Animation Marathon

My favorite podcast, Filmspotting (formerly known as Cinecast), has a great format. They review a recently released movie every week, but they also review an older film that they have, for one reason or another, neglected. The usually choose a theme for these older movies and watch a bunch of them in a row. As such, they refer to them as Marathons, and it makes for some interesting listening, even when you aren’t watching along. They’ve done one for Westerns, Horror, Hitchcock, Screwball Comedy, and many others. Their next marathon (scheduled to start in a few weeks) is for Animation. This is the first one I plan to play along with, in part because I like animated movies and also because I have netflix now and can easily follow along with minimal effort.

They’ve chosen an interesting list, though I have some reservations. Here’s the list:

As you can see, the list is dominated by Anime movies, and they haven’t yet decided which Miyazaki film they will include. In fact, they’re running a poll on their site with the three choices: Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away (Spirited Away appears to be running away with it, garnering nearly 58% of the vote so far). Personally, I think they should do a Miyazaki marathon, as I’ve only seen a few, but they’re great (and why can’t we vote for My Neighbor Totoro? I ended up voting for Howl’s Moving Castle because that’s the only one I haven’t seen.)

As I say, it’s an interesting list, but I have some reservations. I’ve seen 4 of the 6 films (assuming Spirited Away is chosen), so this is perhaps not the best one for me to play along with. I am intrigued by Grave of the Fireflies though, and I could certainly revisit Akira (which I saw many moons ago, and don’t remember all that much about it except that it was confusing). From what I’ve seen of these, I think that while they may have chosen films that illustrate the evolution of Animation, I don’t know that they’ve chosen the most enjoyable of the bunch. Akira seems to be an important film for the genre, but it’s not especially a walk in the park, for example. The only one I’d say is truly great is Spirited Away. I probably would have also recommended the Cowboy Bebop Movie, which is a very good all around experience. The other thing that might seem a little strange is that Anime seems to be a genre dominated more by series than by movies… but then I could see why these guys don’t want to spend 4.5 hours a week watching these series (I don’t know how they managed to do as much as they do).

In any case, I plan to play along, so expect some entries in a few weeks discussing the films above.

Update: The Miyazaki film will be Spirited Away. Also added links to my reviews of the films I’ve watched so far.

3 thoughts on “Animation Marathon”

  1. Actually, that might be why they didn’t pick Cowboy Bebop- it’s a movie set in the world of a series. Then again, Ghost in the Shell turned into a series. Hmmm.

    I think those are some pretty solid choices, though. Grave of the Fireflies is heartbreaking, if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s definitely not a walk in the park, either- it looks to me like you’re right- they’re picking significant pieces of animation.

    Watership Down goes without saying- it’s extremely faithful to the source, and one of the earliest examples of serious animation. Amazing stuff, there.

    Grave of the Fireflies, like I said, is heartbreaking. I don’t know any other way to describe it, off-hand. It’s really fucking sad.


    Akira and Ghost in the Shell are extremely important as films that brought anime to the mainstream American audience. They both take action movie and cyberpunk forumlas, and show that animation can be serious and action packed at the same time. Plus, compared to a lot of the animation coming out over here at the time those were made (respectively), they were amazing. Honestly, Akira still looks amazing today, almost two decades later.

    The Iron Giant seems like a wild-card to me. I love it, but I’m just not sure why they picked that one. Maybe because it’s one of the few non-Disney animated films worth seeing? I don’t know.

    And, you can’t really talk about animation without watching Miyazaki, so he’s a shoe-in.

  2. I haven’t seen the Cowboy Bebop series, but I loved the movie. I should rectify that. Into the netflix queue they go.

    Yeah, and I think the idea of the marathons they run is to take the most significant of the genre (or director, or whatever) that they haven’t seen and watch them. Sometimes this doesn’t work out to a representative whole of the genre (as in their Horror marathon). I’m not familiar enough with Anime to really say if these are representative…

    I haven’t seen or read Watership Down, so I’ll take your word for it:P

    I’m aware of Grave of the Fireflies’ reputation, though that’s about it. I hadn’t even heard of it until recently. This is the only other one on the list I haven’t seen.

    I haven’t seen Akira in a while, and I’m not sure if I like it all that much… though from what I can understand, it’s a very important film. I saw Ghost in the Shell a long time ago, then again recently. Great movie…

    I think they chose Iron Giant because it isn’t Disney and because everyone they know says it’s great. I thought it was mediocre…

    I kinda wish they were doing a Miyazaki marathon, as I’ve only seen Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Maybe we’ll make that part of the Kaedrin movie club:P

  3. Oh, that’s not a bad idea. Those two are both really good, but you should definitely check out the rest of his stuff. I’m tremendously fond of Castle of Cagliostro, personally. Oh, that wacky Lupin the 3rd.

    But, yeah, I can totally understand not really liking Akira. I like it, but I think it’s really dense, and there is an awful lot left out of it. If you’re ever interested, the graphic novels that it was based on got a complete US release not all that long ago, and are totally worth checking out. They clear up a few things that didn’t quite make it into the movie.

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