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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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                        Last Updated on March 13, 2019

                        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                        Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                        You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                        Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                        1. Work on the small tasks.

                        When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                        Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                        2. Take a break from your work desk.

                        Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                        Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                        3. Upgrade yourself

                        Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                        The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                        4. Talk to a friend.

                        Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                        Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                        5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                        If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                        Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                        Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                        6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                        If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                        Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                        Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                        7. Read a book (or blog).

                        The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                        Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                        Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                        8. Have a quick nap.

                        If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                        9. Remember why you are doing this.

                        Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                        What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                        10. Find some competition.

                        Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                        Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                        11. Go exercise.

                        Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                        Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                        As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                        Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                        12. Take a good break.

                        Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                        Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                        Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                        Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                        More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                        Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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