One other aspect that has gotten us into Ghibli animated works is the music. It has always been spot on. It doesn’t matter if its the opening or closing sequences or a simple score, the music matters. And it becomes clear that the music has a story on its own to tell. It captures the mood and emotion on a level that truly makes animation moving. Think of how Frozen’s “Let it Go” has become such a well loved song and you will understand how the music lives inside of the Ghibli films. Except that the music here wasn’t made for a musical but instead works as part of the whole experience.
In the past few weeks (gone on for more than a month now), we have been watching animated movies from Studio Ghibli. And it has been an addicting weekend family bonding time.
Studio Ghibli, for the un-initiated is a Japanese animation studio founded by Hayao Miyazaki. Their more popular, available in the west, animation works include Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away. There are others that have English dubs as well, but these don’t capture the spirit of the studio as much as watching them in their native Japanese language and reading their subtitles instead.
Hayao Miyazaki had been known for starting his animation without a complete story board. He finishes the whole story along the way as he directs and animates the film. Truly an amazing feat, and even more amazing is how well the stories are actually delivered. Of course, not all Ghibli films were made by Miyazaki himself. But you could say that there is a criteria that makes a Ghibli a Ghibli. This is something you will only understand when you watch the films. So do yourself a favor and watch them.
You have music, you have a story. But an animated film will stand out first because of how it is presented visually. And no, you can never compare a Disney animated film to a Ghibli. A Ghibli stands out in a number of ways. On one hand, you have these well drawn characters that truly live on screen. Then you have these enchanting backgrounds that bring you into a world that can only be found in your imagination. And then you have that fluidic movement of both background and main characters. Even crowds move as if they are alive. And of course, there is this charm that only hand-drawn, hand-animated films can bring. It is both a nostalgic feeling and a nod to a forgotten art. Once you watch a Ghibli, it becomes a part of you.
We’re not yet done going through all the Ghibli films because not all of them are available at your local audio/video shops. In fact, some of them have never been released outside of Japan. But therein lies another aspect of what makes a Ghibli such a fulfilling experience, the hunt. So while you watch your Disney, we’re watching our Ghibli.
NOTE: All images that appear on this post are owned by Studio Ghibli and thanks go to the artists and uploaders of these beautiful scenes.