Vanessa Fowler, online editor
Ever since I was a kid, I have absolutely adored any of the Studio Ghibli movies. For those who are unfamiliar, Studio Ghibli is an animation production company based in Koganei, Tokyo and founded by Hayao Miyazaki. As a director and script writer, Miyazaki is well known for being a master storyteller with his intricate waves of crafting a fantasy world that is immersed in realism.
In each of his movies you can find elements of environmentalism, friendship, love, anti-war messaging, family relations and authentic human emotions. These movies are filled with adventure in fantasy worlds or ones that mimic our own lives, you are able to find any number of things to love about them. Whether watching two sisters move to the countryside or see a young woman fall in love with a wizard, there are plenty of options to choose from.
However, what is most important in movies from Ghibli is that they are at their core meant to touch audiences and reach beyond just one particular group. The animation is stunning as most of the studio does hand drawn animation and uses less than 10% of Computer Animated Design technology in order to show more beautifully crafted worlds for the viewer to take in.
In every one of his movies, you will find a great story to become engrossed in as there is something very intimate and personal in each movie. One of his most famous movies and my personal favorite is titled “Spirited Away.” What I love in particular about “Spirited Away” is the character development of the main character, Chihiro. In the beginning of the film, she starts out as a very spoiled 10-year-old girl and is in many ways a brat. However, when she is faced with having to save her parents, we are able to see her grow into a confident, compassionate and determined girl who only wants to help the people she cares about. I love the growth that Miyazaki and the studio allow their characters to go through, pushing them to be better versions of themselves and acknowledging their flaws, but bringing out their strengths.
A common aspect in Studio Ghibli movies is the use of a female protagonist, or at the very least they are at the center of all his stories. As the media tends to be male dominated, it is unsurprising that most movies or shows would have a male lead, but that is the opposite in Studio Ghibli films. The majority of his movies have a female lead, usually a young girl or young woman who, if not the titular character, plays a central role to the story, which is incredibly refreshing. Plus, these female leads are strong as female characters in their own right. Many cases of strong female leads have them essentially being more masculine or tough in the way society expects of men. However, in Studio Ghibli films, the female leads are strong without having to lose their femininity or ignore any of their flaws as a way to make her perfect.
It is the flaws that add to the realism of his films. For example, in the movie “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” we follow the young female protagonist named Kiki who is about to start her year of training to become a proper witch. She must journey on her own for a year and learn to take care of herself. In the movie she starts her very own delivery service where she learns from her strengths and weaknesses. She is able to push herself to do better and not allow setbacks to get in her way of doing the best she can do. It makes her incredibly relatable as we can all remember times when we thought we couldn’t do something or wanted to give up. In any case, Studio Ghibli movies are always a treat to enjoy and there is a movie for anyone, whether you are looking for adventure with people smaller than your hand in “Secret World of Arrietty” or a story of two children from different worlds becoming best friends in “Ponyo.” It is truly an amazing studio with the best movies that everyone should see.