Film/TV Review Corner: The Hayao Miyazaki Guide

Welcome back to the review corner! I’m Kate Anderson-Song, head interviewer and editorial team member here at Overachiever Magazine, now bringing you some of my thoughts and recommendations on what to watch!  

If you missed my other recommendations, here’s my review of Bong Joon Ho’s The Host (for some quarantine-inspired viewing) & my review of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before & it’s sequel, P.S. I Still Love You (for some sweet escapism)!

So, I reached a big milestone in my own personal movie watching this week – I finally watched The Wind Rises, which means I’ve seen every Studio Ghibli film directed & written by Hayao Miyazaki. 

Now, if you somehow haven’t had the pleasure of watching a Studio Ghibli film, GO AND WATCH ONE NOW!  SERIOUSLY!  NOW!  They are honestly that good.

Studio Ghibli is known for their beautiful artistic animation and fantastically creative stories. Hayao Miyazaki, alongside the late Isao Takahata, founded the studio in 1985 and they’ve been creating wonderful work ever since.  

Hayao Miyazaki is an internationally-acclaimed maker of animated films, a masterful storyteller, and, in my opinion, one of the great film auteurs of our time.  I grew up on his stories.  And every time I watch one of his films, I’m struck by how whimsical, immersive, and unique they still feel, no matter how many times I’ve seen them.  I put them on anytime I need inspiration. 

 

So, I’m NOT going to rank his films (because my favorites aren’t necessarily “the best”, and my least favorites are still really great movies), but I thought it might help to know the difference in tone of each – as some of his movies are much more serious and some much lighter.   So, I’ve organized all of the films he both wrote & directed for Studio Ghibli from most serious/intense to the most sweet/playful.  

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t serious moments in the sweet films, or funny & light bits in the more intense ones.  Part of Miyazaki’s genius is that his stories are complex and complete!

But, whether you’re new to his work, or just trying to pick the perfect feeling film for a movie night, this might help you decide what you’re in the mood for!

 

So, below is my

GUIDE TO HAYAO MIYAZAKI:

From Serious to Sweet!

SERIOUS & INTENSE

Princess Mononoke 

Nausicaa & The Valley of the Wind 

 Castle in the Sky

Howl’s Moving Castle

The Wind Rises

Spirited Away 

Porco Rosso 

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Ponyo 

My Neighbor Totoro

SWEET & PLAYFUL

 

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I hope this helps you decide your next Miyazaki movie night – or maybe even inspire you to watch his whole oeuvre of films as well!  And I’ll be back next week with another review corner!  Comment below your favorite(s) on the list or what you’re planning to watch next!

*** I’ve left out any films that Miyazaki didn’t solely write AND direct (such as “Whisper of the Heart” which Miyazaki wrote, but did not direct.) and any of his pre-Ghibli work. I’ll be doing more Studio Ghibli reviews and I’m sure I’ll touch on some more of these films!

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

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