Pom Poko (1994)

You’d need a heart of stone to grow up in the ‘90s and come out without some environmentalist tendencies. You’d go to the movies and watch as cute rainforest animals had their home imperilled by oncoming bulldozers (in Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest) or cringe at the cruelty inflicted upon an innocent orca (in Free…

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)

Studio Ghibli’s Isao Takahata’s adaptation of the ancient folk tale “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” is rendered in gorgeous hand-drawn animation that recalls both a children’s picture book and Japanese woodcuttings. This aesthetic and the title suggest the film’s shift in focus – rather than telling the story of the bamboo cutter who finds…

Grave of the Fireflies

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

I watched Grave of the Fireflies expecting a masterpiece. I’d never seen the film before, but its reputation preceded it – as Studio Ghibli’s second film (released simultaneously with the magnificent My Neighbour Totoro) and as a tear-jerking war drama. Based on the non-fiction novel by Nosaka Akiyuki, it tells the tale of teenage boy…

The Castle of Cagliostro

The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

Have you ever wondered what you’d get if you asked Walt Disney to make a James Bond film? Well, wonder no more. The Castle of Cagliostro centres on Lupin the Third, a gentleman thief inspired in equal part by Bond and fictional French burglar Arsène Lupin. It’s fair to say that, in retrospect, the ever-whimsical…