Studio Ghibli was founded back in June 1985 in Tokyo, Japan, and was estimated to have net worth of around ¥15.77 billion back in 2011. The studio is best known for its anime feature films but has also produced a number of short films and television commercials. Fans of the studio love its creativity, originality and fairytale-like element, making it especially popular with people who also love video games. They’re the type of films you can watch time and time again, whilst folding up your laundry, perusing bingo sites, or fully immersed with a big bowl of popcorn.
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Princess Mononoke is a highly popular Studio Ghibli film. In this film, Prince Ashitaka must protect his rural village from the dangers of the forest. When demonic goingson begin to spread throughout the land, Prince Ashitaka encounters San, a warrior princess raised from birth by wolves. The pair must fight to keep the forest protected as Irontown strives to harvest it.
One of the things that few people outside of Japan know about this film is that the design of the forest itself is based off a real-life location: the island of Yakushima, located at the southernmost tip of Japan.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Grave of the Fireflies is an important film because it emphasises (among other things) the value of life. It tells the heartbreaking tale of Seita and his younger sister, Setsuko, whose home is destroyed during the Second World War. The film follows the siblings as they fight to survive having lost everything. Despite all, their bond as a family remains. Whilst Studio Ghibli films are generally known for being lighthearted, this film is one of Takahata’s finest pieces of work. Within the film, despite all the horror and the suffering, moments of magic are still found, for instance when Seita captures a fistful of fireflies in a box for his sister. When their situation comes to its very worst, the children release the fireflies into the sky, and as they do so, a magical, childish smile lights up the siblings’ faces, showing that there is still hope for them.
Porco Rosso (1992)
Porco Rosso is one of Miyazaki’s lesser known films, but nonetheless a brilliant one. It is the 1930s in Italy, and sky pirates in biplanes are terrorizing the plentiful cruise ships as they cross the Adriatic Sea. Porco Rosso is the only pilot courageous enough to attempt to put an end to torment, with the help of the brave girl mechanic Fio Piccolo and his old friend Madame Gina.
Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986)
Laputa: Castle in the Sky was officially Ghibli’s first film. It tells the story of a boy and a girl attempting to keep a magical crystal out of the hands of a military organization, who seek to use its powers for tyrannical and oppressive purposes.
The world-building in this Ghibli film is highly commendable, with the castle, Laputa, abundant with crazy architecture and steampunk tech. The chemistry between the boy and girl, Sheeta and Pazu, is unmistakable, setting the high standard for young romances in Ghibli productions.
This film is Miyazaki’s take on the classic Danish tale of The Little Mermaid. It is about a courageous little fish who becomes friends with a human boy and tries to live on land. It is a sentimental and loveable story, with enchanting underwater scenes, and a tale that warns of the damage modern day society is wreaking on our oceans. Miyazaki actually drew most of the water and wave imagery himself, playing around with making the imagery as expressionistic as possible. American animator and film director, John Lasseter, said that he had never before seen water animated so beautifully.
My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
This is perhaps the most famous and beloved Studio Ghibli films out there. My Neighbour Totoro tells the story of two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move into a ramshackle cottage in the countryside whilst their Mother convalesces at a hospital close by. The sisters overcome their fears and anxieties with the aid of some new friends, who include a cheekily grinning cat who can transform into a bus, and the huge, round and loveable Totoro. Whilst this film may seem childlike and playful, it is also incredibly moving and seeks to explore the starkly contrasting bliss and sadness of childhood.
Studio Ghibli has cast a dreamy spell over its audiences for four entire decades now. Its films are mesmerizing, with brilliant use of colour, animation, character and storyline. With Studio Ghibli films now being released onto Netflix UK, there are absolutely no excuses not to allow yourself fall into them.
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