Studio Ghibli movies have captivated audiences all over the world with their strong storytelling, empowering themes and stunning visuals. Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio founded in 1985. The studio has influenced many animators, filmmakers, and game developers worldwide . Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Legend of Zelda and Super Mario, has cited that Studio Ghibli has influenced him.
Their movies include various award-winning animated features that have influenced the animation film industry in many ways, such as Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Ponyo. Studio Ghibli movies have always captured the essence of powerful, impactful storytelling since their first official feature film, Castle in the Sky, was released in 1986.
Hayao Miyazaki is an animator, director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki is an acclaimed filmmaker known for his masterful storytelling. He is universally known as one of the most accomplished animation filmmakers in history. Mar Martinez-Lopez, a junior at Georgia State, talked about what makes Miyazaki’s films so special.
“He has such an interesting and complex view of life, both pessimistic and optimistic for humanity and the future,” says Martinez-Lopez. “I feel like he conveys his beliefs and ideas very successfully through his movies.”
Miyazaki has mastered the Japanese storytelling concept of “Ma,” the space within a film that takes a break between action and allows the audience to emotionally reflect and interpret what is happening.
In an interview with film critic Roger Ebert, Miyazaki clapped his hands a few times and said, “The time in between my clapping is Ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just business. But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.”
A plot structure used in Studio Ghibli films is Kishōtenketsu. Kishōtenketsu consists of four parts: ki (the introduction), shō (development), ten (twists) and ketsu (conclusion). This structure can have long, peaceful passages, then a turn or a twist that slightly disrupts things. The conclusion adapts the twist with the rest of the story and shows the connections between them.
When being interviewed about the storytelling power of Studio Ghibli movies, Sara Patyi, a GSU alum, discussed how remarkable it is.
“The storytelling gives ordinary life a soft touch, in a way that reminds the audience that even days that seem ordinary have pieces of magic in them. There is a very deeply felt sense of warmth and comfort in these movies, even when the plot contains hardship and trials for the characters.” Patyi continues, “Another aspect of Studio Ghibli movies is the way that they envelop greater themes and morals into a movie that is still fun and enjoyable.”
Pascal, a Georgia State alum, believes that the theme in the films of children railing against the world gives it a natural impact for people who grew up on the movies. I think these films helped make me very sympathetic to the Just Stop Oil campaign in Britain.”
Another aspect of Studio Ghibli films that many people commend is the visuals. Every frame is attentively hand-drawn, creating a film with stunning, detailed animation. Pascal continues, “I think Studio Ghibli is great to look at. The character designs are circular friendly shapes with lots of color that create a contrast to the scary things in the film like war, machines, and evil spirits who are also circular but have darker tones of color. Showing the duality of a good and evil nature.”
“I love that Ghibli’s inspiration comes directly from life, a lot of animation these days is inspired by something watched from their childhood but Miyazaki took trips to gain inspiration directly from the world. I feel like many Ghibli movies are a love letter to nature.” – Mar Marinez-Lopez.
Studio Ghibli’s most recent film, The Boy and the Heron, will be released in United States theaters on December 8. This is Miyazaki’s first feature film in ten years. The film has already received a 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes.