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Studio Ghibli films to shed light on Japanese culture, themes at Wexner Center for the Arts

Miyazaki, Takahata, and the masters of Studio Ghibli’ Nov. 1 - Dec. 1.

While Disney might seem to reign supreme in the genre of animated movies, a different spin on animation is scheduled to compete for attention at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The Wexner Center is scheduled to host “Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata, and the masters of Studio Ghibli,” Thursday through Dec. 1 at the Film/Video Theater.

The series is slated to feature 13 Studio Ghibli films over the course of a month, and each of the films will be shown once.

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio that the Wexner Center’s website refers to as Japan’s version of Disney. The studio was co-founded by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, who directed many of the films to be shown at the Wexner Center.

Dave Filipi, director of Film/Video at the Wexner Center, said Miyazaki’s works draw attention in the United States.

“His films are popular in the U.S. like no other director from another country,” Filipi said. “When a new Miyazaki film comes out, people really look forward to seeing it.”

Filipi said Miyazaki’s films have different characteristics from a lot of animated films released today.

“Miyazaki’s films tend to have quite a bit of ambiguity to them. There is not necessarily right and wrong and good characters and bad characters. It’s a little bit unclear just like real life,” Filipi said. “Also, the level of fantasy is so unusual compared to other films. Miyazaki’s films have inexplicable fantasy.”

He also said although Studio Ghibli’s films involve Japanese culture, there wouldn’t be any difficulty for the average viewer to understand them.  

“There are certain things that are specific on Japanese culture, but I think for the most part, their films deal with very universal themes,” Filipi said. “I think they give people a hint of Japanese culture and at the same time they’re universal enough to be enjoyed by anybody.”

Filipi said attendees at the film series might be treated to something they’ve never seen before.

“(The films) are all so original,” Filipi said. “They are not based on books or anything, they are all original creations. The characters and stories come out of nowhere.”

Filipi said this might be the last chance to see Studio Ghibli’s films in their original form at a theater.

“What’s unique about this series is that Studio Ghibli’s films are shown in their original format on film. Many theaters are switching over to digital technology, not keeping their film projectors,” Filipi said. “People are going to have a whole month of opportunities to see these films the way they were meant to be seen ­- on their actual film with the audience in a theater. That’s how the films were intended to be experienced.”

Jennifer Wray, marketing and media assistant at the Wexner Center, said projecting on film reels provides a better experience for the audience.

“If you are someone who really pays attention, you will notice the different picture qualities,” Wray said. “It makes improved viewing experiences and it’s something that is really unusual because a lot of theaters only show digital movies now.”

Amanda Conklin, a first-year in environmental engineering, said she has never heard of Studio Ghibli, but the film series sounds interesting.

“My dad and I watched a couple of Japanese zombie movies and it was so funny. It was just so different. It had a different sense of humor on things … (it’s) probably what I would expect to see in Studio Ghibli films,” Conklin said.

Wray said she hopes people who aren’t familiar with Studio Ghibli check out the movies.

“These are just really interesting stories and (they) can touch people. You can be emotionally moved by watching them,” Wray said. “Also, it’s happening over several nights, so even if you can’t make all of the movies, you can still have a chance to see some of them and have a good experience.”

The series begins with a showing of “Spirited Away,” directed by Miyazaki, 7 p.m. Thursday at the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Theater. The remaining films are scheduled to be shown on select Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month-long series.

Tickets for the first 10 movies in the series are $8 for the general public and $6 for Wexner Center members, students and senior citizens. Tickets for the final three movies, “Pom Poko,” “Porco Rosso” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” are $4 for the public and $3 for Wexner Center members, students and senior citizens.

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