Studio Ghibli’s films are a wonderful experience anyone interested in the history of animation and Japanese culture should themselves into. These films are the ultimate childhood dream, come to life on the screens, due to the genius of Hayao Miyazaki, his son Goro, Toshio Suzuki, Isao Takahata and last but not least, Yasuyoshi Tokuma.
These gentlemen are the masterminds behind the films we’ve all seen and loved and they deserve full recognition for their hard work. Studio Ghibli revolutionized, in my humble opinion, the world of animation and, of course, established a household name for the current called Anime, putting Japan on top of the map of cartoons and movie animations. Thus, I will talk a little bit about some of my most favourite Ghibli animations I think everyone should watch at least once in their life.
My Neighbour Totoro – An Animation About The Joy of Being A Child
`My Neighbour Totoro` is a film made in 1988, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, which tells the story of two little girls called Mei and Satsuki who just moved to a new house in the countryside with their father, to be closer to their mother’s hospital. Here the girls experience the joy of bonding with the natural world and making friends with their farmers-neighbours. However, the farmers are not the only people they befriend, as soon enough Mei and then Satsuki will encounter and make friends with Totoro, a giant rabbit-like spirit that lives in the grove near their garden.
They will have a lot of adventures and will encounter even more spirits of the forest throughout the film. This sweet animation deals with childhood innocence and the joy of being a child, telling the story through the lenses of children who are told to see things adults can never even comprehend. Like in most Ghibli films the Japanese animism or Shinto religion is poignant throughout the animation, making this one particularly entertaining and reminding its viewers to see the beauty of all that surrounds them, like through a child’s perspective.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya – The Animation of a Monogatari
`The Tale of Princess Kaguya` is another amazing animation from Ghibli Studios which tells us the tragic story of a beautiful nymph. Based on a monogatari (a historical epic in Japanese literature) called `The Tale of The Bamboo Cutter`, the 2013 film directed by Takahata and produced by Yoshiaki Nishimura is narrating the story of Kaguya the bamboo nymph sent to earth by Buddha to warm the hearts of a woodcutter and his wife who did not bear children. In addition to the divine child, the woodcutter will be given a large number of gold beads, in order to take care of the child’s needs.
Thus he will become one of the richest men in Japan. The story proceeds with the life of Kaguya as a young woman, bringing into discussion the problem of forced marriage, human greed, divine punishment and forbidden love. This animation is so uniquely distinguished by others produced by Ghibli because of its phenomenal style, which resembles those of ancient monogataries written and illustrated on parchments. All I can tell you is that his movie is an experience, both of history and of culture and more than that, it’s a wonderful visual experiment.
Laputa: Castle in The Ski – A Ghiblian Eulogy for Nature
`Laputa: Castle in The Ski` is my final recommendation on today’s list, and trust me, it doesn’t mean this movie is not magistral in its own way. This animation both written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki himself portrays a eulogy for nature and for its protection.
It follows the story of a young boy and girl who fall in love and who try to protect a magical crystal from a group of military agents. The crystal is a gate towards a magical land called Laputa, a place where humans with such advanced technology used to live until their greed destroyed the floating land of Laputa, now a ruin floating aimlessly into the sky.
There are numerous events that unfold but I won’t expose them here, as I don’t want to spoil your experience. However, what I can tell you is that this wonderful allegory is most evidently a eulogy intended to raise awareness about the dangers of war and of human greed for world domination which can cause a mass extinction, more than that, a eulogy for nature and its healing power.
This movie is an absolute eye-candy, despite the heavy topics it includes, but hey, this is what makes Miyazaki’s movies such wonderful masterpieces, the ability to portray and give a message to both young and old audiences, to raise heavy topics and open uncomfortable dialogues while creating mesmerizing images with a powerful impact and that’s why we love them so.