THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA
KAGUYAHIME NO MONOGATARI
2013, GKIDS, 137 min, Japan, Dir: Isao Takahata

What may be the final film from Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata is one of the Japanese animation studio’s very best. A bamboo cutter discovers a tiny girl in a bamboo shoot and adopts her as his daughter, but the old man’s attempts to raise her as a princess are at odds with the girl’s homespun nature. This beautiful fantasy, based on a Japanese folktale, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. “Exquisitely drawn with both watercolor delicacy and a brisk sense of line.” - Nicolas Rapold, The New York Times.


GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES
HOTARU NO HAKA
1988, GKIDS, 89 min, Japan, Dir: Isao Takahata

This stark drama, adapted from Nosaka Akiyuki’s semi-autobiographical novel, is one of Studio Ghibli’s greatest achievements. Left to fend for themselves after their home is firebombed during the closing days of World War II, teen Seita and his 5-year-old sister Setsuko struggle to survive. “An emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation.” – Roger Ebert


POM POKO
1994, Studio Ghibli, 119 min, Japan, Dir: Isao Takahata

In this brilliant and often overlooked Studio Ghibli masterpiece, the forests are filled with groups of magical tanuki, mischievous raccoon-like animals from Japanese folklore, which are capable of shape-shifting from their standard raccoon form to practically any object. The tanuki spend their days playing idly in the hillsides and squabbling over food - until the construction of a huge new Tokyo suburb clears the nearby forest and threatens their way of life. In an effort to defend their home, the tanuki learn to transform into humans and start playing tricks to make the workers think the construction site is haunted, ending in a spectacular night-time spirit parade, with thousands of ghosts, dragons and other magical creatures descending on the city, in an abundance of fantastical characters that would not be matched onscreen by Studio Ghibli until SPIRITED AWAY.


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