Studio Ghibli: 5 movies to watch and calm down during the pandemic

Studio Ghibli: 5 movies to watch and calm down during the pandemic

THE Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 and, since then, it has created its history in the world of animations. Its own name comes from the nickname that Italians used for Saharan recognition during World War II, which in turn is derived from an ancient Arabic word “sirocco” which, translated, means something like a strong breath of hot wind that crosses the Sahara desert. The theory behind the choice of that name permeates the idea that, in addition to being related to the aviation fascination of Hayao Miyazaki, one of the studio’s directors, Studio Ghibli would bring new airs to the japanese animation.

I did, and beyond the eastern space. Some directors of companies like Pixar have said that, in times of creative block, they put some films from Studio Ghibli to start producing again.

However, in the western space, there are still some suspicions regarding these animations, precisely because they do not have the same frantic rhythm as the Hollywood productions, for example.

Responsible for working a lot on what is called (slice of life, freely translated into Portuguese), they find beauty in the most banal moments of human life. The different universes created by the directors are full of kindness: people help each other, offer food and exchange information in a very gentle way.

I would like to make a film that says to the children: ‘it is good to be alive’.

Hayao Miyazaki

So, nothing better than a little Studio Ghibli to lighten the mood a little during this new coronavirus pandemic. Here goes a list of some of the best known works to pass the quarantine more calmly.

Studio Ghibli: 5 movies to watch in quarantine

5. (1988)

best studio ghibli movies

It is one of the films that gives up the epic and grandiose style that is seen a lot in other works by Miyazaki (which will soon be mentioned), betting on a smaller and more human sphere, with less history and a greater focus on the characters.

The protagonists are Mei and Satsuki, two sisters whose mother is hospitalized and has a teacher as a father. The family moves to a house in the countryside, where they encounter a great creature from the forest – whom they call Totoro – and other magical beings and guardians.

The film is about moments of the two sisters adapting to the new environment and the new life and constant encounters with Totoro, who can fly, make trees grow and has a cat in the shape of a bus as a friend.

The great Totoro helps the girls to be distracted and welcomes them in that difficult moment, with the hospitalized mother who, not by chance, is the most dramatic point of the work. The younger sister is seen constantly sad and longing for her mother, while the older sister prevents herself from feeling her emotions in order to show herself as a strong figure who takes care of Mei.

As in, the animation is permeated by the sense of adventure and the feeling of novelty of children. For them, everything is seen with great enthusiasm, and that is how we also feel when watching the film.

4. (1989)

studio ghibli movies

The film, based on a Japanese children’s book of the same name, captures Studio Ghibli’s ability to thrill and achieve excellence even in his smallest films.

The story is told of a thirteen year old witch who, following the tradition of her people, leaves home with her kitten Jiji to find a new place to live, having to manage on her own and achieve her independence. Throughout the plot, she gets to know the residents of her new city and makes new friends.

There are melancholy moments too, when Kiki doubts her own abilities, even losing her powers, but we continue with the character’s journey, seeing her overcome her biggest obstacles and evolving organically.

it represents human reality in a credible way despite being in the midst of fantastic elements, being a portrait of adolescence: the character explores this time full of discoveries, as when we perceive ourselves as part of a world composed of other people, when dealing with romantic feelings for another person, or when you want to belong and be accepted. That’s how we recognize ourselves in her and care about her figure.

3. (2004)

studio ghibli

This film creates a universe of its own and reaches its full potential, exploring several of its particularities. It has well-built characters and carries anti-war messages and the familiar theme.

It tells the story of Sophie, an employee of a hat shop who has her life transformed after an encounter with Howl, a feared sorcerer who lives in a walking castle, a fire-shaped demon and an apprentice who occasionally disguises himself as elder. The characters end up forming a large and unconventional family, finding comfort in each other after so long feeling left out. All of this while a war is taking place.

Despite presenting a confusing script and full of unexplained elements, O Castelo Animado is justified and compensated by being a film that deals more about the characters, the discovery of that universe and the sensations it gives us, than the story itself.

2. (1997)

best studio ghibli productions

Considered by many to be one of the best films of the epic and fantasy genres in the history of cinema, it has jaw-dropping animation and very well constructed characters, who give up manichaeism (good vs. evil).

Princess Mononoke actually tells the story of Ashitaka, a young warrior protector from his village who finds himself cursed and needs to go out in search of a cure. As soon as he leaves his region, he finds himself in the midst of a war between humans – led by Lady Eboshi, head of Iron Island – and the animals – commanded by San, called Princess Mononoke (an expression that means vindictive or angry spirit in Japanese), a human who was welcomed by the wolf gods of the forest at a young age. It is up to Ashitaka to reconcile the two universes.

It is definitely not a children’s film, containing explicit scenes of violence and a lot of blood, but with a narrative that also requires maturity in order to be understood. Both points of view are understood and have their vulnerabilities and problems, making the plot even more interesting and engaging.

1. (2001)

best japanese animations

A universal film in its language is easier to enjoy than, for example.

The plot takes place in a fantastic world, telling the story of Chihiro, a girl who finds herself alone in a magical environment with mythological creatures and sorcerers who turn their parents into pigs. Despite these surreal elements, it is a real, short and thick story of a girl trying to survive in a universe new to her and coming home. They are the fantastic elements that help to embody the story, but they are not directly linked to the narrative, and can be set in any other everyday sphere.

A works with several layers of depth, which ends up pleasing different types of audiences: children are enchanted by the magical look and will hope that Chihiro emerges victorious in his challenges, while adults decipher the messages behind the story and still get stuck more to the narrative.

In addition, it resembles the idea of ​​a dream: we do not understand what is happening in all the details of this universe, but we still like it because we are enchanted with this world and we embark on the same journey of the girl. The whole adventure she lives is a way of showing us growth and maturity and how important memories are to our history.

It is the first non-US film to win the Oscar for ‘Best Animation’, showing greatness and creativity.

Bonus: (2009)


A story aimed more at children, does not attach much to the mythology of its universe and does not intend to explore it, like the other films on the list. It tells the story of a little fish that is found by Sosuke with his head stuck in a glass jar. Named Ponyo, she soon becomes a girl of an age close to that of Sosuke, who is pursued by her father and pressured to return to the bottom of the sea, but faces all adversity to be with her new friend.

The film tells the story of a simple friendship between the protagonist and makes us follow a fantastic world seen through the eyes of children, always facing everything with a sense of adventure and discovery, typical of childhood, dealing much more with how they face the events than the events themselves.

Movie messages

Many critics point out that the interesting thing about Studio Ghibli’s work, and especially Miyazaki’s, is the way he leads the characters and their universes, deeply rooted in Japanese culture at its deepest level, seeking a connection that is gradually lost with the contact with American culture, so much so that it is common to even feel a fear when watching the works and not receiving so many visual and sound stimuli every minute.

The calmness present in the films of Studio Ghibli, even in its most dynamic pieces and which have several scenes of struggle, brings the audience a moment to think and assimilate all the information that has been given so far, in addition to delivering beautiful images while We do.

In addition, it is noted that a large part of his films have female protagonists. Women who are seen as whole, who don’t need a hero to save them and who fight for what they believe. And this is partly reflected in the reality of the studio as well: half of the company’s employees are women. However, there are some controversies, such as the fact that they do not occupy more important positions and do not have a single film directed by a woman. It is not what is defined as feminism in 2020, especially in the universe of an elderly person born and raised in a culture as conservative as that of Japan, but certainly his films are keen to escape a patriarchal pattern.

The films are also pacifists, anti-fascists and environmentalists. Miyazaki is well known for his activist side and his works are surrounded by his political convictions. This can be observed with themes such as the horrors of war and its consequences in people’s daily lives and how ideologies of violence and dehumanization disconnect us and how the human being is responsible for what happens to the environment. Here, the violence is not glorified and seen as heroism as we see a lot in Western cinematographic works.

So, at this moment when the country is in such an overwhelming situation with a government that disrespects so many lives, messages like those present in the films of the Studio Ghibli they are necessary not only to calm us down, but to bring a little hope and awareness about the world.