Category Archives: Umi ga Kikoeru

Ghibli Retrospective 2012 @ the IFC Center: Spirited Away, Ocean Waves

I’m not sure if anyone made the connection yet, but what does Spirited Away and Type-Moon-verse’s Mahoutsukai no Yoru have in common? Actually there are probably several things, but there is one specific thing I’m looking for.

This time around Spirited Away feels almost like, well, a great film. I really enjoyed it much more this time, and details that didn’t pop out at me when I watched it times prior, did. The way Chihiro shook during her first night at the brothelbath house; the visiting of her parents during the first morning subsequent; how Chihiro ate the mud-dango [insert some Sencolle reference], and then applied it on her friends later; the way she held down a flapping dragon; and most importantly, the answer to the question I posed earlier, which has nothing to do with Chihiro.

I made that weird connection very early on in this viewing and it sort of pinned down the attitude I held throughout the film. Yubaba’s bickering with the people around her and the big baby now makes a lot more sense, as well as the way Zeniba treated Sen and her friends. Well, maybe I should credit having fully absorbed the Totoro experience between now and the last time I saw Spirited Away. It helps to unpack a lot of the details. Or maybe just that since then and now, I saw roughly like, Ghibli’s entire catalog of feature films? Oh wait, still no Yamada’s. At least when Chihiro did her bid-goodbye line at the end, it reminded me how Lin reminded Chihiro to do the same in the very beginning. I guess that’s just me showing weakness! Or maybe it’s the result of my training–of watching all this Ghibli in a short period of time.

I took the two films as double headers because I could. Ocean Waves made a nice chaser. So did my 2nd supper made up of shawarma, bakalva, and mint tea in between the films. In retrospect, Ocean Waves is a much more subtle film but yet much easier to process. You can enjoy it without thinking too much, and “get” all of it. Or at least that’s how it feels at this point. Within 60-70 minutes it makes a very compelling case, and in a lot of ways it feels like what a Makoto Shinka should’ve done if he were to direct a Ghibli film.

The thematic takeaway this time feels a little odd. For some reason I focused a lot on the 1-year reunion scene, in the way all these kids fondly think back to their high school times, ups and downs. Remember the scene right before it, one dude punched the other, one girl got scared but made a bunch of other girls mad. But now they’re having a great time. Is that how I feel today? Is Akiko Shimizu’s point spot on? I guess that’s the thing–some things gets even better. It’s a very positive way to look at the loss you had in your earlier days. It’s very practical and yet romantic, although at this point I’m not sure how Matsuno thinks about it. Maybe Shinkai is just telling his side of the story, 10 years later.

The Ghibli retrospective grinds on!