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Summaries and Interesting Facts about Anime Movies by Hayao Miyazaki

Updated on February 5, 2016

The best of Miyazaki's movies

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About Hayao Miyazaki-sensei

Before I start with previews and some interesting facts about them, let’s talk a bit about Hayao Miyazaki-sensei (this is how he is called in Japan - sensei means 'teacher').

Hayao Miyazaki was born on 5th of January, 1941. He started his career as a director with TV series Lupin sansei in 1971 and became the world famous after his movie My neighbor Totoro was aired in 1988. He directed 11 animated feature films which he also was a script writer of. He also wrote scripts to another 3 animated feature films. In 2002 his movie Spirited away won the Academy Award for The Best Animated Feature movie. He also co-founded well known Studio Ghibli.

He is known for his pacifism and his interest in flying penetrates through a lot of his movies. His last movie: The Wind Rises is only about flying and it is said to be a tribute paid to Jiro Horikoshi (a plane designer).

And now let’s move to previews.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaä is a story from the world destroyed by an old war and swallowed by the Sea of Decay (a toxic forest). People living there struggle to live.

The main character is a brave and nature-loving princess Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. One day a huge aircraft from a kingdom of Tolmekia, which carries an embryo of Giant Warrior, crashes into the Valley and soon after that the Valley is invaded by soldiers from this kingdom. Nausicaä is trying to prevent a war, so she let Kushana, princess of Tolmekia, take her as a hostage. On a way for Pejite, another kingdom, their ship is destroyed and Nausicaä meets Asbel, a boy from Pejite. She finds out from his people, that they’re trying to lure Ohm (a huge insect) to the Valley of the Wind in order to destroy a resurrected Giant Warrior. Nausicaä stands in a way of herd of Ohm and manages to save the Valley.

Interesting things and reasons for watching the movie

In this movie you can see Miyazaki's deep passion for nature. Forest sceneries are simply overwhelming. It is something that can touch your heart. Also, Miyazaki’s feelings against wars are well recognizable in this movie. Although Nausicaä fights against soldiers of Tolmekia and kills some of them, in the end, she tries to prevent the war. I recommend you to watch this movie, because it shows that evil and good are not only black and white.

My Neighbor Totoro

My neighbor Totoro is a really positive and dreamy story about two little children - girls - moving on a village with their father. The younger one, Mei, meets a strange magical creature, so-called ‘keeper of the forest’ and becomes its friend. Soon after that, the older sister Satsuki, meets the spirit as well and receives seeds by him. One day, Mei gets lost while trying to visit her mother in hospital, but Satsuki with help from Totoro and his friend Catbus finds her and visit her mother together secretly.

Interesting things and reasons for watching the movie

You definitely should watch this movie. Its plot is quite simple, but it’s so positive, so warm-hearted and fills you with energy and smiles. This story was released in cinemas after the movie called Grave of Fireflies. It was in order to soothe audience’s hearts after watching Grave of Fireflies, which was really emotional. My Neighbor Totoro is really like that – it cheers people up.

My Neighbor Totoro

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Kiki's Delivery Service

A story starts with a little witch Kiki leaving her home in order to get experience in the world. Kiki with heir cat Jiji flies on a broomstick to the city of Koriko, where she meets a baker Osono and starts working for her. When Osono suggests Kiki to run a delivery service (because she can fly), Kiki agrees. In the meantime, she becomes closer with a boy Tombo and a painter Ursula. Soon after meeting Tombo’s friends, Kiki becomes depressed and loses her ability to speak with Jiji and fly. In that time, Ursula appears and helps her with saying a lot of meaningful advices. When airship with Tombo crashes and Tombo gets stuck on its rope, Kiki regains her ability to fly in order to save him.

Interesting things and reasons for watching the movie

This movie is very inspiring because its story. It teaches us that sometimes it’s okay to be depressed, to fail, that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. And that there are situations which we just can’t ‘fly’ in. But it’s also important to live on and not to give up. We'll probably have to mature somehow but in the end our heart will heal itself and we will be able to ‘fly’ again.

A perfect summary for Miyazaki's production

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is a story from the world overflowing with devils, gods and spirits. In this world, the last prince of an Emishi village, Ashitaka, lives. When he’s attacked by an evil god-boar and cursed, Ashitaka leaves the village in order to find a cure in the west.

On his way to Irontown (which comes an iron ball from that turned god-bear into demon) surrounded by a very old forest, he meets a mysterious wolf girl and her wolfs. Ashitaka rescues two soldiers and as thank is shown around Irontown by Lady Eboshi, a head of the town. In that time, the wolf girl called Princess Mononoke attacks the town and Lady Eboshi, but she is stopped by Ashitaka. Ashitaka takes her away from the town, but is hurt and afterwards saved by the Great Forest Spirit. Meanwhile a god-boar Okkoto attacks the town and a great battle occurs. Lady Eboshi shoots a head of the Great Forest Spirit off and he starts to destroy the forest. In the end, Ashitaka and Mononoke return his head and the Spirit dies while recovering the forest.

Interesting things and reasons for watching the movie

Princess Mononoke is a movie about nature and how people are able to harm nature. Sceneries in this movie are simply remarkable. Its story is truly strong. About the curse which can’t be healed, about the war between humans and gods, about a greed and at the same time about a power to protect dear ones and innocent and about overcoming a hatred which conquers the world.

The best movie by Hayao Miyazaki

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Princess Mononoke

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The Overview of Feature Movies by Hayao Miyazaki

Name of a movie
Release Year
Director / Screenwriter
The Castle of Cagliostro
1979
x / x
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
1984
x / x
Laputa: Castle in the Sky
1986
x / x
My Neighbor Totoro
1988
x / x
Kiki's Delivery Service
1989
x /x
Porco Rosso
1992
x / x
Whisper of the Heart
1995
- / x
Princess Mononoke
1997
x / x
Spirited Away
2001
x / x
Howl's Moving Castle
2004
x / x
Ponyo
2008
x / x
The Secret World of Arrietty
2010
- / x
From Up on Poppy Hill
2011
- / x
The Wind Rises
2013
x / x

Spirited Away

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Spirited Away

The movie, which won the Academy Award for The Best Animated Feature movie in 2003, tells a story about a ten-years-old girl Chihiro.

Chihiro and her parents get lost on their way to their new home and enter the spirit world. After eating meals without permission, Chihiro’s parents turn into pigs. Chihiro meets the wizard Haku and according to his advice, she starts to work in a bathhouse for the witch Yubaba in order to save her parents. While working, she helps a spirit of a river who gives her an emetic dumpling. It later helps Haku in his dragon form to throw off a seal stole by Yubaba’s sister, Zeniba. Chihiro decides to return the seal to Zeniba and before she leaves the bathhouse, she helps the spirit No-face who started to eat everything in the bathhouse. Chihiro takes No-face to Zeniba where he stays. After that Haku appears and takes her back to Yubaba. On the way back, Chihiro remembers Haku’s true name Kohaku freeing him from Yubaba’s control. Afterwards she saves her parents.

Interesting things and reasons for watching the movie

This movie is said to be a metaphor on growing up from childhood to adulthood. A little girl suddenly forced to move alone in the different world and take care of herself on her own perfectly shows how much one has to grow up in order to save the ones that are important for him/her.

Spirited Away also presents how much are Miyazaki’s female heroines strong, how different and at the same time so similar in some aspects. Miyazaki really likes to show heroines who are brave and smart and care about their dear ones or who grow up to be like that.

Howl's Moving Castle

A story starts when a girl Sophie meets a mysterious wizard Howl. Because of that meeting she is turned afterwards into a really old woman by The Witch of the Wastes. Sophie leaves a town to search for Howl. She meets a scarecrow who leads her to Howl's moving castle. A young boy Markl and fire demon Calcifer live there together with Howl and Sophie becomes a cleaning lady in the castle. Soon after that Howl is summoned by the king and Sophie goes there to meet king’s witch Suliman pretending to be Howl’s mother. There she meets again with The Witch of the Wastes and Suliman’s dog Heen. She escapes together with them after Howl comes to save her from Suliman. In that time Sophie realizes that Howl in a bird form tries to prevent a war.

After that the town with her flower shop is bombed and Howl safes her and leaves. Sophie detaches the flower shop from the castle, gives her braid to Calcifer in order to make him stronger and they all go to rescue Howl together. When The Witch of the Wastes takes Howl’s heart from Calcifer and Calcifer is poured with water by Sophie, the castle splits and Sophie and Heen fall down from a mountain. Through a magical door, Sophie discovers Howl’s and Calcifer’s past saying that she will save them in the future. After returning from the door, Sophie returns Howl's heart to him.

Interesting things and reasons for watching the movie

Howl’s Moving Castle is a really beautiful movie with wonderful and mysterious story. It’s one of those movies you can watch several times and still you’ll find something new you haven’t realized before and you’ll understand things that didn’t make much sense first time.

It’s also the first Miyazaki’s movie where love between main characters is displayed clearly. The story is more about Howl and his development then about Sophie, which isn’t usual at Hayao Miyazaki's movies. As I mentioned before, he focuses more on female heroines.

Howl's Moving Castle

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Summary

I presented reviews on some, probably the most known and the most popular, of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of his movies are worse or not worthy watching. They are worthy. Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Ponyo, The Wind Rises etc., are amazing movies as well. All of Miyazaki’s movies are worth watching. They are well graphic made; they have strong stories and meanings behind them. While watching Miyazaki’s movies you can realize that they’re talking to you, that they’re trying to teach you something. I highly recommend to watch every of Miyazaki’s movies.

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    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 2 years ago from Japan

      Ghibili films rights, my daughter loves these, she is Japanese by thr way

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