Saint☆Young Men Transcending Religion

To some people, religion is a sensitive topic, and here, we have a film that revolves around two iconic figures of religion: Jesus and Buddha. Heavy on Christian and Buddhist references, yet still maintaining respect for both of the religions, Saint☆Young Men is one of the most unique and charming movie I’ve ever come across.

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The story is about how Jesus and Buddha decides to take a vacation in Japan while trying to stay incognito by living like ordinary humans, which in their case is a difficult job with their godly powers of miracles and enlightenment that would automatically activate depending on the situation.

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Jesus trying to overcome his fear of submerging in water, but ends up parting the pool like the Red Sea.

It’s unique and refreshing to see figures that are so well known and worshipped around the world living in a small apartment and trying to make it to the grocery store in time for the sale events. I’m quite familiar with Christianity since I am Christian myself, so I was able to understand all of the references for the jokes relating to Jesus, which lead me to appreciate them more than if I didn’t have the background knowledge, which was the case with the Buddhism references. I didn’t find those jokes as hilarious compared to the ones about Jesus, but don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed every bit of it and the movie as a whole; my familiarity with Christianity just enhanced the whole experience. So, to those who are very knowledgeable with both of the religion, I think this movie will be even more enjoyable.

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The whole idea of humanizing these godly figures maybe controversial to some, but personally, I don’t think it is offensive at all. It really depends on how you look at it. This movie should not be approached with condescending eyes, but rather, it should just be taken at face value—entertainment. I highly doubt this movie was trying to convert anyone or disrespect the religions. If we’re really looking for some deep implications from this movie, it would be the notion that being empathetic and understanding to one another transcends any religion, culture, and race. Even though Jesus and Buddha have completely different ideologies, they try to understand each other, like how Buddha can’t eat meat and so Jesus will be considerate of that, and those compromises and understanding allows them to have a wonderful bromance. This compassion is not just confined between the two of them; it is also shown through the people that they encounter everyday.

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Visually, I found the movie beautiful. Moreover, it had a peaceful ambience about it. The character designs are a bit cartoonish; however, it seemed appropriate for the movie and it complement the characters and the background too. I honestly don’t think the movie would have the same impact or hilarity if Jesus and Buddha were drawn typical anime style with big, coloured eyes and detailed hair (although, Jesus still has beautiful hair anyways). The simplistic drawing style is befitting for this movie.

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I really enjoyed watching the OVA and the movie. The OVA focuses more on the perspective of Jesus and Buddha’s landlady, and a general introduction of the characters. The movie, then, is specifically centered on the antics of our two main figures. I suggest watching the OVA first to have the full experience. All in all, I definitely recommend this to anyone. I’m really glad I was able to come across this movie. I’m hoping they make a series out of it!

What Kinds of Baths do Cute, Adult Men Take? (Orenchi No Furo Jijou)

Orenchi No Furo Jijou showcases the cute sides of hot men—or  is it sea creatures? In any case, this might be the first short anime that I’ve actually finished! I’ve never been into short episodes; however, this anime just kept me wanting to see more of what happens in Tatsumi’s bathroom!

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Is it just me or does his hair remind you of Pikachu?

Basically, everything begins when Tatsumi saves a merman that he sees collapsed on the side of the river. Then, he lets Wakasa (the merman) stay in his bathtub after finding out that the river that Wakasa lived in is now polluted with garbage. With an adult merman occupying his bathtub, Tatsumi experiences eccentric events and even more bizarre creatures that all occurs in his little bathroom.

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I can’t stress enough how hilarious this series is. It made me laugh every episode! Wakasa and his friends are so adorable even though they’re all the handsome, adult men type—aside from the jellyfish. So, I couldn’t help but fawn over them. Tatsumi and Wakasa’s bromance is so funny but heartwarming at the same time. I love all the weird antics that Wakasa does, and how Tatsumi just goes along with it. That boy has such a kind soul. Everyone in this anime is so cute. SO CUTE. I just can’t say that enough!

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The visuals in this series really stand out. When it’s not in cartoon chibi mode, the art is fantastic. The handsomeness and cuteness (can’t leave that out) of all the characters really shine through. My eyes were very pleased. Also, I enjoyed how this anime revolves around the bath. Coincidentally, I’ve been wondering if there is an anime that showcases the bath culture of Japan, and I thought that it would be interesting to see one that plays around with that theme. Although this anime doesn’t really focuses on the cultural aspect, it was still entertaining to see the characters take all kinds of baths, including an alcoholic one (I wonder if there are people who have actually immersed themselves in a bath full of wine).

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This anime definitely made my day! I recommend this if you’re in need of some laughter. Since it’s only around 4 minutes per episode and only 13 of them, it’s worth the watch. I actually wish there was more episodes, I already miss all that weird cuteness in this series.

 

Well I Wish I Could Be Psychic Too (Ghost Hunt)

Wow. Just wow. I haven’t been so intrigued with an anime that deals with ghosts and the likes since the time I watched Another. Ghost Hunt is one of the best supernatural animes I’ve seen!

The basis of the anime is about Mai, a highschool girl, who ends up working for the handsome, narcissistic Shibuya Kazuya a.k.a Naru, the manager of Shibuya Psychic Research, after accidentally causing his assistant to be injured. While working under Naru, Mai learns more about the paranormal world as well as discovering her latent abilities.

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It’s a funny coincidence that I stumbled upon this anime when I’ve lately been quite interested in psychic/mentalist stuff after watching a couple videos of Lior Suchard—a famous mentalist. He’s a pretty fascinating guy. If you haven’t heard of him, I highly recommend you check him out! Anyways, the anime reminded me of him since it deals with psychic abilities; however, that’s not all that kept me watching.

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First and foremost, the characters are all excellent. I love how diverse the main characters are—a psychic researcher, a highschool girl, a monk, a priestess, a Catholic priest, a spirit medium, and an onmyoji (yin and yang master). You’d think there would be at least one redundant character but no. I found that they all play an important role in the team and they really complement each other even though they practice totally different beliefs. Not only are they vital players in solving and exorcising spirits, they also provide the comical relief that this anime needs. I really have no complaints with the characters except that sometimes Mai gets ridiculously annoying when she just runs her mouth at Naru. I mean, I can understand where she’s coming from since her reasons can be morally justified, but I can’t help think that she just needs to shut up and have some faith on Naru. Plus, she’s like the newbie in the paranormal world, so she doesn’t know enough about the supernatural to the point where she can just lecture a pro. Other than that, Mai is pretty tolerable and she plays a key role in solving the mysteries.

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For the story, I liked how it’s not the generic solve-one-case-per-episode. Rather, the narrative is divided up into files where they would usually have 3-4 episodes to them, which really gives the cases more substance. I have to mention that there are some cases that gave me major creeps. The most notable one has to be “The Doll House” which is the second file that they tackle. One heck of creepy episode I tell you. It gave me the same feels as live-action horror films do like the Paranormal series. And I think that’s an accomplishment for an anime that takes on the horror genre. Many animes with this genre doesn’t really live up to the nature of it, so I was surprised that I got that spooked when I watched this anime. However, I have to note that not all the files have that horror aspect to it, but that doesn’t really degrade them in any way. All the files have their own engrossing elements that’ll keep you watching.

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I wish this anime had more episodes like Detective Conan does. Not once did my attention or interest falter from watching all 25 episodes in one go. It has all the right components that can keep it going. I highly, highly recommend this anime, especially to those who favor supernatural/mystery genres.

The Mystery Behind Finishing Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro

Detective Conan-demon style? Well, it’s something like that. Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro was interesting enough for me to finish all of its 25 episodes, and I think that already says a lot.

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This anime is about a demon named Nougami Neuro who ate all of hell’s mystery. In order to sate his hunger, he ascends to Earth to hunt for the ultimate mystery. Neuro employs Yoko as a cover since he can’t make it obvious that he is a demon. Yoko is a high school girl who agrees to work with Neuro because of the promise that he will help solve her father’s brutal murder. So as Yoko becomes more famous with each case they solve, the more delicious and complex cases they encounter, including clues to Yoko’s mystery.

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I started this series thinking that I will probably quit on the first episode, but low and behold, I ended up completing all twenty-five of them. What’s odd about it is that this anime wasn’t crazy interesting, nor did it really stimulate me to guess who the murder for each crime was. In actuality, the perpetrators were pretty obvious—to the point where some episodes would just blatantly show 90% of their face during their murderer act. Rather, the anime would focus on how the criminals executed their crime and their motivations. So what kept me watching? Honestly, I think it was because of how easy it was to understand what was going on. Also, I really liked the Neuro-Yoko combo, they provided great comic relief to balance the brutality that happens during every episode. Likewise, Neuro by himself was such a great character to watch; not to mention that he was pretty attractive…his human form anyways. And as usual, I would look forward to any sign of a romantic spark between Neuro and Yoko—if there was any.

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I can’t say that I rate this anime high up in my list though. If anything, it’s a pretty mediocre series. There were some dull cases here and there, and I thought that Yoko’s mystery would have more presence during the show, but it wasn’t really until the last four episodes that it was addressed. Also, I found it a bit inane and repetitive that a lot of the suspects would start laughing as a soon as they were named the criminal and then they would show their true colours which would usually be in a demonic-looking form of their motivation. I guess it was a way to show a juxtaposition between the actual demon who was solving crimes and humans who gives in to their demons and commit the crimes.

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Overall, I don’t know if I would recommend this series, but maybe if a pretty cool demon detective interests you, I think this might be worth the watch.

Where is the Love?: I Want a Second Season (Zombie-Loan)

I really enjoy watching Zombie-Loan. It’s one of those animes that I turn to when I’m craving a light supernatural comedy.

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This anime is about a girl, Michiru, who possess eyes that can see black rings around people’s necks which signifies their impending death. One day, she catches a glimpse of black rings around the necks of the two popular boys, Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana, from her school who are famous for miraculously surviving a viaduct accident where about twenty people died. The two actually did die at the accident but they made deal with a loan office called Z-Loan where they must hunt down zombies if they want to stay alive. When Chika and Shito find out that Michiru is able to see the death rings, they use her to help them with their part time job.

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What I find makes this anime interesting are the characters. I think that Michiru, Chika, and Shito are very dynamic. They have different sides to them and they’re back story is really interesting. I like how they progressively develop throughout the episodes, especially Michiru. In the beginning she used to be a pretty feeble, pushover character, but then her resolve grows stronger and she will try to defend herself when she can; however, I do have a complaint. I don’t understand why she keeps wearing her glasses. I mean, it’s understandable in the beginning, but I would’ve thought that she would be over her trauma after working in Z-Loan. Michiru could have honestly identified zombies faster if she just ditched the glasses. Moving on, Chika and Shito make a great duo. They complement each other and they’re entertaining to watch.

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The storyline is interesting as well; it never really bore me. It’s unfortunate though that they’re not making a second season. I ended up reading the manga just to find out what happens after and there is so much more exciting events that unfold! A lot of things that were left unexplained in this anime are explained and things just start tying together. I have to mention that the anime does play out a bit differently than the manga. There’s some things from the manga that I wish the anime included. In the anime, they don’t really show Chika and Shito’s developing feelings for Michiru, and if they did, it would be pretty ambiguous. The manga, however, makes their feelings show through a little bit more explicitly (blushing, jealousy, etc.). If there is a second season, I think that’s where the romantic sparks would be active; another reason why I think it’s regretful this anime is discontinued.

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Personally, this anime is ambiguous in a sense that I can never be fully satisfied with it despite liking it a lot. So I would still recommend this to anyone because it’s a fun one to watch.

 

I Wish I Could Run Like Them (Prince of Stride: Alternative)

For the most part, Prince of Stride: Alternative was pretty entertaining. It was visually pleasing to watch. I mean, who doesn’t like watching good-looking guys race each other?

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The quick rundown on this anime is it revolves around the Honan Stride team, mainly focusing on the three new first-year members: Nana, Takeru, and Riku. Once the trio joined, the team finally had enough members to participate in Stride competitions which are extreme relay races run in courses made out of city streets. The team’s ultimate goal is to win the End of Summer tournament.

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One of the things I really liked in this series is the art. I loved how vibrant it was. Also, I do like how the characters look— ahem, Kuga-senpai; without a doubt, the anime was full of good-looking racers. The races themselves were very impressive. They kind of inspired me to start vaulting on railings and tumbling in the air, but I’m no parkour practitioner. In any case, the competitions were very exciting and fun. Prince of Stride really makes me wish for Stride races to exist in reality. I would definitely attend them!— as a spectator of course.

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Despite all of the visual appeals and exciting competitions, I have to note that the character narratives were pretty humdrum. I didn’t find any of the characters’ past particularly interesting, especially, Riku’s. Honestly, I think the anime was pretty redundant with Riku’s trauma. The way he overcame his trauma was not that moving. I’m going to be honest and admit that I invested my time watching this anime because I thought I would see some romance between Nana and the members of the Honan Stride team. I mean, one girl in the midst of attractive guys, there’s bound to be some romantic sparks in the air right? In the end, my hopes could only be played out in my imagination. The anime mostly focused on the Stride competitions, the characters’ pasts, and teamwork which, I guess, is really the basis of a sports anime.

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I want to wrap up this review by saying that this anime is refreshing to watch because of the unique sport that it introduces along with stunning visuals. Also, I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Free!– Takeru is almost identical to Haru!

A Collaboration of the Past and the Present (Fuse Teppou Musume no Torimonochou)

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. My initial reaction from seeing the poster of this film was that I thought it was made back in the early 90s because of the character art style, but it was made in 2012. From the visuals to the story, everything about this movie is really captivating!

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Even after reading the quick description of this film, I still wasn’t sure what it was about until I actually finished watching it. The movie is set in the Edo period of Japan where a witch hunt for Fuses, who are half human and half beast, is taking place. A girl, honed in hunting from living in the mountains, moves to the city to live with her brother who then convinces her to hunt Fuses with him. She ends up befriending a Fuse without knowing his true identity, complicating the matter further. Well, that’s the basis of the story.

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This movie is complex, and writing about it is not a piece of cake either. Despite of how beautiful it is, my heart felt heavy as I watched the story unfold. There were visual strategies used to emphasize certain issues that this film brings up such as the vibrancy in Yoshiwara, which is basically the red lights district, in contrast to the impure acts that occur within it . The particular scenes that bothered me were how the prostitutes were displayed in cage like structures conveying their loss of freedom. And another one was a scene with a dazed-looking child sitting behind railings which also evokes the image of being caged. From this, we can assume that the young girl is also a prostitute. Yoshiwara just had a somber air about it despite the vibrant and stunning visuals used to depict it. I’m starting to sound like I’m writing a paper for my film class so I’ll stop being too analytical here or I’m going end up writing an essay, but I just want to mention how there are a lot of significance in the visuals of this film and you have to think about it to fully appreciate this movie.

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Another note on the visuals is that at first I found it a little bit odd because of how heterogeneous the film looked. There was a stark contrast in the art between the background and the characters, where the former looks very defined and realistic (not sure if it’s CG, but it kind of looks it) compared to the latter which is very simple and looks almost like the typical old anime character style. Not that I didn’t like it, in actuality, I thought it complemented the story and emphasized on the beauty of the background, and you won’t find me complaining when Shino is on the screen. Which reminds me, I actually watched this movie right after Hotarubi no Mori e, and it was a funny coincidence that both the male leads are wearing identical masks and had a similarity with their appearance. Anyways, my last comment about the visuals is that this film definitely had a different style to it which was refreshing to see and it was also very pleasing to the eyes.

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The story itself is very compelling. Although, I have to note on the confrontation between the Shogun and Shino, which was pretty abrupt and a bit disappointing. Honestly, I didn’t really get what was up with the Shogun. His role was kind of ambiguous. But other than that, everything was pretty clear. In my opinion, this film depicted a realistic ambience of Edo which really added to the narrative. I liked the romantic development between Shino and Hamaji, although I was still left unsatisfied in the end. I mean, the ending could have totally taken a better route.

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I really don’t know how I ended up watching a bittersweet movie after just finishing one, but I don’t regret it because this movie was worth the sadness. I definitely recommend!

Sakasama no Patema (Patema Inverted)

This movie got me looking at the world in all sorts of angles— figuratively and literally. I was blown away by the ingenuity of this film. To date, I think this might just be the most imaginative animated movie I’ve seen!

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So this movie is about a girl named Patema who is part of the civilizations living underground. She often goes exploring into an area called the “danger zone”. One day, a Bat Man attacks her in the zone and she ends up falling into the outside world where she meets an Inverted boy, Age, who helps anchor her to the ground before she starts falling into the sky.

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The concept of people living underground is really interesting, but this movie just takes it up to a whole new level! The underground city reminds me of a movie called City of Ember where they also live in a maze of tunnels below the earth. It was a little bit of a roller coaster watching it at first though because of the different angles some scenes would assume to emphasize the feeling of being inverted. However, I do think that’s the novelty of this film. It constantly challenged me to think about the outside world in Patema’s perspective. It made me wonder what it would be like to be falling into the sky. I think it would similar to falling into a vast ocean.

My favorite shots were the scenes where she would be looking down and viewing the sky, especially the star-freckled, night sky. Those scenes were really beautiful, but then again, the whole film was just astoundingly gorgeous. On that note, the visuals in the films were one of the main factors that made me fall in love with it. Everything was just stunningly executed.

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Definitely, the main reason that puts this second in my favorites list is the story. I’ve never come across a movie that had this much creativeness in its storyline. It’s really intriguing how it plays with the concept of gravity and different worlds. I’m actually having a hard time trying to put my thoughts into words because this film has so many layers to it. Like I’ve said before, it is a bit of a rollercoaster. I was so immersed in this movie because of its complex narrative. The ending literally got me marvelling out loud because of how it reveals the truth, and I did not expect that kind of plot twist! I really admire the writer of this film. Like how did he come up with something with such a great concept? I would love a part 2 though because I still wonder if they will ever figure out a way to solve the gravity difference between the people or if they don’t, how the two worlds will live together.

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Patema and Age’s relationship is really cute and a little bit odd. I guess it’s not hard to fall in love with someone if you’re constantly hugging them and trusting that they will never let you go. Throughout the film, I just instinctively started wondering how they’re going to be in a relationship because it would be hard for them to live on the same ground. I mean, they can’t even walk on the same ground! My curiosity about this couple is boundless.

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I can go on and on about this film because there is more left unsaid than there is on this already longer-than-usual post. I really recommend watching it— no, I INSIST that you watch it. Okay, happy watching!

Watch the trailer!

 

Hotarubi no Mori e (To the Forest of Firefly Lights)

Watching this movie was a bittersweet experience that I will never forget. I was entranced from the moment it started to the very last second.

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This movie tells the tale of a young girl who meets a mysterious boy wearing a mask after getting lost in the forest of the mountain god where spirits thrive. After helping her find her way out of the forest, the young girl promises to come back the next day to thank him, and eventually, everyday.

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The relationship between Hotaru (the lost girl) and Gin (mysterious boy) really is beautiful. I loved how it developed over time and cultivated into something irrepressible. I enjoyed watching every moment they spent together. It is hard to not find their romance lovely.

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I was surprised how short this movie was. It only runs for about 45 minutes. I was despairing as the credits started rolling. In layman’s terms, it was too short. Too short because of how great and well developed the story is despite of how everything just happened so quickly. Well, I just wanted it to continue forever. But don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the ending. Okay, maybe a little bit of disdain— I mean we all just want a happy ending, don’t we? Actually, the ending isn’t really that tragic. It’s something you could call…bittersweet. I think that’s definitely the right term for it.

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This is a perfect summer movie. Watching it made me miss the soft, white clouds against a wash of blue sky. Yes, I love summer, and this movie just painted all my favorite things about it. The narrative has a peaceful flow which really compliments the setting. Honestly, just watch and you will love.

Bakemono no Ko (The Boy and The Beast)

This movie went above and beyond my expectations! I loved it from the very first second.

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The movie takes place in two worlds: the human and the bakemono (beast). A runaway boy accidently finds his way into the world of the bakemono and becomes the disciple of a problematic bakemono who is a Grandmaster candidate.

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The visuals in this movie is fantastic. I love how vivid everything is. It was refreshing to see a different style from the current animes I have been watching. There was a lot of shots that took my breath away because of how beautiful they were. The story itself is very compelling. The development between Kumatetsu (the bakemono) and Ren (the human boy; later on renamed as Kyuuta) as they train and learn from each other never had its dull moment. Personally, I think the best part of this movie is when they go on a journey to learn what strength is from different grandmasters. Along with fantastic visuals, the scenes were funny and made me think about my own definition of strength.

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So this movie is written and directed by Mamuro Hosada who is also the one behind The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, and Wolf Children which was probably why the style felt so oddly familiar to me before I knew this movie was by him. I read a good article which gave the lowdown on Hosada and a bit more about this movie. I’m definitely thinking of adding him to the list of my favorite directors alongside with my number one, Hayao Miyazaki.

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If you love Spirited Away, this movie will definitely be up your alley. Don’t miss out on a brilliant and wonderful experience!