A little behind on my main post, but mentioning this for now. I’ve watched four Japanese animated movies ever since I’ve come back from my Japan trip.
I was meaning to watch them before, but only got around to watching them now and perhaps appreciating them a lot more than I probably would have if I watched them before the trip. Maybe it’s because a lot of the locations in the movies are based on real life places in Japan, some of which I got to see in person.
If you haven’t seen any of the following Japanese animated movies, then I recommend them for the plot, the amazing visuals, as well as the moving soundtracks that are on par with some of the soundtracks found in Studio Ghibli’s movies…but be prepared with tissues for all of the moviesthat have an ending that is mixed with melancholy.
Hotarubi no Mori e/Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light (2011)
Hotaru is rescued by a spirit when she gets lost in a forest as a child. The two become friends, despite the spirit revealing that he will disappear if he is ever touched by a human.
Based on a one-shot manga, this one was sad (also very short – with a run time of 45 minutes)…and I think I felt more sad after hearing the following track called Natsu wo Miteita near the end of the movie, because that’s when it hit me…how you can get very close to someone only to watch them disappear forever, and that too in a sudden moment or within a short time frame. The feels! Definitely worth a watch for anime fans.
On an interesting note, the forest and shrine in this animation is based on a real-life forest and shrine in Takamori-machi, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. I heard that it’s quite magical, but some parts of it were damaged just a tiny bit due to the recent earthquake in Kumamoto. It’s off the beaten path for many tourists.
As for the character Gin, who is the spirit that resides in the forest in the movie,…hearing his name made me think of it sounding similar to the word “jinn”. In Islam, the jinn are referred to as conscious entities in the “spiritual realm”, or the realm of the Unseen, that are made out of smokeless fire and live alongside us in an almost parallel dimension. They have a longer life-span than us and have been around before humans even came to be. They are often mistaken as ghosts by those that aren’t aware of their existence. Jinns are mainly said to hang around in remote areas like places where there are a lot of trees, such as a forest or the woods. I’m sure that every Pakistani has heard of their elders telling them to avoid walking under trees at night because it could attract the attention of a jinn. Superstition, I know… but I’m sure that a lot of people have seen them before, but label them as “ghosts”. It’s forbidden to communicate with jinns, unless it’s a good jinn that initiated the approach.
I particularly found visiting shrines in Japan interesting…because a lot of them were within wooded areas and lots of trees. In Japan, there’s a bit of word about shrines being places where “spirits” reside or some of the shrines being “haunted”. Almost all the shrines that I had visited had big black crows hanging around them, and according to Pakistani superstition, black creatures in an area like that are one of the signs of jinns being around, as jinns can shape-shift into such animals. This is quite well-known among Pakistanis and is usually mentioned when telling one another “spooky” encounters/stories. =P I do believe in jinns. The Unseen or spiritual world is something that people in the past knew about too, including people from some of the earliest civilizations, and shape-shifting “spirits” that appear in the form of animals have been talked about even in Native American beliefs. Almost every country or culture has a story about the Unseen or spiritual world…and a lot of it seems to connect in a way.
5 Centimeters per Second (2007)
Told in three interconnected segments, we follow a young man named Takaki through his life as cruel winters, cold technology, and finally, adult obligations and responsibility converge to test the delicate petals of love.
I loved the visuals in 5 Centimeters per Second – they were beautiful! The following video contains a couple of scenes from the animated movie as well its main soundtrack called, One More Time, One More Chance. Please note that the quality of the video isn’t HD so it doesn’t capture the real beauty of the animated movie’s visuals, but is still worth watching to get an idea of what it looks like. With that said, the scenes featuring cherry blossoms and the night-lit sky were particularly captivating, and the details of the train stations were spot-on, because that’s exactly how the train stations in Japan look like!
The three interconnected segments of the plot in 5 Centimeters per Second flowed smoothly, with the second segment being my favorite, but I wish there could have been more to the ending where the lead character, Takaki, finally found someone to be happy with (am I giving away too many details?).
The animated movie is realistic in the sense that it shows how sometimes we have to part away from the people we know or care about while growing up or moving onto different stages in life due to factors that we can’t control. It beautifully captures the emotions of those moments.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Something strange has happened to Makoto Konno. Time has suddenly stopped and moved her backwards. With her newly discovered ability to literally leap backwards in time Makoto finds that tests become a piece of cake, embarrassing situations are corrected, and she can have her favorite food anytime she wants. Unfortunately, her carefree time traveling has adverse effects on the people she cares for. With every successful leap Makoto somehow alters the fate of those around her. This wasn’t supposed to happen and as she races back in time to fix everything, she notices that her abilities are not limitless but with every successful jump she’s one step closer to discovering the most wonderful secret in her young adult life. —MADMAN
“Time waits for no one” – the motto that basically sums up the plot and theme of this animated movie called The Girl who Leapt Through Time. It may be 10-years-old already, but is still worth watching due to it’s interesting plot with a touch of science-fiction and philosophy. The visuals were appealing and the animated movie had a great soundtrack!
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time made me think of how it would be like to go back in time and alter things around, but at the same time, I think that whatever has happened was meant to happen, and that tempering around with time can have its drawbacks.
The plot in the animated movie also reminds me of the plot in the game, Life is Strange – a recommended episodic video game to play, or watch others play on YouTube like I did (only problem was that I couldn’t make the choices myself). =P Come to think of it, both focus on going back in time to save somebody, or stop from something from occurring, and dealing with the consequences as a result of that action. Hmm, makes me wonder if the creators of Life is Strange were inspired by The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
The Garden of Words (2013)
A 15-year-old boy and 27-year-old woman find an unlikely friendship one rainy day in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. These two broken pieces come together and heal one another as they learn what it is to walk.
The Garden of Words was visually stunning, and so many of the scenes in it were based on Shinjuku, Tokyo! I was left in awe and thought, “How did the artist do this!? It must have taken hours to make everything look like perfection!” I mainly watched The Garden of Words for its visuals and because it was ranked high on many people’s list of top anime movies, but found myself interested in seeing the story unwrap between the two main characters. There was a touch of suspense and at the same time, a sense of calmness. The following is the main theme of the animated movie called Rain and it feels rather calm to listen to.
I did wish that I had seen the Japanese version of The Garden of Words with English subs rather than the dub version, because I feel like the emotions in the Japanese version are portrayed more accurately.
So this is my list of recommended Japanese animated movies to watch so far. If there are any other Japanese animated movies, apart from Studio Ghibli’s, that are worth seeing, please do let me know!
P.S. A successful blog is one that is updated every week, but I guess that only applies to businesses or those that make money from blogging. As you can see, I don’t blog as much as before. It’s not that I have lost a passion for it, but it’s something that I have to put aside for the time being.
I feel so inspired by travel bloggers, though, but travel blogging falls into content marketing and content marketing has already reached its mature stage. This means that it might not be popular for long unless one knows how to target a niche that hasn’t been targeted yet. Travel blogging still does help travelers get ideas on what to see and do in other countries. It helped me when I traveled to Japan! Since Tokyo 2020 will be coming up, I’m sure that there will be more people wanting to travel Japan, thus creating more opportunities catered towards those travelers.
Having said that, I wish that there was a way to turn a passion into a real job! People that have turned their passion or hobby into a job are lucky! There’s a type of business that I had in mind, but I keep getting told that it might be hard and that it might not work, but it’s something that I know that I would be very passionate about regardless of how many hours need to be put into it! When it comes to something that I’m passionate about, I could spend hours working towards it without feeling that what I’m doing is meaningless. Anyone else ever felt that way before?