So tomorrow marks the start of Film4's Studio Ghibli season which will last for nearly 3 weeks, and I for one am mega excited!
For one it will mean that more and more people will get into contact with such an outstanding body of work created by director Hayao Miyazaki (among other directors under his tutelage), but also it means that when people see my Totoro purse there will be less & less questions like 'Who's that big bunny, he's cute' (he is pretty darn cute) but he is no bunny!! He is in fact a great spirit of the forest.
I am a huge fan of Ghibli films, starting with my first taste when a friend leant me his copy of Spirited Away only saying 'you will love this' - now personally I hate being told if I will like or dislike a film (Let me make my own opinion!!) It's also one of the reasons I take every critics review of a film with a pinch with salt (films are such a personal thing and all that jazz) - but this Mr.Millan is an expert in what I love, especially if it's originating from the East, so I watched it straight away... wow was I blown away!
The film is so superbly odd to outsiders (giant chicks, pig parents and spirits with no form) but like every Ghibli film, it has so much depth and heart that even if there are things that the more conservative person will deem to be 'too random' if they pay attention to the stories then there is always a lesson to be learnt. Like in Spirited Away where we experience where gluttony can take even the most caring of parents down, remembering who you really are and how you can still find friends in the oddest of worlds.. if your open to it.
The ideals Ghibli teaches like; honouring your environment, learning to love who you are, not judging anything or anyone at face value, the preciousness of family and friends or just remembering to be young at heart & that magic you felt growing up as a child, are all great morals to always remember.
But not only are these ideals presented in such a non biased manner, but the animation itself is so captivating that you are drawn to watch them again and again.
I guess that's why Miyazaki takes so much pride in directing it all scene by scene - and you can feel his attention and passion for his art through every moment. The films contain spirits and gods, common men and helpful beasts and all on a backdrop of mythological or present day Japan. There is something for everyone in this large selection of 'anime' films.
One of my favourite Ghibli films (which will come as no surprise to many) is My Neighbour Totoro, which was actually released in Japan on the year of my birth (1988), it's a really simple and innocent tale of two girls who move to the countryside with their father and try to build their new home together, awaiting the return of their sick mother. But in between this, the girls meet Totoro a spirit of the forest - and a combination of Miyazaki's imagination and japanese folklore - he keeps the girls entertained and enliven their curiosity for nature and kind spirits, along with the catbus (and actual giant cat that's body is also a bus) they protect the girls and keep their spirits high during a tough time, of being without their mother.
This film is also one of my friend's daughter's favourites who would watch it none stops as a child, which has definitely inspired me to bring up my kids on these wonderful films.
Unlike Disney, Ghibli films always have very strong female leads who's goals go a lot further than just looking for their prince charming and sitting in a castle all day. They are warriors, sage's, protectors, pioneering engineers and adventurers and those are definitely the role models I want for my daughters one day!
So for any of you who haven't ever experienced the wonders of Studio Ghibli, or the genius of Hayao Miyazaki, or for those who want to get together and re-watch classics, then tune in to Film4's Ghibli season starting tomorrow - I cannot recommend these films enough!
Studio Ghibli Season Film4
Now i'm off to get my Totoro onesie on and catch up with the Ghibli gang ;)