Studio Ghibli; a studio famous for its visually stunning works; elaborate backgrounds and attention to details with colourful palettes depending on the mood, and its equally captivating story line. Not to forget, the soundtracks are beautifully arranged and incites the desired mood effectively as well.
Some of Studio Ghibli’s works are :
- Spirited Away
- Laputa the Castle in the Sky
- My Neighbour Totoro
- Howl’s Moving Castle
- Grave of the Fireflies
- Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Ponyo by the Cliff by the Sea
- The Wind Rises
- The Secret World of Arietty
- Whisper of the Heart
- From up on Poppy Hill
(I have watched all on this list by the way)
So here’s my personal top 5 picks:
5. The Cat Returns
This movie revolves around an ordinary high school girl, Haru, who was summoned to the Cat Kingdom to be the Cat Prince’s bride after saving the Cat Prince! She tries to escape from the cat kingdom [and the wacky Cat King] with the help of Baron and “Renaldo Moon” and hilarity ensues!
Watch if you’re looking for lighthearted but heartwarming adventure with some comedy.
4. From Up on Poppy Hill
This film tells the story of a young girl Umi Matsuzaki who lives in a house on top of the hill who loves to raise signal flags. Unbeknownst to her, a certain boy would also raise signal flags answering her. She later meets Shun Kazama, a member of the school newspaper club, whom asked for her help to copy the newspaper. As they get to know each other, they decided to commence a thorough cleaning of the school’s ‘historical’ clubhouse. After they’ve finished cleaning, the chairman of the local high school wants to demolish it for development. Umi, Shun and their friend Shirou have to give it their all to stop the building’s demolition.
By the way, it has a bit of drama and sweet, innocent, old-fashioned romance. I also love how Studio Ghibli was able to clearly portray Yokohama in the 1960’s. It’s not that I’ve been born at the time, but I was able to imagine the situation at the time.
3. Whisper of the Heart
Shizuku Tsukishima is a young girl who loves to read books and write. One day, she noticed a name “Seiji Amasawa” on the library books’ checkout card. The name seemed familiar, and she confirmed that all her library books have been checked by the same person. Then, she encountered an annoying boy (Seiji Amasawa) who annoys the hell out of her. Noticing a cat riding a train, she follows it to an antique shop, run by Shiro Nishi, where she saw “The Baron”, a cat statuette. Seiji discovers Shizuku petting the train-riding-cat on the front of the shop. After befriending each other, Shizuku sang “Take me Home, Country Roads” accompanied by Seiji and Nishi, who is apparently Seiji’s grandfather. Seiji wishes to pursue his dream to become a master luthier, and later leaves for Italy for two months. Wanting to catch up to him, Shizuku resolved to hone her writing talents as well, and we’ll watch how Shizuku struggles with her resolve.
This movie is/is like a coming-of-age story. It clearly gives off the message of “pursue your dreams” and “strengthen your resolve” and “maintain a careful balance between your passion and responsibilities”. I also like how the story alternates between the real world and the fantasy world that Shizuku had written. The romance is also sweet and innocent and makes you grin like an idiot in front of the screen. Oh, and this movie gives off a very-very nostalgic feeling (for me at least).
2. Spirited Away
Chihiro and her parents are on their way to their new home. However, her father took a wrong turn and they ended up in front of a tunnel. Ignoring Chihiro’s pleas to not go in, her parents went in, forcing Chihiro to go with them. They arrived in a town where delicious foods where prepared at the shops, but no one was seen. Tempted by the delicious smell, her parents ate like a glutton at a restaurant and Chihiro wandered off. She noticed a large bathhouse and a boy named Haku warned her to return crossing the river before sunset. However, it was too late, her parents turned into pigs and she was trapped in the spirit world. With the help of Haku, Chihiro manages to get a job at the bathhouse in exchange for her name to be taken and changed into ‘Sen’. Thus began Sen/Chihiro’s misadventures working in the bathhouse and trying to escape the spirit world.
I used to have nightmares watching this show. The impact was big on me. Looking at the ‘spirits’ portrayed, I felt a bit wary yet mystified. The scene where her parents turned into pigs was scary, as well as when “No Face” went on a rampage and swallowed people. Overall, with its unique story, this movie spooked me, but it was also very interesting to see how Sen/Chihiro tries to escape from there.
1. Howl’s Moving Castle
(Loosely) Based on a novel with the same name, the story follows Sophie Hatter, a plain, timid girl who was unfortunately cursed into an extremely old woman by the Witch of the Waste. As Sophie left for a journey leaving her hometown, she helped an enchanted scarecrow “Turnip Head” whom in return helped Sophie to find the Moving Castle, where she later appoints herself the cleaner there. She lived there with Howl, Calcifer, Markl caring for them as she strive to find a way to break her curse and eventually find true love. This movie is a bit slow, but the action-y or intriguing parts are there in the right place to keep you wondering.
I love almost every aspect in this movie; the story line, the music (especially the theme song) and of course the art. The colour palette changes drastically, fitting the scenes it wanted to portray. When it’s the festivities, it was so colourful but during the war, it seemed so scary and horrible.
That’s all for today folks! This is just my preference; the other movies are awesome as well 😀