Kiki’s Delivery Service Review: How to Make a Delivery Service Interesting.

4 stars
Hayao Miyazaki keeps delivering gem after gem with each of his films that I watch.
I have watched Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and the masterpiece Princess Mononoke, since these films were released on Netflix.
Each of these films provide an epic fantasy or steampunk world for the viewer to get interested in.
The exception to this is Kiki’s Delivery Service, where the focus, as the title suggests, is on a delivery service.
That is not to say there is no fantasy in the film because there most certainly is, as the star of the film is Kiki (Minami Takayama), a witch who, as the coming of age tradition of witches dictates, travels to a new area to help the inhabitants.

kiki chaos
Kiki’s journey may be a traditional for witches but the situations she gets into are anything but.

Settling in the seaside city of Koriko, Kiki discovers the citizens are not quite used to witches so decides to start a delivery service to help the people and support herself.
Accompanied by her cat Jiji (Rei Sakuma), Kiki meets a wide assortment of interesting characters and goes on quite a few adventures in her new environment, taking the seemingly mundane job of a delivery service woman and transforming it into something magical.
Along with Kiki, the film has more interesting characters like the pregnant baker who takes her in (Keiko Toda), a kind grandmother whose grandchild simply does not deserve her (Haruko Kato), and a young boy who Kiki is in equal parts annoyed and intrigued by (Kappei Yamaguchi).

ursula's art
My favourite character that Kiki interacts with though, is definitely the eccentric, woodland artist Ursula (also voice by Takayama) who helps Kiki in her development as a witch. 

But it is Kiki who truly shines, as her relationships with these characters culminate in an entertaining finale, where her character development truly shines.
A slice of life anime film that delivers plenty of heart warming and funny moments, Kiki’s Delivery Service is another good film by Hayao Miyazaki.

My Hero Academia Season Four Episode Twenty Four, Japanese Hero Billboard Chart Review: Just Watch Him.

3 and a half stars
The Pro-Hero Arc is finally here.
After many weeks of speculating whether it would be adapted in this season of My Hero Academia, the arc finally began with the second to last episode, “Japanese Hero Billboard Chart.”
The only question left to ask is whether or not the entire arc can be adapted in just two episodes, or if they will leave the season off on a cliffhanger and adapt the rest of the arc for season five?
Either way, this storyline is off to a solid start in “Japanese Hero Billboard Chart”, with Endeavor’s new role as the number one hero finally being focused on and about to be put to the test at the end.
Endeavor is a character that a lot of people, understandably, despise because of how he treated his family but this arc will see the beginning of his redemption arc that has made him among my, and many other people’s, favourite characters.
This journey to redemption begins with the titular Billboard Chart of the episode, where the top ten heroes appear in a televised award ceremony.
Many of these heroes are largely irrelevant or joke characters, like Wash for instance, but, alongside Endeavor, two do stand out among the rest.
First there is the number five hero, Mirko, the rabbit hero, who vows to kick every villain she comes across.
You can expect to see more from her this arc and potentially the next season as well, with her thighs of doom taking center stage recently in the manga.
The second standout hero is the one ranked number two, Hawks, who is a fan favourite character and one that you can also expect a lot from going forward in the story.
This is quickly made clear by him hijacking the ceremony, and talking about the problems of it, pointing out that he has a higher approval ranking than Endeavor before handing him the microphone.
However, this snide comment was just Hawks trying to motivate Endeavor to make an impression as the new number one hero.
And make an impression Endeavor does, telling the crowd to “just watch me”, intending to make his actions speak louder than his words.
The audience is not quite sure what to make of this but Hawks is definitely impressed, being the only person in the room to clap for him.
Endeavor, however, is less than pleased with Hawks as seen by him humorously grabbing him by his jacket but when Hawks mentions rumors of the Nomu it gets him to listen.
From here, the episode cuts to Dabi with the new and improved Nomu, named High End.
I was quite surprised they revealed Dabi this soon into the arc but it does make sense because they couldn’t disguise his voice, like Horikoshi could in the manga, so they had to show him.
The next day, we see Endeavor heading to Hawks’ agency with the winged Pro-Hero who shows off his Quirk by using his feathers, which he controls telepathically, to save a dog, help an elderly woman with her bags, and even knock out a streaker.
One important thing to note is that this streaker brings up a book about meta-liberation, which will be very important next season.
While Hawks helps out the citizens, Endeavor tries to act more like the number one hero by offering a fan his autograph.
In a comedic turn of events, the kid is horrified by this, liking Endeavor because of his lack of fan service.
The humor does not last though, as Endeavor and Hawks are attacked by High End when they reach Hawks’ office, beginning the epic fight that will be finished in the next episode in the best of ways.
The preview for this episode looks like it has excellent animation, which is a good thing because I was a bit concerned while watching  “Japanese Hero Billboard Chart” because the animation here is lacking in some areas.
I understand that they had to save money to make the final episode of the season better but, while watching this episode, it was a little off putting.
For example, there is one shot of Hawks in the background that looks oddly drawn and the reintroduction of the Wild, Wild Pussy Cats felt a little lackluster in comparison with the manga.
Still, the slightly lacking animation did not ruin any of the scenes, like the Pussy Cats meeting Class 1-A again, which managed to be both hilarious and dark.
Hilarious because Kota is revealed to now be a fan of Deku, having bought the same shoes as him, and is very embarrassed at being exposed.
Dark because Ragdoll has still not got her Quirk back from All For One, who looks as sinister as ever in his prison cell, still in complete control of the situation despite being behind bars.
Ragdoll does seem happy though, despite losing her Quirk, so I guess there is that.
Another positive is Eri being taken in by UA, with Aizawa and Mirio acting as her primary caretakers.
This will likely provide the sweet girl with many more opportunities to shine her dazzling smile.
And, if the finale adapts the rest of the Pro-Hero Arc correctly next episode, then I am sure we will all have a smile on our faces as well.

My Hero Academia, Season 4 Episode 23, Let it Flow! School Festival! Review: Smile = Protected.

5 stars
Well, that was definitely a step up from the manga.
Episode 23 of My Hero Academia’s fourth season, “Let It Flow! School Festival”, was one of my most anticipated episodes of the season because of the wholesome moment it contains.
This moment being, of course, Jiro and the rest of Class 1-A’s performance, building up to Eri’s first smile.
Just seeing Eri blow the sinister shadow of Overhaul away with her wondrous smile warmed my heart, just as much as it did in the manga.
In fact, in order to celebrate the momentous occasion of Eri’s first smile, I believe a quote is in order.

“This smile. I will protect this smile. I will fight you for this smile. You will not hurt this smile. For you see, there are some things in life worth protecting. Some things worth living for; some things worth dying for. A smile like this can fill the iciest of hearts, dispel the darkest of evils, and win the mightiest of wars. This smile will be the thing that pulls us from the depths of despair and lead us to the path of salvation! Wars will be fought; people will be saved; and civilizations will prosper because of this smile! So, from this day forward, I solemnly swear to shield this smile from all harm that may come to it; all dangers it may possibly face; and give my life for it!”
– Gigguk.

All joking aside, Eri’s smile is such a great moment and I am so glad it was done justice.
What I am even more happy about is the performance that lead to this, with it being a clear step up from the manga.
One of the disadvantages the manga had in conveying the performance was that, because of its written format, Horikoshi had to convey what the song was like through characters’ reactions and inner monologues.
With the anime adaptation; however, sound could be used to bring across the full magnitude of the performance and it is incredible.
Chrissy Constanza does a fantastic job singing as Jiro to the engaging song “Hero Too”, which is probably going to be stuck in my head for weeks, not that I’m complaining.
Likewise, the animated choreography for the performance is also fantastic and Eri’s smile is just the cherry on top.
It is also a cherry that we see multiple times afterwards, as Eri meets with Deku after the performance, voicing her excitement and throwing her hands in the air, which Mirio hilariously mimics.
Speaking of Mirio, the moment when Eri smiles and he remembers Sir Nighteye is tragically beautiful.
You died to protecting this smile, Nighteye, so you’ve earned all the praise.
And the smiles just keep on coming as the episode ends with Deku giving Eri the candy apple he promised and she, you guessed it, smiles again.
Along with Eri’s heart warming growth and the fantastic performance, the other highlight of this episode is definitely the resolution for Gentle and La Brava’s story.
Although, I hope this is not the final resolution to their story because they are great characters and it would be amazing if they could come back.
Even though the two are arrested, the post credits scene gives hope for them as the police officer interviewing Gentle tells him, “Guys who say there are no do-overs in life are either those who don’t want to, or those who’re impatient and want fast results.”
This statement speaks directly to Gentle’s reasoning for becoming a villain, and brings him to tears, followed by a funny moment when he asks for black tea, only to be told they only have cheap tea at the police station.
Happily, this is not the only good joke in the episode because there are plenty of other ones, like when Hound Dog shakes All Might, Bakugo relishing in proving the students that were looking to criticize Class 1-A’s performance wrong, and, of course, Class 1-B’s hilarious play that mixes Romeo and Juliet, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Harry Potter together.
Other fun moments of the episode include the screenshots of the school festival itself, including Nejire’s win at the beauty pageant over the creepy eyelash girl and Kendo, who knocks Monoma out in another funny moment.
All in all, “Let it Flow! School Festival” is a fantastic episode of My Hero Academia and the best since “Infinite 100%”.
It has an engaging performance that will be stuck in my head for a while, a fitting resolution for the arc’s villains, plenty of humorous moments, and a smile that I would give my life for!
Now, it’s on to the Pro-Hero Arc.

Attack on Titan Chapter 128 Predictions.

Chapter 127 of Attack on Titan was a massive step up from Chapter 126, making the alliance between the Scouts and the Warriors much more believable and tense.
Sure, it didn’t completely fix all of the problems but it was a step in the right direction that will hopefully be continued in Chapter 128.
Until it comes out though, all we can do is speculate about what will happen.
And so, let’s get into my predictions for Chapter 128, starting with the question,

How Will the Yeagerists be Defeated?

Chapter 127 ended with the Alliance discovering that the Yeagerists are now blocking their one way ticket to reaching Eren and stopping the Rumbling.
So, if they want to get to Eren, they will have to take them down first..
It is pretty obvious that the alliance is going to defeat the Yeagerists but the question is how?
Sure, with five Titan Shifters and two Ackermans on their side it may seem easy but there is Kiyomi and the plane to take into consideration.
Kiyomi may be the only person left who knows how to fly the plane that will be used to find Eren’s Founding Titan form and the Yeagerists have both her and the plane in their clutches.
Therefore, the alliance will have to make sure that they, or the Yeagerists, don’t get Kiyomi killed or the plane destroyed when they attack or their mission will fail.
Knowing this, I think the alliance may try some form of stealth to secure them before attacking.
This will most likely be through Magath, who is the only person that the Yeagerists would not recognize.
But, even if a stealth plan works, I believe the remaining Yeagerists are going to have to die if the alliance is to succeed.
The Yeagerists are being lead by Floch who will no doubt try to shoot them all on sight so they will not have any opportunity to talk the group down.
This is why we will probably get some Titan action next chapter, potentially seeing Falco’s Jaw Titan for the first time and, potentially, Annie’s Female Titan and Armin’s Colossal, which have not been seen for a while.
Not only this, but the alliance has another ace up their sleeve; one they don’t even know about.
What is this ace, you ask?
Keith Shadis.
I believe he was the man in the window in Chapter 126 and will lead the recruits who follow him to back up the alliance and defeat the Yeagerists.
I am unsure if Keith will die in this attempt but Floch most likely will, potentially at Jean’s hand.
In any case, once the Yeagerists are stopped, the alliance will hop on Kiyomi’s plane and go to the final battle with Eren.
The question is, what will be the cost of getting the plane?

Could Hange and/or Jean Die?

Chapter 127 gave both Hange and Jean some major death flags.
Hange talked about how her dead comrades were watching them and the last person to say this was Erwin who, well, died.
This does not bode well for Hange who could very well end up getting killed in an effort to retrieve the plane, or if she lives past that, in the final battle.
However, I am honestly more scared about Jean.
Although Hange said she could see her dead comrades, it was Jean who was looking at them, specifically Marco.
Not only this, but Chapter 127 began with Jean imagining staying out of the fight and going on to start a family, probably with Mikasa.
However, Jean’s conscience would not allow him to stay back and he left the dream behind.
If Jean imagining the life he could have once the fighting is over is not a death flag then I don’t know what is.
I have been anticipating a final fight between him and Floch for a while, and now that what looks to be Floch and the Yeagerists’ last stand is about to happen, we could see both of them going out.
Maybe the two end up killing each other, like many of the gods do in Ragnarok, the apocalypse of Norse Mythology, which Attack on Titan is heavily based off.
Fingers crossed that Jean and Hange don’t end up dying to save Kiyomi and the plane but Hajime Isayama has said he wants to hurt his readers so you never know.
Speaking of the mysterious Azumabito,

What Does Kiyomi Know?

With the exception of Eren and Historia, Kiyomi is the only character in this story (that we know of) whose true motives may yet be hidden.
Kiyomi’s intention has been previously shown to gain profit for her family and nation of Hizuru.
She also seems to want to protect Mikasa out of honor.
However, I cannot imagine that this is her sole motivation.
I think she has to have some other kind of role to the story other than being the one to provide the alliance with the plane.
If it was just this then Isayama would probably have killed her off by now.
But he hasn’t, which makes me think Kiyomi might have a role yet to play.
Just look at her meeting with Willy Tyber, before his death.
The two looked like they were sharing some kind of secret and it is this, and numerous other scenes, that make me think that, after the Yeagerists are defeated, we may get a flashback chapter to reveal what Kiyomi knows about the situation and what exactly her role in the story is.
However, Kiyomi is not the only character whose role in the story I want to know.

Where are Historia and Zeke?

Where is the queen and where is the beardy?
Zeke has been missing from the story ever since Eren initiated the Rumbling, and Historia has been gone for even longer.
At least we have some idea of where Historia is, on a farm with the father of her child (if the farmer is the father, which I doubt) but, unfortunately, this does not leave much space for her to return to the story until the end.
As for Zeke, I think that he has to have been absorbed into Eren’s Titan form.
It’s the only place he could be.
Sure, he could still be trapped in the Path Dimension with Ymir but that would not really provide the opportunity for Levi to keep his promise to Erwin; so I doubt he is there.
That leaves him being stuck with Eren.
He will probably reappear when the alliance goes to fight Eren and make one last ditch effort to initiate his Euthanasia Plan, resulting in a final fight between him and a mortally wounded Levi, making their final fight more fair.
The two could even end up being killed by each other, just like Jean and Floch could.
No matter what happens, I hope that Historia and Zeke will reappear in the story soon because they are among the story’s best characters.
The question is. will they have enough screen time with Attack on Titan set to conclude by the end of 2020?
Or is it?

Can the Manga Really End by 2020?

Hajime Isayama has stated his intention to end Attack on Titan this year but I find the chances of that less and less likely with each passing chapter.
Eren will almost certainly be the final battle of the story but the alliance has to defeat the Yeagerists before they can reach him.
Not only this but the last stand of the Yeagerists is not just something that can be covered in one chapter.
It would need to be two chapters, at least.
Honestly, with how Isayama structures his volumes, I can see the fight with the Yeagerists being the focus of this volume and it ending with the alliance boarding the plane to stop Eren.
If this is the case, then the next couple of volumes should focus on the final battle with Eren and Zeke, and the ending.
This would make the story around 138 chapters, meaning there will be 11 chapters left, and the manga will end in February of 2021.
Or maybe Isayama could find a way to end Attack on Titan earlier, perhaps?
Whenever he decides to end the story though, I hope he goes at his own pace so he can provide a fantastic ending to this fantastic series.

Princess Mononoke Review: My Favorite Studio Ghibli Film.

5 stars
Have you ever watched an anime, no, a film that grips you right from the beginning and has you entranced all the way to the end?
Well, this was my experience watching Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 anime film Princess Mononoke, two days ago.
I knew right after watching it that it was my favourite Studio Ghibli film so far, and I have been constantly thinking about it since then.
Set in the Muromachi era of Japan, the film centers around Ashitaka (Yoji Matsuda), a young prince who is cursed by a demon that attacks his village.
Instructed by the wise woman of his people, Ashitaka sets out on a journey with his faithful red elk, Yakul, to potentially find a cure for his deadly affliction.

ashitaka and yakul
I liked the bond that was displayed between Ashitaka between Yakul on their adventure.

From here, Ashitaka is pulled into a conflict between the spirits, who watch over the forest, and the humans of Iron Town, lead by Lady Eboshi (Yuko Tanaka).
Among the spirits is a girl named San (Yuriko Ishida), the titular Princess Mononoke, who was raised by a wolf spirit, and has vowed to kill Eboshi.
What I love about this story is how there really is no bad guy.
Both sides of the conflict, that Ashitaka gets caught up in, view the other as evil but both sides also have their own flaws and virtues.
This is a film about perspectives, with Ashitaka stuck in the middle, trying to mediate between the two groups.

San vs Eboshi
Both sides of the battle, whether it be human or spirit, have reasons for what they are doing and it makes their conflict incredibly compelling.

With its focus on nature, Princess Mononoke could have very easily gone the typical environmentalist message route which, while there is nothing wrong with that, has been done quite a lot.
Instead, Princess Mononoke takes a stance on environmentalism I cannot remember seeing before, about hatred and the need for mutual dialogue.
The consequences of not attempting dialogue is apparent through the violence of the movie, which is uncharacteristic for a Studio Ghibli film.
This violence is enhanced by the glorious animation, which had me riveted from the very beginning.
Everything from the action, with its flawless editing, to the slower moments, where we look on in awe, is so well animated.
I was also amazed at how much of it is hand drawn.
It must have taken a lot of effort to get done and the animators deserve so all of the praise for their hard work.

kodama
The animation never failed to take my breath away in Princess Mononoke.

Then there is the music, which is fantastic, serving to enhance the brilliant animation and, in turn, the story and the characters.
Princess Mononoke is a masterpiece.
It is now, not only my favourite Studio Ghibli film so far, but one of my favourite anime films as well.

My Hero Academia Season 4 Episode 22, School Festival Start Review: A Villain’s Love.

4 and a half stars
When Gentle and La Brava were first introduced in My Hero Academia, some anime fans worried that they would be impossible to take seriously because of their goofy nature, especially after the intensity Overhaul brought as the villain, last arc.
However, the 22nd episode of My Hero Academia‘s fourth season, “School Festival”, hopefully showed those who were concerned just how fantastic the two are, not just as villains but as characters.
The Gentle and La Brava vs Deku fight did go by a lot quicker than I thought it would in the anime, lasting only two episodes, however this does not change how fantastic the conclusion of their fight is.
By far the best aspect of it is definitely the backstory and character growth for the two wannabe villains, resulting in a tragic love story ending.
Let’s start with La Brava.
Her backstory shows how the current hero society is unequipped to deal with unusual Quirks.
In La Brava’s case, her Quirk is highly reliant on the love she feels for another person and, because of this, her love was thought to be creepy and she was considered a stalker by the boy she loved.
This caused her to close herself off, clinging only to the internet, and contemplating suicide.
It was then, in her darkest moment, that her “light” appeared.
She stumbled across one of Gentle Criminal’s videos and fell in love with him, vowing to help him carve his name into history.
And Gentle accepted her wholeheartedly, to the point that he even drew dark circles under his eyes so La Brava wouldn’t feel self-conscious about hers.
This flashback expertly brings across many different tones, from dark, like when La Brava considers suicide, to sweet, when Gentle accepts her, and humorous, when the two are shown comedically sneaking away from a police officer.
Their love story then blooms into the reveal of La Brava’s Quirk, Love.
This ability allows her to temporarily power up those she loves by declaring her feelings for them.
The reveal of this, with Present Mic narrating it in a calm voice, as opposed to his over the top loudness, highlights its impact.
And what an impact it has, because it temporarily allows Gentle to overpower Deku.
Only temporarily though, as Deku is back on his feet in seconds, ready to take on a now overpowered Gentle.
From here, the episode transitions into Gentle’s backstory, which is as equally tragic as La Brava’s.
Once hoping to become a hero, Gentle failed every entrance exam he tried at.
One day, he saw someone about to fall to their death and used his Quirk to try and save them, only for this to result in him impeding a hero attempting to save them, resulting in the person being seriously injured.
Treated like trash and kicked out by his own family because of this, Gentle was alone for years, until he came across one of his old school friends who had become a successful Pro-Hero.
Gentle was happy for him, when his old friend revealed he didn’t remember him at all.
Wanting to be remembered, Gentle decided to become a villain instead of a hero.
It is apparent that Gentle has a lot in common with Deku, as both wanted to become heroes and are now fighting for someone’s bright future, Deku for Eri, and Gentle for La Brava.
Deku himself points this out before defeating Gentle Criminal as a sobbing La Brava ineffectively hits him.
Realizing that UA teachers are closing in, and wanting to protect La Brava, Gentle uses the last of his strength to push Deku away to make it look like the fight never happened to make La Brava’s role seem less serious.
Embracing her as the teachers approach, Gentle declares to them he wants to turn himself in, bringing a tragic end to the episode.
I say tragic because, if this episode tells us anything, it is that Gentle and La Brava are not villains.
They are just people who were dealt a bad hand by the society they live in and are trying to change their fates.
Granted, they’re not doing it in a good way but, even so, that does not make them villainous.
They are truly tragic characters and we will learn more about their fate next episode.
The build up to this end was great as well, with not only a fantastic backstory for Gentle and La Brava, but great action sequences as well.
It was not quite as spectacular as it was in the manga but, admittedly, the anime does have a budget to maintain, and it looks like they are actually going to be adapting part of the Pro-Hero Arc this season, which will need great animation, so that’s a reasonable excuse.
As for the beginning of the episode, it just shows the various students and teachers preparing for the festival, which we will also see next episode, along with a scene that I have been anticipating for a while.
“School Festival Start” is another great episode of My Hero Academia, which proves that, while Gentle and La Brava are a little hard to take seriously initially, they are some of the best villains of the series.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising Review. A Plus Ultra Movie.

4 and a half stars
Going to see My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising last night was probably the most interesting experience I have ever had when seeing a movie in theaters.
There were so many people in cosplay, many of them jumping around in excitement and shouting out to one another, before the film started.
I was honestly scared that they were going to ruin the movie for me by shouting throughout the runtime but, thankfully, when it started, they quieted down, except for a few occasional cheers.
A good thing too because My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is a great time that any fan of the anime should see.
Although, anime only fans should know that there are a few light spoilers for where the series will go because the story takes place a little bit further in the manga.
Directed by Kenji Nagasaki, The movie takes place on Nabu Island, where Class 1-A are taking part in a training program by helping out the people of the island in their daily lives.
However, when the villain Nine (Yoshio Inoue), who has multiple Quirks, attacks the island in search of  a young boy, the heroes in training must band together to stop him, with no hope for backup.
For starters, my favourite thing about Heroes Rising is definitely how it uses its characters, especially Deku (Daiki Yamashita) and Bakugo (Nobuhiko Okamoto), who take center stage in their efforts to save the target of Nine, Katsuma Shimano (Yuka Terasaki), and his sister Mahoro (Mio Imada).

bakugo and deku
Deku and Bakugo are the highlights of the film, with their rivalry having come a long way since season one.

It is not just them though because almost every member of Class 1-A is given a moment to shine in this film, creating some terrific action sequences.
This results in the epic final battle of the film, which is among the most glorious animation I have ever seen.
It is also set to the moving song, Might⁺U, that was recently in the anime when Deku saved Eri.
As for the villain of the film, Nine, he is not given much of a backstory so, unfortunately, him and his minions are not that interesting from a character perspective.
Thankfully though, they make up for it through the threat level they possess.

Nine
Nine is definitely a threatening villain, even if he is not that interesting as a character.

Along with Nine’s slightly lacking character, another minor flaw I found with the film is that it does pull a few things to make sure its events are never mentioned again in the anime.
This does make sense but some of the ways the movie goes about it do feel a little abrupt.
Aside from these minor problems, My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising is an absolutely fantastic film with a lot of great character moments, humor, and an awesome final battle.
Apparently, the ending to this film was the original ending Kohei Horikoshi had in mind for the manga but he changed it so decided to put it in here.
And, given how great this ending is, I cannot wait to see how he actually plans to end My Hero Academia. 

Spirited Away Review: Masterful But Not Quite a Masterpiece.

4 and a half stars
When you think of Studio Ghibli, what immediately comes to mind?
I am pretty sure that at least 90% of you instantly thought of Spirited Away, the 2001 Hayao Miyazaki film that is hailed as being one of the greatest anime of all time.
I remember watching Spirited Away once when I was very little, but I had not watched it since then so the film was definitely a new experience for me, going in.
And what did I think?
Well, Spirited Away is certainly a masterful film but I would not call it a masterpiece.
The hero of this story is the young Chihiro (Rumi Hiiragi), who is thrust into a magical world full of Yokai, when her parents are transformed into pigs.
She must then find a way to save her parents and get back to the real world, all while working at a Yokai bathhouse; a strange combination, I know.

no face
Chihiro meets a lot of strange and interesting spirits on her journey.

What’s striking about Spirited Away is its amount of creativity, with multiple interesting Yokai that lead to entertaining interactions between them and Chihiro.
This includes the Yokai No Face (Akio Nakamura) and, in particular, a foul smelling river spirit, in a scene that provided some big laughs through Chihiro and the witch Yubaba’s (Mari Natsuki) facial expressions.

Chihiro and Yubaba
The river spirit scene is definitely my favourite of the film because of how funny it is.

Speaking of Yubaba, I thought that the witch would be the villain of the film, however, much like Dola from Castle in The Sky, she turned out to be a far more complex and interesting individual than I first thought.
Another surprise for me is the connection to another Miyazaki filmwith the soot Yokai from My Neighbor Totoro making an appearance.
What was not a surprise though, because of how much praise the film has had, is how emotional the story gets at times.
This is mostly achieved through the great voice acting of Rumi Hiiragi as Chihiro.
Along with this, the animation is also solid as it contributes greatly to the emotion of the film.

flowers
The animation of Spirited Away is well done, with a lot of striking visuals.

But, like I said, I do not think Spirited Away is perfect.
In my opinion, a certain storyline about the character of Haku (Miyu Irino) felt rushed and some characters befriend Chirhiro way too quickly, since they were antagonizing her a few minutes before.
It these kinds of things that keep Spirited Away from being a masterpiece, in my mind.
It is still an excellent film though, and I would probably rank it as on par with Castle in The Sky as the best Studio Ghibli film I have seen so far.

My Hero Academia, Season Four, Episode 21, Deku vs Gentle Criminal Review: The Gold Tips Imperial Pays Off.

4 stars
Who would have thought that tea would be a villain’s undoing?
Joke’s aside, Gentle really screwed up talking with Deku because of his obsession with Gold Tips Imperial.
The tea that was the title of the last episode paid off here, as it allowed the training hero and the trying criminal to come to blows in the 21st episode of My Hero Academia’s fourth season, Deku vs Gentle Criminal. 
However, before encountering Gentle, Deku still had to prepare for the fight, even though he didn’t know he was preparing for it.
Enter Hatsume, who made Deku gloves, which allowed him to better use the ability All Might taught him, to release a large amount of One For All’s power the moment he flicks his finger.
Another thing that came in handy was Mina’s dance moves, which she taught Deku, allowing him to move quickly in his fight with Gentle.
It’s genuinely cool how seemingly unimportant things, like dance moves, can have such a big impact on fights in My Hero Academia. 
Said fight begins with a moment of chance, as Deku stumbles into Gentle and La Brava when he is getting a rope for Class 1-A’s performance at the Cultural Festival.
It is here that the mention of Gold Tips Imperial sets Gentle off, leading to both him and Deku realizing who the other is in a brilliant scene scored by Gentle’s ridiculous (in a good way) score.
Upon realizing who he is talking to, and that Gentle is most likely going to attack the festival, Deku goes on the attack, ordering him to stay away from his school.
And so the fight begins, with Gentle’s elasticity quirk being revealed.
This quirk comes in handy as Gentle is able to use it to get one up on Deku multiple times.
We also get a brief hint about Gentle’s past because, upon Deku mentioning the festival, Gentle also reveals he also took part in such things as a student.
This hint at his backstory will almost certainly be expanded upon in the next episode, as well as La Brava’s past, and I cannot wait to see that.
Their backstories takes these two almost too ridiculous to take seriously villains and makes them human to us.
Despite the relatable aspect of Gentle and La Brava though, they are still quite hilarious with the two of them delivering many great gags in this episode.
It kind of felt like I was watching a Looney Tunes episode at times.
Although, this does make for a weird contrast when the episode suddenly got serious at the end, what with the intense music and La Brava wondering if she will have to use her quirk.
Still, it did make me eager to see the next episode.
Overall, Deku vs Gentle is an exciting episode that brings a fair amount of both humor and action to keep the viewer engaged.

My Neighbor Totoro Review: Fun Slice of Life for the Family.

4 stars
One of Studio Ghibli’s most well known films, My Neighbor Totoro has become so iconic that the titular giant, cuddly spirit, Totoro, has become synonymous with the studio.
So, with its fame, it was naturally the next Ghibli film I had to watch after the fantastic Castle in the Sky.
And, while I liked Castle in the Sky more, My Neighbor Totoro is still a good film for very different reasons.
Once again directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the film follows two of the probably most energetic kids ever animated, sisters Satsuki (Noriko Hidaka) and Mei (Chika Sakamoto), who move with their father (Tatsuo Kusakabe) to the countryside to be near their sick mother, who is in a hospital.
There, they come across many friendly spirits, most notable of which is, of course, Totoro (Hitoshi Takagi).

kids and totoro
Upon meeting Totoro, Satsuki and Mei get involved in a lot of hijinks.

What follows is a slice of life film that is full of plenty of laughs and feel good moments.
This is much more tame and kid oriented compared to Castle in the Sky, not that there’s anything wrong with it because a lot of the child friendly humor had me chuckling.
Honestly, I found the kids reactions to the spirits to be the best part of the film.
The scene where Satsuki first meets Totoro at a bus stop in the rain is quite humorous in how she reacts to seeing the big guy.

totoro
Probably the most famous scene of the film, the bus stop scene, is also the best part of the film.

The animation is also solid, although I did feel the story took a while to actually get going, even if I was entertained by the character interaction.
But, once Totoro is finally introduced, the film picks up with plenty of heart warming moments.
I have to ask though, did anyone else get a little creeped out by the giant cat bus, or was it just me?
Jokes aside, My Neighbor Totoro is another solid Studio Ghibli film, with the iconic character of Totoro bringing a lot of highlights.