September 23, 2021

The Great Studio Ghibli Marathon, Part 2

One of the items on my summer bucket list was to watch (or rewatch, in some cases) all of the films Studio Ghibli has ever released. It's definitely a commitment considering there are twenty films in total, but it was worth my while to see all of the different stories that the studio has brought to life. I wanted to make sure to share my thoughts on each film and that's how this blog post series came to life! Don't forget to check out the first post in this series.

Porco Rosso

What is it about? In the 1930s in Italy, sky pirates are terrorizing wealthy cruise ships. The only pilot brave enough to stand against them is Porco Rosso, a former WWI pilot who has somehow been transformed into a pig. But he soon finds a rival in an American hotshot and must call on his friends for help in securing a win in their competition.

My Thoughts: I didn’t anticipate enjoying this one as much as I did! I got swept up a dashing series of adventures with Porco as the headliner, and a complicated set of circumstances that start off with a tragic history. While I wasn’t keen on every element of the tale, it was still a pleasantly charming surprise.

Ocean Waves

What is it about? Taku recollects memories from his days in high school on his way back for a reunion with his classmates, specifically thinking about an unexpected love triangle he gets involved in with his best friend and the new girl at the time.

My Thoughts: This another non-fiction slice-of-life contemporary story, and the best I can say about it is that it was just fine and ultimately not something that I would return to. I don’t mind a predictable story, but the characters and circumstances were personally very frustrating.

Pom Poko

What is it about? The forest that the tanuki call home is being threatened by urban development so they band together to try to save their home using their supernatural gifts.

My Thoughts: It was my appreciation of the environmental theme woven throughout this fantastical contemporary adventure that carried me through to the end. But because I didn’t much care for the characters (and found some of the magical lore to be not my cup of tea), it ultimately ended up being just alright and I also wouldn’t return to it. (There’s a moment that did make me emotional at the end though!)

Whisper of the Heart

What is it about? Shizuku is a voracious reader with a big imagination who is drawn to chase the things in real life that remind her of stories, including figuring out who the individual is who borrows the same books she does, chasing a large fluffy cat and befriending an elderly antiques dealer.

My Thoughts: I love this movie so much! It’s mostly a contemporary slice of life tale, though there is a touch of a fantastical element in Shizuku’s imaginings. On this rewatch, a few aspects of Shizuku’s story (namely being inspired to go for the creative pursuit she wasn’t sure she could manage and figuring out how she wants to proceed if she can make it an actual possibility for her future) really resonated with me.

Princess Mononoke

What is it about? Ashitaka, a young Emishi prince, kills a demon boar that attacks his village but ends up cursed by its touch and is forced to leave. He journeys in search of a cure, and along the way, inadvertently finds himself involved in a battle between the gods of a forest and the humans who push to consume its resources and take the gods’ power for themselves.

My Thoughts: I forgot how sad this film is, how the plot chiefly consists of tragic circumstances, conflict and curses. (There is, however, a drop of hope to be discovered every now and then.) My heart was heavy as I watched Ashitaka acting nobly despite his curse to afford respect and avoid conflict with others, and as I witnessed the reveals of the history & circumstances of the other characters. It feels like an epic, if tragic, story (even though it ends well), though a touch long for my liking.

My Neighbors the Yamadas

What is it about? The film is a series of vignettes taken from the life of the Yamada family, incorporating a touch of whimsy into rather ordinary, everyday occurrences.

My Thoughts: I did have to get accustomed to the disjointed storytelling style featuring the different shorts for different moments and members of the Yamada family. But this ended up having some surprisingly relatable, charming moments, and the art style was certainly a standout among the rest of the Ghibli films.

Have you seen any of these Studio Ghibli films?
Don't forget to check out part one! Part three will be up soon.


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