Sunday, May 28, 2017

Animazing: Favorite Animated Movies Part 2

Animation isn't just for children, and thinking as such can be unfair to the industry. Besides, if you completely dismiss animated films because "they're for kids," you are missing out on some of the best stories the human race can offer, told in a gorgeous medium.

Continuing from my last post Animazing: Favorite Animated Movies Part 1, I've come up with a few more additions. As mentioned previously, I thought it would be a good idea to list a few of my favorites to bring some much needed attention to these sensational movies.

Studio Ghibli Animation
My Favorite: Howl’s Moving Castle

The music, the animation, the voice acting, the characters, the magic system, the themes, the fact that it was based off of a fantasy book...every little thing about this movie is excellent.

The music is grand, sweeping and has a firm grasp on your emotions. The animation, just like all Studio Ghibli films, is gorgeously detailed and realized. Everything is given the utmost attention, from the almost anthropomorphic magic system to even the background, which a lot of animators don’t bother too much with. The magic in this movie is alive and becomes a character of its own, and even blends well metaphorically with the themes of love conquering all and characters finding the strength to change and grow.

But above all, the characters are engrossing and colorful (both figuratively and literally). Calcifer can’t help but steal the spotlight, especially when he’s voiced by Billy Crystal, and Sophie is amazingly brave and feisty. But, gosh, is Howl a real character. Both Sophie and Howl’s character arcs are masterfully done. We see Sophie transform from a timid girl to a strong-willed young woman and see the same with Howl, who transitions from spoiled and vain to empathetic and considerate. He becomes a person who refuses to run away from his problems.

Howl: I feel terrible, like there's a weight on my chest.
Young Sophie: A heart's a heavy burden.

Gorgeous and heartfelt, Howl's Moving Castle is a must-see!

Honorary Mention: Spirited Away

My sister and I used to watch Spirited Away when I was a teenager. From the moment we saw the darn thing, we couldn't get enough. It was our third Studio Ghibli movie (Kiki’s Delivery Service being the first), and we embraced the beauty and world that it conjured. What’s truly fascinating is that this movie makes you want to share it with others. It ultimately brings people together. It also gives a Westerner like myself insight into Japanese traditions and customs, and this was perfect timing because it was right around the period when I truly started getting into manga and anime. I could understand not only the stories but the country they came from.

I also remember that my sister and I would mimic the part where No-Face tries to offer Chihiro gold (you know, the pieces he produces) and makes that “ah, ah” sound. We would go around and push our hands at each other, imitating his voice.

But this movie is more than laughs, it's heartfelt and emotionally complex.

Chihiro: For some reason, I can remember Haku... from a long time ago... but I thought I never met him before!
Zeniba: Oh, that's a wonderful place to start! Once you meet someone, you never really forget them.
This movie has it all, and every aspect should be appreciated.

Don Bluth Movies
My Favorite: Anastasia

I might have been six or seven when Anastasia first came out, but still, to this day, I can recite all the words to all the songs. Anya had all the spunk and strength that little girls needed to see. What was truly inspiring was that Anya never wanted fame or money, she just wanted a family, from start to finish. She was strong and knew what she wanted from life. Though Dimitri and Vladimir were at first just in it for the glory and money, they too gave up the con in the end. In fact, we see an epic character arc when it came to Dimitri.

Before and even after said character arc, the banter between Anya and Dimitri is downright entertaining.

Anastasia: Do you really think I'm royalty?
Dimitri: You know I do!
Anastasia: Then stop bossing me around!

Not only is the story great, but the animation is superb, the music is lovely, and the humor is on par. It was definitely made with love! Even better, Anastasia is coming to Broadway in July and that should give you some idea about the story's excellence.

(Side note: Bartok is awesome.)

Honorary Mention: Thumbelina

I can’t help but think of my mother belting “Tttthummmballinaaaaa” just like that chicken in the beginning. This movie covers it all: love, despair, adventure, but mostly hope.

Thumbelina: I wish I had wings.
Prince Cornelius: Maybe someday you will.

Again, the animation is stunning and the songs are catchy. We have a charming cast of characters that you can't help but appreciate. Besides all that, the theme of Thumbelina (staying steadfast to your dreams and knowing anything could happen) is threaded throughout. There are several times in the movie where you think, “huh, this wasn’t supposed to happen” and “gee, this keeps getting worse and worse” but yet, Thumbelina keeps on believing and pushing forward. What a great message. Never give up because "nothing is impossible".

Warner Brothers Studios
My Favorite: Quest for Camelot

I’ve always been a sucker for fantasy that surrounds the legend of King Arthur, so it’s no surprise that Quest for Camelot is one of my favorite animated movies. It has a strong female lead, fantastic songs, magic, a talking chicken/axe hybrid, dragons, and much more. Not to mention, it also has tons of references to Celtic mythology and culture in the movie, which is always welcome in my book.

King Arthur: You have reminded us that the strength of a kingdom is not based on the strength of the king, but on the strength of its people.

As in any quest, the dynamic between all characters is important. The quest isn't about the end result but the journey, and Quest for Camelot makes that known. The crew, at first, have their differences, but as they trudge on, they begin to understand each other and learn from one another. It’s absolutely heartwarming.

Honorary Mention: Cats Don’t Dance

I kind of want to say that Cats Don't Dance may tie with Quest for Camelot, but I've committed to naming one winner, so I chose the latter. It’s no secret that I adore Broadway. I’ve always had a thing for musicals. But this jazzy, colorful explosion of awesome is a movie about animals who just want a chance to not only dance but prove themselves. What’s interesting about this movie is that it’s set in Hollywood in the late 1930s, the golden age of films and musical exploration. So it’s no wonder that the music is rife with voice talent and complex musical scores. The picture is brilliantly colorful and the animation is masterfully drawn, so fluid and nicely done.

This movie is about the pursuit of dreams, the failure that accompanies them, and the drive to accomplish what you've set out to do. It's about the realization that dreams may not come easily and that sometimes you have to hold onto that dream and exhibit tenacity in the face of adversity and discrimination, to be truly successful.

T.W.: [frantically searching through fortunes] They can break your cookie, but... you'll always have your fortune.

There will never be a time that I won't watch animation. Whether you want to say that's childish or charming, it won't matter because I know that animated films will continue to draw me in, with their lovely attention to detail, their (usual) mastery of music, their artistic quality, and the messages they leave behind. Besides, what's wrong with keeping some childlike wonder?

Do you agree with my list? Let me know below.


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