Directed by Isao Takahata
Wow, this was totally not what I was expecting in a good way. This is a story of a girl that doesn’t just take what life hands her. It causes difficulty with school, friends, family, and early love but ultimately she finds the courage to make her own life. The characters felt so real and I was able to relate with them on so many levels. For a Studio Ghibli picture, this felt more for adults than children but my niece was attentive throughout. I would recommend this to fans of Ghibli and fans of Drama, however, this won’t align if you’re expecting Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro.
As for the release, we watched it on Bluray which had an excellent picture. Sadly, however, it only included English in 2.0 stereo and Japanese in 2.0 stereo. I’m not familiar with the history of the film, but perhaps it never got a wide theatrical release and that explains why it’s only in stereo. The biggest problem for me was the English voiceovers, which I was required to use so my family could enjoy it as well. The speech patterns of adult Taeko (Daisy Ridley) were extremely unnatural with very little conjunctions (i.e., “don’t”, “didn’t”, etc.). They also felt absolutely soulless and came across more like robotic narration than dialog. There were sections of narration and sections that were pure dialog, but I don’t think the speech direction made that distinction and what we’re left with is a sort of lifeless delivery. Another concern is the separate subtitles for English voiceovers versus the Japanese which indicates to me that the translation is different and some story elements may have been changed. I will leave my final thoughts off until I get a chance to watch it with the uncensored Japanese voiceovers and likely more literal translated subtitles.