Studio Ghibli has released several cinematic masterpieces, with films like Taken away as if by magicHowl’s Howl’s Moving Castle and My Neighbor Totoro being extremely popular. But there are several Studio Ghibli movies that aren’t getting as much viewing as they deserve. Here are a few.
8 Underrated Studio Ghibli Movies That Deserve More Attention
1) Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
Although created before the creation of the studio, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is considered a Ghibli movie. Written by Hayao Miyzaki and based on his 1982 manga series of the same name, it also marks composer Joe Hisaishi’s first collaboration with the Studio.
The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world, revolving around the young princess Nausicaa and her attempt to find a way to make the toxic jungle and the people of her valley coexist.
2) Only Yesterday (1991)
Isao Takahata’s additions to the Studio Ghibli collection always revolve around very humanistic themes. movies like The Story of Princess Kaguya and the Grave of the Fireflies are artful studies of society and human lives, and Only yesterday follows the same route.
The film is loaded with nostalgia and follows Taeko Okajima as she reflects on her childhood, adolescence, aspirations and struggles as an adult.
3) Porco Rosso (1992)
Porco Rosso features two things that appear in most of Miyazaki’s Ghibli films – his fascination with airplanes and anti-war commentary. Based in post-World War I Italy, the film’s setting is more concrete than most of his other films.
Porco Rosso himself is introduced as a former Italian WWI fighter ace, who now works as a freelance bounty hunter. Amid romance, intrigue, and action, the film speaks of the economic, political, and industrial changes that swept the country in the aftermath of the war.
4) Pom Poko (1994)
Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata both created films with environmentalism as their theme, but with radically different treatments. While Princess Mononoke is a drama depicting nature as a larger than life aura, pompoko is satirical and humorous, depicting a band of tanuki trying to save their homes in the mountain forests.
The film blends traditional folklore with modern media, depicting eco-terrorism and desperate tanuki activism.
5) Whisper of the Heart (1995)
Whisper of the heart is as classic as the Ghibli classics. A coming-of-age romantic drama based on Aoi Hiiragi’s 1989 manga of the same name, the film revolves around protagonist Shizuku and Seiji who has a crush on her.
While Seiji wants to become a world-class luthier, Shizuku decides to pursue a path to writing. The film’s musical elements make it heartwarming, and John Denver’s interpretation Take me home, country roads give it a particularly nostalgic feel.
6) The Return of the Cat (2002)
The cat returns is a spin-off of Whisper of the heart, featuring a character from the fantasy story of Shizuku, a cat figurine called Baron Humbert von Gikkingen. While some characters reappear, the plot itself is completely unrelated, focusing on Haru, who is drawn into the cat kingdom and begins to transform into a cat herself.
7) Arrietty (2010)
Arrietty is based on a 1952 novel by Mary Norton titled Borrowers. This Ghibli movie follows a young boy named Sho who finds a “borrower” named Arrietty. Borrowers are tiny people who borrow supplies from the household where they live in hiding. Sho and Arrietty become friends but trouble brews when the Borrowers’ presence is discovered.
8) From the Top of Poppy Hill (2011)
From the top of Poppy Hill is another of the studio’s few films without magical elements. It deals with Umi and Shun, classmates who begin to grow closer while trying to prevent the demolition of the school club building. As they develop romantic feelings for each other, a common bond in their past threatens to ruin their budding romance.
Studio Ghibli is popular for its hand-drawn animation and distinct treatment of storylines. Even though the story itself doesn’t have any fantasy elements, the movies have a magical touch.
It’s only fair that anime lovers discover the most overshadowed projects, each with their own charm.
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