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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Studio Ghibli movies to wind down with

A girl in a red dress hugs a boy in front of a lake. Studio Ghibli’s newest film “The Boy and the Heron” will be Director Hayao Miyazaki’s first movie in ten years. (Courtesy of Studio Ghibli)

Studio Ghibli is set to release their newest feature film “The Boy and the Heron” on Dec 8. 

Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, returns after a ten-year hiatus and presumed retirement to direct another film for the studio.

The movie tells the story of 12-year-old Mahito (Soma Santoki) who struggles to adjust to a new town after the death of his mother. The boy encounters a heron that informs Mahito his mother is alive and goes on a journey to a magical world to find her.

In the spirit of Studio Ghibli’s newest release, here are some other movies from the studio to watch before you see “The Boy and the Heron.”

“Kiki’s Delivery Service”

Starting off with a Miyazaki film, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” was released in 1989 and was based on a children’s novel by Eiko Kadono. 

The film follows 13-year-old Kiki (Minami Takayama) who must leave her home with her talking black cat Jiji (Rei Sakuma) for a year so she can become a full-fledged witch. After learning to fly her broomstick, Kiki starts a flying delivery service in exchange for accommodations at a local bakery.

This movie is a great place to start for those unfamiliar with the work of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

“Whisper of the Heart”

Based on a manga series by Aoi Hiiragi, “Whisper of the Heart” is the 1995 directorial debut of Studio Ghibli animator Yoshifumi Kondô and one of three films he worked on for the company before his death in 1998.

Shizuku Tsukishima (Yoko Honna) is a young girl who loves to read and has aspirations of being a writer. She checks out books from the library and realizes all of them have been checked out by the same boy before her. After following a cat to an antique shop, Shizuku finally meets this mysterious boy, Seiji Amasawa (Issei Takahashi). The pair initially dislikes one another before their relationship blossoms into something more.

“Whisper of the Heart” is a good option for those who aren’t into fantasy or magical elements in movies. For those who are fans of this film, consider watching “The Cat Returns,” a spin-off of a minor character from the movie.

“Grave of the Fireflies”

“Grave of the Fireflies” is a 1988 war drama written and directed by Isao Takahata. The movie is based on a semi-autobiographical short story by Akiyuki Nosaka.

The film is set in the city of Kobe, Japan in 1945 and follows siblings Seita (Tsutomu Tatsumi) and Setsuko (Ayano Shiraishi) who are trying to survive after the death of their mother during the bombing of Kobe during World War II.

This movie is absolutely heartbreaking, so be ready to shed some tears if you plan on watching.

“Princess Mononoke”

Another film directed by Miyazaki, “Princess Mononoke” was a hit in 1997 with Japanese audiences but failed domestically when introduced in the United States. 

Set in the 14th century Muromachi period, the story follows Ashitaka (Yôji Matsuda), a young boy from a dying village who travels in search of a cure for a curse from a boar god. During his journey, he meets San (Yuriko Ishida), a young human woman fighting to protect the forest from the humans who want its resources.

“Princess Mononoke” is a stark contrast from Miyazaki’s previous films at the time which were more family-friendly. The film is pretty violent and features a lot of gore, so viewers beware if you’re trying to look for something more innocent.

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