By Popular Demand – Disneycember

Pom Poko, find out how racoons can fight with their junk!

Into the Woods, can Meryl Streep actually sing now?

The Tale of Princess Kaguya, a film that seems a little “sketchy.”

About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

108 comments

  1. Princess Kaguya was not dubbed, nor released by Disney in the US, but at this point, whatever…

    • It WAS dubbed, though.

      Also, it’s interesting to hear Doug’s complaints about The Tale of Princess Kaguya, since his “meandering middle” issue is a problem I have with every Takahata movie I’ve seen EXCEPT for that one…

    • There is an English trailer for the film so yes there is denfinitly an English dub.

      The movie is distributed by GKIDS which mostly do foreign animated film, not all of them kids movies.

      • Yeah, GKIDS, not Disney, which means this review goes against Doug’s rule that he only covers Disney-dubbed and distributed Ghibli films. Same goes to Grave of the Fireflies and Up on Poppy Hill.

    • Hence why it’s “by popular demand”, as it didn’t fit into the ACTUAL Disneycember…

      Then again Grave of the Fireflies was not dubbed or distributed by Disney either yet he covered that, so… I guess he’s just inconsistent.

      • Up On Poppy Hill wasn’t dubbed/distributed by Disney, either. Funny, as he stated in the first video that he only covers Ghibli films dubbed and distributed by Disney.

        • That was just a way of covering bases of not having people go off on technicalities. After all, everyone considers Nausicaa a Ghibli film even though technically it wasn’t, but everyone would be rightly annoyed if he left it out.

          But having that coveat allows him to avoid the nitpicking of “well if you did that film by Director X that wasn’t technically Ghibli, “What about Castle of Cagliostro” or “Prince of the Sun”?”

          It also gives him leeway to ignore Only Yesterday and Ocean Waves, which haven’t really had official releases and there’s no legit way to get them, nor any dub edition.

    • Does it really matter? Neither one of the Ghibli films are distributed by Disney in Europe. And we (Norway) don’t even see them dubbed.

      So in that regard none of them would make any sense to be covered.

      But I do thank Doug for the reviews, even if I don’t agree with him for the most part, it is interesting to hear what he has to say for the most part.

      • Well we do get SOME of them dubbed. I know there are Norwegian dubs of Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo at least. Though it seems to be very inconsistent. I mean, didn’t they dub Princess Mononoke, probably the darkest, least child-friendly out of all the Ghibli-movies, and then later with The Wind Rises they were all like “Nah, this movie is plainly aimed at adults so there’s no point in dubbing it.” I mean yeah, I can’t see many grown-ups wanting to see The Wind Rises dubbed in Norwegian, but… I wouldn’t recommend even SHOWING Princess Mononoke to someone who’s still too young to read subtitles :/

      • Yes, because it means he didn’t cover actual Disney things that people were requesting he cover.

        We’re still without Homeward Bound, for example

    • As I said, at this point, whatever, meaning that I don’t care now. I never thought it was a good idea to review Ghibli films during Disneycember anyways, because they were mostly Disney-dubbed and released only in North America. He should’ve reviewed all of them in a seperate month. I feel like Doug was cheating on this one, just to avoid the direct-to-video sequels for one more year…pretend that I said the previous sentences in Douchey McNitpick’s voice…

      That doesn’t mean I’m not glad he reviewed them, though, and when I’ll finally catch up with the Ghibli/Miyazaki films, I’ll gladly watch them.

  2. Three Degrees of Bacon

    Well, tanuki in Japanese mythology are known for having large balls.

  3. MidnightScreeningsman2014

    the tale of princess kaguya was so beloved by critics and people. I’m surprised to hear you don’t like it as much as other people. Guess your just a nitpickey person. Into the Woods I saw the first half of the play but not the ending or second half cause I was out of class and only got to see the first few minutes of it. with the movie version I probably will just wait till it comes on Netflix instant play to see it.

    • Even critics don’t always share the same opinion, and from what Doug said about Princess Kaguya, it seems less nitpicky (outside of the animation style critique) and more of just something he didn’t really enjoy as much as other Studio Ghibli films. Nothing really wrong with that imo.

  4. I actually really adore Into The Woods, and a lot of it is for reasons that Doug lists as problems. I found all of the tonal changes and mood whiplashes really effective, and I think the drama and comedy worked in equal measure. I definitely DON’T think it need two be split into two halves like the stage show. In an age where 2-plus-hour movies are already the norm, I actually thought the pacing was practically perfect.

    I’ve watched it several times in the past few days alone, and I tend to only do that with my very favorites.

    • I saw Into the Woods in theaters and had no prior knowledge that it was a play. That being said, the ONLY thing I didn’t like about it WAS the music. My dad loves musicals so growing up I watched a lot of them, Hello Dolly, Hair, The Sound of Music, and a lot of others, but watching Into the Woods I found the music to be very monotonous because it was the same song, the same tune, the same notes throughout the ENTIRE movie, and to me that’s what made it feel like it dragged on and on and on and on! I wanted variety, change, something different, not the SAME song sped up or slowed down with different lyrics… To me that’s not a musical!

      • I honestly don’t get when people say that. I personally think all the songs are pretty distinct. A lot of them feature snippets if the main leitmotif, but those are maybe a couple seconds long.

      • I actually sat there thinking the same thing and I’m not a musical type gal. Actually musicals tend to bore me. So I see your point. There was so many songs repeated with the same notes.

  5. Into the Woods was one of my favorite movies of 2014 (and it’s my new favorite live action Disney Movie)

  6. Also, it’s pronounced Sond-heim

  7. They’re Raccoon DOGS, not Raccoons.
    The reason Tanookis are often called raccoon dogs is because they happen to look like raccoons when in reality they’re a type of wild dog.

    • With very large scrotum. There’s an old children’s song about the tanuki’s large ball sack that’s quite hilarious. The tanuki is kind of like the Brer Rabbit of Japan that uses his own ball sack like a taiko drum on occasion. Such a delightful creature.

  8. Does that mean we’re getting a Nostalgia Critic on Into the Woods? Doug’s opinion on it is similar to what he felt about the 2012 Les Mis film. Can’t wait!

  9. About time and glad to see your opinions. I really hope one day you’ll share your opinion on Muppets Most Wanted, but based off your Bum Review, you probably didn’t like it or just found it okay at best.

  10. I gotta admit I always cringe a bit at Doug’s American pronunciation of some things. “Kuh-GOO-yuh” indeed. But it’s a minor critique. He’s happy in his ignorance I guess. I’m not trying to say everyone should know everything, but… surely they pronounced her name in the movie. And now we’re back in Airbender territory, so moving on.

    Still happy he did these. I’ll always enjoy a Doug review, even a short one, and especially one that covers movies I know next to nothing about, over the overwhelming amount of mediocre to shabby content on this site. More power to those other putting their opinions out there, but most of them I found downright unwatchable.

    My two cents on Into The Woods: I grew up with the Bernadette Peters stage play, and loved and memorized it, and I was actually amazed how word-for-word faithful the adaptation was. That said, I really wish they’d chosen true singers for most of them over big name actors-who-could-sing, and Streep I thought fared the worst. My mom got me the soundtrack, but I can’t even listen to it. Without the visuals to enhance it, the vocals are Not Great, and the big numbers really lose what made them great. And I too wish they had been brave enough to make it full-length and put an intermission in a movie, like they used to do, since not only did they cut out a bunch of the (more interesting) second half to make it fit, but all of the songs are ever-so-slightly sped up. The tempo of the entire show has been increased, which means all the poignant moments feel rushed, all the dramatic beats seem blundered through.

    Bah, enough from me. Apologies, that was more than two cents.

    Thanks for these, Mr. Algia Cri… I mean, Mr. Walker.

    • To each his own. As far as singers go, Streep stole the show in my opinion. It’s amazing how so few people know that Meryl Streep was original trained to do musical theater! Hell, unlike everyone else in the cast, she actually sang live on set

      • Actually, “Very Nice Prince” by Kendrick and Blunt was sung live as well. At least they have more pleasant voices than any one in Les Mis, aside from Hathaway.

    • I still don’t get how anyone who liked the play can get past the lack of the narrator. Even if you decrease his importance, he needs to be there, because he needs to have what happens to him in the second act–as it’s the entire fucking point. It’s the tragic moment that seals the fate of everyone.

  11. If you think Princess Kaguya was about a Princess not wanting to be a Princess.. well then.. you kinda missed the entire point of the movie.

  12. Again, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya was distributed in North America by GKIDS. Disney had absolutely no relation to this film getting released. Same goes for From Up on Poppy Hill. But whatever, I am glad to see you review them anyways.

    • The “only released by Disney rule” was just a way of covering bases of not having people go off on technicalities. After all, everyone considers Nausicaa a Ghibli film even though technically it wasn’t, but everyone would be rightly annoyed if he left it out.

      But having that caveat allows him to avoid the nitpicking of “well if you did that film by Director X that wasn’t technically Ghibli, What about Castle of Cagliostro or Prince of the Sun?”

      It also gives him leeway to ignore Only Yesterday and Ocean Waves, which haven’t really had official releases and there’s no legit way to get them, nor any dub edition.

  13. Pom Poko looks good and I’m glad you covered that scene. I thought it was just my dirty mind playing tricks on me!

    MERYL STREEP HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO SING! With that out of the way, I overall liked it. I loved most of the songs. However, something about it wasn’t grabbing me. Perhaps it was too dark for me but I liked Snow White and the Huntsman. For me, the second part was TOO depressing for me. You finally accomplish your dreams and life STILL sucks! That’s a scary thought. I’ll buy the soundtrack but I’m not sure that I’ll watch it again.

    I don’t think that I’ve heard of this one. I might check it out. I loved that you used the “fart joke” music. It’s pretty.

    • It’s not “you get your dreams and life still sucks.” The point of the second half is “Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.” Or “what you wish for isn’t always what you want.”

  14. I’m sorry but I thought Princess Kaguya was perfect. From it’s atmosphere to it’s woodblock visuals, I found myself engrossed.

    Granted, I saw it in Japanese and the whole thing just came together. Then ending made me cry.

    And Pom Poko was hilarious. I remember seeing it for the first time being like, ‘Da hell?’ But it’s cute, charming with a lot of heart and humor.

    As for Into the Woods, I was disappointed because I felt like I didn’t care about any of the characters. I didn’t care if they got their wishes. I didn’t care if any of them died, etc. It was extremely disappointing.

  15. The Second Opinion

    Darn, no Muppet Treasure Island. Oh well. I’ll take what I can get. Well done!

  16. …Wow, I practically disagree with every single thing you said about Pom Poko. I thought the tanuki had basically no personality, what little they had made me actively dislike it, and GOOD GOD was it ever boring. And one wouldn’t think that a movie with shapeshifting testicles could be boring but… the entire first hour of the movie was just a seemingly endless parade of skits that serve no purpose to the story. I think JesuOtaku summed it up better than I ever could, but yeah… to me it is THE worst movie in Ghibli’s library.

    And The Tale of Princess Kaguya? I agree with itsrae, I absolutely adore everything about it. I never had any problem with the suitors taking up so much screentime because I was genuinely invested in the story by that point, and I enjoyed seeing how she called their bluffs and just how desperate they were to try and win her over. And the animation-style? It’s a clear callback to old Japanese art-scrolls, and if one tries to compare the film to those, it captures the feel almost perfectly. Now, I went into the movie having heard the cliffnotes version of the original folktale and didn’t really expect much besides “New Ghibli-movie with an interesting visual-style”, but by the end I was completely engrossed in the story and now, I think it’s one of their absolute best movies, losing out only to Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke… and even those I’m not entirely sure if deserve to be above it!

  17. Fun fact: In Swedish, the word “pung” refers to both “scrotum” and “pouch”!

  18. Doug still forgot My Neighbors the Yamadas and that was dubbed and distributed by Disney unlike The Tale of the Princess Kaguya which was done by GKIDS.

  19. I’m honestly surprised that Doug enjoyed Pom Poko as much as he did. After everything JO said about the film in her Month of May-azaki retrospective from a few years ago I was expecting Doug to really dislike it too.

  20. Man, I love Japanese folklore. This video makes me want to replay Okami.

  21. Ah yes, the tanuki. These guys are definitely an odd bunch in Japanese mythology. Doesn’t stop them from being interesting though…just very strange.

    Whenever I imagine them, I keep remembering their appearance in the game “Muramasa” for the PSVita. I knew about the tanuki beforehand and how odd they were but when I actually saw one being portrayed accordingly to their mythology… I had nothing more to say than just “wow”.

    http://youtu.be/o_RV6jnekvo?t=4m43s

  22. Still waiting for you to talk about Muppet Treasure Island.

  23. You should really stop misidentifying animals, Doug. The characters of Pom Poko are raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procynoides), completely unreleated animals to actual raccoons (which are restricted to the Americas).

  24. Sooooo, Pom Poko is kinda like Gumibears? 😉

  25. Hmm.. Into the Woods.. yeah.. no…

    Allow me to elaborate: Into the Woods wasn’t a film I was interested in seeing, and was the only movie that I left the theater before it was finished, when there was about a half hour remaining. Now, before you judge me–it isn’t because it was bad–I was bored, yes, and the music wasn’t very interesting to me (but then, I thought Wicked was garbage, so I may not be the intended audience), but I actually did have to rush to go pick up a friend. I went to the bathroom, got a text saying that their car had broken down, and I bolted.

    Still.. I don’t deny that if one were the intended audience or in the right mindset, it probably wouldn’t be a bad film. A bit long and grating, if you’re me, but… eh.. I’d rather watch something like Fiddler on the Roof, or Little Shop of Horrors, or.. I dunno.. Repo or Sweeney Todd. Those kinds of stories are more compelling to me, so I suppose that might be why the fairy-tale ones just don’t click for me.

    • Have you watched the play? Because the movie totally missed the point. And it’s lot more boring without the cynical comedy of the narrator to tie it all together.

      It’s far from being a one off joke when they kill the narrator off. It’s a “shit gets serious” moment. The play is a tragedy, and the characters just performed the climactic action which guarantees their tragic fate.

      When you lose that structure, it no longer feels like a cohesive whole, and thus gets boring.

  26. Pom Poko: Have never even heard of this one and, wow, it looks bizarre! Not sure if I’m going to watch it or not, but at least I know it exists.

    Into the Woods: I’ve heard of the play, but never seen it. This movie does look like something I might like, so I’ll try to watch it sometime.

    The Tale of Princess Kaguya: Haven’t heard of this one and I’m not really sure if it looks/sounds interesting enough for me to want to watch. However, I am surprised that something with this animation style is a Ghibli movie. Their movies usually look much more “professioinal” than this.

    • Considering that the movie cost roughly $50 million to make, making it the most expensive anime film to date, I’d be concerned if it wasn’t “professional”…

    • You do realise that the artstyle is inspired by classical japaense paintings, right?

    • It’s based off of famous Japanese folk tale “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter”. If that’s not your thing, you probably won’t care for the film, which is a shame as it’s a gorgeously-made film and is probably Isao Takahata’s last film. It’s not something I’d personally watch over and over again, but it definitely is a good candidate as one of Studio Ghibli’s best films.

  27. The Fullmetal Narcissist

    Ahem… Tanuki aren’t raccoons. They’re a separate species, more like “raccoon dogs” than raccoons.

  28. Sorry, Doug, but you’re still missing one Studio Ghibli film available in the states: My Neighbors the Yamadas. Its one of my favorites from the studio, so I hope you’ll mention it.

    Interestingly enough, all the Studio Ghibli films you didn’t mention initially happen to be directed by the same guy: Isao Takahata, director of Grave of the Fireflies and co-founder of Studio Ghibli with Miyazaki. Sadly, a lot of people don’t know Takahata’s name or his contributions to the Studio.

  29. I love the stage version of “Into the Woods”, and I was very pleased with the movie. It’s not a perfect adaptation, but as Doug pointed out it’s a very difficult play to adapt. I think they did a great job with a difficult project.

    When I first heard Johnny Depp was going to play the wolf I though it was perfect casting; he just nailed it. The only problem I had with the casting was that I wish the girl playing Red Riding Hood was a little more skilled at singing. Her voice was fine, but she needed tended to belt out all her lines. A little more subtlety and variation would have been good.

  30. I’m glad you finally got around to “Into the Woods” I was kind of wondering what you thought of Chris Pine as the prince. For me, the whole time during the Agony song, I thought he was actually William Shatner even more in this role so than he was in the either of the Star Trek movies!

    What you think Doug?

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