Ghibli Films revive childlike wonder

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Seeking freedom from the confines of television and socially uplifted 80s trends, Japanese animator and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli sprouted in 1985. It originated from parent company Tokuma Shoten, a publishing company in Japan.

This opened up a prosperous road in the world of animation, impacting audiences worldwide with Miyazaki’s bright scenes that romanticized daily life.

“To make something really good, that was Ghibli’s goal. Maintaining the existence of the company and seeing it grow were secondary considerations. This is what sets Ghibli apart from the ordinary company,”  Toshio Suzuki, Studio Ghibli producer, said at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 1995. He helped co-found Studio Ghibli, working alongside Miyazaki on all their films.  

The first ever film released by Studio Ghibli was “Castle in the  Sky,” where a young couple accidentally discovers the floating city of Laputa while being chased by a gang of pirates. “Miyazaki confessed that the village in this film channeled the Welsh mining towns with which he became familiar on his travels,” Miriam Balanescu, a journalist and literary critic for The Guardian, said.

The studio would go on to create 22 additional films, two of which would win Oscars. Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” won Best Animation award for its distinct style in 2002, telling the tale of a girl who falls into a fantastical world full of strange creatures after her parents are cursed.

The Boy and the Heron,” which won an Oscar March 10, 2024,  is a semi-autobiographical film which tells the story of a boy grieving his dead mother. 

“The style of The Boy and the Heron also sets it apart from not only past Best Animated Feature winners, but even most of the other movies in the category. Since the award came about in 2001, only one hand-drawn animated movie has won it. Ironically, it was another Studio Ghibli movie, the extremely famous “Spirited Away,” which won the award in 2002,” Jack Jaegar, reporter for Game Rant, said.

All in all, Miyazaki is able to communicate the depth of the human experience with rich characters, style and storyline. 

“[Ghibli films] have a really nostalgic quality about them. They embody childhood imagination and curiosity in a way that’s so captivating and heartwarming,” sophomore Ferrin Besong said.

His films stay timeless and appropriate for all ages, inducing hope and romance into our everyday life. 

This mural in Aguascalientes, Mexico incorporates characters from a multitude of Miyazaki’s films. “Although a lot of Ghibli stories are fantasy, they are always incorporated with beautifully hand-drawn ‘real life’ elements, such as scenes of Satsuki preparing bentō (Japanese-style packed lunch) in ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ or of countryside roads in the first few scenes of ‘Spirited Away’” Masami Iliffe, a BA East Asian Studies student at University of London said. While the characters appear ordinary, they all have a distinctive hairstyle or way of dressing, highlighting their individuality. (Photo/Luis Alvaz via Wikimedia Commons).

Alina, a rising sophomore at American Heritage, is looking forward to her first year on the Patriot Post. Apart from reporting, she’s very involved in the arts and can often be found creating a new painting in her free time. Alina enjoys ballroom dancing, music, fashion, literature, and mathematics as she is a part of the math competition team, the National English Honor Society, and the National Art Honor Society. Nevertheless, her recent discovery of her passion for journalism has inspired her to capture the rhythm of life at American Heritage this coming year.