The Art of Studio Ghibli

The Art of Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli is a renowned Japanese animation company founded by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Its phenomenal visuals and storytelling abilities made some of the best animated movies the world has seen. Miyazaki has both artful and lyrical films that compete with the quality of live action movies. To watch a Studio Ghibli film, you are immersed in a world of beautifully scripted characters and astonishing visuals. 

One of the company’s most famous works is Spirited Away (2001). Written and directed by Miyazaki, Spirited Away is one of the highest grossing films to ever be released in Japan. This wildly successful film took western countries by storm, illuminating the world of Japanese animation and making it mainstream. Miyazaki does a beautiful job of weaving in ancient Japanese lore with common storytelling themes, like love and hope. The story of Spirited Away depicts a young girl named Chihiro who mystically gets transported to the Spirit World. In her attempts to escape the world in which she does not belong, she comes across friendly and evil spirits alike. Awakening memories of the past and gaining a new perspective on what it means to be alive, the story of Spirited Away is the perfect example of a film that possesses layers while still being whimsical and lovable. 

A common theme in Ghibli films made by Miyazaki, is portraying ancient lore in a modern or fantastical movie. Most Ghibli films possess a supernatural element, commonly incorporating something called Yokai. Japanese Yokai are supernatural creatures of nature that cannot be found in the mortal realm. They reside on the border of known and unknown, they are commonly described as spirits, demons, and witches.  

It is easy to spot the folklore Miyazaki uses in his films marketed towards an older audience. Such as the film Princess Mononoke (1997). This masterpiece of a film takes a stance on the disdain for the development of humankind. This movie essentially details a fight between sentient nature and human beings. It depicts 14th century Japan where the harmony between humans and nature is crumbling. As humans live purely out of self interest and as a result the natural world is crumbling. What is so engaging about this film is not only its incredible animation for its time but its seamless telling of Japanese folklore. The way each character is used has a purpose is what makes these films intriguing. It is obvious Miyazaki did intensive research before writing his films and it is intentional that every character portrayed has purpose. The clothes they wear to their names and origin are all historically linked to lore. Although this isn’t obvious to the average viewer, as a fan of Studio Ghibli’s work it is common to see parallels between each film and folklore itself. 

It is companies like Studio Ghibli that make filmmaking so unique. The impressive story lines and artstyle make watching these films a complete experience. The next time you crave a movie, check out Studio Ghibli and be immersed in a world of pure fantasy.