Isle of Dogs (2018)

A gorgeous tribute to dogs, Akira Kurosawa, and the tricky power dynamics behind translation. The film follows some of the many dogs banished to a refuse island following an increasingly authoritarian dystopian retro-futuristic Japan ban dogs from the mainland. The dogs assist a young boy searching for his own canine companion while political tension mounts…

Kedi (2016)

A Turkish documentary about the many cats (nominally stray) that inhabit Istanbul. The film mainly covers seven cats, focusing on their distinct personalities and the humans that interact with them the most. There’s plenty of direct interview and voiceover with these people, but often the film simply follows the cats themselves, an impressive specially-constructed filming…

On Your Mark (1995)

An animated music video Studio Ghibli made after Hayao Miyazaki was facing writer’s block during development of Princess Mononoke. It follows two policemen’s efforts to rescue an angel in a future sci-fi city, complete with cyberpunk aesthetics, religious cults, nuclear devastation, and so on. It’s neat to see Ghibli animate something in this style; the…

Isao Takahata and His Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013)

Marred from an abundance of explanatory voiceover, and not as elegantly put-together as the more-or-less companion documentary feature “THe Kingdom of Dream and Madness” (covering Hayao Miyazaki’s development of “The Wind Rises” where this covers Isao Takahata’s development of “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”), this is a thin feature that nonetheless captures some interesting…

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013)

For a film that ends with a celebratory voiceover montage marvelling at the imaginative power of animation and all Studio Ghibli has achieved to that end, “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness” chronicles a sharply misanthropic Hayao Miyazaki working on what was then planned to be his final film, “The Wind Rises”. The documentary, clearly…

Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess (2010)

A lovely story of a brave egg and a bizarre-looking magical dough creature. The short sweeps you up, its world, its music, its visuals, but the goofiness of Mr. Dough is what sticks out the most. The villain feels like a bit of a mix of the witch figures in Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving…

Monmon the Water Spider (2006)

A water spider being infatuated with a water strider makes for a cute, quirky premise, and from there Miyazaki fills this short with his usual way of rendering nature in beautiful ways, here bringing all sorts of creatures to life in charming, cute ways. Lovely little short that really sweeps you away into its world…