The Studio Ghibli Mission

 Studio Ghibli

I’ve made it a bit of a mission to mine to see all the Studio Ghibli films, granted it’s kind of lasted a while but I’m making some headway.

According to Wikipedia (I know, not very reliable but I’m feeling lazy!) there are 18 Studio Ghibli feature films to-date, and that will be upped to 19 next year. So far I’ve seen 11 (that’s actually more than I expected).

Castle in the Sky, Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbour Totoro, Porco Rosso, Ocean Waves, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, The Cat Returns, Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales From Earthsea and Ponyo.

It all started with the beautifully crafted, wonderfully told and achingly agonising Princess Mononoke. I’m going to be honest the first time I saw it I think I was 11 so it kind of went over my head, but a couple of years later I put it on again and sat transfixed as the story unfurled.

It is a typical Ghibli film, it fuses their amazing artwork with their unique ways of telling a story. It has all their trademark elements, the struggle between good and evil, man and nature and it’s all topped off with the sense of tragedy.

 It’s one of my favourite films and every time I pop a Studio Ghibli film in to watch I am always judging it against this. Does it grip me like Princess Mononoke did? Is the story as good? Are the characters as charming? Does it come with that watermark that you feel instead of see, the one that says from the very beginning that this is a Studio Ghibli film?

It’s not fair, I know, but it was my first Ghibli film and as such it is the standard that every other one has to live up to, which is kind of difficult because Studio Ghibli have a diverse port folio.

It comes as no surprise then (at least to a Ghibli aficionado) that Spirited Away was my second Ghibli adventure. I liked it enough. I’ve watched it several times and I even have a framed poster of it and a book about the artwork but it just didn’t grip me as much.

So whenever I pick up a Ghibli DVD and it says ‘from the makers of Spirited Away’ I find it kind of annoying because it isn’t even their masterpiece (that honour belongs to Princess Mononoke). Anyway I realise that this probably isn’t selling it to you. It’s often billed as Ghibli’s Wizard of Oz.

Chihiro and her parents are moving house but get lost on the way to their new home, they end up walking into a strange world Chihiro’s parents turn into pigs. It’s a world full of odd spirits and people and there’s a bathhouse that they go to, which our heroine ends up working at. Anyway, there’s a wicked witch and much adventure to be had.

The visuals are as amazing as Princess Mononoke’s but instead of centring on the battle between humankind and nature it’s more about the greed of humans.

Although these two are obviously fantasy the Studio does stretch beyond that. Grave of the Fireflies is set in Japan during the Second World War. It follows a brother and sister whose mother was killed during an air raid and their father is serving in the navy. They try staying with an aunt but she’s incredibly insensitive and doesn’t really care about their misfortune and begins to treat them unfairly. When this becomes too much they find shelter in the countryside.

It’s a heart wrenching tale about survival and the relationship between these two lonely children as charming as it is tragic it is one of the best films to come from the studio. 

I would love to be able to talk about the others such as Ponyo (which is basically their answer to the Little Mermaid) and My Neighbour Totoro which is again about man and nature but I have a feeling that I’d be here, writing away for hours and you’d all get so very bored. 

But I am going to create a new page and I’ll update it every time I manage to get another Ghibli film under my belt. It’ll be like The Book List, each film will get a six word review. It gives me a good excuse to start watcing them again too, I can’t remember what some of the were like!

Have you seen any Studio Ghibli films? What did you think of them?

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About Summer Leigh Grant

I've just finished a Magazine Journalism and Feature Writing degree at Southampton Solent University. I'm one of the the biggest Harry Potter fans you're ever likely to meet and my other passions include writing and music. The blogs I have created cater to them, one is all about musical pleasure and the other is about bookish delights (as well as a few other ramblings). View all posts by Summer Leigh Grant

4 responses to “The Studio Ghibli Mission

  • beckyday6

    I’ve only ever seen one; Spirited Away. When I came across it I thought I’d stumbled into some seriously crazy stuff! That was before I knew anything about the studio etc but even though it was strange, I was completely drawn in. I love most things Chinese and Japanese, I find their culture and the things it produces so interesting.
    I’m one of those people that loves those subtitled movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House Of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower. :)

    • Summer Grant

      It is pretty crazy! Yeah their culture is really interesting, my friend watchesa lot of anime and reads manga and she comes out with all these terms to do with Japanese culture and has to patiently explain it to me when I’m sitting there nonplussed haha.
      I’ll admit that outside of Studio Ghibli I haven’t really watched Japanese films apart from Battle Royale (a more gory Hunger Games) but it was completely awesome, I’m tempted to check out the ones you mentioned.

  • silvercube

    Spirited Away is my personal favorite (Grave of the Fireflies was so sad!).
    Secret World of Arrietty was okay, which recently came out. Studio Ghibli is making a video game called Ni No Kuni, comes out soon on PS3!

    I think you will like My Neighbors the Yamadas, its really funny!

    • Summer Grant

      I really want to watch the Secret World of Arrietty I think that’s next on my list.
      Oh my god, Grave of the Fireflies, I don’t think I can bring myself to watch it again for a while, very hardhitting but also really beautifully done!
      Oh awesome, thanks for the heads up about the game! Will defnitely have to look it up! :D

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