Thursday, December 9, 2010

Joe Hisaishi and Studio Ghibli

Idyllic scene (which doesn't actually appear in
My Neighbor Totoro) featuring O-Totoro,
Chu-Totoro, Chibi-Totoro, Satsuki and Mei

One of my O-Totoro plushies (complete with
Chibi Totoro and a soot sprite) flanked by

Kiki's Delivery Service's Jiji and Stress Ponyo

"It's not just for children", I insisted to my German friend prior to my dragging her to view Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, the Hayao Miyazaki cinematic gem that first reached Hong Kong in January, 2009. And even though I had her convinced after she realized that the film screening we went to had far more adults than children at it, I still wish she could have been here in Hong Kong last night to go with me and witness the Ponyo theme song being one of the highlights of a Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra concert (that was so enthusiastically received that it got three encores and its conductor-guest star a standing ovation by show's end).

Needless to say, this was no ordinary Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra concert -- not least since tickets for it sold out months before its program was even announced on the strength of the name of its conductor and main draw alone. Thus it was that upon fortuitously having scored a ticket for last night's Joe Hisaishi in Concert performance, I found myself impatiently checking out what was on the evening's programme -- and exulting to see Ponyo (along with music from Kiki's Delivery Service and two Oscar winners in the form of Spirited Away and Departures) in there... even while feeling a bit disappointed to see no music from My Neighbor Totoro on the official list.

Happily, however, that music from My Neighbor Totoro did indeed get played before the concert drew a close. And while I did very much enjoy a lot on the programme (including the composer's African-inspired, percussion-heavy Mkwaju 1981-2009 and the musical piece from Nobuhiko Obyashi's Water Traveller) and found a big grin plant itself on my face upon hearing the Ponyo theme song being played by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, I have to truthfully state that hearing the My Neighbor Totoro music being played represented the highlight of the evening for me -- and actually caused me to cry with happiness!

In addition, there is something really precious about being able to not only see and hear the composer of music you love so but also thank him by way of thunderous applause and a standing ovation. And call me a philistine but, in all honesty, give me the music of Joe Hisaishi over many other composers -- including not only many other his contemporaries but also classical music luminaries like Bartok (whose music has literally given me a migraine on more than one occasion!) -- most any day!

On a related note: I'm not sure if it's pure coincidence but this week also happens to be the start of a two week Studio Ghibli Film Festival here in Hong Kong! And yes, I have tickets to some of the screenings -- including for My Neighbor Totoro on one of the JP Cinema's super big screens!! (And while there's no Ponyo on the film festival programme, I'm happy enough to content myself with the thought that I will -- if everything goes as scheduled* -- soon be getting my first viewing of My Neighbors the Yamadas and have the opportunity to view Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind on a big screen for the first time! :b )

*Newsflash: Well, I went to see My Neighbors the Yamadas this evening but while the screening began on schedule, I was shocked to discover that the film -- contrary to the information on such as the cinema chain's official website -- was being shown without English subtitles. After complaining to the manager (and getting my ticket refunded), discovered that is also the case with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Alternatively, he wasn't sure about My Neighbor Totoro** as it is being shown at another of the chain's multiplexes... :(((

**Latest update: Yay, yay, yay, they did show My Neighbor Totoro with English as well as Chinese subtitles!!! And yes, it really is super wonderful to view on a big screen. :))))))


lissa said...

I want to go! I wish I was in Hong Kong. I really want to see a Miyazaki movie on the big screen. I've seen most of the films you have mention. I always thought the music was so easy to fall in love with. Without the music, it would not have been the same.

Anonymous said...

You must be walking on clouds... or perhaps O-Totoro! ;)

YTSL said...

Hi Lissa --

I actually saw "Spirited Away" (the English dubbed version) on a big screen in Philadelphia years ago. But yeah, it'd be best to see them on a big screen with their original dub. And agreed re the music!

Hi duriandave --

Alas, I have been brought down to earth with the discovery that many of the films being shown as part of the Studio Ghibli fest won't have English subs. Fingers crossed still re "My Neighbour Totoro" though -- though, to be honest, it's also a film I know so well that I won't need English subs to know what's going on in it!!!

sbk said...

Wow, wow and no English subtitles is a drag. When I saw My Neighbor Totoro at MOMA in NYC it was dubbed into English. I told them I was surprised that a Museum of their stature wasn't showing the movie in its original language.

Are Chibi Totoro and soot sprite attached to O-Totoro? If so sogoi!

YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

Absolutely re the lack of English subtitles -- especially when the official website states that there are! :(

Re "My Neighbor Totoro" at MOMA: was it the Fox Lorber dub? I actually quite like that... but yeah, the original Japanese dubs are best for Studio Ghibli. Didn't think it'd make that much of a difference until I heard them.

And yes, Chibi and Soot Sprite are attached to O-Totoro. :)

baroness radon said...

Gee. I want to pack my ultra cute Totoro backpack (really) and come to see the films.
I love MNT and Spirited Away.
And a Japanese film called Village of Dreams
which always seems to me like a non-animated version of Totoro. Those old grannies!

And thanks for the link in the next post about kawaisa. I see it all the time in Hawaii but I never knew the concept had a name!

YTSL said...

Hi baroness radon --

Oooooo re your Totoro backpack... is it like the one that Tony Leung Ka-fai's character got for his kid in "A Roof with a View"????

And thanks for letting me know about "Village of Dreams". It sounds good -- and I'll be on the look out for it now. :)