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Published:March 31st, 2010 11:49 EST

Didn't Like Ponyo? Try Other Works By Miyazaki

By Tony Graff

Most people hadn`t heard the name Hayao Miyazaki till Disney introduced Ponyo- I`m still mad at Disney due to their inability to pronounce Ghibli correctly- and the cute story of a fish who wanted to be a girl hit the theaters. 

Featuring the voices of Matt Damon and Liam Neesom, the movie did well as a family film. Miyazaki`s artwork was beautiful, and the storytelling masterful, as is come to be expected from the Walt Disney of Japan. 

To all of you Americans who haven`t heard of Hayao Miyazaki, this is not his best work. If you didn`t like Ponyo, there are some amazing movies that came from studio Ghibli that blow Ponyo, and many blockbusters, out of the water. 

Probably the best movie he created is Castle in the Sky. Using the talents of Cloris Leachman, Anna Paquin, and  James Van Der Beek, Disney executes some of the best voice dubbing for this Japanese masterpiece. Drawing references from Gulliver`s Travels, Castle in the Sky describes a floating island in the sky, and the many legends that draw adventurers to the skies to find it. 

An Academy Award was presented to Miyazaki for Spirited Away, a story that delves richly into Japanese heritage. Jason Marsden, Susan Egan, and Daveigh Chase lend their voices to bring this story to life. Chihiro, who moves with her parents to a new town, gets lost in a world of spirits, and must work at a bath house to reclaim her parents and her life. this coming of age tale turns the little girl to a confident young woman. 

Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Howl`s Moving Castle recieved an Oscar nomination for best animated film. A clear anti-war film, it tells the story of Sophie (voiced by Jean Simmons and Emily Mortimer) who is cursed by a witch, and the only chance of breaking the curse lies with Howl, a flighty wizard voiced by Christian Bale. I showed this movie to a date before we went and saw Terminator Salvation, which held amusing results. 

Along the way, they meet Calcifer, voiced by Billy Crystal, a fire spirit who keeps the moving castle from the hands of those who would force Howl to serve in a war he wants no part in. 

Any of these movies, along with Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, and The Cat Returns, are all beautifully created and supplied with equally splendid music. If you are not into anime, or even animated movies, give a Miyazaki film a chance. You`ll be pleasantly surprised.