Whisper of the Heart
Yoshifumi Kondō helmed and Studio Ghibli produced the 1995 Japanese animated feature “Whisper of the Heart” ( Japanese: 耳をすませば, Hepburn: Mimi o Sumaseba). The plot follows the tale of a 14-year-old Shizuku Tsukishima who is engrossed in the literary epiphanies of novels and books and through exploring an alluring antique shop and falling in love with a boy named Amasawa Seiji, she discovers her dream of writing. The movie employs the excellent classic track, “Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver. Shizuku’s journey towards discovering herself is portrayed beautifully throughout the whole film. The exemplary vintage aesthetics from a fairy tale wooden oak grandfather clock to a mystified cat statue serve as an example of Ghibli’s genius. There is no doubt that the movie sweeps spectators into Shizuku’s world by authentically portraying the characters’ weaving thread of relationships and reality.
When Marnie Was There
This piece of absolute animated cinema was based on the coming-of-age novel by British author Joan G. Robinson, published in 1967. The movie gives an apt delineation of a surreal story involving nostalgia, mystery, and magic. “While Marnie Was There” is the tale of Anna Sasaki, a young girl who relocates to the countryside and stumbles onto an abandoned mansion where she encounters a mystifying girl by the name of Marnie. The evolution of the plot is quite slow at first but the gorgeous art style makes up for its slow emotional depth which is portrayed serenely, just like life in the countryside. However, the friendship between a human and a figment of the past is utterly fulfilling and it won’t leave the spectators without a tear in their eyes. Guess, you’ll have to tune in on Netflix what the unexpected melancholic plot twist in the end was.
Howl’s Moving Castle
The 2004 Japanese animated fantasy film “Howl’s Moving Castle” was created by Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The 1986 book of the same name by British author Diana Wynne Jones catalyzed the movie. The fantasy fable ushered an era of fans who couldn’t get enough of the enchanting and drama queen wizard Howl. The fairytale experience that the movie enacts in its artistic design of characters and places makes it a legendary piece of fiction. It depicts the tale of Sophie, a young woman who is cursed by a nefarious witch and becomes an elderly woman. She sets out on a quest in the hopes that the young wizard Howl, who has a moving castle and is mysterious and mystical, can assist her in breaking the spell. The animation is dazzling, the designs are intricately crafted in the steampunk style, and the film’s innovative depiction of magic and fantasy aspects are all noteworthy. With its intricate and meticulous design, the moving castle is a work of animation art in and of itself, exhibiting Studio Ghibli’s talent.
From Up On Poppy Hill
The themes of sublimity describe the crux of this movie. The 1963 setting of “From Up on Poppy Hill” is Yokohama, Japan. Umi Matsuzaki, a little girl in the novel, resides in a boarding house with a view of Yokohama Harbour. Umi befriends Shun Kazama, a classmate she meets while working to keep their school’s clubhouse, the Quartier Latin, from being demolished. As Umi and Shun spend more time together, they learn that their pasts are profoundly connected, which strengthens their bond. In the face of modernization, the movie emphasizes the value of conserving history and customs while also exploring themes of love and friendship. “From Up on Poppy Hill,” directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro, continues the Studio Ghibli legacy with its engrossing narrative and beautiful visuals. The most memorable setting that can’t be missed in this movie is the artistry aesthetics of early sixties Japan, and how it dealt with the effects of the World War. The war left an astonishing effect but the movie displays how amid the past there can be a place for the hope of the future as well.
Last but not least, this movie is credited for placing Studio Ghibli on an international pedestal. Hayao Miyazaki’s excellent work won the Academy Awards for the best animated film. It still baffles me how the viewer is sucked into the world of weirdly distorted yet astonishing spirit realm with the main protagonist Chihiro. She makes her way through the convoluted and at times perilous spirit realm after a witch named Yubaba turns her parents into pigs. She must do this to release her parents and return to the human world. As she begins her job at a Yubaba-owned bathhouse, she sets off on a daring, resilient, and self-discovery adventure. She encounters a guy named Haku along the journey, and he ends up being her friend and navigator as she makes her way through the difficulties of this mysteriously enticing world. No matter how vibrant the movie is, Chihiro’s character develops intricately. Towards the end, when Haku says, “Now go, and don’t look back,” it is Miyazaki’s message to the podium of entire spectators that going through tumultuous events in life can be hard but in the end, we all have to move on in one way or another.