Spirited Away

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The summer of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away podcast is finally here. Camping, sickness, and work all conspired to make this podcast extra late. Sorry about that. We dig into Ghibli’s big American debut and talk about how this blew our minds when we first saw it fifteen years ago, even though for some people the animation style was off-putting. We also discuss what an interesting heroine Chihiro is for an adventure fantasy and how creepy things get for a children’s film.

Another notebook

This notebook only had 24 sheets, so it went pretty quick. A lot of hodgepodge here, I have been sort of artistically wandering. I need some new goals or something. 

This was a fantastic drawing of Nausica. Calvin and Desi had their way with it so its beauty will never be known. But trust me, it would have blown your mind. 


Whisper of the Heart

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This time on the Summer of Miyazaki we discuss a film written, storyboarded but not directed by Hayao Miyazaki: Whisper of the Heart. So maybe, technically, it shouldn’t be here but it’s such a great film, we couldn’t resist. In this episode we talk about love, romance, developing your gifts and end with a rant against the current state of young adult novels. And, of course, we get in a few digs against Disney.

Proco Rosso

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On this podcast we continue the Summer of Miyazaki by discussing one of his more personal, adult and idiosyncratic films: Porco Rosso. It’s the classic story of a dashing hero, an innocent young damsel, and a brute-headed villain. Except this is Miyazaki so everything is turned on its head starting with the hero being a fat man with a pig head. The animation and story has all of Miyazaki’s typical amazing qualities but Levi and Rosalyn seem to be divided on if this is a great film or not.

A different look at Tolkien

I love Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Of course I do. They’re wonderful. (The Hobbit, not so much.) That aside, it is a shame how much his films have hijacked the imagination as to what Middle-Earth looks like. Just try to picture Frodo without imagining Elijah Wood. Next to impossible, right? It’s a shame because Tolkien’s universe is a place that should be so stimulating to the visual imagination.

As an antidote to the “Jacksonation” of our Tolkien imagination, I present Tove Jansson’s delightful Hobbit illustrations.


Gollum in his boat.


The petrified trolls.


In mirkwood

View all of these illustrations here.

Thanks to Les McClaine for sharing these!

Kiki’s Delivery Service

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On this Culturezoo we talk about the 1989 Miyazaki film, Kiki’s Delivery Service. We spend some time comparing the ideas and details of this film to other magical stories like Harry Potter and spend some time discussing the importance of vocations and finding and enjoying our place in the community we are in. Not exactly stuff that you often come across in a kid’s cartoon.

As a special bonus, 13-year-old geek intern Jack joins us for a quick graphic-novel recommendation at the beginning of the podcast.