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10 Miyazaki Films You Should Watch At Least Once In Your Life

10 Miyazaki Films You Should Watch At Least Once In Your Life

Nippon’s Studio Ghibli is beloved the world over for producing extraordinary animated films. They have captivated tens of millions of people, inspired imaginations, won Oscars, and yet at the heart of the majority of their catalogue is one man – the legendary Hayao Miyazaki.

Miyazaki films are special as he wrote, directed, and even helped animate many of them during a career spanning over 30 years. As a result, they have his distinctive touch throughout; his merger of compelling plots, endearing characters, breathtaking animation, and a sense of imagination places him on a creative genius level. He has now, unfortunately, retired (although he’s currently designing a nature park for children) and Studio Ghibli will forge on without him, but his legacy will ensure the animation specialists continue to thrive.

For fans of the films, people who haven’t heard of Studio Ghibli, or parents looking to inspire their children, the following are 10 of Miyazaki’s finest feature films. If beautifully hand drawn, fantastical, and dramatic stories are your thing, then Miyazaki has provided works which will leave an impression on you for years to come.

1. Princess Mononoke to Get Started

Princess Mononoke

    This is arguably Miyazaki’s outright masterpiece, so it’s a great place to start! Released in 1997, Princess Mononoke is a a beautiful and sweeping classic. During its complex plot, protagonist Ashitaka becomes fatally cursed, and ventures into the wider world to find help. Ultimately, he gets drawn into something far more dramatic in a sprawling adventure. Miyazaki plays on Japanese folklore throughout, with several memorable scenes involving kodama (tree spirits).

    2. Spirited Away  to Focus on Themes of Love and Loss

    Spirited Away

      This Oscar winner really woke Western moviegoers up to the spectacular nature of Miyazaki’s films. Written and directed by the great man, it centres around schoolgirl Chihiro Ogini as she’s transported to a bathhouse in the spirit world. An astonishing work of the imagination, its themes of love, loss, solitude, and maturity make it vital viewing for all ages.

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      3. Howl’s Moving Castle for Its Masterful Writing

      Howl's Moving Castle

        Adapted from Dianna Wynne Jones’ novel, Miyazaki displayed his mastery again by writing the screenplay, and directing, this epic. When young Sophie is transformed into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste, she is left to search for a possible solution to her dilemma. This leads her to a spectacular castle owned by the enigmatic Howl, and her adventure begins. It’s a wonderfully animated and, as always, charming film crammed full of imagination, humour, and drama.

        4. Ponyo for Children

        Ponyo

          Arguably Miyazaki’s most environmentally conscious film. Ponyo centres on the life of the eponymous central character, a goldfish princess, finds herself taking on human characteristics as she strikes up an unusual friendship with a young boy. Ponyo boasts some of Miyazaki’s most vivid and exhilarating scenes, and is particularly well suited for children.

          5. Porco Rosso for Being a Classic

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          Porco Rosso

            This unusually titled, often forgotten classic from 1992 may be hidden behind Miyazaki’s grander efforts, but it’s still a fantastic film. The eponymous character, who has somehow been mysteriously turned into a pig during World War I, is a flying ace who dares to challenge sky pirates who are besieging a local community. Once more, Miyazaki’s fascination with flight takes center stage.

            6. Castle in the Sky for Being the First Studio Ghibli Film

            Laputa Castle in the Sky

              This is, officially, Studio Ghibli’s first film – Miyazaki put his abilities to the test with a spectacular start for the company! Castle in the Sky is about two orphans searching for treasure in Laputa, a legendary floating city. Released in 1986, and in typical style written and directed by Miyazaki, it set the scene for what was to come.

              7. My Neighbour Totoro for All Ages

              My Neighbour Totoro

                Another fine example of how Miyazaki could craft a film to be accessible for all ages. My Neighbour Totoro was written and directed by Miyazaki, and launched in 1988. It’s essentially a simple tale of two schoolgirls in rural Nippon who interact with local friendly woodland spirits. The now iconic Totoro (a large, lethargic cat creature) adorns Studio Ghibli’s logo, and has been something of a cultural phenomenon.

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                8. The Wind Rises for Adventure

                The Wind Rises

                  Hayao Miyazaki’s final film. The Wind Rises (2013) focuses heavily on his fascination with flying, and is one of the more poignant stories from his catalog. It features many of his familiar tropes (love, life, aviation, youth, ageing, the environment) but is typically crammed full of humor and is an absolute joy to watch.

                  9. Kiki’s Delivery Service for a Cool Cat

                  Kiki's Delivery Service

                    One of the lesser known Miyazaki films as it has been dwarfed by his more dramatic efforts. Adapted from Eiko Kadono’s novel, it follows the exploits of a young witch called Kiki. She essentially comes of age after moving to a new town, accompanied by Jiji the talking cat (who is, quite possibly, the coolest cat in movie history). It’s for all ages, but children should particularly love it.

                    10. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind for Its Polish

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                    Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

                      Based on Miyazaki’s manga from 1982, he adapted the plot for the big screen and directed it for a 1984 release. Studio Ghibli hadn’t been founded by this point, but the film can be considered canon. Even in 1984 his work was highly polished, and this sprawling tale about Nausicaä, a young princess, who battles to restore order to her land, is riveting.

                      And Finally…

                      The Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki

                        Whilst he may have retired, the special edition Collected Works of Hayao Miyazaki gathers together his work (obviously!) into one fantastic set. If you’re a Studio Ghibli super fan, this fitting tribute to Miyazaki’s creative input is a must.

                        Featured photo credit: Studio Ghibli via ghibli.jp

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                        Alex Morris

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                        Last Updated on September 25, 2019

                        How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

                        How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

                        As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

                        When we were still children, our thoughts seemed to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

                        Just imagine then, how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power!

                        We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities.

                        We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

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                        We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb.

                        We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits.

                        And we’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head…

                        But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

                        So, how can we tap into the power of positivity?

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                        “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

                        It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are 4 simple yet powerful ideas on how you can get started.

                        1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

                        Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

                        Just take a look at these 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

                        2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

                        This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

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                        You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty.

                        If you seek it, you will find it.

                        3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

                        This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what really is important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

                        Here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life that can inspire you.

                        4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

                        How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking.

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                        Instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

                        Learn from this article how to change your mental images: How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

                        If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

                        And remember:

                        You are (or will become) what you think you are.

                        This is reasonable enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

                        More About Staying Positive

                        Featured photo credit: Lauren Richmond via unsplash.com

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