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Studio Ghibli is a name in the world of animation that if you haven’t heard of them already, then you really need to do yourself a favor and go watch some of these films. Now the problem with how some people describe Ghibli is that the moment the word “anime” is uttered, people cringe and immediately think that it isn’t worth their time. And what I say to them that, while it is a Japanese company and yes by basic definitions it is anime… it is so much more than that. The scale is much more grand, the world more detailed, in fact some Ghibli films give Disney and Pixar a run for their money in terms of the creativity and finesse of their works. So if I now have your attention, I will provide 4 must watch studio Ghibli films.
A film that could be considered a darker affair in the world of animation, Princess Mononoke is an epic battle between the forces of good and evil, nature and industry, man and beast. It follows Ashitaka, a nomadic warrior who is attempting to lift the curse that is slowing killing him and right the wrongs and evils occurring in the forest. We also are introduced to titular Princess Mononoke, known as San; who is was raised by wolves and has a hatred of humans despite being human herself. What follows is intense, action-packed, deep and yet still wonderfully enchanting as Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki (the film’s director) show us a world that is both beautiful and dangerous and leaves us wanting more. While not for younger kids, and though it can be very serious, it’s definitely worth watching.
My Neighbour Totoro
In contrast to the previous film, this adventure in rural japan is a very family-oriented affair. But that doesn’t mean it is kiddy per say. The main characters are the sisters Satsu and Mei, who upon moving to their new house and new adventures meet the mysterious Totoro, a giant furry… uh, thing? It’s like a bear meets a dog meets a cat… yeah, I’m not doing it much justice. But basically it’s an awesome creature with magical powers. While the humour and antics are on the childish side, if you don’t fall in love with the movie and it’s characters, THEN YOU HAVE NO HEART. But seriously, go watch this. Fun fact: if you’ve watched Toy Story story 3 an ever wondered who that plushie is supposed to be of, that’s Totoro. That’s just how famous this guy is.
Howl’s Moving Castle
What could be viewed as Miyazaki and Ghibli’s stranger films, Howl’s Moving Castle is an adventure in a world filled with witches, wizards and demons (both good and bad). The main character is Sophie, a girl who befalls a curse that ages her to an old crone, and ends up at the film’s titular abode of the other main character Howl, a mysterious wizard with an even more mysterious past. What could be considered a dramedy of sorts, there are plenty of laughs with plenty of angst to go along with it. While sometimes considered one of his weaker films, it’s a must-watch for those wanting a different animation experience.
There’s a chance that you may have heard of this film without knowing any of the other films on this. That’s probably because this film is considered one of the greatest pieces of animation of all time. This follows the character of Chihiro who’s family end up in a mysterious land on their way to their new home. Her parents turn into pigs and she has to rescue them from being eaten. The worst part about this film is that is actually too amazing to describe. I’m not even kidding. The art is amazing, the characters are diverse and wonderful and the story is simple yet grand enough to hold your attention and wanting more. Winning the Oscar for best animated film, Spirited is a definite YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS BEFORE YOU DIE film. I wish I could do it more justice but I’d rather just say go watch it now.
As any Ghibli fan (myself included) will tell you, there are a lot films by studio Ghibli that are worth watching (although in my opinion avoid Ponyo and Tales from Earthsea, definitely NOT worth your time). So if by all means give Studio Ghibli’s amazing films a chance and be prepared to be spirited away to a world that you could never have imagined.