Studio Ghibli

As a librarian and a mom, I bring home oodles of material for my kids, ages 9 and 6. Far and away, their very favorite movies are written, animated, and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli (pronounced jiburi or jee blee). Studio Ghibli is an anime studio founded in Japan in 1985. The Walt Disney Company has distribution rights to almost all of Ghibli’s output internationally. I think this is good, because Disney helps get these great films out to the rest of the world, and luckily for us, Studio Ghibli has demanded a policy of no cuts or edits in the licensing their films abroad.

Lest you think that these movies are just for kids, let me put your mind at rest. Like other great works of art, these movies transcend age limits. If you haven’t seen them, I urge you to RUN AND GET THEM! RIGHT NOW!

There are other Miyazaki films, but these are our favorites:

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi) (2003/2001) has won many awards, including an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003. It is a film about growing as a person, overcoming fear, helping others who need you, and spirits. It has one of the best witches I have ever encountered and a huge baby. I have only seen it in the English dubbed version. I’ve heard that there are some subtleties that are lost in translation, but if so, it doesn’t seem to diminish the movie one iota.
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My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) (1988) is about two sisters who move into a new house. They are befriended by benign forest spirits. The cast of the dubbed version includes Dakota and Elle Fanning as the little girls. One of my favorite parts is when the cat-bus says the little girl’s name “Mei.”
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Howl’s Moving Castle (Hauru no ugoku shiro) (2005/2006) is based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones. A young woman is cursed with an old body by a spiteful witch. She encounters Howl, a wizard, and a fire demon Calcifer who moves Howl’s castle around. There is a mysterious connection between the two. Billy Crystal is so great as the voice of Calcifer.
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Ponyo (Gake no ue no Ponyo) (2009/2010)  is about a magical little fish girl who wants to be human. Environmental issues and the human impact on the earth are important themes to this feature. The all-star cast of the English dubbed version includes Tina Fey as the mother of the boy who saves Ponyo and feeds her ham, and Betty White as one of the old women. I get so mad at the mother in this film! She is so self-centered.

The Secret World of Arrietty, a new Studio Ghibli film based on Mary Norton’s classic book The Borrowers, is going to be released in America on Feb. 17. Just one day away! We’re so there.

The Music, Film and Audio Department has a large selection of anime. Our catalog does a good job of including the age rating for each. I still recommend watching them first before showing them to your kids.

Here are some websites that might help you navigate the world of anime:

http://www.theanimereview.com/

http://animeworld.com/related/index.html

-Joelle

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Studio Ghibli

  1. I also have a 9 and 6 year old (boys–and a 3 year old girl), and we all passionately love Miyazaki’s material. We’ve watched all of them too many times over. The ones you highlight are among our favorites, too, and there are a lot of slightly lesser ones that are cool too. The only regret is that there just isn’t more of this imaginative and wild and entertaining material. Good to know about Studio Ghibli.

  2. Billy Crystal as Calcifer is one of those things that makes my heart smile on a dreary day. Thanks for all the great suggestions, Joelle!

    Leigh Anne

  3. freedomactionnow

    I’ve seen all those (except for “Arietty”). Miyazaki is terrific!

    I’m fascinated that the studio used two Western books for material.

    Don’t forget Princess Monoke It’s a little more intense than the others – definitely not a “Saturday morning cartoon”.

    I see you have a copy of “The Princess Mononoke : the art and making of Japan’s most popular film of all time”. I hadn’t heard of that one …… Our library doesn’t have it …

    Found it on Amazon: “6 new from $95.00”

    Maybe our library’ll get it….. Or I’ll just see the movie again.

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