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

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

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!

Anime Film Review: Spirited Away

Spirited Away is a fantastical film that was directed by Hayao Miyazaki and released by Studio Ghibli in 2001 in Japan. Walt Disney Pictures released an English dubbed version of the film in 2002, and it went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards.

Spirited Away
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takeshi Naito, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Tsunehiko Kamijō, Takehiko Ono, Bunta Sugawara
Run Time: 125 minutes
Rated: PG

The main character of Spirited Away is a spoiled 10-year-old girl named Chihiro, who is unhappy about moving to a new home and going to a new school. According to Miyazaki, he based the character of Chihiro on his friend’s 10-year-old daughter who visited with him each summer.

The story begins with Chihiro and her parents driving to their new home, but her father becomes lost on the way. As they try to get their bearings, they find an entryway to a mysterious tunnel; Chihiro’s parents decide to investigate. On the other side of the tunnel is what appears to be an abandoned theme park. Chihiro’s parents find food at one 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, she comes across an older boy who warns Chihiro she must leave the park before it is dark. Night is quickly falling when she returns to the food stall, and discovers that her parents have turned into pigs.

When Chihiro tries to go back the way the family came, she finds that the grassy area is now covered with water; Chihiro also discovers that she is able to see through her hands. The older boy finds her and convinces her to eat something in the spirit world; if she doesn’t, she will vanish. The boy gives Chihiro some advice on what she needs to do in order to survive in that world. The rest of the film follows Chihiro’s adventures as she tries to find a way to return her parents to normal and be able to go home.

In Spirited Away, Miyazaki tells compelling “coming of age” story. After her experiences in the spirit world, Chihiro changes from a spoiled girl to one who is more appreciative of other people and the world around her. Chihiro’s growth as a character was believable, and I also believe she can be a relatable character to viewers who are around her age.

The animation in Spirited Away is rather breathtaking, and at times, it almost looks realistic. Even though there are spots in the film where it’s rather obvious that some of the elements were animated with computer graphics, the obvious computer effects aren’t enough to distract the viewer from appreciating the overall story and atmosphere of the film. Overall, I think the animation style that was utilized for the film really helps to capture and convey the story that Miyazaki is trying to tell.

When I watched Spirited Away, it was on the two-disc DVD released by Disney. In addition to the film, the set also included a 15-minute documentary about Spirited Away, a Nippon television special about the making of the film, a storyboard-to-scene comparison, a five-minute documentary about recording the English dub of the film, and a collection of the original Japanese trailers for the film. The trailers ran for 22 minutes, and there seemed to be a bit of repetition in the trailers included in this feature; personally, I found this to be a bit much. Outside of that, though, I liked the other bonus features included on this release. Disney went to a lot of effort when it came to including bonus features on this release in comparison to the other Studio Ghibli films that the company has released on DVD and/or Blu-ray; obviously, this was due to the fact that Spirited Away won an Oscar.

Spirited Away is a beautiful and well-done film, and I would definitely consider this film to be an anime masterpiece. If you’re an anime fan or anime collector, Spirited Away is truly a “must have” for your home video collection.

I originally watched the DVD release of Spirited Away when I checked out a copy of it through the King County Library System. My husband later purchased a copy of it as a gift for me.