I’m going to preface this by telling you that Studio Ghibli productions are entirely outside of my normal viewing range. Anime is not something I grew up watching and aside from Pokemon, my kids haven’t shown much interest in it either. I am, however, up to trying something new. If your family is looking to explore something outside the usual, here are a few suggestions
Inflicted with a deadly curse, the young warrior Ashitaka heads west in search of a cure. There, he stumbles into a bitter conflict between Lady Eboshi and the proud people of Iron Town, and the enigmaticPrincess Mononoke, a young girl raised by wolves, who will stop at nothing to prevent the humans from destroying her home, and the forest spirits and animal gods who live there. Featuring the voices of Gillian Anderson, Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Billy Bob Thornton.
Princess Mononoke is no Pocahontas, just to be clear. She is a proud and fierce warrior, fighting to keep her home and the ones she loves safe. Plus, she wears clothes. Super bonus points there. The voice talent line up is nothing to shake a stick at either.
Chihiro’s family is moving to a new house, but when they stop on the way to explore an abandoned village, her parents undergo a mysterious transformation and Chihiro is whisked into a world of fantastic spirits ruled over by the sorceress, Yubaba. Put to work in a magical bathhouse for spirits and demons, Chihiro must use all her wits to survive in this strange new place, find a way to free her parents and return to the normal world.
Spirited Away proves that there is more than one animation studio capable of producing magical creatures that capture the imagination.
When Sosuke, a young boy who lives on a clifftop overlooking the sea, rescues a stranded goldfish named Ponyo, he discovers more than he bargained for. Ponyo is a curious, energetic young creature who yearns to be human, but even as she causes chaos around the house, her father, a powerful sorcerer, schemes to return Ponyo to the sea. Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid, Miyazaki’s breathtaking, imaginative world is brought to life with an all-star cast, featuring the voices of Cate Blanchett, Noah Cyrus, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, and Betty White
Ponyo is like Little Mermaid turned on it’s head. The story is just familiar enough to bring back a bit of nostalgia. It is still fresh enough to feel like just another remake.
Hayao Miyazaki’s Kiki’s Delivery Service is a coming-of-age story of a resourceful young witch who uses her broom to create a delivery service, only to lose her gift of flight in a moment of self-doubt.
It is tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon and fly off into the wide world to learn their craft. When that night comes for Kiki, she embarks on her new journey with her sarcastic black cat, Jiji, landing the next morning in a seaside village, where her unique skills make her an instant sensation. Don’t miss this delightfully imaginative and timeless story of a young girl finding her way in the world, featuring the voices of Kirsten Dunst, Janeane Garofalo, Phil Hartman, and Debbie Reynolds.
This is a pretty classic coming of age story and addresses one of the biggest challenges facing young women: self-doubt. Kiki’s Delivery Service shows us how a young woman overcomes it and goes on to begin finding her own way.
When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children. Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride aboard the extraordinary Cat Bus, in this all-ages animated masterpiece from Academy Award®-winning director Hayao Miyazaki which features the voices of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, and real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning, in one of their earliest roles
Our family recently re-visited Bridge to Terabithia. This feels like a much more light-hearted version of a similar theme. Who wouldn’t love to have a magical place that only children can visit?
Sophie, a quiet girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. The vain and vengeful Witch of the Waste, jealous of their friendship, puts a curse on Sophie and turns her into a 90-year-old woman. On a quest to break the spell, Sophie climbs aboard Howl’s magnificent moving castle and into a new life of wonder and adventure. But as the true power of Howl’s wizardry is revealed, Sophie finds herself fighting to protect them both from a dangerous war of sorcery that threatens their world. Featuring the voices of Jean Simmons, Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner, Emily Mortimer, Josh Hutcherson and Billy Crystal.
This is a classic case of the princess saving the prince. Learning who to trust, most of all herself, is one of the biggest lessons this movie teaches.
So there you have it. Six animated films you probably haven’t heard of, but are definitely worth your viewing time. You can thank me later.