When Marnie was There, (StudioGhibli.com)
When Marnie was There (Netflix)
When Marnie was There is a story about a young girl called Anna, who's a bit of an outsider, who goes to stay in a lovely rural location one summer for the sake of her health. While there, she begins to overcome her shyness and she makes a warm friendship with a girl called Marnie, who she meets in a mysterious house.
Of course, being a Ghibli film there is plenty to tug at the heart strings - we discover more about Anna's sad past, and about the difficulties for Marnie in her childhood.
It makes their friendship all the more precious.
The sadness and sweetness of this simply told film are heightened by the extraordinary drawing and colour. It is an incredibly beautiful animation.
And then add to that one of the loveliest theme tunes at the end of the movie and you'll see why I keep going back to watch this film again and again.
And it actually rewards repeat viewing - once you understand the storyline, the film is even sweeter to watch :)
I love the Ghibli Studio big hitters like Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro, but these gentler movies (The Tale of Princess Kaguya and The Secret World of Arietty are other favourites) really warm the heart :)
Both Marnie and Arietty were directed by Yonebayashi Hiromasa.
And now so many of them are available on Netflix, you can enjoy them over and over again!
I love watching Japanese morning drama. They're great to relax to and binge-watch, as each episode is only 15 minutes long. Asadora carry you through moments of Japanese history, and you become more familiar with Japanese homelife. And they help my Japanese listening skills as I learn the language. Now I'm beginning to to be able to read the kanji too!
Carnation follows the story of Ohara Itoko, and her passion for creating youfuku: Western fashion. The series is inspired by the life of fashion designer Ayako Koshino in Kishiwada, Osaka. Ayako's three daughters went on to become the famous designers Hiroko Koshino, Junko Koshino, and Michiko Koshino. Likewise, Ohara Itoko has three daughters who all become fashion designers: Yuuko, Naoko, and Satoko.
The story begins before the second world war when Western fashion was still a rarity, and everyone dressed in kimono. Western evening dress is so radically different from kimono, it is interesting to see the excitement surrounding it.
We begin to understand why kimono may have been perceived as old-fashioned, and why more and more Japanese people became excited by the fashions inspired by French fashion houses such as Dior.
We see the war-time struggle of ordinary people, and how a particular dress code was enforced amongst the women. We see the young men go off to fight, and the few that return are shattered.
We see Itoko bringing up her young family of 3 daughters alone, and we admire her resilience and courage.
All through the series the fashions alter, as different generations of Itoko's family are influenced by the designs of the time.
Itoko's daughters are fashion designers too, and we see how Ivy style sweeps the big cities of Tokyo and Osaka, as well as the London styles of Mary Quant.
If you're interested in fashion and design, and how clothing styles evolve and change you may well enjoy this drama.
It was recommended to me by Yukki's family! <3
Weathering with You (wallpapersafari.com)
Weathering With You (Amazon Prime)
Well, I do think that Makoto Shinkai is a genius. He's the visionary responsible for the stunningly beautiful artwork of the mega hit Your Name.
This follow-up movie is every bit as rewarding. Makoto Shinkai revisits the themes of Japanese folk belief, Shinto spirituality, and the celestial universe - weather patterns this time - and parallels it with the story of a runaway boy whose background is perplexing.
It's about reaching out to others when you're vulnerable. It's about leaving the past behind.
And Makoto Shinkai floods this movie with environmental warnings, and prescient premonitions about future flooding.
However, many find the ending controversial.
Watch this beautifully animated film and see what you think!
Good Morning Call (imdb.com)
Good Morning Call (Netflix)
Many Japanese dramas begin life as a popular manga: after all, it's an excellent way to storyboard a tv drama!
This romance drama has been inspired by the Japanese shōjo manga series by Yue Takasuka.
You'll definitely recognise that the central protagonist, high school girl Nao Yoshikawa has mannerisms just like her manga character. In the end credits there are even moments captured from the drama placed side by side with the original manga drawings and you can see how faithfully the drama tries to keep to the manga.
So, yes, there is a certain sort of overacting , but at the same time, Nao is full of a cute charm - a girl who lives her life in a whirl of emotions, and her boyfriend, her beloved Uehara, is quite steady in comparison!
Here's the thing - the boyfriend that sweet Nao is devoted to is quite slow to express his feelings, and the warmth for Nao actually comes from her great set of friends who surround and care for her. The drama shows how to be better treated in a relationship, through the kindness of the boys who are in love with her but unable to be with her: Daichi and Issei.
But watch it and see what you think!
The follow up series to Good Morning Call is called Good Morning Kiss.
Now our couple Nao and Uehara are at university together, and living in apartments side-by-side.
There is a new character who develops feelings for Nao.
Again, the new central character, Natsume, looks and acts in a way that is at times reminiscent of a character in a manga. He even looks like the stylised manga character that is a cardboard cut-out in the handicrafts room! However, there is more nuance and depth to his character, and his relationship with Uehara, and also with Nao, makes for an interesting movie.
Uehara has more of a role in this film, we see more of his vulnerability and his feelings as he negotiates adulthood. Will he remain with Nao? You'll have to watch it and see!
Best of all are the scenes of Tokyo. If you're missing Japan as much as we are it's worth watching this series just to feel like you're standing at the top of the Sky Tree again!
We hope you love watching these dramas and movies - let us know of your favourites too as we're always looking for something new to watch! :)
Cathy and Yukki