The Jakarta Post
A still from My Neighbor Totoro by Studio Ghibli. (www.facebook.com/GhibliFrance/-)
Studio Ghibli, established by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Yasuyoshi Tokuma and Toshio Suzuki in 1986, has produced many successful animated features that are popular both within and outside of Japan. Here are some that are a must-watch:
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Directed by Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro tells the story of two young sisters, Satsuki and Mei, who move in with their father while their mother recovers from an illness in a nearby hospital. At their new house, they discover a forest spirit that they call Totoro.
The movie received widespread attention especially from global audiences. Totoro is so popular that the character was chosen as the mascot of Studio Ghibli.
Spirited Away (2001)
Spirited Away follows the adventures of Chihiro in a world of strange creatures, spirits and sorcerers. In order to save her parents and return to the outside world, she has to rely on her judgment, courage and loyalty.
The movie is one of the most-praised works by Miyazaki and has won many awards including a 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and the Berlin International Film Festival 2002 award for Best Picture of the Year.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Howl’s Moving Castle brings a mix of romance and fantasy to audiences. Teenage girl Sophie is cursed by the Wicked Witch of the Waste, turning her into a 90-year-old woman. She then meets Howl, an attractive yet mysterious wizard, who saves her by lifting the curse. However, their journey starts a dangerous war of sorcery.
Based on an English novel released in 1986 by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2006 Academy Awards. Renowned actors including Christian Bale and Jean Simmons provided the voices for the movie's English version.
Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
Directed by Isao Takahata with an original story written by Akiyuki Nosaka, the encouraging yet heartbreaking Grave of the Fireflies is set after a World War II bombing. Seita, a 14-year-old boy, struggles alongside his younger sister, Setsuko, as they endure desperation, hunger and grief.
Grave of the Fireflies was released in the same year as My Neighbor Totoro.
(Read also: 10 old-school manga we just can’t forget)
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Princess Mononoke was written and directed by Miyazaki. The story is set during the old times of Japan where humans could be both allies and enemies of nature. It follows the journey of a warrior named Ashitaka who is involved in a battle between humans and nature. He meets San, better known as Princess Mononoke, who tries to protect the forest from Eboshi.
The English version of the movie is voiced by renowned actors such as Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Gillian Anderson, Billy Bob Thornton and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Ponyo (On the Cliff by the Sea) (2008)
Ponyo revolves around the relationship between a fish-girl named Ponyo and a human named Sousuke. However, they are forced to separate by Ponyo’s father, a wizard who lives under the sea.
Filmmaker Miyazaki creates the beautiful underwater world of Ponyo using traditional hand-drawn animation instead of the computer animation seen in Princess Mononoke. The English version features well-known actors including Liam Neeson, Noah Cyrus, Frankie Jonas, Tina Fey, Betty White and Brad Pitt.
The Wind Rises (2013)
The Wind Rises was Miyazaki’s farewell masterpiece before he retired. According to The Guardian, the movie was inspired by the life of World War II Zero fighter plane designer Jiro Horikoshi, and the writings of Tatsuo Hori.
A combination of historical drama and romance, The Wind Rises was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. (kes)
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