Studio Ghibli: What to Watch

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Studio Ghibli one of the highest front-runners in anime, producing high-quality films and soundtracks that have stayed in the hearts of many people. Whether you who want a Sunday evening heart-warmer or want to be taken on an adventure, here is a quick rundown of all the upcoming Studio Ghibli films to be released on Netflix over the coming months.

1st February Release 

Castle in the Sky 

Castle in the Sky tells the story of Sheeta, a young girl with a crystal amulet that can save the city of Laputa, and on the run from flying pirates and government officials. The film mixes themes of fantasy, action and adventure seamlessly, taking you on a heart-warming ride.

My Neighbor Totoro

After moving to a countryside cottage, to be closer to their hospital-bound mother, sisters Satsuki and Mei discover some new friends that are beloved by many generations of Studio Ghibli lovers, namely the titular Totoro. This film is equal parts nostalgic, of the joys of childhood, and moving. 

Kiki’s Delivery Service 

A coming-of-age story of KiKi, the young witch, who leaves home and works as a delivery girl and catches the eye of a young boy named Tombo. A beautiful film of how a young girl overcomes her struggles for self-discovery, making Kiki’s Delivery Service unbelievably heart-warming.

Only Yesterday 

Only Yesterday is a jump from your usual Studio Ghibli film, focussing on an adult protagonist, Taeko, re-living memories and following her growth to self-acceptance. Although it skips out on the typical magical themes of other Studio Ghibli films, Taeko’s growth gives the film a unique take that you won’t forget. 

Porco Rosso 

In this light-hearted, historical, action film, Porco Rosso was a WWI fighter pilot, cursed into looking like an anthropomorphic pig. He now hunts down air-pirates after the war in his act of justice but must find his way to avoid the pirates and police who are both after him. 

Ocean Waves 

Ocean Waves is all about young love. Telling the story of a love triangle between Taku, Yutaka (his best friend), and Rikaku, the film flows through the troubles and tensions of teenage love and friendship.

Tales from Earthsea 

Exiled Prince Arren and wizard Ged work together to restore peace to the nation after the appearance of dragons. The film may not live up to the expectations that some may have of Studio Ghibli; however, its simplicity makes it a smooth and enjoyable watch.

1st March Release

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind 

For fantasy buffs, this is the film for you. Set in a post-apocalyptic world with giant mutant insects, the Valley of the Wind and the Princess Nausicaä are stuck in between two factions at war. Nausicaä is left to restore the peace of this war-torn and insect-ridden land. 

Princess Mononoke 

Princess Mononoke is an action-packed adventure film, balanced with equal parts fantasy. The story tells of an infected Prince’s journey for a cure. In doing so, he sees the atrocities of human actions to the land, causing a war to break out between nature and man. 

My Neighbors the Yamadas 

My Neighbors the Yamadas is filmed à la Japanese comic strip style – an exciting contrast to the usual animation style. It follows the Yamada family through all your typical family problems. Thoroughly entertaining, My Neighbors the Yamadas is an enjoyable, relaxing and relatable watch.

Spirited Away 

Arguably the most well-known Studio Ghibli film, Spirited Away follows the story of 10-year-old Chihiro who finds herself trapped in a magical world. Chihiro must escape and save herself from losing everything she’s known. The lovable characters and moving soundtrack make Spirited Away a must-see!

The Cat Returns 

After a strange turn of events, Haru is taken to the fantasy Cat Kingdom, where she slowly becomes increasingly cat-like. Haru must escape this world before she turns into a cat if she has any hope of returning to her human form. With ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vibes, The Cat Returns is both light-hearted and amusing.

Arrietty 

Arrietty follows the story of a teenage boy discovery tiny people living under the floorboards of his mother’s childhood home. The film follows the friendship that develops between them and the adventures that follow, to make an enjoyable, family film.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya 

A unique piece of work by Studio Ghibli, this film uses watercolour animation to depict the story of a girl who is trained to become a noble lady. Despite her new life of luxuries, she misses her simple life from before, resulting in an eye-opening story with a message to appreciate the small things in life.

1st April Release

Pom Poko 

After the forest becomes drained of its natural resources due to nearby construction, the tanuki (Japanese raccoon dogs) unite to fight against humans to stop them from destroying their forests. Pom Poko addresses environmental issues with humour for a light-hearted watch. 

Whisper of the Heart 

Whisper of the Heart starts as your typical dramatic young love story. Still, the focus of this movie is the emotional journey and development of Shizuki, the protagonist, who aspires to become a writer. Though not as intense or thrilling as other works, Whisper of the Heart has its unique appeal.

Howl’s Moving Castle

Another popular Studio Ghibli film, Howl’s Moving Castle follows the story of Sophie, a hatmaker cursed by a witch, and Howl, a wizard, whom she seeks for help to reverse the curse. The interesting characters and humour make this a comfortable and enjoyable watch for anyone.

Ponyo 

Ponyo follows a fish-girl named Ponyo, who leaves her home in the sea, and her heart-warming friendship with Sosuke, a human boy. The story itself is rather simple; however, the creativity and visuals are worth watching to appreciate the work of Studio Ghibli fully.

From Up on Poppy Hill 

One of my Studio Ghibli favourites, From Up on Poppy Hill has themes of young love, family, and sentiment. The film follows the coming-of-age story of Umi, a high school student, in one of the most heart-warming films.

The Wind Rises 

The Wind Rises is based on the life of a renowned Japanese aeroplane designer and his journey through obstacles to begin living his passion for aviation. Set in the 1930-40s, this movie will resonate with history and aviation fans alike.

When Marnie Was There 

Anna is sent away to live with the family of her foster parents, where she meets Marnie, a mysterious girl living nearby. The two girls develop a kinship that we share with them, making it a touching and relatable film for all.

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