Have you heard of Studio Ghibli?
I was introduced to them back in 2003, when my then boyfriend suggested we see this animation called ‘Spirited Away’ at one of Bristol’s small art house cinemas.
I still remember being blown away by the depth of the artwork, the sumptuousness of the scenery and the depth and breadth of a story where you get transported into a bath house for spirits!
Studio Ghibli are a Japanese animation studio and have been producing films since 1985, their most well known director/animator and founder of the studio is Hayao Miyazaki . He is responsible for some of Ghibli’s best known titles including ‘Howls Moving Castle’ (based on a story by British author Diana Wynne Jones – btw Howl is a play on the Welsh boy names Hywel) and my go to film ‘My Neighbour Totoro ‘
So maybe you’re thinking “oh animation! that’s not my cup of tea!” But hold on a moment, because animation isn’t just a genre for kids (those who have Castlevania may agree!). The majority of Ghibli’s films are made for everyone -they are always beautiful to look at , many are based on Japanese folk tales, many incorporate themes about man’s disrespect for the environment and the old ways and the damage he wreaks, about the loss of family but always the main themes seem to be above love in all it’s different forms.
When round my niece and nephews about 2 years ago I put ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ on the television, i wasn’t sure if they would like it-it is all after all a 1980s film and TV is so different these days. But to my delight they both adored it,. The story centres around 2 young sisters Satsuki and Mei who have moved to the countryside with their Father to be closer to the hospital where their Mother is at. It’s a gentle film full of beauty and mystical creatures including the main character Totoro who is a woodland spirit who plays the ocarina. Every time I watch it I get transported away to this beautiful depiction of rural Japan, traditions and the world of tree spirits and the beauty of childhood wonder. The theme tune tends to bring a tear to my eye.
Another favourite of mine, is the beautiful film ‘The Tale of Princess Kaguya’. The film, which was nominated for an Academy Award’ is based on a 7thC Japanese folk tale. Again it’s depictions of old Japan are awe inspiring and the tale is so very enchanting though very sad.
Then there’s the lovely film Kiki’s Delivery Service about a little witch who delivers baked goods on her broomstick!
And lastly one more video to demonstrate the beauty of Studio Ghibli films (and the music!)
So please, if you’ve never seen anything by Ghibli then do (they have a bunch on Netflix now), I’m sure you won’t be disappointed