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

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?

Spirited Away

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

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

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.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

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?

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8 Comments to "My Venture Into Studio Ghibli"

Cat wrote on 8th February 2016 at 2:03 PM

Happy New Year! I’m not supposed to get money anymore since I’m married, but my parents continue to give me red envelope every year, haha. They say they’ll stop if I have children, so the money goes to them instead.

I love Ghibli movies! I thought Totoro was so cute, but like you mentioned, it’s not as deep as other Ghibli movies. Kiki’s Delivery Service is another one I enjoyed that is a similar way.

Princess Mononoke is my favorite one, with Spirited Away as a close second! Every time I watch those, I’m wowed by the environments and creativity. I also love how they are darker stories, especially Mononoke.

I’ve also seen Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo, but I wasn’t into those two as much. I love Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind though. Definitely recommend that one!

I wish I caught Arrietty and The Wind Rises when they were in theaters. I still have so many to watch! One of these days, I’d like to watch every Ghibli movie and also cosplay from more of them. I’ve only done Spirited Away so far, but I’d like to do cosplays from Mononoke, Kiki, and Nausicaa some time 🙂

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Tara wrote on 9th February 2016 at 6:23 AM

I’ve watched some of Studio Ghibli’s films and anime series. I’ve seen Kiki’s Delivery Service, Future Boy Conan, Anne of Green Gables, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away. Oh, and I also tried a bit of Ni No Kuni for video game . . .

But ironically, I am NOT a Studio Ghibli fan! I couldn’t really get into them, the art style never appealed to me, and asflkjadfkjd. Everyone else around me loves it, but I’m just “meh” about it, and it made me wonder if something was wrong with me at one point LOL. I even ended up giving away my copy of Ni No Kuni! No offense to Studio Ghibli fans, but I just can’t get into it X_X;;;; I do like some of Joe Hisashi’s music, but not a lot of that either.

But seeing that you mentioned these animes drawing more from Japanese mythology and such, maybe that’s how I need to approach them next time if I ever do re-watch or watch them again. I guess with animated films, I’m so used to the western formula that the Japanese ones just didn’t click with me yet. Hrm . . . just something to think about.

Happy Lunar New Year to you, Liv! Happy Year of the Monkey! ^^

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Raisa wrote on 11th February 2016 at 2:04 PM

Happy new year! Sounds like you had a great weekend. 😀 I admit I haven’t seen much Studio Ghibli, but I really enjoyed Howl’s Moving Castle! Maybe I should arrange a viewing sometime. XD I’ve been meaning to host a movie night online!

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Becca wrote on 11th February 2016 at 5:10 PM

Happy new year! My best friend always gets money even though she is older, too! I love that tradition. 🙂

I haven’t seen My Neighbor Totoro yet, but it’s on my “to-watch” list for pretty much forever. Spirited Away and the other two movies I’m pretty sure are all on the IMDB Top 250 list so I’m eventually going to get around to them! I have a friend who loves anime so I will just steal all of them from him. 🙂

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Michelle wrote on 12th February 2016 at 7:38 PM

That’s super awesome, and Happy Lunar New Year! ^^

Studio Ghibli is a magical world for kids and adults, though my first exposure to Studio Ghibli came when I was flipping through channels and saw glimpses of Princess Mononoke. I love Princess Mononoke and while I’ve seen a lot of Miyazaki’s films, I still hold Princess Mononoke as their best work and their most influential to date. Though Spirited Away has great music and a very powerful story.

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Jenny wrote on 15th February 2016 at 10:15 AM

Aww, Totoro was my first Ghibli film as well! I also really liked Howl’s Moving Castle, partly because Howl is really cute, haha. I actually haven’t seen Spirited Away yet, but it looks good!

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Carol wrote on 16th February 2016 at 6:10 AM

Happy New Year Liv!
Nahh, I thought you’re only supposed to give money when you’re married. Or maybe the tradition is different on your side, or you could give money to your parents 😉 I’m just happily accepting money whenever they offer 😛

I actually visited the Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo watching only Princess Mononoke. Kinda lost inside though, but it’s really cool to look at the artist’s painting and works. But unfortunately no cameras are allowed inside. I should really watch Totoro soon!

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Georgie wrote on 26th February 2016 at 6:43 AM

I love Studio Ghibli though my favourites are Grave of the Fireflies, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Laputa (amazing music in the latter two – simply beautiful). Grave of the Fireflies is a typically sad and melancholy movie, it was rated one of the worst in a list because it was dull and perhaps predictable. I thought it was beautiful though.

I have not seen Princess Mononoke but I have heard it is the best Studio Ghibli film. I think Totoro is one of my favourites too, actually. It’s so adorable. 🙂

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