You don’t need a significant other to celebrate love; it comes in all forms. And what better way to unleash your inner romantic than to watch Studio Ghibli movies? They’re known for being whimsical, charming, and magical, leaving you inspired and full of heart. Whether it’s about discovering self-love, strengthening platonic friendships, or making new animal friends, Studio Ghibli has mastered the art of storytelling through animation.
The good news: the Japanese animation studios films are now available on Netflix, starting last Feb 1, 2020. Cuddle up or grab a bucket of popcorn and binge through these beloved classics:
Arguably Studio Ghibli’s most iconic film, the heartwarming tale revolves around two sisters, Mei and Satsuki. They move into an old countryside house with their father to await the recovery of their sick mother. One day, they meet various friendly woodland spirits and the giant (cuddly!) creature named Totoro. Watch this one with the younger members of your family and feel nostalgia as you reminisce about your own childhood. Fun fact: Lea Salonga voices the mother in the English version!
Another iconic classic, Spirited Away will whisk you away to a dreamy wonderland. Join young Chihiro as she gets lost inside a magical bathhouse—a resort for otherworldly creatures–and tries to break free from a contract with a witch. She meets a boy named Haku who tells her that she needs to remember her name. The details in the movie are rich and imaginative, complemented perfectly by Joe Hisaishi’s beautiful piano compositions. We won’t be surprised if you’re moved to tears.
This steampunk fantasy adventure film will take you on a wild ride. It seems similar to Disney’s Atlantis, but Castle in the Sky was way ahead of its time in the 80s. The film touches on themes such as major technological civilization and military authority. Sheeta, a 13-year-old girl, carries a crystal necklace while evading air pirates in search of Laputa, a legendary floating castle. Sound simple? While on the run, she falls from the sky and is caught by Pazu, an orphan boy. Together, they try to solve the mystery of her identity and her connection to Laputa.
Young apprentice witch, Kiki, must leave her home for a year and sustain herself as part of her training. Together with her black cat, Jiji, the little witch ends up in a big town but finds it hard to settle at first. Join Kiki on a light-hearted adventure as she sets up their own delivery service and gains confidence in her abilities. If you need a little self-esteem potion, err, boost, this is your perfect Ghibli match.
This manga-based melodrama centers around Taeko, an unmarried 27-year-old woman who keeps waxing nostalgic about her schoolgirl years. From first crushes to fashion in the 60s, Taeko realizes how different her life in Tokyo had been compared to her first trip to the rural countryside. Escape the hustle of city life for a while and allow yourself to dream like a kid again.
Looking for laughs? Porco Rosso has got you covered with its unlikely caricature of a hero: a post-WWI seaplane pilot with the head of a pig! Because of a mysterious curse, a snout grew on Porco’s face. While he’s not fighting off air pirates as a bounty hunter, he’s drinking at the local bar. This comedy-action film highlights Miyazaki’s love for aviation and anti-war view (similar to his later work, The Wind Rises), along with his need to prove that pigs can fly!
A cute TV film inspired by a novel from the early 90s, Ocean Waves is one of the few not directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. It was actually directed by Tomomi Mochizuki. With a relatively simple plot set in the coastal city of Kochi, this movie will help you relax if you’re exhausted from action-packed scenes. Enjoy the love triangle between Taku, Yutaka, and Rikako, as they realize the importance of love and friendship before heading off to college.
While this film may be the dark horse when it comes to Ghibli’s fantasy adventures, it has plenty to offer everyone. The nation of Enlad becomes threatened with the reappearance of dragons, a wizard named Sparrowhawk takes a runaway prince Arren under his wing (pun intended). Together they must find a way to defeat Lord Cob. More than just your average hero story, the anxiety that Prince Arren faces during his journey is heartfelt and complex, especially when he is tempted to take the easy way out.
All in all, most of Studio Ghibli’s films inspire us to romanticize our life and look for beauty in the most mundane tasks. Delight in every sip of coffee, find something charming about people you meet or hum a little song while you clean the house. There are more Ghibli films available this March and April on Netflix, so stay tuned!
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