Japanophiles or any anime fans alike might find the following list a little bit passe. But for those who are not familiar with Ghibli or the name Hayao Miyazaki, here’s the chance to catch up with one of Japan’s most beloved animated imports.
Ghibli refers to Studio Ghibli, Inc. a Japanese animation film studio founded in 1985 based in Koganei, Tokyo that is arguably the most popular Japanese animation studio in the world. Thanks to its simple yet timeless animations and deeply humanistic stories, nearly all of their productions remain as Japan’s most popular animated movies. Eight of Studio Ghibli’s films are among the 15 highest-grossing anime films made in Japan, and five received Academy Award nominations in the United States.
This year is a big year for Ghibli in Indonesia, as for the first time ever, the studio is officially present in the country to screen their most iconic films for a year (until March 2018) and later in August, we’l see a grand exhibition of The World of Ghibli Jakarta for one month in Ritz Carlton Pacific Place Jakarta, which will be a big event for all animated films and japanophiles in Indonesia.
If you’re new to Ghibli, here are only a handful, yet essential Ghibli films that anyone, is guaranteed to enjoy. Not only that, some of it are a guaranteed to make you bawl your eyes out too.
1. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Totoro is by far Ghibli’s most iconic films; tells the story of the two young girls (Satsuki and Mei) and their father’s adventure to Japanese countryside where they meet magical and ridiculously adorable woodland creatures. Though we are always reminded of the Hayao Miyazaki touch of realness with the introduction of the girls’ sick mother, the story is very light and the air is always innocent.
Watch it if you: want to giggle like little kids again and/or to be the one Japanese animation you want to introduce to your kids
2. Spirited Away (2001)
Spirited Away is one that definitely stole the world’s attention; It won an Academy Award in 2003 and is known as the most successful Japanese film so far. It displays Hayao Miyazaki’s true genius and his range of imagination. The film follows 10-year-old Chihiro and her parents stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park that opens a mystical world where she finds both fascinating and grotesque creatures. A movie both adults and kids will truly enjoy.
Watch it if you: want to be really acquainted with Hayao’s portrayal of characters; the good and evil.
3. Princess Mononoke (1997)
Although released 20 years ago, the environmental theme that Princess Mononoke brings could not be more relevant today. Set in 13th century Japan, it tells a story of young Emishi prince Ashitaka’s involvement in a struggle between the gods of a forest and the humans who consume its resources. “Mononoke”refers to a general term in Japanese for a spirit or monster. Can you guess who’s the monster? 🙂
You can catch Princess Mononoke at select XXI theaters this 1-7 August 2017 during the World of Ghibli movie screening.
Watch it if you: love animals more than you love humans & in need of a gentle reminder of what we’re doing to the planet.
4. Grave of The Fireflies (1988)
This movie is a true test of tear duct; only the really cold at heart could survive this movie without crying their heart out. Grave of The Fireflies is an animated film telling the story of two children from the port city of Kobe, made homeless by the bombs. It is in my opinion the most emotionally moving animated films ever made and also the most beautiful. Film critic Roger Ebert even considers that this movie belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made.
Watch it if you: need a good cry over pizza and drinks session.
5. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Howl’s Moving Castle is a film based on a much loved book with the same title by Diana Wynne Jones. In this film, young hat maker Sophie has been cursed by the Witch of the Waste with the body of a 90-year-old woman, and later finds way to a moving castle inhabited by the wizard Howl.
You can watch Howl’s Moving Castle at select XXI theaters this 1-7 September 2017 during the World of Ghibli movie screening.
Watch it if you: want to be amazed by a story that features a young lady as the main character.
6. Laputa: Castle in The Sky (1986)
Castle in The Sky is the first film produced and released by Studio Ghibli. In this film, a young boy and girl sets to protect a magic crystal to fall on the wrong hands, while in the same time search for the magical floating castle, Laputa. Along with some other Ghibli originals by Miyazaki, this movie is also a testament of his fascination and love of airplane and world war era theme.
Watch it if you: want an uplifting story while tracing the Ghibli roots back to its first film.
More Ghibli feature films will also be screened in a special film festival from August 10th to September 17th 2017.