I love Studio Ghibli movies! Since my first watching onwards; my interest, and love for these movies have continued to grow at an incredible rate. From having no knowledge or interest in them at all, I now have a great admiration for these movies. The output of Japan‘s most loved animation studio is a weird one, as the series contains a lot of different movies, going into the depths of many different genres and drawing in a great many different audiences. The art style is terrific and will draw in the attention of classic movie goers wanting some classic animation over the current crop of CGI movies; meanwhile other audiences members will be drawn into the creative but complex stories of the film’s creators, and standing out above all else; is the cavalcade of incredibly strong female heroes; some of the best and most iconic in of all cinema.
Recently came the exciting news that the movies will be coming to Netflix, providing Netflix customers access to many of these movies. The films will be released in stages, with the first batch already been released at the start of this month. But, if you are new to the incredible world of Studio Ghibli; you may be wondering where to start? It’s a fair question, as though while there are many obvious choices, there is indeed far too many films to choose from, and the question may bog you down, when what you really want to do is simply watch a movie.
Well, to help out; I have chosen some of my top picks to give you a little direction in choosing that first movie. Now I don’t know if these said films have been released yet, but if they haven’t; it gives you something to look forward to. Anyway, enough waffling; here are my ‘introductory’ picks into the wonderful world of Studio Ghibli.
My Neighbour Totoro – This is an easy pick, and an instant hit. Whilst not the first Ghibli film that I saw; it is one of the first. It’s a pretty easy going and light film; one for the whole family to enjoy. The story focusses on a small family moving into a new home. Near to the house is a mighty tree, which is also the home of a forest spirit called Totoro; who takes his new friends on a series of mini adventures. It is quite possibly; the loveliest film ever produced!
The Cat Returns – This one again is pretty simple, and a very easy watch; but boy what an adventure. The film focusses on a young girl who finds herself in a fantasy world of feline’s, after the current king of this world proposes to her. It’s a weird and wild adventure culminating in a great final chase, accompanied by several terrific companions.
The Wind Rises – This was the first film from Studio Ghibli that I saw; and thought it was pretty brilliant! Taking the form of a fictionalised biopic; the film focuses on the life of Jiro Horikoshi as he goes on to design the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. The film features many fantasy elements as usual, but is set in the real world; taking a look back on an earlier history of Japan in the lead up to World War II, and focussing on the life of a young man who just wants to make the best plane possible; whilst simultaneously still providing some amazing art and animation.
Laputa: Castle In The Sky – This one is a real adventure story, and the first film produced by the studio after it’s founding. In a world dominated by giant airships; a young girl of an ancient origin falls to the Earth, and takes her new friend on a journey to a mystical floating castle. Castle in the Sky is a real whirlwind of an adventure, featuring both boundless discovery, as well as terrible perils; leading to a great, but still grand finale!
Spirited Away – Possibly the most celebrated animated movie in the history of cinema, and to many the crown jewel of Studio Ghibli. Young girl Chihiro is moving with her parents to a new town, and she is scared of what this new chapter in her life will bring. Her fears then accelerate as her parents turn into pigs, and she must go to work in a giant bathhouse if she wants to turn them back. Weaving a wonderful tale which; like many other Ghibli classics, teaches an important lesson on life; whilst at the same time creating an amazing new world to discover; which could just be around the corner from where you are now!