100 Word Review – Porco Rosso (1992)

In classic Hayao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke) style, this Japanese anime perfectly captures the spirit of adventure and freedom that permeates throughout it.

Set in the skies above a 1930s Italian coast, a WWI veteran pilot makes a living in his sea plane as a bounty hunter, taking down air pirates. His name is Marco Rosso and he was cursed to look like a pig.

Definitely family friendly, but with hidden depths that might have made me cry. There’s humour, there’s romance, there’s a sense of history and the dubbed version even has the voice of Michael Keaton.

100 Word Review – The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

A bamboo cutter finds a tiny princess in a bamboo shoot. He takes her home where she quickly grows into a young woman, delighted by the world around her.

Written and directed by Isao Takahata, the man behind Grave of the Fireflies, so expect a moving story. It is delicately animated like a children’s book, the style capturing the innocence at the centre of the story.

It’s full of pieces of stories that transcend geographical boundaries; Thumbalina, the Practical Princess and other such tales form the bones of a film which is ultimately about humanity and its capacity for good.

100 Word Review – Battle Royale (2000)

What you are about to watch is brutal. Based on the novel by Koushun Takami, Kinji Fukasaku pulled no punches translating it to the silver screen.

Set in a future world where overpopulation is the main concern, a class of students are captured by their government, sent to an island and forced to kill each other to survive.

This is not the Hunger Games. This is far more grown up and far less forgiving. There’s no beautiful scenery or costumes, this is not Young Adult fiction. This film may not be for the faint hearted but is definitely worth watching.

100 Word Review – Princess Mononoke (1997)

I love this film. It’s another classic eco-warrior princess fairytale from the marvellous Studio Ghibli.

While trying to save his home town from a rampaging bear god, Ashitaka is cursed. Forced to venture into the forest, he becomes caught between two warring forces: the humans and the spirits of the forest, lead by Princess Mononoke.

This fairytale is Grimm in every sense, and as such is not Ghibli’s most family friendly feature. The animation is beautiful and truly transportative, with Hayao Miyazaki the driving force behind it.

If that wasn’t enough, it currently sits number 71 of the top 250 on IMDb.


100 Word Review – Patema Inverted (2013)

Winner of the best anime at Edinburgh’s Anime film festival, this film is an absolute delight. 

Patema lives with her family in a series of tunnels deep underground. Exploring deeper and deeper she finds herself in  danger of falling off the world, in a place full of people for whom gravity is inverted.

The visuals in this film are breathtaking and Yasuhiro Yoshiura does a wonderful job of directing what could otherwise be a very confused feature.

Currently only available in Japanese, so not suitable for young children, but it’s definitely a great family film and a beautiful Sci Fi.

100 Word Review – Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

From the makers of Howl’s Moving Castle, comes a fantastic piece of Japanese animation.

Following the eco-theme familiar to Studio Ghibli narratives, this film is about Nausicaä, a pacifist princess, who turns warrior in an attempt to save her planet.

It has Sci Fi for genre fans, including some wonderful creatures not dissimilar to Pokemon, and some epic battles and alien international politics.

As with all Miyazaki’s work, this is beautiful as well as being emotionally meaningful. It sits comfortably within the top 250 films on IMDb. Don’t let the fact you haven’t heard of it stop you from watching it.