GKIDS and Fathom Events Return with a New Studio Ghibli Series Lineup of Animated Masterpieces in U.S. Cinemas Throughout 2019

After kicking off in 2017 and returning for an even more successful 2018, STUDIO GHIBLI FEST is back for 2019. GKIDS, the distributor of multiple Academy Award®-nominated animated features, and Fathom Events are proud to continue their collaboration and deliver a new and expanded selection of celebrated animated films to U.S. cinemas throughout the year with STUDIO GHIBLI FEST 2019.

Featuring nine of Studio Ghibli’s masterpieces, the series kicks off with the 15th anniversary of the Academy Award®- nominated fantasy adventure Howl’s Moving Castle, and continues with the 35th anniversary of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Whisper of the Heart, the 30th anniversary of Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, The Secret World of Arrietty, the Academy Award®- winning Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and concludes with the Academy Award®- nominated The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Tickets for STUDIO GHIBLI FEST 2019 can be purchased online beginning Thursday, March 7, 2019 by visiting www.FathomEvents.com, www.ghiblifest.com, or at participating theater box offices. A complete list of theater locations will be available on the Fathom Events website March 7, 2019 (theaters and participants are subject to change). Weekday showings begin at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday showings begin at 12:55 p.m. (all local times).

Tickets for Studio Ghibli Fest 2019 in Canada go on-sale on March 7, 2019. Visit our partners at www.Cineplex.com for more information.

“After two extraordinary years of STUDIO GHIBLI FESTs, we couldn’t be more pleased to partner with GKIDS once again,” Fathom Events CEO Ray Nutt said. “The 2019 anime series gives fans across the nation a unique opportunity to experience these renowned titles together at their local cinemas and we’re proud to be able to make these communal viewings possible.”

“GKIDS is extremely proud to be bringing the beloved Studio Ghibli films back to the big screen with Fathom Events, so fans can discover and rejoice in these wonderful, iconic animated works throughout 2019!” GKIDS Co-Founder and President Eric Beckman said.

STUDIO GHIBLI FEST 2019 SCHEDULE:

  • Howl’s Moving Castle: 15th Anniversary – Sunday, April 7; Monday, April 8; and Wednesday, April 10, 2019
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: 35th Anniversary – Monday, May 20; Tuesday, May 21, 2019
  • Whisper of the Heart – Monday, July 1 and Tuesday, July 2, 2019
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service: 30th Anniversary – Sunday, July 28; Monday, July 29; and Wednesday, July 31, 2019
  • My Neighbor Totoro – Sunday, August 25; Monday, August 26; and Wednesday, August 28, 2019
  • The Secret World of Arrietty – Sunday, September 29 and Monday, September 30, 2019
  • Spirited Away – Sunday, October 27; Monday, October 28; and Wednesday, October 30, 2019
  • Princess Mononoke – Sunday, November 17; Monday, November 18; and Wednesday, November 20, 2019
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya – Monday, December 16 and Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Bluefin Announces My Neighbor Totoro 30th Anniversary Plush Doll Available from Barnes & Noble

Bluefin invites anime fans, collectors, and pop culture aficionados to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Studio Ghibli anime classic, My Neighbor Totoro, with an officially licensed plush doll that is available from Barnes & Noble.

The 9-inch tall push doll of the beloved Totoro character by Japanese manufacturer, Sun Arrow, is now available for purchase at participating Barnes & Noble locations nationwide for $30.00.

Bluefin is further supporting the anniversary with a special online giveaway contest. 10 Totoro themed gift baskets will be awarded. Each contains a whimsical collection of Studio Ghibli officially licensed Totoro products valued at over $100.00. The contest runs through November 1, 2018 and is open to all to enter at: https://www.bluefinbrands.com/totoro.

Each gift basket prize package contains:

  • Totoro Morning Lace Bracelet
  • Totoro and Acorn Mini Towel
  • Totoro Mini Towel Gift Set
  • Totoro Rain Petite Puzzle
  • Totoro Plush with suction cups
  • Totoro Leak Proof Bowl
  • Totoro shaped Lunch Bag

Bluefin is the official North American distributor for the most comprehensive catalog of officially licensed Studio Ghibli products. Bluefin retail partner Barnes & Noble is now carrying an expanded variety of newly released collectible products for October 2018 that include puzzle bowls, art crystal puzzles, paper theatre character sets, titling figurines, bamboo chopsticks and other products that each feature iconic Studio Ghibli characters.

In the charming 1988 animated film, My Neighbor Totoro, 11-year-old Satsuki and her sassy little sister Mei have moved to the country to be closer to their ailing mother. While their father is working, the girls explore their sprawling old house and the forest and fields that surround it. Soon, Satsuki and Mei discover Totoro, a magical forest spirit who takes them on fantastic adventures through the trees and the clouds – and teaches them a lesson about trusting one another.

My Neighbor Totoro was created by director Hayao Miyazaki and released by his Studio Ghibli, which also produced Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo. Totoro’s popularity soon became an international phenomenon and has spawned a vast array of adorable plush characters, toys, collectibles and other memorabilia.

My Neighbor Totoro Is the First Studio Ghibli Film to Get a Theatrical Release in China

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro anime film will be the first film from Studio Ghibli to get a theatrical release in China. The release is planned near the end of 2018, and will feature a Chinese dub. Studio Ghibli plans to release other films in China if the My Neighbor Totoro release is successful.

This year, the film is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its release in Japan.

GKIDS and Fathom Events screened the film in the United States in June 2017. GKIDS also licensed the film and released it on Blu-ray Disc and DVD in North America in October 2017.

Source: ANN

Mary and The Witch’s Flower, as Well as Ghibli Films, Return to U.S. Theaters

Ticketing service Fandango and various United States theater chains are listing new screenings for Studio Ponoc and Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s Mary and The Witch’s Flower anime film on February 24, 2018 and February 26, 2018. The film will screen with an English dub on February 24, 2018 and with English subtitles on February 26, 2018.

Fandango and the theater chains are also listing a new Studio Ghibli Fest 2018 event by GKIDS and Fathom Events. The films will screen both with an English dub and with English subtitles. Each film will screen on three days on the following dates:

  • Ponyo: March 25, 26, and 28, 2018
  • The Cat Returns: April 22, 23, and 25, 2018
  • Porco Rosso: May 20, 21, and 23, 2018
  • Pom Poko: June 17, 18, and 20, 2018
  • Princess Mononoke: July 22, 23, and 25, 2018
  • My Neighbor Totoro: September 30, October 1, and October 3, 2018
  • Spirited Away: October 28, 29, and 30, 2018
  • Castle in the Sky: November 18, 19, and 20, 2018

Source: ANN

Five Best Fathers in Anime

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

With June being the month of Father’s Day, I thought it would be a great idea to do a list about fathers in anime. But unlike the mothers, you can easily find men who can be considered the best fathers and men who can be considered the worst fathers. The fathers will be split into two different lists between the next couple of months. This list will focus on the five best fathers in anime, and the list for July will focus on the five worst fathers in anime.

This list features the five best fathers that have appeared in the anime that I have personally seen. Like the list with the mothers, I’m having a hard time ranking these five men into numbers, because I can’t truly say that any of them are better than the others.

Tatsuo Kusakabe (My Neighbor Totoro)

Tatsuo Kusakabe is the father to Satsuki and Mei. In the story, he and his daughters move into an old house out in the country to be closer to the girls’ mother, who is in the hospital recovering from a long-term illness. Throughout the movie, Tatsuo has to serve in the role as a single father.

In the film, we see Tatsuo trying to juggle work and single fatherhood, as well as trying to cope with the fact that his wife is recovering from illness. Yet he never shows any of his worries to his two young daughters. Instead, we see him finding time to spend with them and making sure that they get to have fun with him. Tatsuo puts on such a brave face, even though we know that he has to have some worries involved with his situation.

Choza Akamichi (Naruto)

Choza is the father of Choji Akamichi. Early on in the series, Choji is sensitive about this weight, and was put down a lot when he was young due to not being good at a popular children’s game. When Choji is down about not having friends, Choza knows just the right words to say to his son to help cheer him up.

Choza is a gentle and caring man, and he also seems to have wisdom and an understanding of the world. But most of all, he has a deep love for his son. We also get to see that Choza treats Choji’s friend Shikamaru kindly, as well as setting a wonderful example for Choji on how to treat others and interact with them. Choza is willing to reprimand his son when it’s needed, but he has the right balance of love and discipline to raise Choji and help him grow into a respectable young man.

Shikaku Nara (Naruto)

Shikaku is the father of Shikamaru Nara. Over the course of the series, Shikaku is seen giving advice to his son and helping Shikamaru regain his sense of worth after he lost someone very close to him. But unlike Choza, Shikaku can be rougher when dispensing his help and advice.

One of the most powerful scenes to appear in the Naruto Shippuden anime is when Shikamaru is having trouble coping with the death I mentioned earlier. While Shikaku’s methods for helping his son cope seemed rather harsh on the surface, the viewer realizes later that Shikaku did what he needed to do in order to get a message across to Shikamaru.

It was also revealed in the series that Shikaku was one of the few parents who didn’t order his son to stay away from Naruto Uzumaki; instead, he encouraged Shikamaru to make up his own mind as to whether or not he wanted to be friends with the boy that almost everyone else shunned.

Tatsuo Saeki (Gingitsune Messenger Fox of the Gods)

Tatsuo is the father of Makoto Saeki, the main character of the series. He serves as the priest at the Saeki Shrine, which belongs to his deceased wife’s family. Both his wife and daughter possess the ability to see Gintaro, the fox herald of the shrine, since they are from the Saeki bloodline; but since Tatsuo married into the family, he is unable to see the herald. But when he sees Makoto speaking with Gintaro or whenever she talks about the herald, he never disbelieves her or says anything that makes it seem like he thinks she’s pretending. He supports his daughter as a shrine maiden, including her ability to speak to something that he is unable to see.

Tatsuo has been raising Makoto as a single father since she was around four years old. He never begrudges his situation, and in fact, comes across as a rather positive and patient person most of the time.

Later in the series, Tatsuo takes in Satoru Kamio, the successor of the Kamio Shrine who had been raised by relatives who mistreated him after his parents died. Not only does Tatsuo take Satoru in to serve as a mentor, he also tries to be a kind of father figure to a boy that he’s not even related to. The love he shows for his daughter and the patience he shows to Satoru are very admirable.

Kuririn (Dragon Ball Z)

Kuririn becomes the father of Marron close to the end of the series. Once she’s born, Kuririn settles down in order to help raise her. While we see Marron’s mother, Android 18, spending some time with their daughter, it’s definitely Kuririn who takes on a lot of the actual responsibility for raising and taking care of Marron. It seems like the division of labor between Kuririn and Android 18 is that Kuririn is in charge of taking care of most of Marron’s needs, while Android 18 is the one in charge of protecting Marron when she’s in danger. But when Kuririn is seen with Marron in the anime, it’s easy to tell just how much he loves her.

Top 5 Studio Ghibli Films

Originally written for WatchPlayRead.com

Studio Ghibli has released so many quality films over the years that I had a hard time limiting myself to five films for this list. After some deliberation, I was finally able to whittle it down to the five films that I included on this list. In full disclosure, I have to admit that at the time I compiled this list, I had not yet seen The Wind Rises, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, or When Marnie Was There.

5. Only Yesterday (1991)

This is the second film that Isao Takahata directed for Studio Ghibli, and it has the distinction of being the only Studio Ghibli feature that has not yet received a home video release in North America even though Disney holds the distribution rights for the title. I was finally able to see Only Yesterday about two years ago, when my husband bought the Hong Kong Blu-ray release of the film that includes English subtitles for me as a gift.

Only Yesterday is a great film, but I can see why Disney has passed on releasing it after I watched it. The main character is an office lady in her late twenties named Taeko Okajima, and she takes a trip into the country to help the family of her elder sister’s husband with the safflower harvest. While Taeko is on her trip, she begins recalling memories of when she was a 10-year-old schoolgirl in 1966. Over the course of the film, Taeko’s memories of her 10-year-old self are intertwined with what’s happening to her in Yamagata, and Taeko finds herself questioning not only her feelings, but also what she wants in life. Between having an adult as a main character, as well as some of the topics that are included in Taeko’s memories, Only Yesterday just doesn’t fit with the other Studio Ghibli films that Disney has dubbed and released over the years.

I was in my later thirties when I watched Only Yesterday, so I could relate to Taeko and understand where she’s coming from. I also enjoyed the story and thought that Takahata took quite the chance by producing and releasing an animated film that is a realistic drama written for adults.

4. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro is set in the 1950s. Two girls named Satsuki and Mei are the protagonists of the film, and they move into an old house in rural Japan with their father in order to be closer to their mother, who is staying in the hospital due to illness. One day, Mei plays outside and sees a creature with two white, rabbit-like ears. She follows the creature under the house, and discovers two magical creatures; the creatures lead her through a briar patch and into the hollow of a large tree. Mei meets and befriends a bigger version of these spirits, and the big spirit identifies itself through a series of roars, which Met interprets as “Totoro.” One day, after believing her mother’s condition has worsened, Mei heads out on foot to the hospital. Satsuki enlists the help of Totoro and the Catbus, a large bus-shaped cat, to help her find her sister.

My Neighbor Totoro has a very sweet story with child characters that are very compelling, and I thought that Hayao Miyazaki was able to tell the story, convincingly, through the eyes of the child protagonists. The animation in My Neighbor Totoro perfectly accompanies the story that’s being told, and it captures the audience’s imagination. The look of the fantastical creatures like Totoro and the Catbus is very endearing, and Mei is simply cute. I have to admit that I kind of feel like a kid again whenever I watch this movie.

3. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

This is the first film that Isao Takahata directed for Studio Ghibli, and it’s an adaptation of a semi-autobiographical novel written by Akiyuki Nosaka. The film is set near the end of World War II in Japan, and features two children, Seita and Setsuko, whose lives are disrupted after the firebombing at Kobe. They survive, but their mother is caught in the air raid and dies from burn wounds. Seita and Setsuko’s father was serving in the Japanese navy and away from home when the attack occurred. As a result, the children are sent to live with an aunt who treats them cruelly over time. The siblings can only take so much before they leave and live in an old, abandoned bomb shelter.

Grave of the Fireflies is a realistic portrayal of this event and the aftermath of what happened. It’s gritty and at times, it gets rather dark. While this film may star children, it’s not a film aimed at that audience. It’s a very gripping film, which probably includes one of the saddest scenes ever to appear in an anime film. While I’ve seen this film three or four times now, I choke up and bawl like a baby every time I see this particular scene. In addition, I also become very angry at Seita and Setsuko’s aunt every time I see this film. To me, always having these strong emotional responses each time I watch the film is a testament to how well written the story is. It also shows how emotionally invested the audience can get when it comes to Seita and Setsuko.

2. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Princess Mononoke was the Studio Ghibli film that started getting the company attention in the United States. The film is set during the Muromachi period of Japan, and it focuses on the struggle between the supernatural guardians of the forest and the humans that try to consume its resources. Ashitaka, the last Emishi prince, is cursed when he kills the demon form of Nago, the boar god. He leaves his village because of the curse, and he comes upon Irontown, a refuge for social outcasts near the forest that’s inhabited by the animal gods and the Forest Spirit. Ashitaka finds himself thrown into the middle of the conflict when San, a human girl adopted by wolves, attacks Irontown. He tries to become a peacekeeper between the gods of the forest and the people of Irontown, who clear the forest to get more iron ore for the firearms that they manufacture.

Princess Mononoke tells a compelling story, which focuses on two ideas: the environment and the fact that no one is necessarily either good or evil. What I really appreciated about the storytelling in Princess Mononoke is the fact that Miyazaki was able to tell this story without falling into the trap of “the forest animals and the animal spirits are the good guys, and that Lady Eboshi and the citizens of Irontown are the bad guys.” The animation in the film is also breathtaking, and it perfectly conveys the feelings and emotions Miyazaki wants the viewer to experience while watching the film.

1. Spirited Away (2001)

Spirited Away is Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s best known film, thanks in large part to winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards. The main character of the film is a spoiled 10-year-old girl named Chihiro, who is unhappy about moving to a new home and going to a new school. As they drive to their new home, Chihiro’s father becomes lost. The family finds an entryway to a mysterious tunnel, which appears to be an entrance to an abandoned theme park. Chihiro’s parents find food at one of the stalls and help themselves to the meal. Chihiro declines to eat, and goes off to explore more of the park. During her exploration of the park, Chihiro comes across an older boy who warns her she must leave the park before it is dark. Night is quickly falling when she returns to the food stall, only to discover that her parents have turned into pigs. The film follows Chihiro as she learns what she needs to do in order to survive trapped in the spirit world. She also must find a way to return her parents to normal and return to their world.

With Spirited Away, Miyazaki tells a compelling coming of age story as Chihiro begins to change as she goes through her experiences in the spirit world. Miyazaki also successfully combines the fantastical elements of the spirit world with the realism of Chihiro’s maturation. Spirited Away is also filled with memorable characters such as No-Face, Haku, Yubaba, and Boh.

The animation in Spirited Away is breathtaking, and at times, it almost looks realistic. The look of the film adds to its overall atmosphere and helps to enhance the fantastical elements that are included in it. The combination of the storytelling and the animation help to make Spirited Away one of the best films that Studio Ghibli has ever released.

This list represents my personal opinion, it is not meant to be a definitive list of the best Studio Ghibli films of all-time. Which films would be in your personal top five? Let us know in the comments!

Santa Monica Theater to Screen Patema Inverted, Akira, and Studio Ghibli Films

The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, California will be screening Patema Inverted, Akira, My Neighbor Totoro, and Howl’s Moving Castle.

The screening for Patema Inverted will be taking place on October 17, 2014, and it is the Los Angeles area premiere of the film. This screening will have Japanese audio with English subtitles.

My Neighbor Totoro will be screened on October 4, 2014; Akira will be screened on October 16, 2014; and Howl’s Moving Castle will be screened on October 19, 2014.