{Movies} How to Plan a Miyazaki Movie Marathon

totoro sticker, miyazaki

To prepare for my upcoming visit to the Ghibli Museum in October I am planning on a Miyazaki movie marathon next weekend.  I’ve seen several of his movies (older ones like Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and more recently The Secret World of Arriety and From Up on Poppy Hill).  However, M has only seen The Secret World of Arriety and From Up on Poppy Hill so he has some catching up to do.  Since M’s cinematic tastes tend to lean towards flicks starring Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen, Owen Wilson, Adam Sandler and anyone else from the cast of SNL (past and current), I am going to have to keep this movie marathon fun lest he fall asleep or attempt to escape when I take a restroom break. 

So here are my steps for planning a successful Miyazaki Movie Marathon:

1) Pick Which Movies You Want to Watch.

If you’re already a Miyazaki fan then this step probably won’t be too difficult.  But if you’re a newbie then it might be harder to pick from the huge library of Miyazaki movies.  Of course, everyone has their opinions on which ones are his best, but here are the imdb.com ratings of some of his more popular movies:

  • Spirited Away (2001) = 8.6
  • Princess Mononoke (1997) = 8.4
  • My Neighbor Totoro (1988) = 8.2
  • Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) = 8.1
  • Castle in the Sky (1986) = 8.0
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989) = 7.8

To keep things easy, I’m just going to go with the top 3 on the list.

2) Get the movies so you can watch them.

If you’re lucky you already own the movies and you can skip this step.  But if you’re like me, your house is bare of Miyazaki movies and your family/friends/co-workers don’t have any either.  So here are your choices for getting your hands on some Miyazaki movies:

  • Buy them.  This is is obviously the most expensive choice and not recommended if you’re a newbie.  After all, what if you don’t like them?
  • Download/stream them for free.  Whether this is legal or not is a whole different issue.   People who do it insist that it’s fine.  People who don’t do it love to tell the people who do it that they will go to jail and get fined a million bucks if caught.   I’m hoping that Amazon will be streaming it soon (you will have to pay, of course) but as of now, there are no Miyazaki movies available for streaming on their website.
  • Rent them from your neighborhood video store.  Unless it’s a newer one like From Up On Poppy Hill, I say good luck with this one.
  • Rent them from Netflix.  This is the choice I’m personally going with.  I already get Netflix Instant but there are no Miyazaki films available at this time for that particular option.  So I went into my account to add a DVD plan and got a very pleasant surprise: an offer for a free 1-month trial!  They had the “1 Disc Out at a Time” plan automatically checked off.  I immediately switched it to the “3 Discs Out at a Time” as this option was also included in the 1-Month free trial.                                                       Now, if you’ve already used up your free Netflix DVD trial or it’s not being offered to you, you can bite the bullet and pay for the month (just make sure to cancel before the end of the month so you won’t continue to get charged).  “3 Discs Out at a Time” will cost $15.99, 4 Discs = $21.99, 5 Discs = $27.99, and so on.
    If you don’t have Netflix and have never been a subscriber, signing up is very easy.  You will automatically get 1 free month of Netflix Instant but you will need to pay for the DVD plan.  Prices are above.
    Netflix’s DVD plan has all of the movies I mentioned in step 1 as well as Ponyo and Porco Rosso.

3) Make a list of who to invite.

Whether it be 1 or 20 is up to you.  I am personally one of those people who prefers smaller groups and there are times that I relish in being alone.  I just finished a Harry Potter movie marathon the other weekend by myself and had a great time.  For the Miyazaki movie marathon it will be just M and I.

4) Buy Japanese snacks to munch on while watching the movies.

If you’re lucky enough to live close by an Asian grocery store then this step should be easy enough.  Sometimes regular grocery stores have an Asian section as well.  If neither of these is an option you can buy Japanese snacks from Amazon.  Or, you can always go with the traditional movie snack standbys like popcorn, chips, pretzels, etc.  Here are some of my personal favorites for Japanese snacks:

  • Calbee Shrimp chips
  • Pocky Sticks
  • Hello Panda
  • wasabi peas
  • Japanese peanuts
  • dried squid
  • Green tea Kit Kats (these are SO good, they taste like white chocolate Kit Kats mmmm)
  • senbei
  • Milky candy
  • Honey Ball or Baby Ball cookies

5) Buy packs of instant ramen and all the proper toppings to serve as a meal. 

In my opinion, a proper movie marathon has to show at least 3 movies.  This means that the marathon will run for approximately 6 hours or more.  Chances are, snacks will keep your guests satisfied for only so long before they start craving a real meal.  This is when you can break out the largest pot in your kitchen and make them all some instant ramen, Miyazaki style:

I’m not really sure what he was frying up in that pan (eggplant? gobo? cabbage?).  Some of my personal ramen toppings include boiled eggs, green onions, fried spam, hot dogs, and corn.  But, of course, to each their own.

Photo credit: sushi the great / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA