Aside from playing outside, cartoons have become a form of entertainment when we were growing up. We have the rated G channels such as Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and more. The Japanese animation film company, Studio Ghibli also became a part of our childhood.
And as many have been saying, Disney touches the heart while Studio Ghibli touches the soul. For the newbies watching Studio Ghibli, I recommend these films for them to watch, personally ranked from light movies to heavy. In addition, the movies can be watched in English and in Japanese, subtitles are provided.
My Studio Ghibli Movie Recommendations
1. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008)
This movie is about a goldfish princess who later turned into a child and found her way to Sosuke and Lisa, the humans who took care of Ponyo as she found her way up to the surface of the earth. Moreover, their adorable relationship will melt your heart and would be a perfect starter movie for everyone!
In the movie, both of the kids did what humans do. Making Ponyo eager to officially become a human in which Ponyo‘s father, Fujimoto hardly forbids. Will she become a human in the end?
2. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Another light movie that I can recommend is My Neighbor Totoro. The movie starts with a family that moved into a house near the Mother’s hospital of the two girls, Satsuki and Mei, that both found their way to Totoro.
Adventure awaits them in their new home as they explore more about their place, meeting other sorts of forest creatures. This adorable Studio Ghibli movie would be perfect for kids to watch alongside Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea due to its child protagonists.
3. The Cat Returns (2002)
As we continue listing recommendations for newbies, I recommend people to watch The Cat Returns. The movie starts with a high school student, Haru as she makes her way to her school and saved a cat who nearly got hit by a truck. As a reward, the Cat Kingdom then brought Haru her rewards.
However, some parts of the movie may look weird to some but the ending offers a resolution that will make you fall in love with Studio Ghibli movies more. In the end, this movie would be perfect for cat lovers!
4. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
As Sophie said “a heart’s a heavy burden”, well not when watching Sophie and Howl‘s love story in the movie, or will the movie burden your heart? To add to this, this Animated Feature Film of the Year 2006 was based on the British author, Diana Wynne Jones’s first published fantasy book.
As the Witch of the Waste cast a spell on Sophie, she found Howl‘s moving castle thanks to Turnip Head in the middle of nowhere to find a cure to her spell. In the end, she broke everyone’s spell.
This magic-filled Studio Ghibli movie would also be perfect for beginners and their story would make you swoon while watching these two lovebirds!
5. Spirited Away (2001)
As we venture from light movies, we will now jump into mid-heavier Studio Ghibli movies. All from weird-looking monsters which I think would scare some children, the story shows how a child can change because of experiences.
Another story of friendship and love by Chihiro and Haku will teach kids the importance of partnership. Moreover, it is also said that Chihiro and Sophie have a lot in common. Such as their bravery in conquering their fears, not to mention that both protagonists of the different films are women.
6. When Marnie Was There (2014)
Above all the films that I listed, this is my all-time favorite Studio Ghibli film that I highly recommend people to watch! We will now be venturing to heavy movies as this movie is a tear-jerker.
The movie starts with Anna, being an introvert living in Sapporo, and suffering from asthma. Then her foster Mom decided that she’ll be okay to move to Hokkaido. Anna then stumbled upon an abandoned Marsh mansion as she wanders around the place.
And more truths will uncover as she bonds with Marnie, the girl stuck in the blue window of the Marsh mansion.
7. Princess Mononoke (1997)
We are now on the heavy film entitled Princess Mononoke. The movie somehow conveys a little bit of violence due to the fighting scenes of Ashitaka and San which are not suitable for young audiences.
However, the moral of the story brings the viewers the importance of taking care of the environment, and I still highly recommend this Studio Ghibli movie for people to watch.
To sum things up, this movie is a 10/10 because the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki also confirmed the realness of leprosy in the film, and aimed to depict the “incurable disease caused by bad karma“. Miyazaki does not only make animations for entertainment, he also makes animation movies for awareness.
Truly, Studio Ghibli touches the soul.
From the heartfelt movies to the awareness cause of most Ghibli movies. Some of them will make you cry, some will make you stand up for the people and be aware of the happenings.
To add to this, art would really be a great platform for people to express as well as to make people aware. There is truly a different touch in the Studio Ghibli films that makes them stand out from other film companies and channels.
“Many of my movies have strong female leads—brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe with all their heart. They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a savior. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man.”
-Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli Co-Founder
Paulette Annefreid Vivar is a journalism student from Cavite State University Indang Campus. She is a musically-inclined student journalist who loves to write poetry and to speak figuratively in her creative works, to compose songs and to sing.