6 Movies and TV Shows to help you deal with Post-Ukiyo Blues
Written by Nat Tran
Feeling a little sad that your experience with our Japanese inspired escape room – The Crumbling Prince, is over? Perhaps you can’t get The Crumbling Prince’s lulling melody out of your head. Or maybe you just miss hanging out with Kuebiko (I’m sure he misses his friends too)! Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 6 movies and TV shows that will help to keep that nostalgic feeling around a little longer and help ward off your post-Ukiyo blues.
1. Howl’s Moving Castle
What better place to start than the first Studio Ghibli film that the Director of Ukiyo ever experienced! (It’s also his favourite!)
Howl’s Moving Castle is a Miyazaki classic for kids and adults alike (or even children at heart)! It’s sure to provide you with that whimsical, romantic Ukiyo atmosphere. Follow Sophie as she goes on an adventure to break the curse that was laid on her by the Witch of the Wastes by seeking out the legendary wizard (and womaniser) Howl. It’s a mesmerising world of witches, wizards, powerful curses, fire spirits, mysterious creatures and of course an enchanted, mechanical, walking castle, all set in a vibrant, steam-powered landscape. The artistry is captivating, from stunning scenes of the green mountain forests to the vibrant laneways of the European-esque capital. It’s an explorative journey into the meaning of beauty, the absurdity of war and conflict, and the ever-present dual existence of illusion and reality.
If you enjoyed the mood and themes of our Japanese inspired escape room, you’ll feel right at home with the film’s magically woven narrative, not to mention the unforgettable score by Joe Hisaishi. It’s definitely a studio favourite!
2. Princess Mononoke
Another Studio Ghibli classic, which like The Crumbling Prince is filled with Japanese folklore, nature spirits and a call back to harmony with nature.
The characters in The Crumbling Prince and Princess Mononoke are both difficult to classify as either good or evil. The characters are complex, morally ambiguous and sometimes present an unreliable perspective.
In Princess Mononoke, you’ll follow Ashitaka on his journey through the land of ancient spirits and animal demi-gods as he seeks to find the truth of his curse with “eyes unclouded by hate.” He’ll meet a wide array of fascinating characters from San, a girl raised by the giant wolves and the ghostly yet child-like Kodama, who are tree spirits known to make rattle noises with their heads. Ashitaka’s quest brings to light the complex struggle of Man vs Nature and ultimately Man vs Self as each side of the ongoing conflict holds their own reasoning for their actions, and yet, the characters’ motives lead both sides into damaging conflict, sorrow and the continuous cycle of hatred.
If you enjoyed peeling back the layers of our Melbourne escape rooms’ characters stories then we’re sure you’ll enjoy a similar experience in Princess Mononoke.
This show definitely leans on the more mature side. If you’re looking for your fill of spirits interwoven with Japanese folklore this is your show. Mushishi deals with the creatures “Mushi”, considered the most basic forms of life who exist without the shackles of the concept of good and evil. The protagonist of the story Ginko, is forced to wander the land alone, never able to stay in one place for too long. It’s a similar ailment to Kuebiko, the main character of our fantasy escape room who must also learn to deal with the curse of loneliness and loss. Ginko investigates the existence of the mushi in Edo period Japan, seeking to understand them and how they fit in to the world as we know it, and hence the meaning of life itself.
Mushishi is not a show to be binged. Each episode is a slow, reflective piece that deals with the clash between humankind and the impenetrable unknown. Sometimes happy, sometimes tragic, each story is sure to bring you to reflect on that which is most important in your own life.
Craving some classic Disney magic? Brave is the perfect uplifting film to watch with your family (or friends), especially your Ukiyo team! Curses, legends, and forest spirits abound in the Scottish landscape where mysticism and magic run wild, much like the world of The Crumbling Prince. The movie explores the unique bond between mother and daughter duo Merida and Elinor as they work together to undo Elinor’s curse before it is too late. As per usual with Disney and Pixar, Brave features gorgeous animation with lush landscapes and atmospheric lighting to bring to life this Scottish parable. If you want something with a bit more of a magical Celtic vibe, this is the film for you!
5. The Dark Crystal
If you were an 80s kid, you’ve definitely seen Jim Henson’s the Dark Crystal at least once. It is a cult classic, dark fantasy that features stellar puppeteering work by the Jim Henson Company (so not a human in sight here)! The story revolves around Jen, a Gelfling who believes that he is the last of his kind, on a journey to restore the balance of the world by restoring a powerful broken crystal. Both Jim Henson and Frank Oz weave together the magic of puppetry and otherworldly fantasy to create both an unsettling, yet incredibly rich and exciting world. There’s now also a Netflix Series – The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
6. Pan’s Labyrinth
*This one is definitely for adults only.
After working your way through a twisting, Melbourne escape room, you’ll probably find yourself thinking about what you could have done differently. Especially when the stakes of failing are much higher…
Pan’s Labyrinth is a Guillermo del Toro staple and a dark fantasy adventure. Rotten Tomatoes describes the film as “Alice in Wonderland for adults”, and if you don’t mind foreign language films this will definitely satisfy you. The main plot also includes as the title indicates, a labyrinth which main character Ofelia must venture through and solve puzzles to progress. On her journey, Ofelia will meet plenty of creatures- of whom she is not sure to trust (not unlike the characters in Ukiyo) – who will guide her along the way. Each mysterious creature she meets harbours dark secrets and ulterior motives, and danger lies around every corner of her own personal labyrinth.
If you enjoyed the merging of childhood imagination with the darker underlying tones of The Crumbling Prince, then you’re sure to love Pan’s Labyrinth!
Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings
Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings might be more generic and well-known but who doesn’t love them? They’ll definitely satisfy your leftover Ukiyo magic craving, and in general are just great movies. We’d love to see an official Harry Potter Escape Room sometime in Melbourne too, but we’ll just have to wait for Warner Bros’ green light on that one!