NOWO'S Studio Ghibli Cheat Sheet - Part One: Getting Started
Updated: Apr 21
Studio Ghibli - Easy Mode
So you’ve seen the Totoro plushes floating around comic con and you’ve heard of a small Oscar winning film called Spirited Away but you have no idea where to even start when it comes to Studio Ghibli films! But worry no more, we here at Nerd Out Word Out are here to help you! We’re all fans of the Japanese animation powerhouse and have seen a fair few of their 20 odd films, so today I’m going to help you by categorising each film so you know exactly which film to watch when and with who! All films have an English dub available unless stated otherwise and I will keep this post as spoiler free as possible, so no need to worry about spoiling each film before you have even got around to watching it. With that out of the way, let’s begin!
To make things easier for everyone, I’m going to stick with the Studio’s official films. I know the studio have produced other films and projects over the years but I’ll let the hardcore fans find those films on their own. To start with I’ll discuss the films that everyone seems to begin with, whenever anyone asks for Ghibli suggestions these are always the first 3 I suggest.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988) – As the studio’s mascot, almost everybody in the movie scene or even just involved in nerd or Japanese culture will be able to recognise Totoro. This grey rabbit, hamster, bear looking thing is of course the main character of My Neighbor Totoro. The film centres around 2 young girls; Satsuki & Mei who move into a new house in the countryside, the two later find out that the house is haunted by adorable forest spirits and the girls try their best to be hospitable hosts for the spirits. The film doesn’t have a major plot – it really isn’t that hard to follow, it’s just an adorable story to get lost in for an hour or so.
Spirited Away (2001) – As mentioned earlier; Spirited Away actually won an Academy Award back in 2003, that’s how good it is! It’s many people’s favourites and as one of the studio’s most famous, a good one to start with. Spirited Away focuses on (let’s be honest) a bit of a spoiled brat; Chihiro, a 10 year old girl who is moving to a new house. this time though she’s reluctant to leave and is upset about the move that her parents are constantly reassuring her about. On the drive to the new house her father decides to pull over and investigate the new area, the family then come across what seems to be an empty festival full of food and festivities, Chihiro’s – frankly, entitled - parents then sit down and begin to feast upon all the amazing looking food set up around the stalls, it turns out however that the festival was set up for the spirits of the town and Chihiro’s parents have shown major disrespect for taking their food. Chihiro's parents are then saddled with a curse and it’s Chihiro’s job to save them by seeking help at the local spirit bath house (a spa full of communal baths) in order to save her parents; Chihiro gets a job at the bath house and the rest of the film follows her time working there and the trouble that ensues. I won’t lie, the films plot can get a little confusing on its first watch but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying it, if you’re hoping to get into Studio Ghibli, you have to make sure you’ve seen this one.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – Another fan favourite; Howl’s Moving Castle was actually the first Ghibli film I ever saw I think! With the success of Spirited Away, the studio had a new credibility overseas and managed to get a star studded cast for this English dub including: Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, Jean Simmons (yes that’s Jean and not Gene) and more. The plot follows Sophie – an insecure young lady who works in her late father’s hat shop. She is very embarrassed by her looks and is a bit of a recluse. One day she has an encounter with the dreamy but very powerful wizard; Howl who literally sweeps Sophie off of her feet. Others become aware of this encounter and get jealous. One night, The Wicked Witch of the Waste visits Sophie in the hat shop and places a curse on her. Sophie wakes up the next day and has aged about 50 years! Old Sophie then sets off to find Howl to get him to break the curse. This beautiful film that centres around self-acceptance and magic is definitely one to add to your list, full of twists and turns, stunning visuals and comedic elements, it’s such a joy to watch.
That's all for now, the list continues on day 2. I hope I convince at least one person to watch at least 1 of the films in this list! For more Ghibli from me head over to my blog; hopeelizab.co.uk and let me know if you do watch any of my recommendations via twitter or Instagram which is @hopeelizab on both.
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