Morning everyone! So, I had every intention of getting back to Pocahontas, but after the election results…I’m going to need a few more days to get back on track (I’m sure you understand why). What I’m going to do instead is share my favorite Miyazaki films, which is, to be honest, every one I’ve ever seen. I still haven’t seen them all (but I fully hope to).
Just one note, this isn’t in any particular order (though maybe once I have seen them all I’ll do a proper ranking), this is just me talking about which Miyazaki films I’ve seen and why I like them 🙂
- My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Ever since my friends learned that I loved anime they all pretty much told me the same thing: You need to see My Neighbor Totoro. And for years I kept saying I would, but time after time things would come up. Finally, last summer/fall I believe it was, I finally got my hands on a copy of the film and I completely fell in love!
My Neighbor Totoro is set in post-World War II Japan (presumably in the 1950s based on the types of cars and technology visible in the story) and follows the Kusakabe family as they move to a new house in the countryside because the mother is in a nearby hospital. Mr. Kusakabe is a professor at a university in Tokyo; eldest daughter Satsuki is in grade school, while youngest daughter Mei is only four.The girls encounter a variety of spirits, starting with dust sprites (black puff balls with eyes), and forest spirits collectively known as “totoro”. Mei sees them first, in a hilarious sequence that has me giggling every time. The two smaller totoro she meets end up leading her to the magical home of Totoro, THE forest spirit of the local area. Totoro is a huge grey spirit, with a big fluffy belly, long rabbit ears and the biggest smile you ever saw (and he also loves to sleep a lot).Satsuki is initially skeptical, but once she meets Totoro at a bus stop one night, both of them become good friends with the forest spirit.
I really don’t want to give away more of the plot, because it’s a really wonderful story. I feel like Miyazaki captured the essence of what childhood SHOULD be, and placed it in this film. And like with all the Miyazaki films I have seen, the dubbing is so spot on that you’d never guess this was a Japanese-language film. Highly recommended if you haven’t seen it.
2. Princess Mononoke (1997)
I THINK this is the first Miyazaki film I saw in full, about two years ago now (my university gave a free showing). This film is an epic, with a great story about how important it is to keep balance between man and nature, and if we destroy nature, we will destroy ourselves in the process. The story follows Ashitaka, last prince of the Emishi tribe (that really existed by the way), who must seek a cure after he is cursed by a demonic corruption that will eventually kill him if it is not stopped. During his travels, he encounters Irontown, led by Lady Eboshi, a commander obsessed with clearing the forest and defeating the remaining animal gods so she can get more iron sand, to make more iron, to make better weapons. Eboshi’s plans are continually thwarted by the last wolf goddess, Moro, her two wolf children and a strange human girl named San (also known as Princess Mononoke), a human child raised by the wolf gods and who herself believes she is a wolf (despite resembling humans). Though very mistrustul of Ashitaka at first,San and the former prince must ultimately work together to save the forest (and the world) from destruction.
The film does have some graphic moments in it, but the message is a good one 🙂
3. Ponyo (2008)
I love Ponyo. That’s pretty much what I always say if someone asks me about this film. Ponyo is pure joy translated to film. The story is Miyazaki’s take on the “Little Mermaid” fable (but I must emphasize it bears NO resemblance whatsoever to the Disney film). The titular character, initially named Brunnhilde, is the oldest child of Fujimoto (a former human turned sorcerer) and the Mother of the Sea (a sea goddess). She is very curious about life outside her father’s workshop and eventually sneaks away to explore. She becomes trapped in a glass jar and is rescued by Sosuke, a 5 year old boy who lives in a house that overlooks the sea. The pair become close friends and Sosuke dubs the “goldfish” Ponyo. Ponyo loves Sosuke very much and decides she wants to be human so she can stay with her new friend forever, but there’s a problem. Being the daughter of a sorcerer and a sea goddess, Ponyo has magical abilities, and as her own father tells her, “You can’t be human and magic at the same time.” Ponyo turns herself human anyway, with astounding consequences! Now, in order to reset the balance of the Earth, Sosuke must make a very difficult decision (even more so considering he’s only 5!!!)
I love watching Ponyo because it always leaves me feeling warm and happy by the end.
That’s all for part 1, I’ll have more films to talk about in part 2 🙂 Have a good rest of the day! -Becky
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