Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (“The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki”) is the latest animated film from Hosoda Mamoru, the director of the excellent “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” and “Summer Wars” (and Digimon 2000, which I haven’t seen and don’t intend to), and you can really feel the similarity in tone and style. It’s a subdued drama with a strange supernatural bent, more about the travails of a young family struggling on their own. I found it really sad, but it’s well-made.
From Up On Poppy Hill is the latest Ghibli, and what I take to be Miyazaki Goro’s penance for Earthsea. Poppy Hill is a period anime set in the 60s in a world long past – the story is a straightforward drama-romance, written by Hayao himself, with no violence solving anything. It’s very laid back and enjoyable in its way, akin to Omoide Poroporo (“Only Yesterday”) and its ilk.
Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo (“The Children Who Chase Stars” – in English its title is “Children Who Chase Lost Voices”) is a fantastic, fantastical anime by Shinkai Makoto, one of my favourite directors and creator of Hoshi no Koe (in English “Voices of a Distant Star”) and Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho (“The Place Promised in Our Early Days”), and Byousoku 5cm (“5 Centimeters per Second”). It concerns a girl who spends most of her days alone, encountering unearthly creatures and people apparently from another world. Unlike many other movies, Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo doesn’t avoid the great mystery at the end, and characters have a strange, numinous experience. The creatures and world were amazingly imagined, and my only wish is that there were more. I liked the main character Asuna, and how she understands other people who end up wronging her.
I’m still morning the passing of Kon Satoshi (one of my favourite anime directors ever – see Perfect Blud and Paranoia Agent) and while Hosoda Mamoru, Miyazaki Goro and Shinkai Makoto don’t take his place, it’s good to know there are other great directors around with their own styles.