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The beginner's guide to Studio Ghibli movies

If you haven't seen a Studio Ghibli movie, we mean this in the very best way, but wyd?

The films have a certain quality that makes you feel nostalgic and magical and whimsical and adventurous, all at the same time. 

These movies were originally made for children, but they've become all-age classics—and for a good reason. For anyone who's new to Japanese animation, consider this your Studio Ghibli starter pack...

Spirited Away 

Put your phone on DND for this one, because watching Spirited Away for the first time is an ~experience.~ 

The film follows Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl who stumbles upon an abandoned amusement park with her parents. When her parents mysteriously transform into pigs, she meets a boy named Haku. He reveals that she is trapped in a strange new world of spirits—and the park is the resort for when they need a break. Chihiro must work in a bathhouse that serves the spirit customers in order to survive and find a way home. 

My Neighborhood Totoro 

Grab a cozy blanket, bc this is the ultimate comfort movie for those rainy summer days. Two sisters and their dad move to the country to be closer to their mom, who's in the hospital. They later discover that the surrounding trees are inhabited by Totoros, aka magical spirts of the forest. When the youngest sis runs away from home, the older sis seeks help from the spirits to find her. 

Howl's Moving Castle

Romance + fantasy...what's not to love? Howl's Moving Castle follows Sophie, a young woman who is cursed with an elderly body by a vengeful witch. Her only chance of breaking the spell lies with a young wizard who lives in a moving castle? The slow-burn romance between Howl and Sophie will leave you with butterflies. Not to mention that the animation in this film is top-tier. 

The Wind Rises 

This film is a fan fave. It's a biography of Jiro Harikoshi, the designer of the Mitsubishi aircraft fighter from World War II. Make sure you have a box of tissues for this one, because the ending scene will have you in your feels.

Kiki's Delivery Service

Moving to a new city can be scary, but 13-year-old Kiki isn't letting that hold her back. After relocating to a seaside town with her talking cat Jiji, she spends her first year soloing as an apprentice witch. Kiki sets up a flying courier service and soon becomes a staple in the community. But when she begins questioning herself and loses her magic abilities, she must overcome her self-doubt to get her powers back. 

Check these posts out for more content recs:
💜 Our favorite girlpower moments from Netflix’s live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender
💜 Everything we know so far about Heartstopper season three
💜 What we know so far about Disney's new Descendants: The Rise of Red

Front and slider image: @ghibliusa


by Fran Au | 6/6/2024