For almost 30 years, Studio Ghibli has produced an impressive array of animated films in a variety of genres. Some have proven to be more popular than others but almost all have been praised for their morality, artistic integrity and overall quality.
Here’s a list of the five Studio Ghibli films that everyone should see. They may not be the overall best, though several on this list are definitely some of the best, but they are the films that anyone who’s interested in Studio Ghibli or quality animation and film should check out.
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO – 1988
My Neighbor Totoro has a strong environmental message. Unlike Princess Mononoke though, My Neighbor Totoro is set during modern day Japan and follows the story of a father and his two daughters as they move to the countryside and discover several nature spirits, the largest of which goes by the name Totoro. For the most part, the film is a light-hearted experience focusing on the girls and their memorable encounters with the spirits. The dramatic subplot in the latter half of the film concerning their sick mother grounds the story somewhat yet reminds the viewer of the importance of magic and imagination in a child’s life. A classic.
By far the most popular Studio Ghibli film. Spirited Away follows the story of a bratty young girl called Chihiro who finds herself transported to the world of spirits. Through perseverance and with help from her new friends, she must rescue her mother and father and learn a few important life lessons along the way.
With stunning animation, a cast of eclectic characters and a music score that will stay with you long after the credits have finished rolling, Spirited Away is a film for the entire family that will entertain the young ones and fascinate adults.
Princess Mononoke is an Miyazaki Hayao Miyazaki Hayao’s epic fantasy anime produced by Ghibli in 1997. Like My Neighbor Totoro, Pricess Mononke also has a strong environmental message. It is a story about how Prince Ashitaka was caught up in the battle between Princess Mononoke and Eboshi, who used weapons and guns to take over the entire forest of the region. Finally, with kindness and sincerity, he gradually calmed human anger in Mononoke’s heart, and also made Eboshi somewhat wake up mistakes and understand the forest and people can share live peacefully.
KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE
The story centers around a young witch named Kiki who sets off to work on her own as a witch. Kiki and her pal Jiji (the black cat) search for a town to start off her witch training on her own and find a nice town by the seaside to call home. She starts a delivery service by broomstick where she starts to make friends and meet the people of the town. Kiki deals with challenges along the way which causes her to lose her abilities until she learns how to cope with the challenges life brings and get back on her feet.
It’s a great story for any young child beginning to realize life’s challenges and the struggles of growing up. Kiki’s Delivery Service has an amazing soundtrack and the illustration is just beautiful. Nothing less for a Studio Ghibli film.
CASTLE IN THE SKY – 1986
Castle in the Sky is known as the first animated film to be released in 1986 by Studio Ghibli directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The quintessential adventure Studio Ghibli movie, Laputa Castle in the Sky follows a young boy who discovers a strange girl in possession of a mysterious glowing stone necklace that has magical antigravity properties. With sky pirates, giant robots and a mystery concerning the boy’s father’s disappearance Laputa packs plenty of action and a surprising amount of heart.
Low level violence and a generous helping of physical comedy make Laputa Castle in the Sky an ideal Studio Ghibli film for the whole family.
Whether you’re studying the language or you just want to lose yourself in an entirely new story, these movies are sure to give you what you are looking for. Rent one or more of these great films and get some friends over, get pizza and some drinks, and enjoy the animated magic these masterpieces have to offer.