Via twitter I note that it’s Hayao Miyazaki’s 70s birthday. Studio Ghibli is a great animation studio which never caved in to CGI like Disney did in the naughties and is all the richer for it. To celebrate the great man’s day I thought I’d look through all the Studio Ghibli films I’ve seen and give them a brief write up. It’s important to remember that as imaginative a director as Hayao is that there is more to Studio Ghibli than just one man!
Castle In The Sky (1986). Crikey, I didn’t realise this one was that old. Covers themes we’re going to see again and again in the studio’s work. A strong relationship between young male and female leads with interesting mixture between nature and flying cars. 2/5
Grave of the Fireflies (1988). Brilliant but very tragic film. This is a bit of an unusual one in the Ghibli back catalogue. I’ve cried both times I’ve seen this. The relationship between brother and sister in this relationship is stunning. Animation slightly dodgy though, watch how they avoid showing the little girls face! 5/5
My Neighbour Totoro (1988). Cutesy fun where nothing much happens. One for younger children perhaps but one of my favourites. Has a cat bus. 4/5.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989). Very good film. Love the powerful lead female and the imagination of Studio Ghibli is strong here. Gripping story, good animation and exciting climax. 5/5
Porco Rosso (1992). Has a flying pig so should be awesome. Doesn’t quite live up to the potential though and lacks the usual magic. Some good battle scenes though. Surprised at possible sequel? 3/5
Princess Mononoke (1997). Many people’s favourite Studio Ghibli film. For me it isn’t quite up there with the best and is a little preachy with the environmentalism. Liked the forest spirit plant things. I find it amazing that a society as sexist as Japan can come up with as many powerful female figures who aren’t sexualized. It’s easy to see how this has led to the strong western following. 4/5
Spirited Away (2001). Everything about this film is completely amazing. The finest animation there has yet been. Like all of the greatest animation films this is a ride through a variety of emotions. Fun, moving, recommended. 5/5.
The Cat Returns (2002). Yay, cats. I love cats. This film was a waste of my life however. Terrible clichéd seen-it-all-before storyline. 1/5.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). Another classic directed by Hayao. Animation in this is superb. Action packed adventure. Love the steam punk nature of it all. 5/5.
Ponyo on the cliffs by the sea (2008). Little disappointing. Loved the animation and Ponyo herself but found the antagonist a little annoying. The entire growing smaller/ larger thing didn’t feel as original as most of the best Ghibli’s. 3/5.
Looking through the director listings it is slightly worrying how many of the best Studio Ghibli’s have Hayao listed as lead director. Financially with the Disney link everything looks great, I’m just hoping that after Hayao retires the magic can live on.