Showing posts with label lea salonga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lea salonga. Show all posts

Friday, August 31, 2012

My Neighbor Totoro...a feel good Japanese animated film

a gift from a friend who always asked me
"where can I buy Totoro?"
I have good impression about film outfit Studio Ghibli of Japan. It is because of the great quality animated films they produced that I already watch.   They’re dramas are good for kids and appealing also for adults who like light but entertaining relevant stories such as  Spirited Away (one of the best) and Ponyo.

Because of its popularity and award-winning stance, My Neighbor Totoro (a wood spirit) was dubbed and released two more times but in English version. The last one was under Walt Disney around 2005 or 2006 which featured the voices of sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning ( as Satsuki and Mei Kusakabe), Timothy Daly (Mr. Kusakabe), Pat Caroll (Granny), Frank Welker (Totoro and Catbus) and International Filipina artist Lea Salonga (Mrs. Kusakabe).  I was surprised to know the latter because what I only know about Salonga’s works in Disney are being singing voice of Fa Mulan (Mulan) and Princess Jasmine of Aladdin.


 Has well established characters

My Neighbor Totoro (MNT) also known as My Friend Totoro showcased the rural life of Kusakabe family. The sisters Satzuki and Mei are typical little girls who love fun and adventure but manifest good manners.  Mei is very adorable and playful kid; she’s a true representation of your cute little girl.

On the other hand, Satsuki is a model daughter and sister. She's mature to take care of Mei and to help her father in the absence of their mother.  Although very busy, she shows her eagerness to study, to play and to wonders.  One good proof of that she’s still a kid is she also sees mysterious Totoro.

 Take you to old and simple life you missed

The story is set in 1950s and at that the time people had already thinking of spirts and creatures. Young boy Kanta Okagi gives a hint that they believe in haunted house.  If MNT is other movie, living in an isolated and old house means horror. But the film creator Hayao Miyazaki summed it with fun and adventure. The field is cinematic and their house looks ideal for quite life but full of thrill. The only obvious thing in it is the big tree beside Kusakabe's house. You can guess that there’s something in it.

A story that doesn’t need villain

It's rare that I see a film, whether animation or not, that doesn’t have antagonist but still can hook the audience and offer interesting plot.   Because of it you, don't need to hate anyone to like the lead characters. Furthermore,  you don’t need also to wonder a person’s motivation in ruining the live of the sisters who are very lovely to punish. This makes the story more endearing and commendable.

Not too complicated and doesn't need big conflict

The only problem in the story that I think big enough is the illness of Mrs. Kusakabe which seems serious and when Satsuki looking for Mei when she lost her way going to the hospital.

Even befriending the mischievous Totoro, which can be complicated knowing he's a magical creature, is not an issue for two girls.  Thank you to good nature of their father, who is responsible, sweet and understanding, everything is smooth. 

I appreciate Dakot and Elle here, they are lovely

You just let it be and appreciate everything

MNT is for kids that are for sure but even if it’s clear, you can help but to appreciate it more compare to other animated films. In fact if it’s only your usual anime or animated films, there are so many things you can't accept. But maybe because of the well-written story, as an observant you are prepared that this is just a simple journey of two sisters and you ought to join them to see the wonders in their new world.  

Another pleasant excuse in MNT is its being almost open-ended story, you'll just agree that it should be happy ending.
The drawings specifically the strange giant Totoro and his gang are honestly not as colorful, as detailed and as pretty unlike to other anime characters we know. But they are acceptably cute because of their adorable and mystical traits. That big Totoro is very interesting creature. His physical feature very outrageous but he proves that whatever you see is just one thing in his identity. He's generous, sincere and unique friend.     


When we are young we believe in the impossible and magical things. We easily believe in nice stories that we learned.  We can even create our own tales out of our wild imaginations.

But little by little as we grow older, our unique visions vanished as we adopt what the real world teaches us. Of course, facing reality is a must but neglecting the child in you, as Totoro representing, you’ll miss the spectacles in your life.    

Monday, June 25, 2012

Les Miserables..the 10th and the 25th

Call me ignorant but I only learned the play of Les Miserables after I watched an episode of Dawson’s Creek in 1998. Joey Potter (played by Katie Holmes – the wife of Tom Cruise) sang On My Own. I fell in love with the song right away so I searched the lyrics and other information about it. Voila, Lea Salonga actually sang it in the musical play in 1995 where she played Eponine.   
                Then I saw a video of her performance in Youtube but it was only last week that I watched it full-length, thanks to a friend who’s a fan of Les Miserables and appreciates Lea’s talent. Mabuhay!

               I’m not aware that Broadway is different from other plays that I know. It’s more of singing than acting. I’m little bit stunned at first, but anyway, I really want to watch so I went on.

A friend gave me two copies, the 10th (1995) and 25th anniversary special of Les Miserables.  I’m more familiar with the first one or the Les Miserables: The Dream Cast in Concert (Royal Abert Hall), where Lea played Eponine and sang Own My Own. Even it was done long time ago, I still like it. It had useful stage props, lively costumes and unforgettable performers. Apart from Lea, Colm Wilkinson (Jean Valjean), Philip Quast (Inspector Javert), Ruthie Henshall (Fantine), Jenny Galloway (Madame Thénardier), Alun Armstrong (Thénardier) were all very fantastic. Even if Armstrong didn’t sing, he was already performing for me. He and Galloway made this heartwarming musical, so cool.

In the 25th Anniversary concert, I noticed that instead of props they used lighting effects. It still good though I prefer props (I’m sort of fan of visual arts than technology) and I also like Lea in 10th anniversary version than here, where she played Fantine.  Don’t get me wrong, she also did her best and was marvelous at that.  In fact, from now on it is my assignment to memorize I Dreamed a Dream (the song that popularized Susan Boyle). Like On My Own, it’s one of the songs that tell reality of life and love.

    Also in 25th, I noticed the other character specifically Enjorlas because of the natural and superb performance of Ramin Karimloo.  

Compared with Wilkinson, Alfie Boe’s Jean Valjean was little subtle but touching. At first I didn’t like him, but I realized that he actually did the right thing. He didn’t copied Wilkinson; instead he performed his own rendition of this character and he’s voice was soothing to my ears. Anyway, the whole cast in 25th anniversary gave justice to their roles.

          I don’t’ know why there are people who find happiness by making someone else lives cruel.  When you are with them, you may wonder why God allows them to do such thing and why you’re living miserably.  I, myself, ask this many times, but thanks to people and circumstances I encountered. I cope up and always believe that after a trial there’s positive thing that will come out.

Here are the beautiful bible verses I often read when I’m down and angry:
    “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” – Romans 5:3-5

   “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.- 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12