Studio Ghibli: The Perfect Anime Starter Kit

Growing up, the only exposure to anime I experienced was basically Pokemon and Sailor Moon. But once I met my boyfriend that all changed and he introduced me to Studio Ghibli. We’ve now built up quite a collection.

Now I know, I know, hardcore fans will tell me that Ghibli isn’t the only thing I should be watching if I enjoy anime but I am slowly growing my watched list, with Fairy Tail next in line.

I thought for those out there who haven’t yet dipped their toe into the world of anime, I’d put together a little list of my favourite Ghibli titles, that can be enjoyed by pretty much everyone:

Ponyo 

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My Neighbour Totoro was once my favourite film, until I watched Ponyo. Based on The Little Mermaid the story follows five year old Sosuke who finds a fish with a face in the sea. This little fish is given the name Ponyo and turns into a little girl to be with him. It’s one of the cutest films I’ve ever watched and I can relate to Ponyo and her love of ham a lot.

Kiki’s Delivery Service 

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Another great kids’ film, Kiki’s delivery service follows a little witch who heads to the city to try and make a name for herself. It’s a great story about independence and finding your feet at a young age, as well as featuring a super sassy cat that reminds me of Luna a little from the Sailor Moon series. I have to admit though, sometimes Ghibli’s films can feel like there’s not much in the way of storyline but plenty of character development, so while you really enjoy the film you don’t feel like there was a whole lot of plot – Kiki’s Delivery Service is an example of one of these.

Howl’s Moving Castle 

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There are so many sassy characters in this one and Howl is surprisingly pleasing to the eye considering he’s an animated character (don’t lie guys and girls, you probably had your sexual awakening watching either Aladdin, X-Men the animated series or Pocahontas). The story follows Sophie who has been cursed to turn into an old woman and while trying to find a cure ends up getting mixed up with Howl – a wizard – who is attempting to end a war that is going on.

Spirited Away 

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This was the first Studio Ghibli film I watched and while No Face freaked me the hell out initially, the film has remained a firm favourite ever since – even if it is one of the stranger creations by the studio as it features people being turned into pigs, frog people, a dragon and a giant baby being turned into a gerbil.

Those four are definitely fun starting points for someone who is new to Ghibli and anime. I was going to put Totoro on the list but I imagine everyone knows what that is, however if you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a watch. I would also strongly suggest Arrietty (based on the film The Borrowers), Whisper of the Heart and the Cat Returns (which feature a link between them).

Not only is anime a beautiful drawing style to watch and so different from animations in Western culture, I also think anime is an excellent way of experiencing Japanese cultures you might not have realised existed. For one, the children portrayed in the films are also so polite and corteous to everyone, something I think needs to definitely carry over into British society, as well as interesting folk tales that a lot of Ghibli’s films are based on.

What are your favourite Studio Ghibli films? Are there any anime series I should definitely have on my list?

Jade

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