Updated: April 26, 2020 7:42:16 am
Founded by legendary Japanese filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki and Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli is a revered animation film studio. It is often said that there are two kinds of people – those who have never heard of Ghibli films and those who love them from the bottom of their hearts. If you belong to the first category, do not worry! For the first time ever, the digitized versions of 21 films from the celebrated animated studio are now available on Netflix. And we have drawn up a beginner’s guide to the top five films of director Hayao Miyazaki that everyone must watch.
1) Spirited Away
Easily the most popular movie (and the most successful!) to come out of Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away is Miyazaki’s gift to the world of animated films. Released in 2001, the film shows the magical journey of Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl who loses her way and ends up in the spirit world. There aren’t enough words to describe the stunning aesthetic of the film, which was all hand-drawn by Miyazaki before it was animated. This is truly a one-of-a-kind movie that must be watched by everyone, young and old alike.
2) My Neighbour Totoro
Another Miyazaki classic, My Neighbour Totoro is the mascot of Studio Ghibli. The fantasy-movie follows the story of two young girls and their interactions with friendly wood spirits, especially the giant, cuddly, furry “rabbit who loves to roar”. This is the best film to watch if you are having a particularly bad day. The script is simple, and there are no major conflicts, but the story-telling is guaranteed to make you feel unbridled joy. The film will definitely be a hit among children.
3) Kiki’s Delivery Service
This coming-of-age movie is a wonderful celebration of a young girl trying to find her freedom and learning from her mistakes. Kiki, a 13-year-old witch, leaves the comforts of her home along with her cat Jiji, and goes to a new town to earn a living. Despite the simple premise, the movie is endearing and full of adventure. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a highly recommended watch and Kiki, especially, will serve as a role model for many young women who are trying to find their own way in the world.
4) Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke is a slight deviation from the happy, carefree world of Miyazaki. Set in 13th century Japan, this fantasy-film is action-packed and depicts the “struggle between the animal gods who protect the forest and the humans who want to cut it down to mine iron.” The film showcases a lot of dark elements, graphic violence, and there is also a strong environmental message. It’s a must-watch for its feminist lead, Lady Eboshi, and how she wrestles with her own conflicts.
5) Howl’s Moving Castle
Released in 2004, Howl’s Moving Castle is one of Miyazaki’s darkest films. Set in a fictional kingdom where magic and technology co-exist, the movie has a clear anti-war message. There are the usual fantasy elements, but there are also scenes where the cost of war is shown in vivid detail. The director made this film as he was greatly troubled by the events of the Iraq War and has even gone on record to call this his “favourite creation” ever. The movie makes for a difficult watch, but it is a necessary one.
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