Earlier this week I recommended watching Isao Takahata‘s “Grave of the Fireflies” as part of thinking about the awful destruction from the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. As I noted, the film, about two orphaned children struggling to survive in Japan at the end of World War II, is excellent but depicts the worst of human nature and behavior and is unspeakably sad.
As an antidote to sadness, today I’m recommending three equally lovely but upbeat animated Japanese films, each of which depicts the best of human nature:
1) “Whisper of the Heart,” by Yoshifumi Kondo. This sweet tale of first love has it all for the sentimental among us, including a great version of John Denver’s “Country Roads.” Unfortunately, Kondo’s career was cut short by his untimely death in 1998. Though this is the only film Kondo directed, director Hiroyuki Morita paid it homage in his “The Cat Returns,” including making the cat statuette called “The Baron” one of his principal characters.
2) “My Neighbor Totoro,” by the great Hayao Miyazaki (may he disregard his rumblings of retirement and make many more films). If you have small children, this gorgeous, numinous film is a must-see. If you don’t, it’s still a must-see.
3) “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” also directed by Miyazaki. A coming-of-age story about a young witch who leaves home with her cat, Jiji, to find her way in the world. White magic, only–no worries!
I’ve posted many times about my love of comics, whether in graphic novels or animated films. What are your favorite animated films?