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Warmth and Comfort: The Magical World of Studio Ghibli Movies



When it comes to movies, I usually find solace in the art of escapism; the ability to completely immerse myself in a different world, even if it is just for a few hours, is a blissful experience. However, I also appreciate when films go beyond escapism and confront real problems, carrying powerful messages at their core. I think Studio Ghibli, manages to seamlessly blend both these elements in a unique way as the base reality of their movies usually mirrors our own; living in the cold, punitive real world with trust and compassion can present several challenges. With their incredibly complex storytelling and extraordinary art style Ghibli movies also create a cinematic experience that is profoundly comforting.


For those of you who aren't familiar, Studio Ghibli is a renowned Japanese animation studio founded by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Some of my most favourite films by them include "Howl's Moving Castle", “Spirited Away”, “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Grave of the fireflies”, “Princess Mononoke”, and "Ponyo" Maybe you recall watching some of these during childhood (even if you don’t, I highly recommend them as comfort films)



Nature

Ghibli movies are also famous for their distinctive hand-drawn animation style. I think this style plays a key role in incorporating the "feel-good" element that these movies encapsulate, immersing me in a world that always feels warm and inviting. For instance, nature plays a vital role in Studio Ghibli films, serving as a character itself. The meticulous attention to detail is evident in the lush green ancient forests inhabited by mythical creatures and serene bodies of water.


Joy in the Mundane

I also appreciate how often they tend to find happiness in the most mundane aspects of life, because this also reflects that there is always beauty to be found, even in the ordinary.




Complex Female Protagonists

Instead of traditional superheroes, we encounter complex characters. Lead roles are often occupied by strong girls who embrace their femininity without compromising on strength. For instance, when Miyazaki includes princesses in his films they are portrayed as brave leaders or warriors (like in valley of the wind). Another example is the Oscar winning movie Spirited Away, in which the usual story of a damsel in distress waiting for a guy to rescue her is reversed. Instead, we follow 10 year old Chihiro as she embarks on a mission to save the boy who had initially helped her in the spirit world. This role reversal may seem unique to most of us who grew up watching Disney princess movies but in the world of Ghibli, girls are portrayed as capable individuals who can rely on their friends for support but don’t need to be rescued by men all the time.


Love

Love is also showcased in its various forms; it's not limited to romantic love only. Some depict platonic love and the beauty of real friendships for instance the bond between Chihiro and Haku in Spirited Away. Others portray unconditional familial love, like Seita and his younger sister Setsuko as they navigate the hardships of war in Grave of the Fireflies.



Rich Storytelling

Ghibli movies often incorporate elements of Japanese mythology. For instance, in Spirited Away we encounter many creatures from Japanese folklore, while Princess Mononoke explores the conflict between humans and forest spirits. In this way, these movies also manage to transport viewers to mystical worlds by blending elements of fantasy and folklore.



So, if you have yet to discover the magic of Studio Ghibli and you’re looking for a comfort watch, I strongly recommend giving their movies a chance. I think there are a lot of emotionally charged messages laced with comfort that are worth exploring if you’re seeking solace and strength in the midst of adversity. As each frame holds a glimpse into the extraordinary and touches the soul, I also believe it manages to capture the very essence of the human experience; which is to embrace the simple joys of life, seek solace in nature, and cherish the bonds we forge with others.

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9 commentaires


Rafay Abdul Razzaq
Rafay Abdul Razzaq
30 juin 2023

Great Blog. Convinced me to watch Studio Ghibli next :)

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Aisha Aamir
Aisha Aamir
22 juin 2023

What a soothing read! I loved the formatting of it all first of all. I felt so happy reading this blogpost considering I'm a huge Studio Ghibli enthusiast (peep the profile picture haha). I loved how you pointed out the different depictions of love in the movies and how they all ranged in different categories and not only in the romantic sense. I believe Miyazaki's take on female characters was ahead of its time - even in films nowadays, it takes a lot to show an empowered female character without it seeming like it was done intentionally to simply appease the audience. Miyazaki's characters tackle empowerment so seamlessly and effortlessly and I think that's why his female characters are timeless…

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En réponse à

Thank youu Aisha, im glad to find a fellow ghibli enthusiast <3 cutest profile picture btw!!! :) And yess you articulated it pretty well, I completely agree with you, Miyazaki does seamlessly integrate empowerment into his narratives and creates characters that stand the test of time. It's also refreshing to see female characters who are multi-dimensional, relatable, and inspiring without being reduced to stereotypes or tropes. Most of these movies are really old but I love how I can resonate with them regardless of how much time passes.

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The animations do look very soothing. I think such shows that are so simple yet so rich and sometimes complex, taking on bigger issues, do a good job of getting the point across. I also think the animations are really good in the way that they let you naturally make associations. The natural flow of your subconscious made easier by these soothing animations give you the warmth and comfort that you need to relax.

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En réponse à

Yupp the beauty of these animations lies not only in their artistry but also in their profound impact on the subconscious. Also your point about taking on bigger issues can be linked to some of our class discussions; like we talked about media as a tool for highlighting complex issues and exploring different themes that relate to social injustices, so even though these movies are animated and entirely fictional they do weave in real world issues in their storytelling.

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I love your post! I'm a huge fan of Studio Ghibli; Howl's Moving Castle is actually my go-to comfort film, and I recall watching all the films you mentioned as a kid and have a lot of great childhood memories associated with them, particularly Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro, as well as Ponyo. I think the ability of media to transport us back to those moments and elicit powerful emotions is truly remarkable. It's as if these films become vessels for our personal narratives, preserving fragments of our past and offering a comforting sense of familiarity; any time I hear the soundtrack, it immediately takes me back to my previous viewings of the film. To expand on your point…

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En réponse à

Thank you Mahnoor! I fully agree with your insights on Chihiro and I love how perfectly you summed up the sense of familiarity these films tend to convey as they resonate with us on a deep level. Also thanks for brining up the soundtrack because that’s something I forgot to mention in the post but I think the music is also carefully crafted to evoke very specific feelings. The tempo, the pacing and all the melodies and instrumentals all work together to create an emotional experience that enhances the narrative.

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Great post! I had a great time exploring the fantasy worlds of Studio Ghibli films and how they deal with positionality and essential representation. The distinct blend of Japanese culture and folklore in Ghibli films emphasises how crucial it is to comprehend positionality and cultural context in the narrative. The portrayal of complex female protagonists also questions conventional gender stereotypes and provides viewers with crucial representation. The positionality and essential representation topics are part of what makes Studio Ghibli films so engaging and thought-provoking. Moreover, while reading about Miyazaki, the similar storytelling reminded me of Guillermo films like "The Shape of Water". Both of these artists have had a history of creating magical works for the audience while exploring the themes…

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En réponse à

Thank you for your insights and for bringing up the point about positionality. It adds another lens through which we can analyse Miyazaki's unique storytelling approach. Since his positionality is deeply rooted in his japanese heritage and cultural identity, it directly reflects in his work. I also agree that the portrayal of complex female protagonists in films is a powerful way to challenge conventional gender stereotypes especially when young impressionable minds are watching these movies.

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