Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso from 1992 is the nest Studio Ghibli film. It was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

It is based on Hikōtei Jidai (“The Age of the Flying Boat”), a three-part watercolor manga by Miyazaki.

The English dub includes Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Susan Egan, Brad Garrett and
David Ogden Stiers.

Porco Rosso is a man/pig fighter pilot from the first work war who operates as a bounty hunter in the Adriatic Sea. Why he is a pig hybrid is never explained, however the story indicates at the end he may have changed again. The main story is about his conflict with an American pilot and his friendship with a female hotel owner.

The story moves along at a good pace and in only 90 minutes it provides action, adventure and plenty of dogfights. There is humour and a touch of romance. Despite the dark undertones of the era between the wars, the film has a light and fun tone.

HC08 Conquer

A Galaxy to Conquer
(The Human Chronicles #8)
by T.R. Harris (2014)

In A Galaxy to Conquer, all the great forces in the galaxy clash for one final, epic battle to determine who will come out on top. And racing the clock is Adam Cain and his team of aliens and SEALs out to rescue Riyad Tarazi from a Kracori prison ahead of the approaching conflagration.

This story describes one big war between the Humans, Klin, Ktacori and Jurians. It’s vast in scope and sometimes a bit difficult to follow. But in the end the plot threads come together to put Cain back in a situation to engage in the next story arc.


Only Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday from Studio Ghible is a 1991 Japanese animated drama film written and directed by Isao Takahata, based on the 1982 manga of the same title by Hotaru Okamoto and Yuko Tone.

It was released on July 20, 1991. The ending theme song “Ai wa Hana, Kimi wa sono Tane” Love is a flower, you are the seed” is a Japanese translation of Amanda McBroom’s composition “The Rose”, made famous by the Bette Midler version..

Only Yesterday is a realistic drama written for adults, particularly women. The film was a surprise box office success, attracting a large adult audience and becoming the highest-grossing Japanese film of 1991 in the country.

Set inn 1982, Taeko Okajima is 27 years old, unmarried, has lived her whole life in Tokyo and now works at a company there. She decides to a trip to visit the family of the elder brother of her brother-in-law in the rural countryside to help with the safflower harvest and get away from city life.

While traveling at night on a sleeper train to Yamagata, she begins to recall memories of herself as a schoolgirl in 1966, and her intense desire to go on holiday like her classmates, all of whom have family outside of the big city.

During her stay in Yamagata, she finds herself increasingly nostalgic and wistful for her childhood self, while simultaneously wrestling with adult issues of career and love.

The film alternates between the adult and child stories. There is little overall story, it feels more like a impressionist version of a film. Just impressions, hints and feelings about the central character.

Because of this, and its realism there was little to engage me.

So although I saw all of the two hour film, this is my least favorite of the Studio Ghible films.

The English dub features Daisy Ridley (Star Wars) and Dev Patel.

Kiki’s Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki’s Delivery Service is the forth Studio Ghibli film. It is a coming-of-age fantasy film written, produced, and directed by Hayao Miyazaki as an adaptation of the 1985 novel of the same name by Eiko Kadono.

The film tells the story of a young witch, Kiki, who moves to a new town and uses her flying ability to earn a living. According to Miyazaki, the movie portrays the gulf between independence and reliance in teenage Japanese girls.

The English dub included actors Kirsten Dunst andDebbie Reynolds.

A charming tale of a young girl’s coming of age.


HC07 Predator

The Apex Predator
(The Human Chronicles #7)
by T.R. Harris (2014)

The Human Chronicles Saga Part Two – Book 2 of 3

(So its’ a mini-trilogy)

Having placed a bounty on the heads of the alien Klin and Kracori races, Humanity must now face the desperate wrath of mankind’s worst enemies, who have once again joined forces for a pre-emptive strike against the Earth.

It’s good to see my namesake, action hero and ex-evil villain Nigel McCarthy is back to save the day. He’s helping everyone to raise their GDP by investing in war and weapons.

Meanwhile Adam Cain is on another futile quest to save the galaxy. Just give up. Entropy happens and everyone eventually dies !.



Midnight Water

Midnight on the Water
by Pam Van Allen (2017)

Read this only because of it’s promotion on the ELO ‘Face the Music’ podcast.

This is an adaptation of Electric Light Orchestra’s 1974 concept album, Eldorado.

How can a man live forever in his dreams? Within them, he becomes a heroic knight, a Native American shaman and a Merry Man. His real life disintegrating, Horace seeks help. Will he choose the Alchemical path of Mr. Kingdom with his magic herbs and promise of self-mastery, or will he follow the mysterious seductress who points the way to Eldorado?

An interesting read, if only for the references to ELO lyrics. The story forces itself into each song on the ELO album. This makes it skip genres and tone with each section. In the end it comes to a meditation on the meaning of life and one man’s journey through it.

ELO 1974

Electric Light Orchestra
Eldorado (1974)

Everything comes together for this album. An early favorite and the album that established the band.


My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and animated by Studio Ghibli. The film tells the story of the two young daughters (Satsuki and Mei) of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan. The film won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize and the Mainichi Film Award and Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film in 1988. It also received the Special Award at the Blue Ribbon Awards in the same year.

The character made multiple cameo appearances in a number of Studio Ghibli films and video games and also serves as the mascot for the studio and is recognized as one of the most popular characters in Japanese animation.

Totoro was ranked 24th on IGN‘s top 25 anime characters.

The English dub features sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning, with Tim Daly as the father.

The third on my list is smaller in scale, just involving a family. It’s slow and takes it’s time, only 90 minutes. It’s not clear just what Totoro and the wood spirits are. They could be just fantasy, or are they manifestations of the girls stress of having a mother in hospital and wanting her back.

The mothers sickness is not stated, but at various points you wonder if she will return.

One of the best scenes is just the girls standing at a bus-stop with Totoro in the rain.

Enchanting and aimed at a younger audience. Everyone should like this.

Sky Castle

The second Studio Ghibli film is Castle in the Sky, also known as Laputa: Castle in the Sky in Europe and Australia, from 1986.

Written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

It follows the adventures of a young boy and girl in the late 19th century attempting to keep a magic crystal from a group of military agents, while searching for a legendary floating castle.

Another enjoyable story. This appears to make direct reference to the WW2 nuclear attacks. This time there is a bad guy without a clear backstory of objective. Some explaining was needed near the end, but he could have been dropped without reducing the jeopardy of the main characters.

The pirates were fun, especially as they change their relationship to the main protagonists.

The english voice cast includes:
James Van Der Beek
Anna Paquin
Cloris Leachman
Mark Hamill
Mandy Patinkin
Andy Dick


ELO 1973

Electric Light Orchestra
On the Third Day (1973)

Roy Wood has gone and Lynne is in charge.

1. “Ocean Breakup / King of the Universe” 4:07
2. “Bluebird is Dead” 4:24
3. “Oh No Not Susan” 3:07
4. “New World Rising / Ocean Breakup (reprise)” 4:05
5. “Showdown”
6. “Daybreaker” 3:51
7. “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle” 3:56
8. “Dreaming of 4000” 5:04
9. “In the Hall of the Mountain King” (Edvard Grieg)

Things are starting to come together. And we have a video…