Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
Studio Ghibli list coming🔜
I’m (somewhat) watching these Ghibli films in a random order, but I felt like watching this gem today. When two girls move to the country to be near their ailing mother, they have adventures with the wondrous forest spirits who live nearby. This movie is just good. I’m not even speaking from a quality perspective; it’s just the encapsulation of what it means to be good and soak in goodness as a movie-lover. We have these two girls using their imagination to allow them to escape from the horrors of everyday life. The fear of what could happen with their mother is one that we can all relate to. Dealing with a sick relative, especially one this close, is heartbreaking.
The beautiful thing about this film is the fact that it impacts you so much without any action, explosions, gore, etc. Animated films today, while some are great, just don’t hit the same levels that Totoro manages to hit. It’s all so well executed, and the fact that there is no villainous presence is fascinating. Normally a film without a prime antagonist feels lifeless. The film is the opposite. It’s full of life, and the fact that there is no villain actually enhances the experience. We tend to see dismissive parents (or plain evil parents), who don’t believe anything their kids are saying, but this film decides to do better. It calls for a dad as cool as this one, and it delivers in an incredible way.
It’s all so laid back, beautiful to watch, and it’s just a film that leaves you with a huge smile on your face. I love classic American animation, as films like The Lion King and Aladdin shaped my childhood. This film sadly wasn’t a huge part of my childhood. My parents honestly didn’t know much about Anime, so they never introduced it to me. I saw this film when I was 15, and I couldn’t believe it came out so long ago. It feels timeless. It holds up incredibly in 2020, and most of that is due to the perfect animation. I say perfect, and I will use that word a lot for Ghibli films, but the visuals are perfection. It’s all just so wonderful. My only slight criticism is a lack of tension throughout. The third act is obviously stressful, but even that didn’t have me on the edge of my seat. It’s worth a watch, and I can’t believe I haven’t attempted to watch this film in years.
🔜The Old Guard