When people ask me what TV shows I’m watching at the moment, I tell them I don’t watch ‘TV’ or TV shows that much anymore. Besides the odd binge of a new series close to my heart, such as Master of None or Avatar the Last Airbender, this is largely true. What I do watch though is a hell of a lot of anime.
Now strictly speaking, anime could still very much be put into the same category as TV. It follows episodic formats, continuous stories which pan out over the course of a season/s etc etc. However, since anime so different to traditional western TV, I consider it very much its own thing.
The story lines are often so absurd, over the top, out of this world and generally so different to what you’ll experience when growing up watching TV in Australia, the US or most of the world. Which of course comes from the fact it is a Japanese art-form, a country traditional very removed from the rest of the world, inherently leading to a unique type of media. So different to what you can find anywhere else around the world.
Like much of my generation, I first came across anime in the form of Dragon Ball Z and One Piece. They never quite struck me at the time, although it was obvious how different they were. No, it would not be till my final year of high school that I would dive deep into Japanese animation. Watching ALL of Death Note over the course of a weekend with my brother and then spending the majority of my most important year of schooling, embracing a style of storytelling I’d missed out on for so long.
Now anime has replaced TV in my life almost entirely. I have paid subscriptions not with Netflix or Stan, but with Animelab and Crunchyroll (although much preferring the former. Such beautiful and clean UI!). I’m not hanging out for the next episode of Game of Thrones, but for My Hero Academia. Quite the transformation which didn’t happen overnight, but slowly and surely over the past five years.
However, back before I became enamoured with anime, there was a certain Japanese animation studio who’s work I had already loved for years. Well before I binge watched Death Note that one weekend with my brother in his house out on our farm.
While growing up I watched my fair share of animated movies from Disney, Pixar and Dreamswork. Most of which I adored and still have fond memories of to this day (I even remember distinctly performing a song from Shrek 2 for a certain school Idol we had running in primary school…Now let us never speak of it again!). But, there was one particular animation which stood out to me while growing up. Not a 3D animated film, but a hand drawn one. One which at the time scared me as a child due to the themes and conflicts at hand, but intrigued me and made my imagination flower.
The film, which still to this day holds the highest box office record in Japan and won the Academy Award (Oscars) for best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, making it the only hand drawn animated film and Japanese animated film. One which started my love affair with the wondrous and mind blowing Studio Ghibli, who to this day is probably my favourite film studio.
The film of course, is Spirited Away.
While growing up, it was a film I returned to on a regular basis. It became a film I watched not only at times to lift my spirits, but to give me inspiration and motivation creatively and in life too. It had that much of an impact on me like no western animated film ever did. But it wouldn’t be till I went to my now favourite convention, AVCon (which is seriously a fantastic con, that if you love video games and anime is pretty much heaven), that I would pick up my next Studio Ghibli film, and make it a tradition of buying and watching one film from the studio once a year. Thinking since there were around twenty, I’d be set for many years to come.
It didn’t last long. After following the traditional for a couple of years, I couldn’t hold myself back and started buying them in multiples at a time. They became my ultimate comfort watch. Whenever I needed a pick me up or to just feel good, I’d go out and buy a new one. I’ve started to build a reasonable collection of them on Blu-ray now, one which is probably my proudest. However that’s just the thing.
Since I started watching them so late, I’ve only ever seen one in a cinema, which was part of the my universities film society. Being someone who loves going to the cinema more than anything else in the world, I’ve always wished for the chance to see SG films on the big screen, with popcorn and a soda in hand. Well to my surprise and joy, my wish seemingly is being granted.
From the 24th of August to the 20th of September, every Studio Ghibli film will be playing in cinemas across every state and major territory in Australia as part of Madman’s Celebrate Studio Ghibli Experience! You can’t even begin to imagine how excited I was when I discovered this. I verbally yelped in excitement!
All 22 Studio Ghibli films including Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke, along with a slew of documentaries about the famous Japanese animation house. This is possibly a world first, as although similar festivals are happening in Canada and the US at the same time, Madman doesn’t have the rights to show all the Studio Ghibli films in those regions. Only in Australia.
Weeks after discovering this I’m still brimming with excitement! Particularly at the fact that I’ll be able to watch a number of Studio Ghibli films, for the FIRST time on the big screen. Unbelievable.
After discovering this, I quickly started thinking about whether it would be possible to see every film during the festival. Which is possible given the dates (although you’ll have to go almost every night), a prospect which at first glance seems kinda crazy. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it.
So for the Studio Ghibli Experience, I’ll do my best to see as many as possible (seeing all of them is a bit of a lofty goal). Like I’ve mentioned, many of which I’ll be seeing for the first time, but many I’ll be seeing for the second, third of seventh time. So I’m intrigued to see what I think about a number of them, considering I haven’t seen some of them for a couple of years.
Now if you’ve ever read my blog before, you may have noticed I haven’t posted for a while. This is partly due to being busy with finishing university, writing for various publications and even starting proper full time work for the first time!
I’m still going to be writing for other outlets and even plan to write for more in the hope of doing more freelance work. But I’m planning to write here more regularly too, as there are so many fantastic movies, anime and music I consume which I want to share with others.
If you want to learn more about the festival and see what cinemas are taking part, check out the website here. Till then, talk soon….