I never had any direct interest in anime for a long time. I always had friends who were into it, but it never directly appealed to me. Then one of my close friends at the time started to get me to watch some things with him and my curiosity was piqued. Recently I was around a group of people who all had one large interest in common: Studio Ghibli films. Founded by Hiyao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation company that puts out some of the most delightful, fantastical, beautiful films for both children and adults alike. Disney thought so much of them that they got the rights to distribute the films here in America.
Blending together Japanese mythologies and a child-like sense of wonder, Miyazaki's films take you on journeys you never could have imagined. I have loved each and every story that I have seen come from the minds of Miyazaki and his studio.
My 5 Favorite Studio Ghibli Films
1. Princess Mononoke
Promoting care for the earth we have been given over modernization and industry, this story tells the tale of a young prince sent on a great quest. It is one of the darker stories from Studio Ghibli, but that only makes it even grander in many ways.
2. Spirited Away
A young girl must work at a resort for supernatural beings to free herself and her parents, who have been turned into pigs. Filled with stunning visuals, Spirited Away weaves a deep tale, both beautiful and somewhat terrifying.
3. My Neighbor Totoro
This is my favorite film from Miyazaki. My Neighbor Totoro tells the story of two young girls whose father is trying to raise them while their mother is very sick in the hospital. They move to a rural area and end up meeting the Spirit of the Forest. It is such a simple, heart-warming story and even as a 32 year old adult I loved it.
4. Kiki's Delivery Service
The coming of age tale of a young witch setting out on a year-long apprenticeship. A fun, whimsical adventure, Kiki's journey is one you will love to go on again and again.
5. Howl's Moving Castle
A young lady meets a mysterious wizard, is transformed into an old woman, and sets out in a magical walking castle to try and transform back. So much is going on in this tale, yet everything fits together beautifully.
There are so many other great films to choose from, and I recommend all of them. The visuals, the stories, the characters, all are brought out in a wonderful manner. If you are a fan of Miyazaki, there is a wonderful documentary on Netflix right now featuring him and his studio: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness.
If you haven't seen any of Miyazaki's films, do yourself a favor and go watch one today.