Art comes in many flavors. Animated movies are somewhat of a novel thing for our world. They were hand-drawn once upon a time and today, some still draw by hand, but more and more studios have turned to digital art. It is more precise and easier to work with.
Animated movies are interesting, particularly when you take into account what Japan has to offer. Japanese animation is also called Anime and is a large part of many people’s repertoires, in the West as well as East. Studio Ghibli has made some of the most recognizable anime that people should watch. Here they are, in no particular order.
My Neighbor Totoro
This is a classic, one that tells an interesting tale. Released in 1988, it is an amazing tale of friendship and growth. It has everything a touching story should have, a sick person, children discovering the world, adults being adults, as well as friendly spirits. Totoro is one of those spirits and has since become iconic, to the point where it is instantly recognizable both on the internet and in person.
It is a must-see movie and a great way to start the Ghibli journey.
Moving a bit forward in time, to 1997, we can see another great anime, Princess Mononoke. This one is a bit different, because we are talking about a demon attacking a village. Mononoke does not refer to any character, but rather evil spirits from Japanese folklore that possess people and curse them. This is what happens to the protagonist who then needs to find a way to survive, after successfully slaying the attacking demon. Will the protagonist succeed or will the demon take another life?
In 2001, Spirited Away was released, an anime which teaches people what the world works like and what gluttony really is. It won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and is the only non-English, hand-drawn movie to have done so. It is a great tale of a girl who wants her parents back, but who also steps into a world which literally turns people’s sins into something horrifying. It is a great anime, one which should not be missed, no matter if you want to see other Ghibli titles or not.
Howl’s Moving Castle
Fast forward another three years and we have Howl’s Moving Castle, released in 2004. The movie is a tale of 20th century technology and magic. Why not mix both to create an amazing story that sees Sophie, a young milliner who meets the Wizard Howl. However, she gets transformed into a very old woman by a witch, so then she has to seek out the wizard again, to help her turn back into a young lady. The story, as one can imagine, gets complicated, but the message is loud and clear, life is worth living.
The Wind Rises
Released in 2013, the Wind Rises is another high-grossing anime. It is a biographical movie and tells the story of one Jiro Horikoshi, designer of aircraft, the Mitsubishi A5M and A6M, which were used during World War II. It is a touching story, of a man who wanted to design aircraft, only to see them realized and used for something he thought of being horrible.
Studio Ghibli has a ton of amazing animated movies for everyone’s taste and these are the ones to start with. If you like these ones, you might like their entire repertoire.