Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘The Wind Rises’ on HBO Max

The Wind Rises (Japan, 2013) is a very different kind of feature from Hayao Miyazaki, the beloved filmmaker and animation legend famed for his lush, ambitious, inventive fantasies and mythical adventures. It was a passion project for the director and he chose it as his fitting swan song, a final feature before retiring from filmmaking […]

‘Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius’ on Netflix

Little Jimmy Neutron is an Einstein in short pants with the vision of a junior Jules Verne. He races with Air Force pilots and launches satellites before breakfast, invents shrink rays for show-and-tell, and has even created a mechanical dog, Goddard, who is infinitely loyal, endearingly playful, and sports more gadgets than a Swiss Army […]

'Beyond,' a short story in the Matrix-inspired animated anthology 'The Animatrix.'

‘The Animatrix’ on HBO Max

The Wachowski Siblings conceived and produced The Animatrix (2003), an anthology of nine original animated short films, as a companion piece to their Matrix trilogy and a tribute to Japanese anime, one of their visual inspirations. The best pieces are short stories in the Matrix-verse concocted by the Japanese animation veterans: Beyond, a fanciful Miyazaki-in-Matrixland story […]

‘A Silent Voice’ – a powerful animated drama about bullying on Netflix

A Silent Voice (Japan, 2016), an animated feature, adapted from the popular manga serial “The Shape of the Voice” and directed by Naoka Yamada, takes on the issue of school bullying through the story of Shoya (voiced by Miyu Irino), a fun-loving rascal who feeds off the attention he gets when he starts making fun […]

‘From Up on Poppy Hill’ from Hiyao Miyazaki and son on HBO Max

If your idea of Japanese animation is space opera, cyberbpunk action, and Hiyao Miyazaki’s modern fairy tales, then From Up on Poppy Hill (Japan, 2011), might surprise you. Produced and co-scripted by Miyazaki and directed by his son, Goro Miyazaki, this is a gentle, somewhat slight story of student life and young love in early […]

‘Mirai’ – Oscar-nominated family fantasy on Netflix

A surprise Oscar nominee in the animated feature category, Mirai (Japan, 2018) is the sweet, imaginative tale of a four-year-old boy who becomes jealous of his newborn sister Mirai when she becomes the center of attention in the household while his parents grapple with new strains that the growing family puts on the household. Mother […]

‘Okko’s Inn’ – an orphaned girl finds purpose on Netflix

An orphaned girl finds purpose when she goes to live with her grandmother, the aging innkeeper of a small spa in a country vacation town known for the healing waters of its natural springs, in the lively animated feature Okko’s Inn (Japan, 2018). Okko, an urban girl who loses her parents in a devastating car […]

‘Ratatouille’ – Food glorious food on Disney+

“I’m a rat, which makes life hard.” That’s an understatement. In Ratatouille (2007), the dynamic animated film from writer/director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant and The Incredibles) and Pixar Studios, Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) may be a rat but he’s also a budding gourmand. Where his family is content to raid trash cans and scarf […]

‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ on HBO Max

Kiki’s Delivery Service (Japan, 1989) carries us into the experiences of a young witch as she charts her path in the real world. Sincere, spirited Kiki has turned thirteen, the age when witches leave the nest for a year of solo training. She’s ready to take on the world with her broomstick and her best […]

‘Princess Mononoke’ – Miyazaki’s mythic masterpiece on HBO Max

“Something’s wrong. The birds are all gone. The animals too.” Hayao Miyazaki recasts the mythic tale of man’s dominion over the Earth with an animist mythology and a conservationist message in Princess Mononoke (Japan, 1997), his rich fantasy of the battle between the forest spirits and the industrial revolution. Set in the era of Japan’s […]