Studio Ghibli, the brainchild of Hayao Miyazaki, is a Japanese animation studio based in Tokyo, Japan. It is home to many movies that resonate with the viewers and leaves them feeling lighthearted, warm and with something to learn and take away with every movie they watch.
Known for its stunning visuals and important lessons of friendship, love and the dangers of humans destroying nature, Studio Ghibli takes viewer experience to a whole new level. It is also credited to show strong female characters, that completely move on a different tangent from how female characters are stereotypically shown. So, without further ado, here are the 5 Studio Ghibli movies you must watch at least ONCE in your lives!
1. Kiki’s Delivery Service:
Kiki’s Delivery Service is a coming-of-age fantasy film that follows the adventures of Kiki and her beloved cat, Jiji, as she tries to make the best of her life as a witch who moves away from home to live her. What ensues is a heartwarming tale of friendship, trust in oneself and just all-round cheerfulness.
A gratifying tale about a little goldfish princess who befriends a boy, as she starts to show desire for becoming human. The princess’s father tries to bring Ponyo back to the ocean, but her desire to be human is too strong. The story reminds us of the dangers of disrupting the balance between humans and nature (along with magic). The boy names the princess Ponyo and thus ensues an adventure filled with fun, heartwarming and important moments that leave us feeling light.
3. Princess Mononoke:
An intense movie set in the 14th century, it traces the story of a young Prince whose arm is corrupted in an attack by a demon who terrorizes his village. They make him travel to the Westlands, where they believe he will be able to stop the curse. The story unfolds when the prince, Ashitaka, meets San (Princess Mononoke) and their adventures to cure the prince. The story also hinges on the dangers of the imbalance of humans, animals, and nature co-existing together. A powerful movie.
4. Grave of the Fireflies:
Another intense move, but powerful and sad, Grave of the Fireflies is set in the backdrop of the Second World War. When America bombs Japan, teenager Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, are left to fend for themselves after being separated from their parents. The movie follows the repercussions of war, the struggle, the survival and is a heartbreaking movie overall to watch.
5. Spirited Away:
Spirited Away follows the tale of Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl and her parents who stumble across what looks like an abandoned amusement park. However, Chihiro’s parents turn into giant pigs and upon meeting Haku, a boy, she is told that she has to start working in the amusement park filled with supernatural spirits who use the park as a resort and only then will she be able to free her parents.
Apart from these five films, Studio Ghibli offers an array of other films to choose from, that are now available on Netflix. Other honorable mentions are Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, Mei and the Kittenbuns, The Wind Rises, among many others the studio has to offer. The characters are lovable, the stories captivating and the design and animation leaving us spellbound. Hayao Miyazaki has created characters so memorable, they stay with us for many years to come.
So, we hope these movies keep you good company during this quarantine period and allows you to feel a little better during these trying times and lets you dive in headfirst (if it’s your first time) into the world of Japanese animation or revisit your favorite movies.