousness of life.

Studio Ghibli’s “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” nominated for Academy Award

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RocketNews 24:

We’re just about a month away from the 87th Academy Awards presentation, and if you’re a general cinema fan, odds are you’ve been looking forward to the event. However, if the only thing that can make you take a trip to the theater is a screening of a Studio Ghibli anime, you might not have been expecting too much from the gala to be held at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theater.

Ghibli’s newest film, When Marnie Was There, hasn’t been getting the sort of rave reviews of a Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. Six months after its Japanese release, Marnie is mostly forgotten in its home country and still unreleased in North America, making it ineligible for this year’s Oscar race.

Thanks to the time lag caused by international distribution, though, Ghibli does have one film eligible for the upcoming academy awards, and it just cleared the first hurdle with the Academy announcing The Tale of Princess Kaguya as a nominee in the Best Animated Feature Category.

Although Kaguya premiered in Japanese theatres in late 2013, it wasn’t until the following year that it arrived in North America. Helmed by Isao Takahata, the director best known for heart-rending Word War II tragedy Grave of the Fireflies, Kaguya is based on the Japanese folktale often referred to in English as The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.

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Many of Kaguya’s elements will be familiar to viewers who’ve read or know the basic structure of the 10th century literary classic it draws from. Its visual style, though, is unprecedented, composed of subdued colors and vaguely sketched outlines that are in stark contrast to the ultra-polished look of most other Studio Ghibli films.

Also nominated for Best Animated Feature are Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and Song of the Sea. Unlike Ghibli’s last shot at winning an Oscar, when Hayao Miyazaki’s swansong The Wind Rises got steamrolled by Frozen in 2014, none of Kaguya’s competitors completely set the world on fire (despite our growing infatuation with Big Hero 6’s Baymax). As such, what’s assumed by many to be Takahata’s final film has a fighting chance, although it will still have to overcome what seems to be a growing distaste in North America for non-CG animation.

▼ Since the establishment of the Best Animated Feature in 2001, Miyazaki’s Spirited Away is the sole hand-drawn film to win the award, and one of only two winners that weren’t computer animated.

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With Hayao Miyazaki retired from theatrical animation and having already received an honorary Oscar for his body of work, Marnie’s lukewarm reception, and the possible disbanding of Studio Ghibli as we know it, this may be the last opportunity for Japan’s most respected animation house to bring home the Academy’s highest honor. We’ll find out whether or not it did at the awards ceremony on February 22.

Ghibli’s Princess Kaguya ranks in Top 20 U.S. Anime Films after 11th weekend

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, estimated at US$570,660 box office earnings

Box Office Mojo is estimating that Studio Ghibli and Isao Takahata‘s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya earned a 11th weekend gross of US$11,608 in North America, bringing an overall total of US$570,660. The new total puts the film at #20 in the highest grossing anime films in the U.S. The film is not ranked for the weekend and #26 in highest grossing opening weekends for an anime film.

The film will continue to open in multiple other North American theaters over the next few weeks.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) held the film’s North American premiere on September 8. The Fantastic Fest in Texas then hosted the United States premiere, and it gave the movie the Audience Award on September 23.

TIFF describes the story from Takahata:

Okina (voiced by Takeo Chii) is a bamboo cutter in ancient rural Japan. One day in the forest, he finds a tiny baby in the folds of a bamboo shoot. He brings the creature home to his wife Ounaa (Nobuko Miyamoto) and they decide to keep her and raise her as a princess. She is clearly not of this world. Kaguya (Aki Asakura) grows at an unnatural rate, soon maturing into an uncommonly beautiful young woman. Since Okina has now also found a cache of gold and treasure in the forest, every suitor wants Kaguya. But this is not a fairytale of courtship and marriage.

True to the Studio Ghibli that brought us Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya follows this strange young female as she creates her own identity.

Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, The 5th Wave) stars as the title character in the English dub. The cast also includes James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Darren Criss, Lucy Liu, Beau Bridges, James Marsden, Oliver Platt and Dean Cain.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is based on the famous Japanese folktaleTaketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter), which centers on a princess named Kaguya who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant.

The film won the Animation Film Award at the 68th Mainichi Film Awards, Best Animation from the L.A. Film Critics Awards, and Best Animated Film from the Bostom Film Critics Society. It is won Best Animated Feature Film at the eighth Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA). The film was submitted in the Animated Feature Film category for the 87th Academy Awards and is nominated for three Annie Awards. The film was screened at Cannes Film Festival‘s Directors’ Fortnight but did not receive any awards.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release The Tale of the Princess Kaguya in a Blu-ray combo pack in North America on February 17, 2015.

‘The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness’, A documentary about Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli

Laughing Squid:

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness is a documentary directed by filmmaker Mami Sunada that explores the beloved and somewhat secretive Japanese animation studio, Ghibli, most famous for its association with legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki. The film follows the creation of Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya by Isao Takahata.

 

Dreams and Madness

image via GKids Films

Link

Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki retires as producer

 

Legendary Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki.

RocketNews 24:

65-year-old producer Toshio Suzuki is voluntarily stepping down from his position at Studio Ghibli, although he will assume the new title of “general manager.” Yoshiaki Nishimura will instead be the studio’s producer for Ghibli’s films going forward. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi is adapting Joan G. Robinson‘s English children’s novel classic When Marnie Was There (Omoide no Marnie) for release this summer.

Suzuki co-founded Studio Ghibli with directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and he served as its president. Former Walt Disney Japan president Koji Hoshino succeeded Suzuki as Ghibli’s president in 2008, although Suzuki remained as producer for all of Ghibli’s feature films until last year. Thanks to Suzuki’s frequent television appearances and his Sunday radio program Suzuki Toshio no Ghibli Asemamire, the Sports Hochi newspaper describes him as the “face of Ghibli.”

Suzuki’s successor Nishimura made his debut as a producer on Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which opened last November. Suzuki was credited for just “project planning” on The Tale of Princess Kaguya, as he devoted himself to producing Miyazaki’s final feature film The Wind Rises.

For When Marnie Was There, Suzuki’s only roles were selecting the original work and main staff, and then deciding the budget and schedule. Nishimura is handling the actual day-to-day producing at the studio.

Miyazaki, Suzuki’s colleague for three decades, also retired from making feature films last September, although he is drawing a samurai manga on his own free time. Suzuki emphasized that his own decision to retire was not linked to Miyazaki’s. Instead, he hoped to step aside and boost the new era of Ghibli with “young strength” such as 36-year-old Nishimura and 40-year-old Yonebayashi.

Suzuki was born in Aichi Prefecture on August 19, 1948. He graduated from Keio University with a bachelor of arts degree in 1972 and then joined the publisher Tokuma Shoten. He worked at the Weekly Asahi Geinō magazine before he helped launch Animage magazine and served as its second editor-in-chief.

In fact, Suzuki was editing Animage when Miyazaki started serializing the landmark Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga in its pages. Suzuki served as Tokuma’s production committee member on the subsequent Nausicaä anime film, and then participated in the founding of Studio Ghibli in 1985. He officially moved from Tokuma Shoten to Studio Ghibli in 1989 to produce all of its films ever since. He began serving as the studio’s president, in addition to his other duties, in 2005.

Suzuki attended the Academy Awards ceremony last weekend on behalf of Ghibli and The Wind Rises, which had earned a Best Animated Feature Film nomination. He appeared at a symposium with the other Animated Feature nominees in a traditional Japanese happi coat. There, he said that Miyazaki wanted to make “Ponyo Part II,” but Suzuki asked the director to adapt his own manga Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises) instead.

Suzuki just accepted The Wind Rises Japan Academy Prize for Best Animated Feature Film on Friday. In his acceptance speech, he drily observed that he learned his lesson — his studio should not make two films in the same year.

Source: Sports Hochi via Hachima Kikō

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Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki retires as producer