Disney and their animated masterpieces are well-known by a majority of the world. But did you know there was another studio on the other end of the Pacific Ocean whose animated works are arguably better than anything Disney has ever produced? We give you Studio Ghibli…..
My Neighbor Totoro
Totoro has become the mascot of Studio Ghibli. The Rabbit that absolutely loves to roar lives in the nearby forest of the house where a family has just moved in. The mother of the family is in the hospital, recovering from a long term illness. The two daughters befriend all the spirits of the forest, and in the meanwhile, their adventure teaches them about love, life and loving life. The movie is an all-around entertainer that has a myriad of messages and it is up to you to take home what you feel like is worth it.
Grave of the Fireflies
Studio Ghibli has teamed up with Isao Takahata to produce many magnificent works but it is Grave of the Fireflies, one of their earliest works together, that would top literally any list for the greatest animated movie ever made. Not just the best but it might also be the most depressing anime movie to have been ever formed. The movie is about a young boy and a young girl trying to survive the American Air Raids on Tokyo during World War Two. The siblings’ journey exposes them to horrors of war even grown men would feel uneasy to go through. Grave of the Fireflies will make you use up that box of tissues.
This movie is not about monsters or Atlantis. It is a tale about how life can be very cruel to friendships and how people grow apart through no fault of their own. Ocean Waves is not for everyone. It runs extremely slowly most of the time. The plot moves sluggishly. But for the people who have the patience to see it through to the end, a beautiful message awaits. The movie is one of the best plots that revolve around the ballad of teenage life and the plethora strained relationships that irk it.
Isao Takahata is the hand behind this one. The last time he joined forces with Studio Ghibli, we got Grave of the Fireflies. Not nearly as intense as Takahata’s greatest work, Only Yesterday is not disappointing either. As a matter of fact, the story of Taeko, a 27 year old unmarried Japanese Woman that travels to the countryside to get away from the chaotic city life will resonate with many. The movie takes an entirely different route than what Grave of the Fireflies took. And it scores on several aspects.
Whisper of the Heart
The movie is directed by Kondo, the supposed successor to Miyazaki and Takahata. Kondo died very young, leaving very little to carry his legacy forward. Whisper of the Heart is a small but powerful figment of his works. Kondo was new to Ghibli’s designs but he had managed to capture its essence in his direction to an extent even Takahata had not. The movie tells the magical story of Shizuki, a 14 year old aspiring writer who concocts a story after being inspired by a vintage cat statue in a local antique store. The movie has some of the greatest animations the world has ever seen.
Arrietty is based on the original story penned by Mary Norton named The Borrowers. Arrietty was the first movie made by Studio Ghibli that used modern animation and CGI technology. The titular character is a young girl named Arrietty. She belongs to a humanoid species that are extremely tiny and live within human households, relying on stealing items to survive. Arrietty makes friends with a human boy who is staying in his Aunt’s house while recovering from an illness he had contracted before the events of the movie. The ending of the movie is so beautiful it will make you smile.
This could be considered one of Miyazaki’s greatest works. Princess Mononoke has elements of high fantasy. The tale takes place from the point of view of multiple factions. The animal gods are trying to protect the forest while the humans intend to cut it down so that they can start mining iron ore. Set in the 13th Century Japan, Princess Mononoke is quick to establish as rhetoric between humanity, advanced technology, and Mother Nature as well as the delicate balance between them.
Spirited Away is the movie that made Studio Ghibli a household name outside Japan. It has a story that caters to audiences on both sides of the spectrum. A young girl finds herself trapped in a world full of magical monsters, gods, and spirits. The entire movie has hand drawn animation, something that was not thought to be possible given the level of detail in each frame of the movie. Spirited Away takes you to an enchanting world of magic and fantasy. It is a cult classic.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Before Studio Ghibli was founded, Hayao Miyazaki had already penned and created multiple Manga. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was based on Nausicaa, a Miyazaki Manga. The movie was released before Studio Ghibli was founded but it is still considered to be a Ghibli Venture through and through. Nuasicaa is a Princess living in a world where 1000 years have passed since the 7 Great Days of Fire. She must fly her glider to save her Kingdom from being ravaged by an army of mutated insects born out of the Toxic Jungle.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Howl’s Moving Castle is Studio Ghibli’s most underrated productions. Set in a world where humanity is on the verge of dying out because of a global war fought using technology and magic, a young boy is cursed into becoming an old woman. The Old Woman has to now search for Howl, one of the few surviving wizards who now resides in a castle that moves. The surreal animation and amazing character designs are trademark Studio Ghibli. It is also one of the darkest movies to have been ever made by them right after Grave of the Fireflies.