NOWO'S Studio Ghibli Cheat Sheet - Part Three: Something More Serious?
Updated: Apr 21
Something More Serious?
On Day 3 we're expecting the kids to have gone to bed and now for something a bit more adult.
It’s fair to say that as wonderful and fun the above Ghibli films can be, sometimes you fancy watching something with a bit more grit to it, something you can really sink your teeth into and get lost in or maybe something to watch with somebody older like a parent or grandparent even! So here you will find the kind of films that require a fair bit of concentration and mood lighting.
Tales From Earthsea (2006) – One for the magic nerds out there. I won’t lie, I’ve only seen this one once as it wasn’t really my thing, it was a bit slow and I can barely remember it but I believe if you’re into dragons, wizards and big swords – you’ll enjoy this! Almost like a more serious version of Howl’s Moving Castle, Tales From Earthsea follows the story of another very powerful wizard named Archmage Sparrowhawk who one day saves a young boy named Arren, a mysterious force becomes a threat to the town of Earthsea, so the two team up to defeat the mysterious foe. I know that’s the worst plot synopsis ever but it really was a long time ago that I watched this film, if you’re still not sold on this one; watch a trailer!
Princess Mononoke (1997) – Yet another fan favourite, Princess Mononoke. Again, I’ve seen my fair share of Princess Mononoke cosplays in my time. It’s kind of like The Jungle Book but bloodier, Princess Mononoke follows the story of a young warrior who is struck with a deadly curse, in order to cure himself he decides to travel to a forest in the West. On his journey he finds himself caught up in the middle of a dispute between a mining colony and the forest spirits, the forest spirits are led by a young girl named San who was literally raised by a Wolf God in the forest, the young warrior Ashitaka attempts to end the war between nature and humanity. Similar to Tales From Earthsea, I only saw this film once and don’t remember everything about it but again, it’s a Ghibli classic that will always come up in conversation when speaking about the studio, so it’s best to get your Princess Mononoke experience up!
Porco Rosso (1992) – At first glance, this film may seem silly I mean the time has come where pigs actually fly! Porco Rosso is the story of a WWI pilot who mysteriously turns into a pig. Similar to when he was human - he then continues to fight air pirates and spends his time frequenting clubs. The film then follows the life of this anthropomorphic pig and the people that he meets along the way. The reason (this is the same for a lot of the films in this section) that I chose to include it here is that it’s more serious than fun, this isn’t to say that it includes lots of heavy material that’ll depress you but it does follow the themes of war, relationships and conflict. Something that you might want to consider when you’re looking for a cheery escape film.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) – Seen as the first Studio Ghibli film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is similar in a way to Princess Mononoke with the films theme focusing around civilisation vs nature. Nausicaä – the young princess of the valley of the wind lives in a post-apocalyptic world set 1000 years in the future. Her world is surrounded by the “toxic jungle” which is filled with dangerous, giant insects. Nausicaä wants to make peace with the toxic jungle rather than destroy it, however neighbouring cities have other ideas. Honestly, this is another one that I’ve seen once and can’t really remember anymore as you can probably tell by that plot summary! But again, if you’re looking to be on top of your Ghibli knowledge, don’t miss this one out! It may look old but that certainly doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it!
Only Yesterday (1991) – Only Yesterday is almost like an autobiographical piece where we watch Taeko Okajima; a 27 year old woman who is working an office job in the big city. She is planning to take a 10 day vacation to a relative’s farm in Yamagata – a rural town in Northern Japan. Throughout her trip we see her reminisce over her childhood and the things she did in school, with her family and with her friends at the age of around 10. This film is a slow burner, there isn’t really any action just snippets of everyday life. It is however really sweet and charming to watch. There are some funny scenes, awkward scenes and even some sad scenes but it really is a lovely reflection of everyday life for adult Taeko. This film recently got an English dub with Star Wars star Daisy Ridley as adult Taeko, the film also stars Dev Patel and others.
Ocean Waves (1993) - This may have changed recently but I believe this is one of the last Ghibli films not to receive an English dub. Ocean Waves was in fact a TV movie meaning it’s a little shorter than the average film time of around an hour and a half – two hours. Ocean Waves run time is around 1hr 16mins and is similar to how Only Yesterday is told through flashbacks. A young man named Taku Morisaki can be seen making his way home after his first year of college/university, whilst at the train station he catches a glimpse of a young girl that he knew in high school named Rikako Muto. We then see through flashbacks the time he spent with Rikako and the trouble she managed to get Taku into over the years. This film feels almost like a soap opera with all the drama that ensues, it’s definitely a little too slow and boring for kids, this film hasn’t really got any adult material in but it does contain boring adult things like relationships, arguments and growing up. Again, similar to Only Yesterday, there isn’t any huge problems in the film, just life to watch.
Day 3 comes to a close and we'd love to know if you like what you've read here and we'd love to hear from you either way. If you're just plain impressed why not head over to Hope Eliza's own blog; hopeelizab.co.uk and let her know if you do watch any of her recommendations via twitter or Instagram which is @hopeelizab on both.
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