Chances are, if you’re reading this you are familiar with Studio Ghibli. If not, what are you doing? Studio Ghibli is essentially anime 101. You’re probably here to see what I think the best movie is and either get off on agreeing or disagreeing. Although, maybe you’re just here for a recommendation on where to start. In which case, fair enough.
I suppose if you are new to Studio Ghibli, you deserve a bit of a crash course. Studio Ghibli is a Japan based animation studio specializing in movies. It was founded in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, as well as Producer Toshio Suzuki. For the most part Miyazaki directs most of the movies with Takahata also often directing. This accounts for some stylistic differences in theme and artistic appearance.
With that out of the way let’s talk movies. Particularly the difficulty stems from deciding what the best Studio Ghibli movie is. In every conversation I’ve had about what the best Studio Ghibli movie is, everyone seems to have their own opinion. Except Grave of the Fireflies. I have yet to hear someone claim that as their favorite. It’s not a bad movie, but…once you’ve taken a can of bear mace to the eyes you don’t do it again. Its a lovely movie, ten out of ten, I’ll just never subject myself to that torture again.
However, I’m not here to talk about how Studio Ghibli has hurt me. I’m here to speak on how they have inspired me. Studio Ghibli stands in my mind as a force of inspiration. For the most part that inspiration comes from positivity and movies that can always make you smile, no matter the circumstances. Other times that inspiration comes from what feels like your soul being ground into little pepper flakes so that Satan can have a little seasoning for his foie gras or something. No matter the context, beauty always seems to be synonymous with Studio Ghibli. Please forgive the long preamble, I promise this is relevant. See, my personal favorite Studio Ghibli movie is Howl’s Moving Castle. Is it their best? Ehh, that depends on who you ask. I think so. It’s hard to rate a work of art objectively because art is, by its nature, subjective. As I said up front, everyone I’ve spoken to has a different opinion on what the best Studio Ghibli movie is. And they are all right in their own way.
I know why Howl’s Moving Castle is the best in my opinion. Truth be told, it has to do a lot with the nostalgia factor: that’s not a bad thing. Studio Ghibli is a master of nostalgia. I’ll watch a new Studio Ghibli movie I’ve never seen and somehow it feels nostalgic. The movies are comforting, pleasant. Howl’s Moving Castle was my first Studio Ghibli movie, so it’s special to me. That alone isn’t exactly a great reason to say something is the best and yet, for Studio Ghibli, I feel it’s appropriate. Howl’s Moving Castle oozes the charm that Studio Ghibli is known for. It’s so pleasant. The movie feels like floating on a cloud. The soundtrack threatens to carry you away to new lands, to new experiences, and you are more than happy to let it. It’s the kind of movie that brings a smile to your face, like an old friend that is always glad to see you. I’m always glad to see it in return. Not every Studio Ghibli movie is positive of course. However, I always remember them positively. Even Grave of the Fireflies, though it pains me to admit as much. All that romantic purple prose encapsulates the spirit of Studio Ghibli. It is romantic, beautiful, and wonderfully positive. Even in its darkest moments: it’s pure emotion in a can.
At this point you’ve probably noticed I have avoided speaking about the plot of Howl’s Moving Castle, and I have my reasons. It’s not to do with spoilers or anything of that sort. More to do with, well, the emotion of it. If you haven’t seen it or just haven’t seen any Studio Ghibli movies, I don’t want to take that experience away from you. Sure, knowing the plot will take away the twists and turns, but you know what it will really do? It’ll take away a bit of the beauty of it. The beauty of Studio Ghibli doesn’t only come from the art, but the story as well. I’m probably just rambling at this point but if you’ve seen any Studio Ghibli movie I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s an experience I wouldn’t want to ruin. Watch it, it’s worth your time.
Houston based Sequential Art student who is stuck in the past. Has a habit of going off topic. Loves Berserk, Video Games, and literally nothing else.