NOWO'S Studio Ghibli Cheat Sheet - Part Four: Fancy A Cry?
Updated: Apr 21
Fancy a Cry?
Movies can be powerful stuff and the same can be said of Studio Ghibli's efforts.
Although almost all of these films probably have the ability to get you all soft and gooey inside by their sweet stories and beautiful messages and artwork, I believe these next films were made simply to make you bawl like a baby. If you’re anything like me and have a tough reputation to keep up, definitely watch these films alone unless you want to be teased for a while afterwards, but hey! There’s nothing to be ashamed of, some of these films hit hard!
Grave of the Fireflies (1988) – The worst offender in this list is definitely Grave of the Fireflies, just search for any lists online of sad films and you’ll find Grave of the Fireflies at the top of it. Set during WW2, two young Japanese siblings; Seita and Setsuko are caught up in the middle of a violent bombing which ends up separating them from their mother. They’re now homeless orphans who must try to find a way to survive during this futile time. Watching the pair of CHILDREN struggle to find shelter, food and even to stay warm whilst constantly dodging gunfire and explosions really is heart-breaking, it really will make you give up any hope for the world once you put yourself in their shoes. Whenever I suggest this film to anyone else, I always say “it’s hauntingly beautiful and worth a watch but only once, you’ll never be brave enough to watch it again” which is exactly what I’ve done! I’ve only seen this film once and don’t plan to again any time soon!
When Marnie Was There (2014) – This has got to be, my favourite Ghibli film. I was fortunate enough to see it at a local independent cinema which was so amazing, something I’ve only done 3 times with Ghibli films. Now everyone will see this film differently but as someone that has read the novel it was based on, holidayed close to where the book is set as a child and even suffered from similar issues that the characters have, this film always hits me hard. When Marnie Was There focuses on a young teenager named Anna who lives in a small Japanese city named Sapporo. Anna is adopted and accidentally finds out that her foster mother receives money to care for her, which causes her to have self-esteem issues. On top of that she also has bad asthma and constantly suffers from anxiety/asthma attacks. As a result of the asthma attacks, her worried foster mother sends Anna away for the summer to a rural seaside town to stay with close family friends so she can breathe clean air for a change. Whilst there Anna stays anti-social and goes out a lot to sketch the area by herself. One day, Anna comes across a large mansion over a marsh and is fixated by it, she can’t figure out why she is so drawn to it. Another day passes and Anna comes across a young girl living in the marsh house named Marnie, the two become inseparable although Marnie has a habit of appearing and disappearing and neither can figure out why. I’m not sure if this film is sad for everyone but it certainly makes me cry! Perhaps you’ll cry happy tears instead? I think this is literally my favourite film so give it a go from my recommendation, who knows, you may love it too!
The Wind Rises (2013) – As I mentioned in the last entry, I’ve only been able to see 3 Ghibli films at the cinema and The Wind Rises is another one of those 3. Although a pacifist; one of the founders of the studio and director/writer of many of its hits (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, etc.) Hayao Miyazaki has a fascination with war planes, which explains why a lot of his films contain planes. The Wind Rises is a fictionalised biopic of Jiro Horikoshi - designer of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter aircraft. The plot of The Wind Rises follows a fictional version of Jiro Horikoshi as a child wishing to become a pilot but unable to due to his bad eyesight. It follows him studying to become a plane engineer and how he ends up designing planes, we see the people he meets along the way and the relationships he builds with them. I could tell you what makes this film sad but that would be a spoiler so you’ll have to watch it yourself and see! It is sometimes regarded as Miyazaki’s best work so definitely not one to sleep on.
Day 4 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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