My Venture Into Studio Ghibli
Happy New Year my Asian friends! This is the Year of the Monkey which means I am turning 24 and that it’s my zodiac year. There are traditions about gifting people with red items for their zodiac year, so I got plenty from accessories to clothes. I also got money which was nice since I’m an adult and should be giving money to the younger ones. However I’m still the youngest member of my entire family and that won’t be changing until the day I become a mother, which I’ll write about in a different post.
I spent my weekend at my house in the suburbs and had a Studio Ghibli marathon while I was fed lots of food. Last week I held an outreach event where my friends and I watched My Neighbor Totoro with some new students. That was my first Ghibli movie because I’m late to the party as usual, hehe. However I wasted no time preparing for my weekend and reserved a bunch of DVDs from my library in time for my visit!
My Neighbor Totoro is about two sisters Satsuki and Mei who move to the country with their dad to be closer to their hospitalized mom. They meet a few bunny-like creatures who happen to be forest spirits! These spirits are not always visible and come only when they are needed. They use their magical powers to help the sisters through their troubles. Though I thought the movie was hilarious and adorable, the plot wasn’t as deep as I expected it to be as hyped from the iconic waiting for the bus in the rain scene. Then again it’s a children’s movie so how complicated does it need to get?
I was wrong though. I watched Spirited Away first when I got home and the plot was actually so complex that I had trouble following what exactly was going on. Chihiro and her parents get lost on their way to their new house and end up in a spirit world. Her parents eat the food of the spirits and turn into pigs, while Chihiro is guided by a boy named Haku on how to get out of the bathhouse she is stuck in and also save her parents. There are actually lots of different conflicts between different characters going on, and only by the end did I realize everything that was happening. Amazing story!
The Secret World of Arrietty turns back into a simple children’s movie and since I watched this right after, it was a nice change in pace. Arrietty is a Borrower which means she “borrows” things from human Beans to survive. A sickly boy Bean moves into the house that her family lives off of and he is fascinated by her people, while other Beans are out to exploit their way of life for personal gain. How are the little people going to survive in this big world?
Princess Mononoke has a plot that also was difficult to grasp until the ending. Ashitaka is a feudal prince who defends his village from a Boar God blighted by demons and is cursed in the process. He travels to find the Deer God to heal him from the curse and falls into a battle between an iron-making clan destroying the forest of the Deer God verses Princess Mononoke, a wild girl who is adamant about protecting the forest because she was raised by the Wolf Goddess.
I fell asleep while watching The Tale of Princess Kaguya, but it’s still a great movie just targeted towards a younger audience with its slow animated art direction. One day a bamboo cutter finds a little doll-sized girl inside a bamboo shoot, and takes her home where she turns into a real baby. He and his wife raise her, and as she gets older the same bamboo shoot blesses them with gold and fancy clothing. They believe it is a sign from the heavens to let her live the life of a noble princess, and thus they build a mansion in the capital for Kaguya and hire a governess to educate her for a high-class marriage. Not the kind of life a country girl can adjust to!
I would have to say all the films I’ve watched so far are pretty good, and my favorites are My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. It’s nice to watch films that draw from Japanese mythology and history, and they are so different from American animated films. I’m going to check out more Studio Ghibli next time I go home for Part 2 of this post. Have you ever watched any?