“Whenever someone creates something with all of their heart, then that creation is given a soul:” our selection of Studio Ghibli films.

Studio Ghibli Flowers GIF
“Whenever someone creates something with all of their heart, then that creation is given a soul.”

The Baron, ‘The Cat Returns’ Studio Ghibli (2002).

Occasionally a film will lift itself from being a cinematic experience to being a work of art.
Studio Ghibli however has established itself as a studio that creates exquisite cinematic artworks time after time, whilst also making sure that the films are hugely enjoyable, entertaining and, when required, profound.

Founded in 1985 Studio Ghibli is widely recognised as one of the finest animation studios on the planet. Nominated for Academy awards for best animated feature on no less than five occasions and winner in 2001 for Spirited Away. The studio’s stylistic influences range from romantic Victorian steam punk, Ukiyo-e woodblock printing to traditional Japanese brush work and fantasy art. Likewise the subjects and themes range from adaptations of literary works, traditional mythology to studio penned original works and historical inspired works.

After their 1986 film Valley of the Wind was cut to ribbons in the U.S., Studio Ghibli refused to release their works in the West. And it was only after a no-edit distribution deal with Disney that this changed. Indeed, when one studio executive suggested edits the studio reportedly sent them a Samurai sword with a note that only said ‘no cuts’.

We have all the beautiful, lyrical, exciting, funny, and mysterious Studio Ghibli films in our collections.
Below is just a small selection.

Howl’s moving castle
“Sophie, an average teenage girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. After this chance meeting she is turned into a 90-year old woman by the vain and conniving Witch of the Waste. Embarking on an incredible adventure to lift the curse, she finds refuge in Howl’s magical moving castle where she becomes acquainted with Markl, Howl’s apprentice, and a hot-headed fire demon named Calcifer. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

My neighbor Totoro
“Deep inside a tree trunk, two children discover a fascinating new world inhabited by Totoros, amazing, charming creatures who become their friends.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Ponyo
“A young boy named Sosuke rescues a goldfish named Ponyo, and they embark on a fantastic journey of friendship before Ponyo’s father forces her to return to the sea. Ponyo’s desire to be human upsets the balance of nature and only Ponyo’s mother, a beautiful sea goddess, can restore nature’s balance and make Ponyo’s dreams come true.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Spirited away
“Spirited away is a wondrous fantasy about a young girl named Chihiro who discovers a secret world of strange spirits, creatures and sorcery. When her parents are mysteriously transformed, she must call upon the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Arrietty
“In a secret world hidden beneath the floorboards, little people called Borrowers live quietly among us. But when tenacious and tiny Arrietty is discovered by Shawn, a human boy, their secret and forbidden friendship blossoms into an extraordinary adventure.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

Porco Rosso
“Slouching towards middle age, Porco Rosso makes his living by flying about in his red bi-plane and fighting sky bandits who prey on cruise ships sailing the Adriatic. When he’s not engaging in dog fights, this pilot lives on a deserted island retreat. Porco was once a strappling young man, but after his entire squardron was wiped out, he is mysteriously transformed into a pig. Then he is defeated in a dogfight against a dashing American rival, who has been hired by the dastardly bandits. With his plane damaged, he finds a repair hanger near Milan where a local woman fixes his plane.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Grave of the fireflies
“Orphaned Seita and his four-year-old sister struggle to survive in the Japanese countryside after a World War II bombing; the helplessness and indifference of their countrymen is more painful than the enemy raids.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

 

The collected works of Hayao Miyazaki.
“Featuring the collected works of legendary director Hayao Miyazaki. One of the founding members of Studio Ghibli, this limited edition box set collect’s all of Miyazaki’s full length feature films. Includes Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), Porco Rosso (1992), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Ponyo (2008) and The Wind Rises (2013). ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Studio Ghibli : the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata / Odell, Colin
“The animations of Japan’s Studio Ghibli are amongst the highest regarded in the movie industry. This book examines all their major works and explores the cultural and thematic threads that bind these films together.” (Catalogue)

All aboard the Catbus!

Having been to see the wonderful Studio Ghibli documentary (Kingdom of Dreams and Madness) and the gorgeous Tale of Princess Kaguya, I thought I would share some of the neat Studio Ghibli content that is in our libraries.

Syndetics book coverStudio Ghibli : the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata / Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc.
“The animations of Japan’s Studio Ghibli are amongst the highest regarded in the movie industry. Their delightful films rank alongside the most popular non-English language films ever made, with each new eagerly-anticipated release a guaranteed box-office smash. Yet this highly profitable studio has remained fiercely independent, producing a stream of imaginative and individual animations. The studio’s founders, long-time animators Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, have created timeless masterpieces. Although their films are distinctly Japanese their themes are universal–humanity, community, and a love for the environment. No other film studio, animation or otherwise, comes close to matching Ghibli for pure cinematic experience. All their major works are examined here, as well the early output of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, exploring the cultural and thematic threads that bind these films together.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArrietty [videorecording].
“In a secret world hidden beneath the floorboards, little people called Borrowers live quietly among us. But when tenacious and tiny Arrietty is discovered by Shawn, a human boy, their secret and forbidden friendship blossoms into an extraordinary adventure.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPrincess Mononoke [videorecording] / produced by Toshio Suzuki ; directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
“A young warrior searching for a cure for a deadly curse becomes entangled in a battle between a clan of humans and the forest’s animal gods.” (Syndetics summary)

Howl’s moving castle [videorecording] / Tokuma Shoten, Studio Ghibli, Nippon Television Network, Dentsu, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Mitsubishi and Toho present a Studio Ghibli production ; a film by Hayao Miyazaki.
“Sophie, an average teenage girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. After this chance meeting she is turned into a 90-year old woman by the vain and conniving Witch of the Waste. Embarking on an incredible adventure to lift the curse, she finds refuge in Howl’s magical moving castle where she becomes acquainted with Markl, Howl’s apprentice, and a hot-headed fire demon named Calcifer. As the true power of Howl’s wizardy is revealed, and his relationship with Sophie deepens, our young grey heroine finds herself fighting to protect them both from a dangerous war of society that threatens their world”–Container.

The Cat ReturnsThe cat returns [videorecording] / a film by Hiroyuki Morita.
“A young girl rescues a mysterious cat from traffic and soon finds herself the unwelcome recipient of gifts and favors from the King of the Cats, who also wants her to marry his son, Prince Lune. With the assistance of a fat, grouchy real cat and a an elegant cat statuette come to life (both characters featured in Studio Ghibli’s earlier anime “Whisper of the Heart”), the girl visits the Cat Kingdom and narrowly escapes again.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrom up on Poppy Hill [videorecording] / a Studio Ghibli production. “A high school love story in the year before the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics as Japan begins to pick itself up from the devastation of World War II. A new generation struggles to move towards a prosperous future whilst trying not to lose the essence of their past. Capturing the beauty of Yokohama harbour, Umi and Shun’s budding romance develops as they join forces to save their high school’s ramshackle clubhouse from demolition.” (Books in Print)

Kiki's Delivery ServiceKiki’s delivery service [videorecording] / a film by Hayao Miyazaki.
“A young witch, on her mandatory year of independent life, finds fitting into a new community difficult while she supports herself by running an air courier service.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhen Marnie was there. This is the most recent movie from Studio Ghibli, based on the book of the same name by Joan Robinson. Hopefully it will make its way to New Zealand shores, but until then, you can watch the full trailer (in Japanese).

Syndetics book coverRonia, the robber’s daughter / Astrid Lindgren ; translated by Patricia Crompton.
“Ronia, who lives with her father and his band of robbers in a castle in the woods, causes trouble when she befriends the son of a rival robber chieftain.” (Syndetics summary) Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is Studio Ghibli’s first foray into television. The animated series based on the book of the same name will begin airing in Japan soon. I loved this book as a child, so while we wait for this to be released in New Zealand, you can watch the first footage here.

Miyazaki’s 50 recommended children’s books

As a number of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli movies are based on either novels or manga, it is perhaps unsurprising that he has made a list of his favourite children’s books. Because it’s quite a long list (50 in total!), here are a few of his top books:

Syndetics book coverThe little prince / written and drawn by Antoine de Saint-Exupery ; translated from the French by Katherine Woods.
“This new translation into “modern” English brings a classic tale into sharper focus for today’s teens without sacrificing the beauty and simplicity of the author’s writing, and the “restored” artwork has all the charm of the original drawings. What appears to be a simple tale of two lost souls-one, a pilot marooned in the desert next to his ditched plane; the other, a minuscule prince in self-imposed exile from an asteroid so small that he can watch the sunset 44 times a day-reveals itself as something far more complex. What appears to be a fairy tale for children opens like the petals of the Little Prince’s flower into a fantasy that has lessons for all of us.” (adapted from School Library Journal)

The Rose and the RingThe Rose and the Ring / by William Makepeace Thackeray “Between the kingdoms of Paflagonia and Crim Tartary, there lived a mysterious personage, who was known in those countries as the Fairy Blackstick, from the ebony wand or crutch which she carried; on which she rode to the moon sometimes, or upon other excursions of business or pleasure, and with which she performed her wonders. When she was young, and had been first taught the art of conjuring by the necromancer, her father, she was always practicing her skill, whizzing about from one kingdom to another upon her black stick, and conferring her fairy favors upon this Prince or that.” (Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverThe three musketeers / Alexandre Dumas ; translated and with an introduction by Lord Sudley
“Dumas’s tale of swashbuckling and heroism follows the fortunes of d’Artagnan, a headstrong country boy who travels to Paris to join the Musketeers – the bodyguard of King Louis XIII. Here he falls in with Athos, Porthos and Aramis, and the four friends soon find themselves caught up in court politics and intrigue. Together they must outwit Cardinal Richelieu and his plot to gain influence over the King, and thwart the beautiful spy Milady’s scheme to disgrace the Queen. In The Three Musketeers, Dumas breathed fresh life into the genre of historical romance, creating a vividly realized cast of characters and a stirring dramatic narrative.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe secret garden / Frances Hodgson Burnett ; illustrated by Robin Lawrie.
“Ten-year-old Mary comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlice’s adventures in Wonderland / by Lewis Carroll ; illustrated by POP ; adapted by Michiyo Hayano ; English translation by Camellia Nich.
“Lewis Carroll’s universally known story of a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole into a magical Wonderland is given a new spin in this lushly illustrated version of the classic tale. Alice was sitting in a field reading when a white rabbit scampered by. She didn’t know what was odder: that the rabbit was running on its hind legs, wearing a jacket, and carrying a pocket watch, or that it was talking, shouting, “I’m late! I’m late!” From the moment she decided to follow the rabbit into his rabbit hole, Alice was transported to a fantastical place called Wonderland, where anything was possible. All of the familiar characters are here: the Hatter, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, and the wicked Queen of Hearts.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe complete Sherlock Holmes / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
“Over one hundred years have passed since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intoduced his inimitable sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, to the world–and his popularity has never waned. This oversized commemorative volume contains the entire canon of Holmes adventures, both before and after his creator’s attempt to dispatch him in print. Just as the character, Holmes, prevails and defies even death, these detective stories featuring him and Dr. Watson have withstood more than the test of time: they defined and changed the way modern crime writers approached detective fiction.” (Syndetics summary)

See here for photos from a lovely Miyazaki exhibition and the rest of the list (you may wish to cross reference with the list on Amazon, as some of the titles are in Russian script).