Why We Should Watch More Studio Ghibli

I personally think anime films or series are already perfect as they are, no need for remakes or live-action versions. But it's not like I have a say at these things, I don't own the rights and I am simply one small voice in this vast online world called the internet.

I am particularly fond of Studio Ghibli, and once I plug in my hard drive to re-watch any of its films, it always feels like unlocking a treasure chest of magic. I will always be thankful for anime, which tugs at the heartstrings like no other cartoon does, and never fails to amaze with its visual masterpiece and skilled storytelling.

I say that even as adults, we should watch more Studio Ghibli films because as with the childhood cartoons we grew up with, I feel as though these stories still end with a moral lesson that we can reflect on and better our lives with. Allow me to share with you my personal favorites, and corresponding key takeaways, because don't we all live for key takeaways?



PRINCESS MONONOKE (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997)

Warning: Contains a lot of brutal images that may shock you. But trust me when I say the scenes are necessary for storytelling’s sake, and I believe your tita heart will able to take it.

Moral of the story: Between two rivaling groups, having a winner and a loser isn’t always the case. There’s another way around a feud, and that’s compromise. So instead of warring and finishing off each other's teams, why not agree to coexist together, live peacefully, and happily ever after?

My woman crush: Princess Mononoke.  First, she’s a girl in fur. As in real, authentic fur. And check out her full wolf regalia! Second, she sucks blood off an animal and spits it out with such a "cool girl" attitude, if I may say, and then wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. And lastly, there's Ashitaka watching her from a distance, seeing her the first time. I'm in love with that scene.



MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)

Warning: Involves a lot of huge, larger-than-life creatures that can be kind of creepy. Or maybe that’s just me.

Moral of the story: Two things. Help comes when you need it, and that family time is the best time ever.

Favorite part: The dust bunnies! They’re supposed to be scary, ugly, and will trigger a sneeze, but to me, they seem cute and cuddly in anime form.



PONYO (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008)

Moral of the story: Don’t mess with nature!

Caution: Sōsuke. I think one of the reasons why Ponyo the goldfish princess fell in love with him is because at one point, he was very much paasa/pa-fall. When he “rescued” Ponyo, he made her a promise to “protect her forever.” Now if I were a fish and a human being would tell me that, I’d probably fall for his—excuse for the term—playboy words, too!

Epilogue: But Sōsuke redeemed himself in the end, proving that he is, indeed, true to his word. When both their mothers were talking about their children's relationship, Sōsuke was upfront and he boldly told them that he would love Ponyo in all forms, whether as a little girl or as a goldfish. That definitely made me conclude this film as a modern-day, anti-discrimination anime fit for 2017.



THE WIND RISES (Hayao Miyazaki, 2013)

Best film ever:  It's a multi-awarded biopic about Japanese aviation engineer Jiro Horikoshi, the man behind one of the most powerful and awesome World War II fighter planes. Plus, everyone loves a war love story!

Moral of the story: There’s such a thing as work-life balance, a.k.a. accomplishing everything—from pursuing your lifelong dream, studying abroad, serving your country during the war, meeting the girl of your dreams in the middle of all the chaos, marrying her, and being with her through sickness and health.

Spotted: Naoko. If Natalie Portman were an anime, it would probably be her.



THE CAT RETURNS (Hiroyuki Morita, 2002)

LOL moment: When Haru falls in love with the Baron, the gentlemanly cat who saves her from the cruel feline kingdom. He whisked her off from the palace, carrying her in his arms and Haru couldn’t resist stealing a look. The Baron caught her gaze and she blushed in embarrassment. 

Moral of the story: The importance of knowing your true self, your worth, and identity. Otherwise, you’ll easily turn into what others want you to be. So just keep doing your thing and you’ll find your place in the world, too.

Tearjerker: When Haru was a kid, she saw a poor, stray cat walking by and offered her the fish crackers she was eating. In the future, Haru would be repaid for her kindness by the same cat.



TALES FROM EARTHSEA (Gorō Miyazaki, 2006)

Dashing dude: A guy named Sparrowhawk. Doesn't the name sound sexy to you?

Moral of the story: You can be trapped forever in your dark past, but there’s always the choice to get out of it. If you choose to wallow in that darkness, there’ll be no room for light.

Bonus: What I love about the love story subplot is how the couple started out resenting each other. And we all know too well that the opposite of love isn't hate, but resentment. 



FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (Gorō Miyazaki, 2011)

Young love: Shun Kazama, poet-in-the-making and school paper editor. He will jump into a pool as a stunt for his school’s journalism club, or to catch the attention of Umi, his love interest. While Umi was initially annoyed at his ploy, it can't be denied that the boy was successful. Umi couldn't stop thinking about him afterwards.

Moral of the story: Well, love wins. So she hated him at first. Then they finally leveled up to mutual understanding status, only to find out that they might be siblings. Still, they were unable to suppress their innermost desires and decided to carry on with their love.

High school life: The film touches on all the high school issues that we have, at one point, all been concerned with: family and parent problems, finding your cool group, meeting your first love, dealing with an annoying sibling, having to do chores and duties at home, and real problems like the war aftermath.



OCEAN WAVES (Tomomo Mochizuki, 1993)

Unique selling point: The story is told in flashback, with appropriate Instax-esque snaps. Plus it’s a guy who narrates the story (think 500 Days of Summer!). His name is Taku.

Moral of the story: Cheesy as it sounds, sometimes you meet someone you’ve fallen in love with from a while back all along, but will only realize it later. 

Love triangle: So this is your typical youth-oriented barkada flick with a cute love story, where the guys still can't control their temper and punch each other, and the girls are innocent but rebellious, too. 


What do you think? Are these on your list of favorites, too? I'm curious to know your top Studio Ghibli picks and I'm really hoping you can share them!