My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

A film so effortlessly well-executed its only upon reflection just how unconventional it is becomes clear. So freeflowing in structure, so devoid of plot or an antagonist, elements that feel antithetical to regular children’s cinema (an unresolved subplot about an ill mother, entirely conflict-less positively portrayed parent figures) a slice of life without acts, even…

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Studio Ghibli’s second film, directed by Isao Takahata rather than studio head Hayao Miyazaki, is a breathtakingly powerful war drama following two Japanese children in the waning days of World War II. Focusing squarely on the children’s perspective, the personal tragedies and struggles of wartime rather than any bigger-picture or adult view, gives rise to…