It looks like that cluster of Studio Ghibli movies screening at Consolidated’s Kahala 8 complex — first noticed a few weeks ago while I was looking into Regal Cinema’s Studio Ghibli Fest — has, indeed, blossomed into A Thing.
Last Monday, Consolidated Theatres promoted Facebook events for two movies — Ponyo and Whisper of the Heart — branded with a “Studio Ghibli Summer Festival” logo. Events have since been created for all the movies screening through June. It isn’t related to the Studio Ghibli Fest, and it still isn’t as comprehensive as Consolidated’s all-theater-encompassing Studio Ghibli Festival last year, but the 11 movies being shown are key pieces of Ghibli lore … with, of course, Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro included. We’re probably at the point where you’re either really tired of seeing these same movies over and over again or just can’t get enough of seeing them on the big screen. For those of you who lean toward the latter, welcome back.
Your starting lineup:
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: May 31 and June 1
Spirited Away: June 7-8
Ponyo: June 14-15
Whisper of the Heart: June 21-22
Princess Mononoke: June 28-29
The Cat Returns: July 5-6
Howl’s Moving Castle: July 12-13
The Wind Rises: July 19-20
My Neighbor Totoro: July 26-27
When Marnie Was There: Aug. 2-3
Kiki’s Delivery Service: Aug. 9-10
The English-subtitled versions of each movie will screen at 7 p.m. on the first day of their runs, followed by the English-dubbed versions at 2 p.m. on the second day. All of them are screening on Wednesdays and Thursdays, which makes it great for friendly neighborhood otaku bloggers who just happen to have those days off, perhaps not so much for people who have traditional weekday work shifts. Find out more and order tickets by visiting consolidatedtheatres.com/programs-and-events, clicking on a month and “Studio Ghibli Festival,” and proceeding from there.
A few final notes on the Regal Ghibli festival: You have until Wednesday to order Regal’s $60 series pass; the link changed since the last time I wrote about it, so you can find it here. Also, Hilo finally has confirmed screening dates! Yay!
It’s been an … interesting past few weeks since I last posted something here on the Otaku Ohana blog. The first half away was spent working on a profile of Hitbox Music Ensemble (here’s the link for you subscribers out there) in advance of Kawaii Kon. The second half has been spent a) taking time to recover the introvert life-hearts I drained socializing at Kawaii Kon (trust me, it takes a lot out of me), b) finally seeing Your Name with the Otaku Ohana Anonymous Director of Forced Social Interaction on Wednesday, and c) rigging up what I had intended to be a travel netbook computer as my primary computer after my former primary computer died a horrible, meltdown-y death … on the day before Kawaii Kon began. Fortunately, I’ve kept multiple backups of my archive of photos from events I’ve attended throughout my blogging career, so those are safe. But it’s probably going to be slow going for a while until I get things up to speed and pull enough pennies from my couch to get a new computer.
I’m finally back, though! And I come bearing news that there’s going to be another Studio Ghibli film festival rolling through our fair state. Here, have a trailer.
(By the way, is it just me, or does it sound like the voice-over guy says “Hi-yo Miyazaki?” Hi-yoooooooooo~~~! Ahem. Sorry. Pronunciation pet peeve.)
Granted, the lineup for the GKids Studio Ghibli Fest isn’t nearly as comprehensive as Consolidated’s screen-all-the-things Ghibli Film Festival last year, but it’s still a chance to catch six favorites from the studio’s vault on the big screen. My Neighbor Totoro leads off on June 25-26, followed by Kiki’s Delivery Service July 23-24, Castle in the Sky Aug. 27-28, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Sept. 24-25, Spirited Away Oct. 29-30, and Howl’s Moving Castle Nov. 26-27. Those are all Sunday-Monday date combos; the English-dubbed versions will be screening locally at 12:55 p.m. on the Sundays, with the English-subtitled versions screening at 7 p.m. on the Mondays.
Three Regal theaters will be hosting the festivities this time around: Dole Cannery Stadium 18 in Iwilei, Makalapua Stadium 10 in Kona, and the lusciously luxe Kapolei Commons 12, with its reclining plush seating, upscale food offerings and Eating House 1849, La Tour Cafe and Gyu-Kaku just outside. Yum.
(It should be noted that Regal’s theater list includes a fourth venue, the Prince Kuhio 9 in Hilo, but no tickets are listed for sale there on Fandango for any of the series films. It’s not listed in the GKids site listings, either. Curious.)
Tickets are $12.50 each, but if you really want to go all in and commit to seeing every movie, Regal’s offering a $60 series pass that comes with what they’re calling “an exclusive decommissioned Spirited Away 35mm film cell,” plus 6,000 bonus points for Regal Crown Club members. There is a shipping cost involved; the cheapest that I can see is $2.50 for USPS first-class shipping, which keeps the cost per ticket lower than buying each show individually.
That would be the end of the story if not for an anomaly I stumbled upon while I was poking around to see what was up with the Prince Kuhio listing: Tickets seem to be available for another Ghibli fest, this one at the Consolidated Kahala 8 theaters. Screenings of the English-subtitled movies begin May 31 and run most Wednesdays after that through Aug. 9 at 7 p.m., and include:
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, May 31
Spirited Away, June 7
Ponyo, June 14
Howl’s Moving Castle, July 12 (with the dubbed version screening July 13 at 11 a.m.)
The Wind Rises, July 19
My Neighbor Totoro, July 26
When Marnie Was There, Aug. 2
Kiki’s Delivery Service, Aug. 9
The inclusion of Ponyo thrills me, because now I can stick this picture into the post. Call it a tradition of sorts around here.
For tickets, visit ow.ly/utmN30bh0hR. Open the “pre-sale tickets” column on the right for the full listing of movies.
Keep an eye on that page and Consolidated’s social media in general, too … call it a hunch, but you’ve got to think some kind of formal acknowledgment of this is coming down the line. More theaters, perhaps? Are these the first shards we’re seeing of Consolidated Ghibli Film Festival 2017? And why is there almost a one-month gap between Ponyo and Howl’s Moving Castle? I can’t wait to find out …
Remember all those times I’ve said in the past few years that [INSERT MONTH/YEAR HERE] is going to be the best month ever for theatrical anime being screened locally? First of all, congratulations, you have a very good memory. Second, you may now forget I ever said that before, because April 2016 is claiming that title of best month ever now and forever.
The reason: Starting Saturday and running through May 5, for every day except Fridays (gotta make that new-release box office bank, after all!), Consolidated’s theaters across Oahu and their Kaahumanu complex in Kahului will be home to the Studio Ghibli Festival, screening every major Studio Ghibli film ever made. That’s everything from 1984’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Hayao Miyazaki’s pre-Ghibli feature that led to the creation of the studio, through 2014’s When Marnie Was There, plus the live-action Kingdom of Dreams and Madness documentary for good measure. That’s 22 good-to-great movies and Tales From Earthsea — which was kind of a disappointment for me — over roughly a month.
… yeah, I’ll just leave this meme here.
Most of the films will be screened two or three times each over the month, with English-dubbed and English-subtitled versions available. The more popular films — Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away — will be shown four times each.
But the real rarity in the group is Ocean Waves (Umi ga Kikoeru), the 1993 made-for-TV movie that is the only major Ghibli project never to see wide release in the U.S. now that GKids finally picked up Only Yesterday. The film’s rights belong to Disney, which kinda has biggerfishtopromote, so we probably won’t be seeing that in wide release any time soon, either. Ocean Waves will be shown exactly once — mark your calendars for 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, and set your GPSes for the Koolau 10 complex, across from the Valley of the Temples cemetery in Windward Oahu.
Breaking down the numbers further, the big winner in terms of number of screenings is the Kapolei 16 complex, which will be showing 15 out of the 23 movies available, all of them subtitled. The Koolau, Mililani 14 and Pearlridge 16 theaters come in tied for second with 10 apiece, in both subbed and dubbed flavors at the first two and all subbed at Pearlridge.
Here’s the full screening schedule organized by theater, with GhibliWiki links in case you’d like to learn more about each movie. (Trust me, if I had to write 23 synopses and attach 23 trailers like I usually do with these previews, this post would have been posted sometime in February 2022.) Prefer to see what’s on deck chronologically? Here’s Consolidated’s “coming soon” list. Tickets, at $10 each, are available now on Fandango (except for the April 30 Kahala screening of The Wind Rises for some weird reason). Sorry, no passes are being accepted.
All films dubbed; screenings at 11 a.m. Saturdays.
My Neighbor Totoro: April 2, 11 a.m., April 7, 7 p.m.
Kiki’s Delivery Service: April 9, 11 a.m., April 14, 7 p.m.
Princess Mononoke: April 16, 11 a.m., April 21, 7 p.m.
Spirited Away: April 23, 11 a.m., April 28, 7 p.m.
Howl’s Moving Castle: April 30, 11 a.m., May 5, 7 p.m.
Elsewhere around town
Aiea Library Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club: Every month, I joke with young adult librarian Diane Masaki that she ought to change the name of the Anime Club to the Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Club, seeing as how the screening schedule for the past few months has consistently been two episodes of the 2012-2013 anime followed by two more episodes of something else. (April’s “friends” are the ship-gals of KanColle.) The response this time around: Crisis! Diane’s approaching the end of the Polar Bear run! And there aren’t very many KanColle episodes left, either! What will the club screen next? And what will be the next running gag for this item?!? At the library, 99-374 Pohai Place, where, yes, there’s still plenty of parking. For more information or to RSVP, call 483-7333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 3 p.m. Saturday.
Sanrio Ala Moana Anniversary Party: Head out to Ala Moana Center and take pictures (or selfies, if you’re alone) with a giant Hello Kitty mascot character and also enjoy: Special product promotions! Free face painting and Hello Kitty hat with any purchase! And a special gift with any $75 purchase! 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Comic Jam Hawaii: This group of collaborative cartoon artists meets every first and third Sunday of the month at Pearlridge Center; check their Facebook page for where in the mall they’ll be meeting. Visit www.facebook.com/groups/ComicJamHawaii(Facebook login required). Next meeting: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
After the flurry of activities that was Con-athon 2015 — five straight weekends between September and October, five convention or convention-like festivals — you’d think we’d be getting a breather with the holidays approaching.
You’d be wrong. Ohhhhhhh so very wrong.
From the beginning of this month’s free-movie roster at Kahua Cafe through Anime Matsuri Hawaii at the end of this month, this has become yet another “want something to do THIS week? Here ya go!” month in an endless parade of such months. This edition of the Ota-cool Incoming calendar starts off with a roundup of all the movies screening in the next few weeks, starting with …
Wednesday Family Nights at Kahua Cafe: All this month, Kahua Cafe will be screening Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli favorites. It’s a family-friendly event, so the movies will be the English-dubbed versions, and they’ll be screening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The lineup:
Wednesday: Kiki’s Delivery Service
Nov. 11: Ponyo
Nov. 18: Spirited Away
Nov. 25: Howl’s Moving Castle
Kahua Cafe is in the back of Na Mea/Native Books Hawaii, on the first floor of Ward Warehouse below The Old Spaghetti Factory. They have a pretty yummy-looking menu, too. Questions? Hit them up on their Facebook event page (they were prompt in answering my questions!) or call 990-0384.
Anthem of the Heart:There’s one more screening of this tale from the Anohana creative team of a girl with words sealed away in her heart: noon Saturday at the Consolidated Ward Stadium 16 theaters. Here’s a trailer.
I already mentioned this in my last post, but since then a new review has popped up on Fandom Post. Spoiler alert: It gets an A+. A home video release can’t arrive soon enough for me.
Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie: Not to be confused with Ghost in the Shell: The Original Movie, Ghost in the Shell 2: The Kinda Confusing Sequel to the Original Movie, or Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society: And This One’s Based on the TV Series, this particular installment follows up on the events of the four-part Arise OAV. The prime minister of Japan is dead, the Fire-Starter virus continues to infect Ghosts, and Major Motoko Kusanagi and the members of Section 9 must untangle the complex web of government corruptions and shadowy figures to figure out what’s going on.
Here, have another trailer.
The movie has a limited run at the Consolidated Ward theaters before moving to the Honolulu Museum of Art for nine, count ’em, nine screenings. Your showtimes:
Doris Duke Theater (Honolulu Museum of Art): 4 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21, 1 p.m. Nov. 22, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27
Tickets are available on Fandango for Ward ($12.25 general, $9 seniors, $8.75 children) and the art museum website ($10 general admission, $8 museum members) for the Doris Duke screenings.
Hawaii International Film Festival: There’s only one anime in this year’s HIFF Fall Showcase (Nov. 12-22). Fortunately, it’s the latest project from one of the best creators still around since Studio Ghibli went dormant: Mamoru Hosoda, director of the great The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, the sublime Summer Wars and the sounds-great-but-it’s-still-on-my-pile-of-things-to-watch Wolf Children. His latest movie, The Boy and the Beast, features loner Kyuta (side note: I seem to be writing a lot of synopses these days where the main character is described as a loner of some sort, aren’t I?) embarking on an adventure-filled journey with Kumatetsu, a supernatural beast also isolated in an imaginary world.
Third trailer time!
The Boy and the Beast screens at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21 and 5 p.m. Nov. 22, with both screenings at the Regal Dole Cannery theaters.
Also, for those of you who enjoyed Journey of Heroes, the comic book recounting the achievements of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Infantry Battalion with chibi characters, author Stacey Hayashi has a pair of projects screening as part of this year’s “Made in Hawaii Shorts” roundup: “The Surrender Call,” based on Military Intelligence Service linguist Herbert Yanamura’s actions to save civilians during the bloody Battle of Okinawa, and “The Herbert Yanamura Story,” in which he shares his story and reunites with someone whom he saved from that battle nearly 70 years later. “Made in Hawaii Shorts” screens at 5:45 p.m. Nov. 16 and 10:45 a.m. Nov. 21 at the Dole Cannery theaters, and 3 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Consolidated Koko Marina theaters. If anyone reads this blog on Kauai, you guys can see these shorts, too, at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 21 at the Waimea Theatre.
HIFF tickets are $14 general, $12 students, seniors and military members. Memberships are also available for those of you who really love your movies. Visit hiff.org.
Elsewhere around town
“Short Story: Drawings by Brady Evans”: I’ve been covering the work of Brady Evans for quite a while now, from his days winning MangaBento art contests to starting art groups to curating an exhibit about manga in Hawaii to buying pretty artwork by him on display in art shows downtown, and probably a whole bunch of other things in between. Now Brady’s going to have an exhibit of his drawings on display at my alma mater, Punahou School, and I’m thrilled not only because I get to swing by there and see his work, but also because I can stop by the lily pond near Thurston Chapel. Fishies! Turtles! The occasional confused duck! I usually only plan on visiting once a year during the school’s annual malasada fundraiser for scholarships — you know, the Punahou Carnival — so this is a bonus visit for me. Kirsch Gallery (next to Cooke Library); opening reception 3:30-6 p.m. Thursday, exhibit on display through Nov. 19 (gallery hours 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays). Call 943-3247.
Keiki Con: KYAAAAAAAAH IT’S ANOTHER CONVENTION-TYPE EVENT IN THE HANDY PETITE SIZE *runs away*
… just kidding. I’m just feeling guilty that I have yet to do any write-ups for the events that were part of that five-week Con-athon 2015 I mentioned earlier in this post. This event up in Central Oahu seems like it’s going to be a really fun time for keiki of all ages, with food trucks, games, various activities, a cosplay contest (register by 1 p.m. the day of the event); the Hawaii Game Truck; and an Artist Zone featuring make-and-take activities and Pineapple Man artist Sam Campos, Gordon Rider/Ara-Rangers/Edamame Ninjas/Star-Advertiser “Calabash” artist Jon Murakami, and Aumakua: Guardians of Hawaii artist Christopher Caravalho. Kawaii Kon will be on hand to give away free three-day passes (update 11/6, 5:30 p.m.: a pass will be awarded to the winner of the cosplay contest), too. Mililani Recreation Center 7 (take the H-2 Freeway to the Mililani Mauka exit, then shoot pretty much close to the top of Meheula Parkway; it’s at 95-1333 Lehiwa Drive, for you GPS types), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Comic Jam Hawaii: It’s the holiday season, which means this group of collaborative cartoon artists, ousted by preparations for Santa Claus and giant holiday trains at Pearlridge, is hitting the road this month. They’ll be at Aiea Library — home of the monthly Polar Bear Cafe & Friends Anime Club and the Face of Hawaii Ingress ™ — on Saturday and Nov. 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. The library is at 99-374 Pohai Place … and have I mentioned there’s still plenty of parking? What’s that? I mention that every time I mention there’s something at Aiea Library? Well, then. Call 483-7333.
With Studio Ghibli’s latest film to be released in America, The Secret World of Arrietty, breaking box-office records for Ghibli films, I’m reminded of director Hayao Miyazaki’s 2009 film, Ponyo, Ghibli’s former top-grossing champion.
Being that Miyazaki is a perennial favorite of mine and my fiance, we had eagerly attended the early preview screening of Ponyo in Ward Theaters with high hopes. Afterward, however, we came out feeling, “…Huh?”
Admittedly, we went in with absolutely no knowledge of anything about the movie aside from the fact that it was done by Miyazaki and that its original English name when advertised in Japan was “Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea.” The house lights went black, the familiar Totoro logo of Studio Ghibli came up, and then … we seemed to stray into some other world — a fantasy world, granted, but it was something that decidedly was not Miyazaki.
For those who don’t know the storyline, Ponyo is about a boy named Sosuke who discovers a strange ocean creature whom he names Ponyo, who has the body of a fish but the head of girl. Ponyo in her ocean homeland was always a curious girl, which is how she ended up stranded ashore to be found by Sosuke. After coming into contact with humans, Ponyo longs to be one of them, but her wizard father, Fujimoto, refuses to let her go. The clash between father and daughter eventually causes the oceans to swallow the land and threatens to destroy Sosuke’s world, and Fujimoto is forced to give in — and risk having his daughter learn of the pain of rejection, unless Sosuke can pass a test that Ponyo’s mother, the goddess of mercy, crafts for him.
The opening scenes used a simplistic animation that I would expect of a PBS toddler’s cartoon. The bright multitude of colors used to illustrate the fanciful undersea creatures gave even more credence to this impression.
Once we hit land, it seemed the old Miyazaki was back, with carefully detailed homes and cliffs and landscapes similar to another of his films, Kiki’s Delivery Service — but for only a moment. Then again we reverted back, and again the animation was very different from his previous films, with many of the backgrounds seemingly done with colored pencils, creating a soft, ethereal atmosphere that nevertheless seemed far less magical than the more solid scenery that normally dominates his films.
The one thing that did remain throughout was Miyazaki’s penchant for realistic movements and his attention to the small things that people do. The way Sosuke carefully crawled under the gate, making sure not to drop the bucket holding Ponyo; the way Sosuke’s mom Lisa unlocked the house door and hauled in the groceries after her; the way Fujimoto carefully protected and poured the life-giving elixirs — they weren’t the movements of everyday cartoon characters given motion by an animator bent merely on making them do one thing as fast as possible as smoothly as possible, but rather by a master artist skilled at depicting the many actions that one simple maneuver by a human often requires.
Still, in many ways, “simple” was the theme of the movie. Unlike the numerous trials that Miyazaki’s past heroes and heroines had to endure, all Sosuke had to do was proclaim his love for Ponyo and his willingness to accept her for who she was — an extremely easy thing for a 5-year-old to promise without understanding the full import of his words. And then came the goddess’ simple declaration that “The balance of nature is restored!” and now we’ll all go live happily ever after — never mind the floodwaters that are still covering the town and that don’t seem to have any inclination to go away any time soon.
All of this combined to create such an anticlimactic ending that both I and my movie-going companion were struck dumb.
This may be a kids’ movie, but even children enjoy experiencing the awe of something as impressive as a water goddess’ magic restoring the land to what it was — an oft-used ending that may be cheesy and cliched to us adults but is usually pretty awesome-looking on the big screen, especially in the hands of an animator such as Miyazaki. And unfortunately, such a climactic scene didn’t happen in this movie.
But I came into Ponyo having certain expectations. And contrary to those expectations, there was no epic struggle, there was no character-building transformation. The usual moral message was there — sort of — but then was never followed up on and then fizzled out. In the end, there was just a selfish fish-girl whose longing to stay with the first human she came in contact with was such that she didn’t care whom she hurt in the process, leading to the destruction of an entire town. She’s the bratty child who ended up getting her way through manipulation and tantrums. After all is said and done, does Ponyo realize what her actions caused? Does she care?
For that matter, does ANYONE care? Lisa’s nonchalant acceptance of: 1. a girl who appears out of nowhere; 2. her son’s crazy-sounding explanation of how this girl came to be; and 3. the aforementioned girl’s equally crazy-sounding description of her parents and home is so unbelievable that one can’t help but think that Lisa’s missing a few screws. Face it, no one is THAT magnanimous. How can you not be at the least annoyed at this girl whose single-minded desire endangered not only, oh, your entire town, friends, and all you hold dear, not to mention your sailor husband whose fate out on the stormy high seas is unknown? “Annoyed” would probably be the BEST of my reactions.
Maybe I’m just being too much of an adult. Too much of a Western adult, who craves some kind of logic and resolution and closure. But even that aside, even after suspending disbelief, Ponyo just wasn’t up to Miyazaki’s par.
As a children’s fairytale, Ponyo did deliver. Perhaps that’s what it was meant to be all along. But as a Miyazaki film…somehow, it was missing his usual magic.