I’ve only seen two of these films so far since not all are subbed in English yet, but I have it in good faith that they will all be very good, so here they are, that you may know of them and seek them out.
I don’t have much time today, so I will only give some minor details and standard summary with these recommendations, plus my personal ratings which you may take as you like.
A Silent Voice
A deaf elementary school girl, Shoko Nishimiya, upon transferring, meets a boy named Shoya Ishida in her new class. Shoya, who is not deaf, leads the class in bullying Shoko, because she is deaf. As the bullying continues, the class starts to bully Shoya for bullying Shoko. After graduating from elementary school, Shoko and Shoya do not speak to each other… until later, when Shoya, tormented over his past, decides he must see Shoko once more. Shoya wants to make amends for what he did in elementary school and be Shoko’s friend.
A story with excellent character portrayal and development. 5/5
Napping Princess/Ancien and the Magic Tablet
A young girl dreams of a world called Heartland, a place where she has magic powers. When her events in Heartland begin to parallel her waking world, she realizes that she will have to outmaneuver the bad guys in both worlds.
Lu Over the Wall
The story centers on Kai, a gloomy middle school student whose life changes after meeting Lu, a mermaid.
A headstrong girl in Afghanistan dresses like a boy to provide for her family.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower
A strange flower grants a young girl magical powers, which leads to the adventure of a lifetime.
In This Corner of the World
As she combats her daily struggles In Hiroshima during World War II, an 18-year-old woman gets married and has to maintain the will to live. Heartwarming. 4.5/5
These films have been out for several years, but if you haven’t yet seen them I am making a mention so that you can seek them out at your own discretion, because I find them all to be very good.
The arrival of a pretty transfer student from Tokyo sets in motion a change in the relationship between two best friends. This film was a made-for-TV attempt to sharpen the skills of the younger Ghibli animators. They may have bitten off a bit more than they could chew. The story is done with sensitivity and it is interesting, but something about the soul of the film seems to have suffered under the pressure to impress that those younger Ghibli workers must have been feeling. Still, I like it. 2.5/5
The Wind Rises
A lifelong love of flight inspires Japanese aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi during the trials and chaos of his life in WWII Japan. The first time I watched The Wind Rises I was left a little unimpressed. It seemed strange and “too childish” for me. But I have since rewatched it with a more open heart and understood that this whimsy is intentional. That the atmosphere is a cry for the pure heart of the leading man, despite the reality of his time and place. It is truly a very deep and moving piece of work. I’d highly recommend watching in original Japanese. 5/5
Unmarried career woman Taeko Okajima takes her first extended trip outside her native Tokyo when she travels to rural Yamagata to visit her sister’s family during the annual safflower harvest. On the train, Taeko daydreams about her pre-adolescent self. As her vacation progresses, she has extended flashbacks about the frustrations and small pleasures of her childhood, and wonders if her stress-filled adult life is what the young Taeko would have wanted for herself.
This one is only just freshly dubbed into English. Way back in the 90′s when Takahata actually made this film, his particular style of movie making, and the Ghibli brand in general hadn’t quite taken off in American cinema, so they chose not to dub this one. But with the explosive popularity of Ghibli since Spirited Away and the sudden lull in films produced since Miyazaki’s “retirement”, this film got it’s dub in 2016 in order to wrangle in some extra cash in the international movie market. 5/5
From Up On Poppy Hill
Umi Matsuzaki is a sixteen-year-old student attending Isogo High School living in Coquelicot Manor, a boarding house overlooking the Port of Yokohama in Japan. Her mother, Ryoko, is a medical professor studying abroad in the United States. Umi runs the house and looks after her younger siblings, Sora and Riku, and her grandmother, Hana. College student Sachiko Hirokouji, and doctor-in-training Miki Hokuto, also live there. Each morning, Umi raises a set of signal flags with the message “I pray for safe voyages”.
One day, a poem about the flags being raised, is published in the school newspaper. Shun Kazama, the poem’s author and a member of the journalism club, witnesses the flags from sea as he rides a tugboat to school. This starts a complicated but sweet romance between the two. The story is quiet and subtle, but this is intentional and well crafted. 5/5. Directed by Miyazaki’s son Gorō .
A Letter to Momo
Momo is recovering from her father’s death and her mother’s decision to move their family from Tokyo to a remote island when she discovers a message from her father that causes strange events to occur. 3/5. I enjoyed it, but it seemed like it was padding it’s run-time.
The story follows two brothers, Junpei and Kanta, who live on the island of Shikotan, shortly after World War II. On August 15, 1945, Soviet soldiers land on Shikotan and occupy the island. Junpei and Kanta, who live with their grandfather, a fisherman, and their father, the head of the firefighting force of the village, are forced to move to the stables while the Russian commander’s family, among them the commander’s daughter Tanya, move into the main house. The story follows the friendship that develops between the three children in the midst of the war.
The film tells the story of Kenji Koiso, a timid eleventh-grade math genius who is taken to Ueda by twelfth-grade student Natsuki Shinohara to celebrate her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday. However, he is falsely implicated in the hacking of a virtual world by a sadistic artificial intelligence named Love Machine. Kenji must repair the damage done to it and find a way to stop the rogue computer program from causing any further damage.
Clever stroyline, likable characters and a respectable ending. 4.5/5
The Garden of Words
A boy named Takao trains to become a shoemaker and meets with a mysterious woman in the park when it rains. 3.5/5 for content 4.5/5 for heart.
Your Name tells the story of a high school girl in rural Japan and a high school boy in Tokyo who swap bodies. It is a very touching, very funny and very relatable film. Taki and Mitsuha are perfect in this sci-fi mash-up. 4.5/5
“We were just kids when we fell in love, not knowing what it was”
“Have you ever thought about that? How young we were when we fell for each other the first time?” he mumbled to you as you laid on top of him, his fingertips tracing shapes on your back as he relaxed. “No, I guess I haven’t really, it’s just always been us two” you shrugged, moving your head, resting your chin on his chest as you looked at him. “Why, what made you think of that out of the blue?” you smiled. “Uh, it’s just that we’ve been together for a long long time, I’m just really grateful to have you around” he shrugged, brushing it off for now.
“I found a woman, stronger than anyone I know”
“You see, I don’t know where I’d be without you. I think I’d be close to going insane for one, I have no idea how you do it, but you’ve managed to keep me grounded through everything that has happened for us boys career wise, kept me strong through the articles that made me wanna scream and cry all at the same time” Luke trailed off, his eyes drifting from you to the paper in his slightly shaking hands as he took a deep breath. “I don’t know how you manage, but you’re the strongest woman I know, sorry mom” he mumbled and smiled when the guests laughed. “No, but seriously, you’ve been there for me through thick and thin, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. And I’m so so honored to finally be able to call you my wife. You’ve already earned the title of best friend and soulmate, so it kind of feels like we’ve completed the circle now”