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The Magic of Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli films are well recognized, and loved everywhere, but what makes them so special?

Last week, I got some Studio Ghibli movies. I have just been getting into them, and so during our two days off we had because of the cold, I decided to watch some of the ones I got.

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio based in Tokyo. The most notable director within the studio is Hayao Miyazaki. He has directed some of the studio’s most notable works, including the two films I’ll be talking about in here- My Neighbor Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle.

My Neighbor Totoro came out in 1988 in Japan, and the English dub of the movie came out in 1993. The movie tells a story about two girls and their dad who move to a new house, to be closer to their sick mother, who is currently in the hospital. Their new house, however, comes with a surprise. The surprise is tiny creatures called susuwatari-tiny little dust like house spirits. When the girls become comfortable in their new home, the dust spirits eventually leave and find a new place to stay. One day, when the younger sister, Mei, is playing in the yard, she sees two big ears on a bunny-like creature. She follows the creature into the forest, where she falls into a hole within a tree, and lands on an even bigger, and fluffier sleeping creature, who she then dubs as Totoro. Later in the day, she tries to show Totoros location to her older sister and father but is unsuccessful, and her dad tells her that “Totoro will reveal himself when he wants to be seen”. While the girls are waiting for their dad’s bus one rainy night, Mei falls asleep on her sisters back, and Totoro reveals himself to her. He provides them with an umbrella, and is a protector for the girls, while they wait for their dads delayed bus. When the bus approaches, Totoro boards his own bus-a catbus-and leaves the girls to greet their dad. Their mom was supposed to come to the house for a weekend visit, but it was postponed due to her getting a cold. Mei is mad about this and decides to take a giant piece of corn to the hospital herself. When her older sister, Satsuki, gets home she can’t find Mei. The whole town helps to search, but are unsuccessful until Satsuki asks for Totoro’s help. He comes to her, and loans the catbus so she can use it to find Mei. She finds Mei on the side of the road, and they fly to the hospital, where the corn is delivered. The girls return home, and their mother eventually comes home, and the movie ends with the girls playing with mother while Totoro and the other forest spirits look on.

Howl’s Moving Castle came out in 2004 in both Japan and the United States. The movie is loosely based on the book of the same name. The movie tells the story of Sophie, a young milliner, who encounters the wizard Howl on her way to visit her sister. Later, when she returns home, the Witch of the Wastes casts a curse on her and turns her into a 90-year-old woman. Wanting to break the curse, she leaves home and travels to the countryside where she meets a scarecrow, who she calls Turnip Head. The scarecrow finds her a place to stay, a moving castle. Inside she meets a fire named Calcifer, and a little boy named Markl. When Howl appears, she dubs herself as a cleaning lady. Howl is summoned by the King to fight in the war, that is currently happening around them. Howl instead sends Sophie, and learns that the Witch of the Wastes is also there, but eventually gets her powers drained, and turns her into a regular old woman. Sophie learns that the same could happen to Howl if he does not decide to fight. Howl arrives to rescue Sophie and is almost trapped, but together they manage to escape. Later, Sophie learns that Howl is bounded to Calcifer, and that Howl has been turning into a birdlike creature to interfere in the war, but every time he does it gets harder and harder to transform back. The castle is parked, and eventually gets bombarded by bombs from the local war. Sophie is separated from the group and stumbles upon a scene of young Howl catching a falling star, which turns out to be Calcifer. She goes back outside, and finds Howl close to death, where she takes his heart, which is the burned out Calcifer, and returns it to Howl. He wakes up, and so does the scarecrow, who turns out to be the prince, who can put a stop to the war. They all live happily ever after, in a new moving castle.

Both of these movies have beautiful animation and stories. The animation adds something to the movies and helps to further tell the story that is already being told. Howl’s Moving Castle, shows the destruction of war, while Totoro shows the importance of family. Miyazaki was against the Iraq war, and there are subtle undertones within Howl’s Moving Castle that shows this. Both movies also show how important love is, and what it can do. Like with Satsuki and Mei, their sister bond, and with Sophie and Howl, and how love can cure someone. Both movies are magical and are popular for a reason. I have a few others I have to watch as well, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. (I saw Spirited Away as a kid but was terrified, so hopefully, as an adult, the viewing will go better).

If you like animation and phenomenal stories, then I highly recommend watching these movies, and any other Studio Ghibli movies that are out there.

Rating: 9/10 for both of them.

Both are amazing pieces of art and film and have great stories and messages within them.

If y’all are interested, follow me on the following social media sites:

Twitter: @ohthatgirlanna Instagram:@theepenguinqueen

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