8 Hayao Miyazaki Films You Should Watch
If you don’t know who Hayao Miyazaki is, no worries, 8List is here to give you 8 of his works that will help you get to know him better.
Director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli (pronounced “jiblee”), Miyazaki is an anime auteur who has written, directed and produced anime films that have entertained audiences not just in Japan but the world over.
His works have signature motifs—strong female protagonists and explorations of man’s relationship with nature.
He also has a fascination with aviation and flight, as evidenced in scenes from his films where the wind blows against his characters’ hair and clothes, strands and fabric billowing, allowing audiences to see the level of detail that goes into his work.
In fact, the name of his studio is named after World War II Italian scouting planes (though ghibli is pronounced with a hard G in Italy). Ghibli means “hot wind blowing through the Sahara Desert.”
Miyazaki’s fans threw up their arms in great sadness when his retirement was recently announced at the Venice Film Festival.
If you’re hearing about him for the first time, here are some of his films to give you an idea of the scope of his works. (This list is, of course, by no means complete nor is it in any particular order.)
If you’re a already a fan, share this list to get your family, friends, classmates, coworkers and barangay into joining you in your love for Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli.
(Some of his movies are available with English dubbed audio tracks while some fans prefer to watch the original Japanese dub with English subtitles.)
8. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
My Neighbor Totoro follows two young sisters as they interact with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan.
It can be argued that this is his most popular movie, given the cute titular character Totoro (who’s also the featured mascot of the Studio Ghibli logo). Children love the furry, uhm, creature. Moms even make bento boxes with food designed like Totoro.
7. The Wind Rises (2013)
This is the final film (tears!) in Miyazaki’s career. It’s currently playing in theaters in Japan and is in competition at the Venice Film Festival.
The film is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the Mitsubishi Zero aircraft used in World War II.
Home video isn’t available yet, but here’s a convenient link to the soundtrack of this movie on Amazon.com.
6. Princess Mononoke
In this epic fantasy, Prince Ashitaka becomes involved in the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans of the Iron Town who consume its resources. He meets San, a girl raised by wolves, whom he calls The Mononoke (Spirit) Princess.
Here’s a convenient link to Princess Mononoke merchandise on Amazon.com.
5. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
Based on the novel of the same name by English writer Diana Wynne Jones, the film features Sophie, who starts out as an 18-year old milliner who is transformed by a witch into a 90-year-old gray-haired woman. Seeking a cure for the curse, Sophie ends up in the sorcerer Howl’s castle.
Here’s a convenient link to Howl’s Moving Castle merchandise on Amazon.com.
4. Ponyo (2008)
Five-year old Sosuke finds a goldfish which he names Ponyo, who later transforms into a girl.
Here’s a convenient link to Ponyo merchandise on Amazon.com.
3.From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
Umi Matsuzaki and her friend Shun Kazama work together to persuade the owner of their school clubhouse to reconsider demolishing the house. She likes him, but worries that they could possibly be related.
Written by Miyazaki-san and directed by his son Goro Miyazaki, this film is based on the 1980 serialized Japanese comic of the same name.
Here’s a convenient link to From Up on Poppy Hill merchandise on Amazon.com.
2. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Nausicaa, a young princess of the Valley of the Wind, must stop the Tolmekians from attempting to use an ancient weapon to eradicate giant insects in the jungle.
8List readers of a certain age, ehem, will remember this as an iconic film from their childhood (in the time of Betamax tapes).
This post-apocalyptic adventure fantasy adventure is based on Miyazaki’s own 1982 manga of the same title. It is also the first movie produced by Studio Ghibli.
Here’s a convenient link to Nausicaa merchandise on Amazon.com.
1. Spirited Away (2001)
Chihiro Ogino, a ten-year-old girl, enters an alternate reality inhabited by spirits and monsters. Her parents are transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba and Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba’s bathhouse to find a way to free herself and her parents.
This is the highest-grossing film in Japanese history. Wikipedia notes that it is “acclaimed by international critics, the movie was considered one of the best films of the 2000s decade and one of the greatest animated films of all time.”
Here’s a convenient link to Spirited Away merchandise on Amazon.com.