Let’s write something light and summery this time, shall we? Because of the heatwaves you don’t really want to write, read or even think about anything serious and important, so a relatively short post with film list would just perfect for now.
Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio. I don’t know whether it’s considered as anime or not, so even if you’re one of those few people (like me), who doesn’t understand all the hype about animes, you’ll still love these films (I know they’re cartoons, but films is shorter, so I’ll be using this term from now on).
I’ve been watching Studio Ghibli films since childhood and I loved them. They all somehow involve some magic and fantasy, their plot line is interesting. But the most important thing in these films for me is the atmosphere. And it’s not like a beautiful facade with an empty inside, no, the inside is also really great. However the style and atmosphere that the studio created is a whole other level. Every scene if fascinating, sometimes you even forget to follow the plot and just want to admire those wonderful images. The soundtracks of each film are so calming and go with the general vibes perfectly well. The only thing I’d mention as a slight disadvantage, is that the films are quite long, when I personally like shorter ones. But even in this case it isn’t the dull and long-winded type of long, when you get bored already in the middle.
These films are perfect for summer, as they’re very light, and easy-going, if you can say that for films. And the previously mentioned atmosphere and sceneries truly suit this season, as the nature shown is mostly bright, colorful, fresh, in one word-summery. So let’s start with the list.
1. Spirited Away (2001). The first film that I saw and my most favorite one since childhood. When I watched it for the first time, it scared me a little, but then I just loved it! I even knew all the dialogues and could talk cite almost the whole movie. It’s about a girl Chihiro who gets into the spirit world and has to work in there in order to save her parents and get out of that world. In the beginning she’s this capricious, timid and fearful kid, who doesn’t know what to do, but during her journey she learns a lot and becomes responsible and brave. Everything is so beautiful about this film, and the music is just great, especially “one summer day“, that plays throughout the whole film.
2. My Neighbor Totoro (1988). This has been more of a spring film for me, just because it’s mainly focused on lush, blooming nature, and you usually get that in spring, at least in my country. It’s about the relationship of people (in this case two little sisters) with the spirit of the forest Totoro and nature in general. This film is really wholesome and after watching it you feel so relaxed and in peace with yourself and with nature, as though you were the one seeing those amazing sceneries in real life, and you feel the harmony of nature.
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989). If you love stories about witches, you’ll definitely love this one. It’s about a little witch Kiki, who travels the world with her cute black cat to find her life purpose and her magical powers. This film has a special place in my heart, because the city where Kiki settles looks like Lisbon a lot, and I happened to watch the film and then visit Lisbon in a week or two, so this reminds me of the good old times and the magnificent city and adventures in Lisbon, which was mixed with the magical atmosphere of the film.
4. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). This one is all about fantasy and magic (not like the others weren’t, but still). A young girl Sophie gets cursed and becomes an elderly woman. In order to break the curse she leaves her city and on her journey meets the magical Moving Castle with quite peculiar residents, each of them having their own curse to break. So together they have to “fight the evil” and become a proper family. I was so jealous of that castle, because it can transport you literally everywhere. You just choose where you want to appear, open the door and voila! you’re there. Really great film with some wise thoughts to think about.
5. Arrietty (2010). This film is also called “Arrietty the Borrower” and “The Secret World of Arrietty“, I don’t know why it has three different names. Arrietty and her family are tiny people, one of the last tiny people remained, as humans killed them all. They live deep in a big house and “borrow” stuff like sugar, bread crumbs and many other small things to live. They’re afraid of humans and always avoid them. Until a young boy comes to live in the house and befriends Arrietty, who understands that not all humans are evil. The sceneries of nature in this are amazing, because you get to see things from tiny people’s perspective and everything looks huge and more impressive, even the grass or water droplets.
6. Ponyo (2008). Ponyo’s story can be a little resembled with Little Mermaid. Ponyo is a goldfish who has magical powers as she’s the daughter of a sea goddess and a wizard. She wants to escape the sea and live on Earth. On shore Ponyo meets a boy Sosuke and they instantly become friends and get an interesting, almost magical bond, which grows stronger throughout the film, when Ponyo slowly transforms from a fish to a little girl. This is one of my least favorites from Studio Ghibli, but it was still nice watching it, as it has great sceneries as well.
7. The Cat Returns (2002). These last two were my childhood favorites, but when I rewatched them a few years ago I kind of got disappointed. This film is about a girl Haru, who becomes a cat after saving what seemed to be a stray cat from a car. In reality it was Prince of the Cat Kingdom, and now the King wants to marry Haru with his son. I remember the part where Haru wakes up in the middle of the nights and sees a parade of cats with lamps and musical instruments in their hands (or should I say paws?) and when she appears in the Cat Kingdom where all the buildings and everything were so tiny and cute. This was my favorite part I don’t know why, it just seemed so mysterious and dreamy, and of course I was dreaming about waking up one day and seeing a similar thing. Never did.
8. Princess Mononoke (1997). Second one from my childhood favorites, which I didn’t like that much as an adult. But this one has a very deep meaning and is quite dark, as it represents the battle or struggle of nature and gods/spirits of forest with humans, who were destroying everything in order to consume the resources of nature. I’d definitely want to rewatch this again, to understand it from a different aspect and with a more grown up worldview. As a child I really loved princess Mononoke, and wanted to be like her, as she grew up with wolves and was cool and reckless.
Studio Ghibli has other films I have yet to watch. The only film that I watched recently but didn’t include in this list is “The Wind Rises“. It wasn’t that bad, but in contrast to the others, there aren’t any magical or supernatural elements at all, it shows the plain reality, the earthquake and war and the bad consequences of it in Tokyo and was quite “heavy“, definitely not for a light watch.
Just like with other lists I make, I really enjoyed this one too, because I kind of get to experience and be inspired once again, when choosing and making the photography and reading their plots in order not to say anything false, as there were some from the list that I watched only once or twice a few years ago. But now I want to rewatch all these films once again and enjoy their wonderful atmosphere. Hope I managed to transfer it here and you’ll enjoy watching these.