Spotlight! Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli, Inc. (株式会社スタジオジブリ Kabushiki-gaisha Sutajio Jiburi) is a Japanese animation and film studio founded in June 1985.  The studio is headed by the directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and the producer Toshio Suzuki.

Studio Ghibli Wikipedia

Hayao Miyazaki Wikipedia

Hayao Miyazaki

We are a fortunate generation to live in the times that we do. The advancement in computing and other technologies is astounding, and would probably never been imaginable in 1985. Walt Disney’s self-founded company created the world of animated movies, and now with Pixar, has burned a trail through time to set the standard for animation and computer generated images. Most every year we are graced with a lovely story and new, sensational CGI from Pixar animations that everyone can enjoy and marvel at.

But new isn’t always better.

See why after the break.

In 1986, when Studio Ghibli’s first feature length film came out, Castle in the Sky, was animated in a classic Japanese style. Although a very good movie, the animation was unique, but not anything new or trend-setting. But this was the blueprint for every Studio Ghibli film to come, and people would come to recognize it as a tradition, the trademark style of the studio’s work. This is one of the best traits of Studio Ghibli’s films. During the most innovative 25 years of animation, the studio has remained true to Japanese animation roots. With advancements in coloring and other aspects, the classic stlye is remarkable to witness these days, as there is something special in hand-drawn animation when all you see is 3D graphics generated by a computer.

Not only are the graphics unique, but the characters are stories are traditional and special as well. The characters in these films are true and genuine. There are really no “bad guys” and “good guys”. There are just characters that are exposed throughout the films who you grow and learn with. They all want different things and are very similar to people you would find in real life. Whether young and innocent, old and wise, spirited and loving, angry and vengeful, driven and strong, these individuals are memorable and genuine, and the adventures in which the partake are sensational. In an archetypal Japense universe, we are exposed to demons and gods spirits and strange and scary things. But it’s not their existence that is the story, it is their interaction with our human characters and the journeys they go on.

Their being cartoons, there is the probable speculation that these movies are for children. Like Pixar films, albeit better, these films are designed to entertain and teach people of any and all ages. With each film we are given a new and strong message, one that is applicable to everyone. Most popular animated films here in America will give the same several minor examples in why we should do this or not do that. Studio Ghibli films are a level ahead, smart and elegant in their teaching you about life and love, among other things. Their integrating of our known human world and these demons, gods and spirits allow them to apply lessons of relationships in a more expansive fashion. You are always left feeling better about yourself after watching these films.

Co-founder Hayao Miyazaki is the writer/director of nearly all of the internationally recognizable and award winning films. In 2003, Miyazaki became the fist winner from a non-English speaking country for an animated picture for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards for his film Spirited Away. The following films are all Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli films:

Castle in the Sky

My Neighbor Totoro

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Princess Mononoke

Spirited Away

Howl’s Moving Castle


RottenTomatoes Ratings (Overall | Top critics)

  • Castle in the Sky – 94% | NA
  • My Neighbor Totoro –  90% | NA
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service –  100% | NA
  • Princess Mononoke –  93% | 96%
  • Spirited Away –  97% | 100%
  • Howl’s Moving Castle –  86% | 83%
  • Ponyo –  92% | 88%


Somewhere around the year 1999, when Princess Mononoke was available on video in America, my father, a bit of a movie buff himself, rented it. Me and my brother, being only 9 years old at the time, loved it for it’s being an anime with some action in it, but for some reason, it had some staying power with me beyond that, one that I didn’t really understand. Then, about 4 years ago, I was reminded of the movie, and I got a hold of it as soon as I possibly could. I was amazed. The animation and the story were the likes of which I’d never seen before. Watching that for the first time in which I could fully grasp what was going on was one of the best movie-watching experiences of my life. I started watching it every month, every week, even every day for a while. I still have it on my computer after downloading it in 2008. I love this movie. It’s hard to place it in my “top ‘x'” movies of all time, but it will always be up there somewhere.

After watching most all of Miyazaki’s other films, I’ve loved every one of them. These are charming, fun, and insightful movies that I think everyone should watch and enjoy.


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