My Love for Ghibli

Well, it started from Instagram template for International Women’s Day. Then it grew into so many things.

You know, internet.

I participated in some of them, because I thought it was fun and in a way I felt it was kind of nostalgic. Then, so many accounts created so many different templates with different theme like food to beauty & fashion to movies.

When I saw this Ghibli template, I knew right away I want to write something about it! Not about the templates, about Ghibli, I mean. :P

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Ghibli Istagram Story Template from @angkasabintang

 

Disclaimer: This is going to be a long post.

Yes, I love Ghibli so much. I love love love how the movie made me feel. Especially when it is Hayao Miyazaki’s. I often wonder, how could Ghibli movies bring back so many memories, but not necessarily my memories (what?). It feels like there was a time when I was in the land of dreams that I can’t really recall. It made me believed that MAYBE there was a lifetime that I’ve lived before somewhere far in Utopia (not all, though. One of them gave me the opposite effect a.k.a Grave of the Fireflies).

Quick facts: Spirited Away is my all-time favorite movie! Not just for an animated movie but movie from any category.

I have watched 17 out of 20 Ghibli movies (at least from the list in Wikipedia). I haven’t watched any of their short movies, though. But I have watched all Hayao Miyazaki’s. The last one was The Wind Rises (if I am not mistaken) and it was launched in 2013. 5 years after that, I haven’t heard anything about him making any Ghibli movies. Please tell me that it wasn’t his last!

From the 17 movies I have watched, my favorites are Spirited Away (of course), Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo. But overall, other movies are crazy good as well. I don’t know how they could deliver great stuff, like, every time! What kind of sorcery is this?

 

Let me tell you how I feel about all my favorites. First off, Spirited Away. There are no words to describe how I feel about this movie other than perfection. I don’t know how many times I have watched it, I just can never get tired of it. It was first launched in 2001, but I didn’t watch it back then, even though I was already 12. I didn’t think that it was interesting and I was at the phase when I wanted to outgrow any childish desire (lol) and I considered any animated picture as childish. It was about a girl, named Chihiro, who was lost in a spirit world and ended up working in a Bath House for spirits and gods, run by the antagonist, Yubaba the Witch. She befriended her antagonist’s apprentice, Haku, who could turn himself into a white dragon.

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Spirited Away

I first watched it years later after I entered university. I watched it with a group of friends, one of them recommended it and she was into animated movies. I thought, why not, it might be good. I didn’t really like it at first, I was like, yeah the picture was good and the story was good, nothing special and I didn’t know why it was praised so much and there was something weird about it, when the movie ended I felt something was hanging (not that the movie gave off some cliff-hanger situation). Somehow, I decided to re-watch it again by myself. And guess what? Baby, I was hooked! After realizing the detail and everything, I was blown away. There was something about the characters, about the places, about the settings, about the music, its simplicity and its complexity, its honesty and how relatable it was. I can only say, Damn it’s beautiful beautiful beautiful!

Other facts: my favorite movie scene is also from Spirited Away.

My favorite scene is when the ‘Stink God’ arrived. It was so funny, that when he arrived, the workers shooed him away because they couldn’t stand the smell and they didn’t want their other customers to run away. But he has made up his mind that he was going for a bath there. Yubaba had an idea to put Chihiro, the new girl, for the task. Chihiro obediently serve the customer and, in her own clumsy way, tried to give the best service for him. It was a tough job for her, because she was clumsy and tiny but the bath was huge so that the job itself was physically challenging. She was helped by her colleague, Rin, while everyone in the bathhouse was watching her and assessing her, paying attention to things that she would do on this task and also laughing at her clumsiness (yes, they were kinda mean to her).

While tending the bath, Chihiro found something was stuck in the body of this Stink God. When she mentioned it, Yubaba realized that something was off. She helped Chihiro with a rope for her to tie it to the stick thing that stuck in the customer. (Oh My God, I got very excited talking about this! Here comes my favorite part!) Yubaba asked the other staff to pull that thing off of the Stink God and it turned out that little stick was actually an old bicycle and other bunch of trash that settled in the Stink God’s body. When they pulled out the stick, all the other trash like metals, mud, anything, were released from his body. It turned out that he wasn’t the Stink God after all, he was a River God but was so polluted with trash that he stinks so bad. When the last trash ‘plop’ out of his body, I felt very very relieved.

Whenever I watch Spirited Away, I always rewind the scene over and over again (Oh, I know I am weird). By the way, this scene was inspired by Miyazaki’s own experience when he volunteered to clean the river in his town. He found that something was stuck at the bottom of the river that turned out to be a bicycle.

spirited away scene
The Stink God scene

I read some reviews about it and it said how the movie was a metaphor for child slavery. If that was the actual case, how crazy it is that dark background could turn to something so beautifully ethereal like that. My friend said to me, “you know what, Spirited Away is actually very creepy. Don’t you see how mystic it is?” Well, I don’t disagree with that. It is mystic and scary and could be very uncomfortable. Remember the No Face Spirit who followed Chihiro around wherever she went, without saying anything, just watching her every move, and always suddenly appeared near her, then one time when he spoke he just said that he wanted her? That was maximum creepy. But, it doesn’t mean the movie can’t be beautiful.

Maybe if I watched it as a kid I wouldn’t understand it and wouldn’t like it (or might be traumatized by it). But I guess because I’ve watched it when I was mature enough I could appreciate the beauty that it was trying to highlight in every brokenness and weirdness of the situation.

 

Howl’s Moving Castle another dream-like picture about a dreamy Wizard, Howl, and a nerdy girl, Sophie. It is like a love story or maybe it was meant to be a love story. But the romance that it gave off was very subtle and (can I say perfect) more caring rather than passionate. Maybe for some people, it wasn’t romance enough, but I personally like that kind of approach to romance.

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Howl’s Moving Castle

Sophie was a milliner and one day she was cursed into and old lady by a witch who has a personal vendetta towards Howl. She saw Sophie with Howl the day before and decided to curse her to get to Howl. It’s funny when Sophie was an old lady, she was definitely an adorable old lady. Feisty, but sweet. And now I am remembering my late grandma, who I despised so much in her life and how my distant relative told her that she’s an adorable grandma and I was so lucky. I was indeed lucky and I regret not showing her much love before she’s gone.

Okay, back to Howl’s. The breakfast scene was the best! Howl was living in a moving castle (hence the title) so that he could move around and could not be easily tracked by people who would ‘need’ him. The feisty Sophie, who was then, though uninvited, had herself lived in Howl’s Castle. She was hungry and decided to make herself some breakfast with the living fire, Calcifire, who run the house. She saw Markl (Howl’s young apprentice) was eating something inappropriate (it was just bread and butter, I guess) and decided to give him proper cooked food. She didn’t care, even though Calcifire has warned her that he would only answer to Howl and wouldn’t let him be used by her, she forced him to fire for her cooking anyway. Howl who was then home, listened to the cry of his fire and patiently resolved their problem by taking charge of cooking breakfast for all of them. “Please, don’t harass my friend.” Said Howl to Sophie smilingly. I just thought that it was adorable. Then, Howl, Sophie and Markl had some cooked bacon strips and eggs with bread. You should see how the picture of the food came to life. It was such a common activity but so dear to my heart, like I want to be in that table having breakfast with them, too (even though I don’t eat pork).

 

Ponyo My favorite Ghibli character ever! I watched the English-dubbed version and it wasn’t disappointing at all. I watched both versions. First, the original Japanese-dubbed version, then the English one. When I watched the English one, I was worried that the voice actors, especially the children, could not deliver the feel of Japanese Ponyo. Since, I’ve watched many English-dubbed Japanese animated films and found the dub dissatisfying. The actor who voiced Ponyo and Sosuke, in my opinion, were doing a very good job! It turned out that the child actors were The Jonas’ little brother and Miley Cyrus’ little sister. Lol.

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Ponyo

Ponyo was a magical fish who wanted to be human and ran away from her father, a former human wizard (I don’t know what kind of species he turned into but he no longer lived on land). Ponyo, then ran into Sosuke who rescued her from a jar. Sosuke gave her ham and then she loved ham. When Sosuke’s finger was cut, Ponyo licked his wound to heal it, then from the human blood she got some magic power. Ponyo’s dad took her back to the Ocean, but Ponyo ran away again to meet Sosuke. With her newly acquired magic power, she turned herself into a human girl.

Sosuke took the human Ponyo to his house where his mother served them with food, tea with honey and noodles with egg and ham. As always, Ghibli made food scene very mouth-watering. Seeing Ponyo slurping all the noodle and egg and her favorite ham, always making me feel hungry.

My favorite line was when Ponyo first learned to speak (she still was somewhat a fish at this point) and she said she likes ham but she also likes Sosuke, “Ponyo. Likes. Sosuke!” Or in Japanese “Ponyo. Sosuke. Suki!” It is also interesting that Sosuke’s mother was working in a Nursing House that sometimes the movie showed a 5 years old Sosuke befriended 3 old ladies. I like a story when the characters have unique occupations. I find it refreshing.

 

Other Ghibli movies such as Kiki’s Delivery Service, Arriety, The Wind Rises also gave me great impression. I loved them as well, because it felt warm and dreamy. I wonder what’s inside Hayao Miyazaki’s head (and other Ghibli director), how could this kind of work could be produced?

Is there any Ghibli movies that I don’t like? You might ask. As a matter of facts there is! I have mentioned it earlier and I meant it when I said that I was traumatized by this movie, I will never watch it again. Oh God, it gave me nightmare!

Yes, it was Grave of the Fireflies.

Few years ago, my friend and I planned to go to Japan, and especially to Ghibli Museum, for a vacation. Prior to that, I wanted to watch every Ghibli movies there is. So, I watched that Grave of the Fireflies. Guess what? Yep, I cried buckets but wasn’t just that, it depressed me so much that I felt so down for two weeks! Suddenly, the world that I lived in seemed so grey and hopeless, right until I boarded the plane to Tokyo. I told my friend when we were on the plane, that the movie still haunted me and I regretted watching that before our trip. She said when she watched it, she got depressed, too. So it wasn’t just me, the movie was indeed a black hole. But, when I set my foot on Tokyo and saw how wonderful it was, I was happy again!

When I hate it so much, it doesn’t mean that the quality of the movie is bad. It is quite the opposite, it was so good that it clearly delivers the message: STOP WARS! It is just how it could mentally affect the audience and to me the desperation and helplessness as well as the ugly picture of war-torn communities stick in my head. But I can never enjoy real life war settings, anyway, whether it is a book or movie. In war nobody wins, because everyone is losing.

Come to think of it, I am not sure if Ghibli movies are for kids. Ghibli, which means hot desert wind, meant to ‘blow a new wind through anime industry’[1] and it is a new wind indeed! It is much more than just animated pictures, they are movies with much deeper layers. I definitely should do a Ghibli movie binge-watch some weekend.

 

[1] http://www.ghibli.jp/qa/#more

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3 thoughts on “My Love for Ghibli

  1. The scene where Chihiro first met Haku with setting sun background felt so surreal. The BGM also increases the vibes. The colors are also beautiful. Beautiful memories. LOL

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