Get spirited away with our picks of the best Studio Ghibli films
Posted on July 12, 2010
Miyazaki proves that animations aren’t just for kids.
When most of us think of cartoons and animations we think of Saturday mornings and big bowls of breakfast cereals. But in Japan anime is hugely popular with everyone from babies to business men. And the most famous studio creating feature length anime films is Studio Ghibli, headed by directors Hayao Miyazaki & Isao Takahata and the producer Toshio Suzuki. After the success of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in 1984 the studio was founded and began creating amazing anime.
After the post-apocalyptic tale of Nausicaä came Laputa: Castle in the Sky and the anti-war film Grave of the Fireflies. These films showcased the animation talent of Miyazaki and his team, while also exploring important and adult themes proving that cartoons aren’t always for kids. It might seem the next two movies from the studio, My Neighbour Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service, are only for children but the cute characters and heart-warming storylines (as well as the fantastically sarcastic cat Jiji and the Catbus) appeal to all audiences. Indeed the amount of unofficial merchandise for Totoro, ranging from key chains to seatbelt covers, just shows how obsessed with the large forest spirit.
The nineties brought more whimsical tales of inquisitive children and magical creatures, but it wasn’t until 2001 that the studio received worldwide acclaim for Spirited Away. The story of Chihiro, a girl whose parents are turned into pigs and has to live and work in a hotel for bizarre spirits, won numerous awards including an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. After this the work of Ghibli was recognised by children and adults all over the world, and the movies were released more widely with English subtitles and dubbing.
However, Miyazaki is extremely passionate about his work and when he found that Nausicaä would be released in the US as ‘Warriors of the Wind’ with significant portions of the film editied or missing completely, he was not happy. He put in place a ‘no-cuts’ policy which he made clear by sending the co-chairman of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, a samurai sword with the message ‘No Cuts’ after he suggested making Princess Mononoke more marketable. This has resulted in the films’ authenticity staying in tact, with fans being enjoying the original movie with English subtitles rather than Americanised dubbing.
Since then we’ve had hits The Cat Returns, Howl’s Moving Castle and Tales from Earthsea to keep us happy. And the studio is still going strong, shown by the recent release of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea and the anticipation of upcoming release The Borrower Arrietty. To celebrate the release of Ponyo and our love for everything Miyazaki, we’ve picked our favourite anime films from Ghibli for you to enjoy. Although we have to admit it was hard to decide which ones to include since they’re all so fantastic!