Boro the Caterpillar (2018)

I had the pleasure of seeing “Boro the Caterpillar” at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan, and what a lovely experience it was. The short screened in the museum’s cosy little theatre, sans subtitles (which added to the museum’s insistence on immersion and mindfulness everywhere really), and really filled the mind for its fourteen or…

The Wind Rises (2013)

“The Wind Rises” is a pseudo-biography of Japanese warplane designer Jiro Horikoshi and to a degree Hayao Miyazaki’s parents as well, who underwent some similar events to the fictitious elements Miyazaki adds to Horikoshi’s life, as well as having some similarities to the realities. The film revels in the joy of flight and the wonder…

The Cat Returns (2002)

Rare for Studio Ghibli, this is a spin-off (of sorts) from an earlier film, 1995’s “Whisper of the Heart”, the first Ghibi film not to be directed by either Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata. Presumably this film, “The Cat Returns”, is actually a story-within-a-story, a book written by the writerly protagonist of “Whisper of the…

Spirited Away (2001)

A gorgeously animated, deeply imaginative tale of greed and growth, told so effortlessly through a child’s sense of wonder and straightfaced acceptance of eccentricity and abstraction. The film’s sullen, arguably spoiled protagonist breaks out of the utterly greed-based, money-driven societies all around her, the “real world” of her parents and the dream logic world of…

Princess Mononoke (1997)

For what is ostensibly a children’s film, “Princess Mononoke” examines that age-old theme of the conflict between humanity and industrialisation with nature with more depth and nuance than most stories that explore it, let alone children’s stories. The preservation of nature and progress of civilisation are not treated here as moral binary oppositions but as…

My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)

A much lighter affair than director Isao Takahata’s earlier works like “Grave of the Fireflies” or “Only Yesterday”, “My Neighbors the Yamadas” continues those film’s trends of using unconventional animation stylings to couch a story in an impressionistic, free-flowing style reminiscent of memory. Here, a stylised comic-strip watercolour aesthetic is achieved, in the process rendering…

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

The first Studio Ghibli film not to be directed by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata, “Whisper of the Heart” is a charming lowkey teenage love story mostly devoid of fantastical elements and just keyed in hard on a teenage girl’s self-growth. The conflict in the film is mostly eternal – even the parent figures are…