I'm in the mood to be a critic tonight, and I was going to wait and save this for a more boring day, but I thought today was as good as any to do a giant write up of my favorite Studio Ghibli movies. If you don't know what that is, here is the summary: a Japanese animation film studio located it Tokyo, famous for it's anime feature films. So basically, the Japanese equivalent of american Disney, with Hayao Miyazaki being the Japanese Walt Disney. Princess Mononoke was pretty much my childhood, so I have a deep love for all things Studio Ghibli. I hope you will love these films as much as I do, and I hope you go out and watch them immediately if you already have not!
1. Princess Mononoke
Set in 14th century Japan, it depicts a mythical battle between the Animal Gods of the forest and the humans who have begun to destroy it. A young man, Ashitaka, witnesses the Wolf Goddess Moro (basically the leader of the Animal Gods) begin the battle against the human leader Lady Eboshi, who runs the giant coal factory. He also meets Mononoke, the feral human raised by the Wolf Goddess. This seems like an innocent enough premise, but this movie has more than enough grit for even a hardened adult. You see the Animal Gods dying off slowly as Lady Eboshi gains power, and the Wolf Goddess is driven permanently mad seeing all of them fall around her. The humans slaughter the children of the forest senselessly, and there is such an intense hatred burning within Princess Mononoke because she, whether she likes it or not, IS a human, as much as she wants otherwise. There is this bloody struggle between the guardians of the forest and the humans of the Iron Town who wish to consume its resources and you just get so caught up in the pain of the characters and AH! I love this movie. (Spoiler: no one wins.)
2. Howl's Moving Castle
This has got to be one of the most of the strong, epic romances of all time, and it isn't even listed as such! But anyway, this is set in a magical universe, akin to a steampunk version of Victorian England, only with a war between wizards going on. It is centered around Sophie, a plain, quiet teenage hat maker who never thinks of herself as pretty. All the people at the shop constantly gossip about the dashing, 'soulless' eccentric wizard Howl, who lives in a moving castle in the Wastes. However, an evil witch puts a spell on her to turn her into a 90 year old woman, and she finds her way to being Howl's cleaning lady. He sees through the spell, and they teach each other extraordinary skills, her how to love herself, him how to have a soul. Amazing battles take place, and a bouncy dog is present, as well as a turnip scarecrow and a snarky fire demon named Calcifer (*SIGH*!). You know, normal Studio Ghibli fare. What makes this story so great is that Howl hides behind his good looks (and blond hair, which he later forgoes), and she thinks she IS the ugliness of her awful curse, and she discovers that only she can save him from becoming the awful monster wizards can become when they lose too much of their souls. They blossom around each other, and it's just great. This is probably one of my favorite movies EVER.
3. Spirited Away
This, also, was a big part of my childhood. This summary is going to sound really creepy, but it'll make sense when you watch it: it tells the story of Chihiro who, traveling to a new home, accidentally enters an alternate reality filled with ancient Japanese spirits. Her parents are immediately turned into pigs by the evil witch Yubaba, so Chihiro is forced to take a job at Yubaba's bathhouse (which caters to exhausted spirits) in order to free herself and her family and go back to her realm. This movie can get so trippy, and you can get a headache if you think too hard at things which are not supposed to make sense, but this movie has a special place in my heart. It opens your mind to the thought that maybe, just maybe, there really ARE spirits out there, and PERHAPS, there exists a special bathhouse where they can go to rest. And MAYBE, somewhere, there IS a woman named Chihiro with a husband who looks quite a bit like a dragon, and who knows a lot about how hot a Japanese forest spirit likes its bath water.
4. Castle in the Sky
This is the first Studio Ghibli film made, in 1986. This, also, is a bit trippy: in times past, humans built flying cities destroyed by a mysterious catastrophe caused by greed, forcing the people to become grounded, and the cities destroyed; all except Laputa, concealed from the world by a cloud. Fast forward, and a normal boy (who oddly just LIVES ALONE) finds a strange girl in the middle of nowhere, holding a necklace of aetherium crystals formerly used to keep Laputa afloat. Long story short, a lot of people want her so she cat unlock Laputa's location, because she is discovered to be of the flying city's ancient royal line. An unusual amount of mystery is hidden in this movie, and I love that about it, although it sometime's gets too confusing for my taste; as in, there are so many loose ends that Miyazaki has trouble tying it all back up again. Still, you must watch it, because for me, every time I see a big cloud, I wonder if the ruins of Laputa are hidden within secluded away from the human race forever. Plus? AIR PIRATES.
5 Kiki's Delivery Service
This is another older Ghibli film, but I LOVED it as a child, as well as now. Kiki is a young witch of 13, and according to tradition, a 13 year old witch must live on her own for a whole year and make her own way in the world, along with her trusty broom, and adorably talkative black cat Jiji. She goes to a little beachside village instead of the popular inner cities, and gets a reputation as the best delivery girl in town (via the broom). This movie sends a strong message about creativity, independence, responsibility, and finding yourself by going outside your comfort zone. Please take the time to watch this movie, and love it!
Please, watch ALL these movies, and try to love them as much as I do (I know you will), and fall in love with at least one of the characters! ではまた。!