If you never saw a Studio Ghibli film when you were younger, I am sure you have seen the characters on the Internet or as a keychain on someone’s backpack. Studio Ghibli films are animated movies, typically targeted towards children, but enjoyable to people of all ages. The films are recognized for their unique characters, wonderful animation and magical realism. Though majority of the popular films were released between the late 80’s and the early 2000’s, they are still praised by many today.
Studio Ghibli films are wildly popular in Japan: eight of the studio’s films are in the 15 highest grossing Japanese anime films.The studio was cofounded in Japan by Hayao Miyazaki, who directed and/or wrote many of the studio’s films, specifically the most popular ones. Miyazaki is extremely popular among anime fans, as new directors in the new anime industry strive to receive the label of the “new Miyazaki.” Miyazaki is praised for including not just female leads, but leads that are powerful and independent. The characters in the Ghibli films do not all fit one body type, contrary to the Disney princesses. Not only that, but Miyazaki doesn’t always push romance between male and female characters.
“I’ve become skeptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue. Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where the two mutually inspire each other to live — if I’m able to, then perhaps I’ll be closer to portraying a true expression of love.” — Hayao Miyazaki
Considering the fact that Ghibli films tend to be targeted towards children, these are important portrayals for children to see from a young age. Amidst the magical elements of the films, people of all ages can learn from the life lessons alongside the characters in the movie. These lessons vary, from appreciating nature to believing in yourself. Magic, cuteness, and life lessons: what more could you want from a movie?
The most recognizable character from the Studio Ghibli world has to be Totoro, a big, fluffy forest spirit from the film My Neighbor Totoro, released in 1988. Totoro is even in the studio’s logo, featured above. The movie is full of woodland wonders and family bonds. While it may be great to start with a recognizable character, Studio Ghibli has movies for whatever you feel like watching at the time. If you want something light and fun, movies such as Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo, and My Neighbor Totoro are a great place to start. For something deeper, look to Grave of the Fireflies. For something action packed, watch Princess Mononoke. For some romance, try out Howl’s Moving Castle. Whatever you choose, you’ll end up falling in love with the magic of the films and will be racing to watch them all.
If you wish to experience the magic of Studio Ghibli in theaters, you’re in luck. This year, Fathom Events is offering screenings of Studio Ghibli films in select theaters. They offer both subbed and dubbed viewings and show a Ghibli film once a month. Once you’ve experienced the magic yourself, you can turn your home into a fantasy world: on November 3rd, the studio is releasing soundtracks to some of their movies on vinyl.
The wonders never end. Once you watch the movies, you’ll be counting down the days until the theme park opens in 2022.
Photo via Nerdist