Remember when as a kid, you looked out at the world, it seemed to be filled with wonders, and magic was always lurking somewhere around the corner. You were able to find joy in the simplest of things but not anymore. Now, as an adult, life seems so boring, and you barely even have time to slow down and enjoy life. And this is often reflected in the media we consume which is packed with grandiose and flashy elements to help us escape our boring lives.
While most media forms today provide us with forms of escapism that make us hate our lives even more, Studio Ghibli is different. Studio Ghibli Inc, founded by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, is an acclaimed Japanese animated film studio best known for its animated feature films.
Studio Ghibli takes you back to the time when you were a kid and makes you see the beauty of the world through the lens of your childhood self. Ghibli films help you reconcile with a childlike sense of wonder and parts of yourself that you left behind. These films remind you that if you take time to pause and look attentively you will once again find magic and beauty in the world around you.
Here are certain elements which make Ghibli films so enchanting and a delight to watch:
Charming and relatable characters
In contrast to Disney, Ghibli movies do not feature stereotypical evil witches or princesses. In fact, Ghibli simply does not have any villains. There is never a distinction between bad guys or good guys; instead the studio focuses on relatively normal people — people you encounter on a regular basis.
In Kiki's delivery service, the movie focuses on a young witch Kiki who leaves her home and is trying to find her place in the world. It is not a story about defeating or overcoming evil. It is a simple story about a girl and her cat trying to adjust to a new city and earn a living by making deliveries. And the conflict she faces is not any external threat, but she finds herself battling her own doubts and insecurities, due to which she even loses her powers for a while.
Simple and colorful storylines
The beauty of Ghibli films lies in their simplistic execution of complex storylines. In the movie Ponyo, a goldfish turns into a human girl to become friends with the boy she likes because of which the ocean rises to swallow up the land, and the world almost suffers from an apocalypse. But even with such a complex plot, the movie chooses to focus on simple things such as the innocent friendship between two kids and a little girl's discovery of her new favorite food.
This is not to say that Ghibli does not explore complex themes because it surely does. But the experience of a Ghibli film is highly subjective, which mainly depends upon your age and the kind of experience you are seeking. When kids watch Ponyo, they are filled with joy. But upon closer inspection, many adults have found that the movie Ponyo also touches on deeper themes of human connection and global warming.
Making the mundane magical
Studio Ghibli is shaped by the philosophy of Hayao Miyazaki, who believes in romanticizing the mundane and finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. Young children are often at the forefront of Ghibli movies, and through the eyes of children, even the simplest things turn out to be magical. In Howl's Moving Castle, a story filled with magicians, witches, wars, and a moving castle amongst other fantastical elements, we somehow still find more joy and wonder in watching the main character Sophie clean and cook. In Ghibli movies, the actual magic takes a backseat, and the most ordinary tasks are presented in a wondrous manner.
Finding beauty in stillness
Movies in this day and age are jam-packed with action, and writers are afraid of losing the audience's attention even for a second. Where many writers run away from the silence, Ghibli fully embraces silence and stillness. Ghibli has characters who accompany the protagonist through their journey who do not utter a single word throughout the film. For example — the scarecrow in Howl's Moving Castle and No-Face in Spirited Away.
Ghibli movies are often long and slow-paced, containing slower scenic scenes devoid of words and actions. Such scenes might appear unimportant, but in reality, they provide space to develop the characters and heighten the tension and the feelings the characters are feeling. The silence also allows the viewer to peacefully enjoy the beauty of the animated world and not just watch the movie but experience it along with the characters.
Ghibli, with its stunning animation and beautiful storylines, has proven that animation is not just a medium for kids. In the right hands, and with the correct use, animation can tell powerful stories in a way words or feature films simply cannot.
is a young writer from India who is currently pursuing Mass Media. Apart from reading and writing, she spends most of her time daydreaming and listening to music. You can find her on Instagram at @aastha.1703