I have been in love with Studio Ghibli movies since forever. I first watched Spirited Away when I was around 9 or 10 years old, and I already felt how different and incredible that experience was.
Truth is, I was terrorized by the movie. It has so many strong scenes and to this day I wonder why on earth my mom let me watch it at such an early age. But I am so glad she did.
I learned so many valuable lessons from that movie and developed a passion I couldn’t even begin to understand. I fell in love with Chihiro and her strength and was not surprised when each new Ghibli movie I watched gave me more and more strong and powerful women to look up to and learn from.
I grew up and was moulded by such incredible role models, and learned a great deal about values, responsibilities, and discipline. And the best part is that the great majority of those strong characters were kids or teens. And they are all relatable and personal. It’s so much easier to immerse yourself in a story when you can understand and relate to the characters struggles and routines.
Today I am feeling a little emotional and very nostalgic, so using last week’s International Women’s Day (Yay to us, by the way!) as an excuse, I’ll write about what Studio Ghibli has taught me. I chose to only write about Hayao Miyazaki movies and characters since they are the ones that speak to me on a more personal level. Shall we begin?
Spirited Away – Chihiro
Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Spirited Away was the first Ghibli movie I have ever seen. It’s about a 10-year-old girl who is moving to a different neighbourhood with her parents.
Somewhere along the way, her father takes a wrong turn and they end up in the magical land of Kami (spirits). Unaware of what is happening, Chihiro’s parents roam around and start eating the delicious food available like crazy, being transformed into pigs for their lack of manners.
Chihiro then has to work at the witch Yubaba’s bathhouse so she can free herself and her parents, and go back to their world.
Now, the transformation scene alone was enough to give me nightmares for a week. The message is clear and strong, and Chihiro feels all that in the movie. We share her panic when she sees what is happening to her parents and her inability to help.
The day becomes night and the spirits start to appear. She is suddenly in a strange world, full of strange creatures, scared and all alone. But she doesn’t have time to stop, and she keeps going, trying to find help or a way out.
Even if just a child, Chihiro shows great maturity while dealing with her problems. Suddenly she has a job and all these responsibilities and is forced to make decisions she never had to think about before in her life. And she does that wonderfully.
She is clumsy and weak, but she never stops trying and never takes no for an answer. Even when no one believes in her, she has a purpose and follows through with it no matter what.
Chihiro taught me to persevere in my objectives no matter the difficulties. To believe in myself and push myself beyond my limits to reach my goals. She also taught me how to be humble and to never lose hope, even when everything seems lost.
Howl’s Moving Castle – Sophie
I watched this one much more recently. Like, last month recently. And I absolutely adored this movie. From all the protagonists in Ghibli movies, Sophie was the one I related the most with, and I developed such a huge crush on Howl, he is amazing. ♥ *-* ♥
Howl’s Moving Castle is set in a world where magic and early 20s technology co-exist while in a time of war. Sophie is a hat maker and the eldest of three sisters. She has serious insecurities and self-esteem issues, which manifest themselves when the Witch of The Waste throws a curse on her, turning her into an old lady.
Sophie then leaves on a quest to find Howl, a wizard, so he can help her undo this curse. Little does she know that Howl also needs her help with personal and political issues of his own, and they both discover how they needed each other in their lives.
Sophie is extremely kind and compassionate. She helps everyone and everything, going as far as taking care of the Witch of The Waste when she needed, the very same witch that cast the curse on her.
Sophie taught me to be brave and confident. To be kind to all, no matter who or what they are. She taught me to love myself more, to value the qualities I overlooked or ignored. And she taught me to let others love me for who I am, even if I can’t seem to understand why or how they would.
Nausicaä of The Valley of The Wind – Nausicaä
Nausicaä is such a good movie to watch. Teto is one of the cutest pets in the world and I love him so much. ♥
I’m not sure how many people know about this, but Nausicaä was released before Studio Ghibli was founded and was the main reason the studio was created. And it was made in partnership with Walt Disney Pictures. What does that mean? It means that Nausicaä is a Dinsey princess. Oh yeah.
Nausicaä of The Valley of The Wind is about a princess living in a post-apocalyptic land, which changed drastically the Earth’s ecosystem. A few scattered towns have survived, including The Valley of The Wind, where Nausicaä comes from.
She travels the land on her glider, making experiments to better understand what happened to this world, and meeting and interacting with the giant insects that inhabit the land. She helps her mentor in the search for “the man in blue”, a hero of legend which is said is going to reunite the people and nature.
Nausicaä is brave and compassionate. She has the unusual ability to communicate with this land’s alien life form and defends the good in all creatures. She fights for her people and never gives up on finding the way to a better life for all.
Nausicaä taught me to love and respect all creatures, even (and especially) the difficult ones to love. She taught me to never stop fighting for what is right, even if it feels impossible and you see no way out. To never settle for just what I have, and pursue a better life and future for me and my loved ones.
Kiki’s Delivery Service – Kiki
Kiki and Jiji are the best pair ever to exist in animation. Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, but they are so absolutely adorable.
Kiki’s Delivery Service is about a young witch, who just reached the age of 13 and is finally old enough to leave her town and find a place of her own, according to tradition.
Kiki sets off with Jiji, her cat familiar, on her magic broom, looking all over for towns and villages where she can begin her new life. She ends up settling at a town called Koriko, where she opens up a Delivery Service agency, flying with her broomstick around the city making deliveries to the townsfolk.
Of course, she has many adventures and makes a bunch of friends, as well as struggle with her powers and overcomes personal crises. But the reason I like this movie and Kiki so much is the routine, her duties and responsibilities.
Kiki is only 13 years old when she starts looking after herself and pursuing her future. She never questions the traditions and is eager to grow and be independent, sometimes relying on friends, but mostly in herself and her abilities to achieve her goals. She tries her best to succeed and adapts when things don’t go according to plan.
Kiki taught me to be responsible and mature, to not depend on people or wait for them to do things for me. She taught me that helping others is good and valid. To be independent and look for my own path, and follow it no matter how difficult things may become.
Bonus Reference: My Neighbor Totoro – Satsuki and Mei
If you’ve been on my blog before, you probably know how much I love Totoro. I lost count of how many times I talked about him and I probably will continue for many posts more. He is just too cute to handle. ♥
My Neighbor Totoro is a simple movie about a father and his two daughters moving into a new (old) house, closer to where their mother is recovering from an illness.
The movie goes on about the girls’ routines, with them exploring the woods close to their house and making friends with the wood spirits. Apart from the obvious fantasy part of Totoro and the smaller wood spirits, nothing of great importance happens. Mei is a very curious girl and likes to explore a lot, while Satsuki is responsible and takes care and loves her sister very much.
It’s such a cute and easy to watch movie, and it mostly taught me to be brave and curious, and to love and respect my mother and sister so much. It talks a lot about family and day-to-day experiences. It’s really relatable and kawaii.
Watching Ghibli movies is a great way to spend some time with your loved one, like I have mentioned before. My boyfriend and I love to watch Ghibli movies together and we find excuses to do it all the time (like me writing this post). I truly recommend doing it. ♥
“A Heart is a Heavy Burden”
All Ghibli movies are very important to me and make me feel things I sometimes can’t even explain. I lost count of how many times the movie ended and I was left crying without knowing why. It brings out such beautiful and complex emotions, it’s an experience worth going through.
Unfortunately I had to leave some amazing movies out, like Princess Mononoke and Ponyo, even thou I also love them very much. But besides the fact that the article would get too big, they were either too simple or too hardcore to write about. Maybe next time. ♥
What about you? Have you ever seen a Ghibli movie before? Which one is your favourite, and what have you learned from it? Tell me in the comments below how you feel about that. ^^