My Top 3 Miyazaki Films

Hello! Remember me? Probably not, since I haven’t posted anything in about a year, but HEY HO, LET’S GO.

So recently there was some sad news in the world of anime. Hayao Miyazaki, creator of some of the finest animated films – really films, period – of all time, announced his retirement after 30-odd years of sterling work. His list of classics with Studio Ghibli stretches into eternity, but I’m going to give you a quick rundown of my all-time top 3 Miazaki films. GO!

3. Howl’s Moving Castle

My third favourite Ghibli film (and so far the only one of my top 3 to be released on Blu-ray in the UK – come on, guys!) is Howl’s Moving Castle, the story of Sophie, an 18 year old hat maker who is suddenly transformed into an elderly lady by a wicked witch. She then goes on an adventure with Batman and Mike Wazowski in a walking mansion. Predictable stuff, really.

The real magic behind this story is the way that it engages you despite the fact for the most part you are following a geriatric, where most adventures are told through the eyes of the young and spry.

Far from making the proceedings boring, the frailty of Sophie adds a great deal of gentle humour to the story, and allows for much more use of magic and spectacle by the mysterious Howl. This of course all lends itself extremely well to the beautiful direction and wonderful steampunk landscapes. Its a really great feel good film, and deserves every second of its Blu-ray transfer.

2. Spirited Away

Haha! Bucking the trend here by putting what many consider to be Miyazaki’s masterpiece in second place. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Spirited Away, but my next choice just pips it to the post for me.

Spirited Away is the story of a young girl named Chihiro, who stumbles across a magical world with her parents. Before long, things take a turn for the worse, as her parents are transformed into pigs and she is left stranded in this Narnia-esque world, forced to work in a surreal bathhouse and figure out a way back to her own world.

Though incredibly beautiful, Spirited Away is certainly a bizarre film. A lot of things don’t make a lot of sense, but that’s fine – the world is supposed to be alien and confusing and… alive! You find yourself wondering what fresh character is around the corner – and rightly so, as the cast is huge – from boys that transform into dragons to giant babies to the equal parts intimidating and likeable No-Face (just look at him here drinking tea, it always cracks me up).

1. Princess Mononoke

Yeah, thats right, the one with Scully as a giant wolf. It’s actually kind of hard for me to say why I find this one to be my favourite. Sure, it’s easy to say why it’s good, but the best? I’ll just try to keep this short. The battle scenes are fantastic, there’s a palpable sense of tension and dread with the main character’s arm sickness, Mononoke herself is a really cool, interesting character… and just LOOK at it!

Watch it. That’s all I have to say.

Here’s to you, Hayao Miyazaki! I think I speak for all of us when I wish him a happy retirement. He certainly deserves it.

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