My Top 10 Studio Ghibli Films
In light of the Studio’s not closing (and my boundless boredom) I made a top 10 list of their films in accordance to how I feel about them, so I’m only including ones that I’ve actually seen…and I haven’t seen some pretty important ones so there.
Ponyo! Everybody loves this movie because it’s ridiculously loveable, and I love it too! I just don’t think it’s that great. The thing I like most about this movie is the animation because I really love the way Hayao Miyazaki animates water. It’s just so damn cool! I really like the setting as well. It’s pretty standard Miyazaki fair, y'know it’s about the environment and stuff. But it’s very pretty and very fun!
9) My Neighbor Totoro
Another movie we all love! And only at number 9. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is great and iconic and is a great, safe way to introduce the concept of death and tragedy to young children, as I know many have. But, I just don’t think there’s that much here for an older audience. Which is fine, but yeah, it doesn’t do all that much for me. Most of the movie is the main characters going about their lives while occasionally running into Totoro. Which, for the record, is the best part. The animation on Totoro is great and you get a real sense of texture and weight. HE JUST LOOKS SO FUZZY.
8) Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind
Okay technically not a Ghibli movie but it has pretty much the exact same creative team so shut up. This movie is epic. I just really love the world here. Post apocalyptic but also really medieval but futuristic with a little steampunk thrown in, it’s great. And the creature animation is fantastic. For me, I don’t personally find it that engaging, but I think the word I would use to describe this movie is interesting. It’s just a really interesting movie. And I like it a lot.
7) Kiki’s Delivery Service
Okay, this movie is so important. I cannot think of a single better movie to show a kid who’s growing up. You know why? Because this movie teaches that feeling sad is okay. When’s the last time you saw that in a movie (it was probably in another Ghibli movie tbh)? Kiki is awesome, she’s determined and mature but is still a kid. And Jiji is just THE BEST SIDE CHARACTER, it’s a really pleasant movie. It’s a good one to watch when your down. I love this movie. It’s great.
6) From up on Poppy Hill
I like this movie for a lot of the same reasons I like Kiki’s Delivery Service. It’s a really quiet, comforting movie. The film takes place just before the Tokyo Olympics, Japan is still recovering from World War II and everyone is ready to throw out the old and bring in the new. So when a historic clubhouse at Umi’s private school is going to be torn down, our heroes band together to stop it. The movie is really simple and straightforward and noticeably devoid of supernatural elements, but it really gives you a sense of place. You really get a feel for what Japan was like in the early 60s. And the movie has a very pretty Japanese pop soundtrack that’s really nice, and there’s a really intimate romance (that’s imo the best one in all of Ghibli). Love it.
5) The Wind Rises
This film is a masterpiece (AND IT SHOULD HAVE BEAT OUT FROZEN FOR BEST ANIMATED PICTURE BUT THAT’S ANOTHER STORY). This is Hayao Miyazaki’s last movie, for real this time. And boy does it show. By telling the tale of a real life genius aviator who is forced to use his creations for evil, Miyazaki ultimately shows us creativity is fleeting. That you can only be a genius for so long, commenting on his own career in the process. Miyazaki felt like he just didn’t have much more creativity left in him. Whether or not he was right, we’ll never know. But at least we know why he retired. It’s kind of like The Tempest of Miyazaki films, and it’s amazing.
4) Princess Mononoke
Oh yeah. Now we’re getting down to it. This movie is epic. In fact, this movie so epic, it gives Lord of the Rings a run for its money. I mean DAMN this movie is huge. Our heroes travel over vast mountains and fields and engage in huge, epic battles, which by the way, are so brutal that the violence is never glorified. It’s definitely the most violent animated film I’ve seen, and the creature animation is GLORIOUS, and Ancient Japan is just as great a setting as you’d expect it to be. So good.
3) Porco Rosso
God I love this movie. Miyazaki knew exactly what kind of film he wanted to make, and boy did he make it. In it we have Porco, our Humphrey Bogart-esque loner who’s best friend is his plane, and he’s being hunted down by Bounty Hunters and the newly Fascist Italian Government. And he’s a pig. For some reason (well it’s probably a metaphor). And did I mention that this takes place in an alternate history on the Mediterranean Coast after WWI where fighter pilots use militarized sea planes to fight? Oh yeah. There’s that. This movie has great character development, a host of entertaining side characters, and it’s actually really funny, and has some great action scenes. It’s criminally underrated and I enjoy it immensely. Go watch it.
2) Howl’s Moving Castle
I’m a sucker for a few things, and a few of those things happen to be French things, Steampunk things, and WWI history. AND HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE HAS ALL OF THAT in one way or another, so it’s no surprise that I like this movie. A lot. I also really like Sophie’s character arch. For those of you who don’t know, Sophie has never believed that she’s beautiful, and is cursed to be old, but the curse deteriorates the more confident she gets. It’s just really empowering and amazing.
1) Spirited Away
(Okay I know original right) but SERIOUSLY this movie is insane I don’t even know where to begin. The movie starts of with Chihiro in the process of moving, and she’s terrified, and then she gets trapped in the spirit world and her parents are cursed. From there on, this movie, is unbelievable. One thing I love about this movie is that Chihiro gets scared. She gets so scared. But she keeps going. It teaches kids it’s okay to be scared. And I just love that this movie feels so lonely. Which might sound like a weird way to describe a movie but I think it fits. The scene on the train (gifed above) is maybe my favorite scene ever in a movie. You just get this feeling. Like you’ve been there. Like you’ve sat there quietly in a scary situation having no idea what’s coming next. It’s almost indescribable but it really speaks to me. And I just keep coming back to loneliness. I feel like every character here is afraid and lonely (except for a few). It’s just so different, and I find that oddly comforting. Because we feel lonely all the time don’t we? But media never seems to show that! We have our character and their group of friends. But here, we have our character, and a few outcasts, who I can’t say are friends. They’re just sort of brought together by their common alienation. And when Chihrio returns home, she’s not afraid of moving anymore. And if that’s not comforting as fuck, then I don’t know what is.