"Miyazaki Madness" 101…The Films of Studio Ghibli

With “Miyazai Madness” just days away I thought it appropriate to put together a little Studio Ghibli “cheat sheet” for all the films in the tournament. Below you’ll find the synopsis of each film so if you haven’t seen it, at least you’ll know the back story while the voting is going on.

Hopefully it will give those of you new to Miyazaki, Takahata and Studio Ghibli a few suggestions of which you might want to check out. And since each poll will be open for a full week, there’s just enough time to watch any you haven’t seen and then cast your vote. The 16 films below are magical and loved the world over; once you see a few you’ll start to understand why. Take a chance on the ones that sound interesting, re-watch your favorites and get ready to vote on Monday the 7th!

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

Faced with almost certain destruction of her planet’s natural resources, warrior princess Nausicaa rallies her people against an evil queen’s rampaging army in an effort to give her homeland a new lease on its future. Hayao Miyazaki directs this environmentally conscious anime that transports viewers to a magical place — the Valley of the Wind — where the ultimate showdown between good and evil will play out.

G-S-T Score: 3.0/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

In this children’s anime adventure, young miner Pazu and mysterious girl Sheeta (who wears a magic pendant around her neck) team up to find the long-lost island of Laputa, which is rumored to have great riches and gems. Accompanied by a band of bumbling air pirates led by the quick-tempered Ma Dola, Pazu and Sheeta are pursued by government agents who want the riches of Laputa for themselves.

G-S-T Score: 3.75/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

Legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki provides a stunningly realistic portrayal of life in the country. When their mother is hospitalized, two young sisters spend a summer in the Japanese countryside with their father. The strange new environment turns out to be a natural wonderland filled with exotic real-life creatures and a trio of furry woodland sprites who can only be seen by children.

G-S-T Score: 2.5/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

Orphans Seita and Setsuko fight for survival in post-World War II Japan. But society is harsh, and they come to the somber conclusion that they can neither escape the hardships of war nor find enough food to survive. Named the Best Animated Feature at the 1994 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, this film proves that not all anime tales are pixie-dust fantasies or brutal sci-fi standoffs. It’s hard not to cry at the end of this one…even if it is a cartoon.

G-S-T Score: 3.0/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

In director Hayao Miyazaki’s gentle, animated adventure, young witch Kiki moves away from her family to practice her craft, but she finds that making friends in a new town is difficult. With her cat, Jiji, in tow, Kiki puts her broom-flying skills to work for a baker’s wife by starting an express delivery service. She quickly discovers, however, that she can’t take her abilities for granted.

G-S-T Score: 3.25/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

After witnessing the horrendous deaths of his fellow pilots in action during World War I, an Italian pilot transforms into Porco Rosso, a being that’s part man, part pig. Under this confounding spell, Porco Rosso perseveres by taking odd jobs. He manages to romance the ladies (humans, not sows!) and rescue people in distress — all while looking for a way out of his porcine predicament. Hayao Miyazaki directs this oddly compelling anime.

G-S-T Score: 3.5/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

The wild raccoon dogs of Tama Hills are being pushed out of their homes as shopping malls and housing developments spring up and take over the woods. But these very special animals — that practice the art of transformation and can even become human — have had enough and are preparing to fight back. With their magical powers, they manage to scare off the developers and buy some time. But for how long? Isao Takahata directs this animated feature.

G-S-T Score: 3.5/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

Schoolgirl Shizuku Tsukishima — who has a passion for reading and hopes of becoming a writer — discovers that all the books she checks out of the library have been borrowed before by someone called Seiji Amasawa. Shizuku’s curiosity soon gets the best of her, and she sets out to meet the person who shares her literary taste, which leads her to love and inspires her to pursue her dream in this charming animated tale.

G-S-T Score 3.75/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————


In this anime epic from director Hayao Miyazaki, Prince Ashitaka is infected with a lethal curse, and must travel to find a cure. On his journey, he discovers himself caught in a battle between a mining town and the animals of the surrounding forest. A girl raised by wolves leads the animals, but the forest harbors deadly supernatural powers.

G-S-T Score: 3.25/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

This animated film follows the adventures of the quirky Yamada family, drawn to resemble the watercolor look of the popular “Nono-chan” comic strips.

G-S-T Score: 2.75/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

During her family’s move to the suburbs, Chihiro wanders into a magical world where a witch rules — and those who disobey her are turned into animals. When Chihiro’s parents become pigs, she must find a way to help them return to their human form. Adapted from the Japanese original, director Hayao Miyazaki’s adventure tale won the Best Animated Feature Oscar for its enchanting story.

G-S-T Score: 4.0/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

Young Haru rescues a cat from being run over, but soon learns it’s no ordinary feline; it happens to be the Prince of the Cats. And in recognition of Haru for saving his life, the Prince brings her to the Kingdom of Cats — to be his bride! Can Haru’s feline friends hatch a plan to rescue her from this unusual fate? Hiroyuki Morita directs this fantastical anime feature.

G-S-T Score: 3.25/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

In this engaging anime based on a children’s fantasy novel, 18-year-old Sophie works in her late father’s hat shop in a humdrum town. But things get interesting when she’s transformed into an elderly woman by the evil Witch of the Waste. Determined to reverse the spell, Sophie seeks the help of the wizard Howl, who has an amazing moving castle that’s fueled by a fire demon named Calcifer.

G-S-T Score: 3.25/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

Based on Ursula K. Le Guin’s best-selling Earthsea novels and produced by the studio responsible for Spirited Away, this animated adventure tells the magical tale of Arren, a teenage prince who must solve the riddle of his realm’s decay. Arren runs away from home after killing his father, and during his journey, meets powerful wizard Sparrowhawk, young sorceress Therru and deadly warlock Lord Cob.

G-S-T Score: 2.5/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

This Japanese anime feature from famed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki follows the adventures of a 5-year-old boy, Sosuke, and his burgeoning friendship with Ponyo, a goldfish princess who desperately wants to become human. After running away from and then being recaptured by her strict father, Ponyo — with some help from Sosuke — becomes more determined than ever to make her dreams come true. But will her wishes throw the entire earth off balance?

G-S-T Score: 3.5/4.0

————————————————————————————————————————————

The escapades of world-renowned thief Lupin III continue in this action-packed anime feature. Lupin, his sidekick, Jigen, and the samurai warrior Goemon set out to take over an evil counterfeit operation at Count Cagliostro’s impenetrable fortress. But if they fail to rescue the beautiful princess from the dark lord’s grip, they risk destroying the world — and losing the vast fortune of gold hidden within.

G-S-T Score: 3.0/4.0

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

So that should give you an idea of the wide and imaginative range of films from Studio Ghibli. Each one is an experience into the fantastic, even if, sometimes, the characters never leave Tokyo. Ghibli is such an amazing animation studio that each film is a feast for the eyes. For the quality of work they put out, it’s very tough to believe they do all that with less than Disney’s staff. Don’t let this picture fool you Studio Ghibli is about the size of a 2 story housesugoi ne? Well, you know what they say about good things that come in small packages right? To you newbies, which ones sound interesting?? To you Ghibli regulars, which ones are your favorites??

Tomorrow we’ll post the bracket announcements and Monday we officially kick-off “Miyazaki Madness“!! Are you excited???