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Studio Ghibli: The Amazing Beginner’s Guide!

Jojo MorscheJojo Morsche
Published Time
Posted on 
September 12, 2018
Modified Time
Updated last 
February 16, 2024
A scene from a Studio Ghibli movie.

Studio Ghibli movies and the adorable characters have captured people’s hearts from all over the world. Few people haven’t seen or at least heard of classics like Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro. But did you know it was a long, hard road to fame until Studio Ghibli was recognized? Let’s learn about the studio’s history!

How did Studio Ghibli get its start?

Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 in Tokyo. It was founded by three men – Isao Takahata, Toshio Suzuki, and the well-known film producer Hayao Miyazaki. The founders based the name on the Arabic name for “hot Sahara wind”. They wanted Studio Ghibli to blow a new wind through the anime industry.

A scene from the Studio Ghibli movie, "Nausicaa of the Valley".
“Nausicaa of the Valley” received critical acclaim upon release. Image via Wallpapers

Ghibli was also the name of an Italian warplane. It represented Hayao Miyazaki’s love for planes and Italy. Before Miyazaki worked for Ghibli, he had already directed a few films. These films include Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro and Future Boy Conan.

The first original movie directed by Miyazaki was Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind in 1984. Some people argue that it’s not a real Ghibli production because the movie was released a year earlier than the official formation of Studio Ghibli. The official first Ghibli movie was Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

Why were their movies such a big deal at the time?

At the time, anime was looked down upon in the film industry, and Miyazaki, a now influential and respected director, was also not highly regarded. Anime wasn’t mainstream like it is nowadays in Japan. Therefore, the number of theaters showing the movies and viewers was also limited. Movies now regarded as big successes, like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, and even My Neighbor Totoro, were not famous back then.

A scene from "My Neighbor Totoro".
“My Neighbor Totoro” is a cozy classic! Image via Wallpapers Xyz

Moreover, the studio’s iconic blend of fantasy, mythology, and youthful wonder has significantly impacted the animation industry. Additionally, Studio Ghibli’s movies appeal to audiences of all ages with timeless themes of determination, environmental justice, and the empowerment of the young. Furthermore, Studio Ghibli’s high work standards and willingness to co-produce with other studios have contributed to their success and influence!

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When did the studio get their big break?

The breakthrough for Studio Ghibli was in 1989 with the movie Kiki’s Delivery Service, this was mainly thanks to advertisements on tv. After this, Miyazaki and producer Suzuki continued to make many more hits after Kiki.

A scene from "Kiki's Delivery Service".
“Kiki’s Delivery Service” gave Studio Ghibli their big break! Image via Enwallpaper

The story follows a young witch, Kiki, who moves to a seaside town with her talking cat, Jiji, to spend a year alone as part of her village’s tradition. She starts her own high-flying delivery service with the help of a friendly bakery owner. The film is known for its heartwarming and gorgeously rendered tale of a young witch discovering her place in the world.

It has been praised for its charming and timeless feel, offering an authentic glimpse of Japanese culture. The movie is celebrated for its beautiful animation, uplifting storyline, and universal themes, making it a beloved classic for audiences of all ages!

When did the studio become popular internationally?

The movie that made Studio Ghibli grow into an international brand for anime was Princess Mononoke in 1997. The story is set in the late Muromachi period of Japan and revolves around a young Emishi prince named Ashitaka, who becomes involved in a struggle between the gods of a forest and the humans who consume its resources.

A girl and a wolf from "Princess Mononoke".
“Princess Mononoke” put Studio Ghibli on the international stage! Image via Wallpapers

The film deals with themes of Shinto and environmentalism, portraying a complex conflict between mankind and nature. It has been praised for its lush animation, elegant score, and full-blooded characterizations, making it a landmark in animation.

It is also known for its breathtaking visuals. Furthermore, it is known for its unique portrayal of the clash between civilization and nature. All of these factors have contributed to its status as a masterpiece. It is also considered a significant work in animation history!

Why is Studio Ghibli so successful?

Many people have argued about the reasons behind Studio Ghibli’s success. 3 Important reasons could be:

1. The casting of popular celebrities as voice actors.

2. Active promotions through media and especially on TV.

3. Music composed by great composers.

Thanks to Nippon TV anime was no longer looked down upon and appreciated by a diverse audience. Many people who were not into anime would still love Studio Ghibli. Just like Disney movies, Ghibli’s movies have become classics, not only are the movies high quality, but they also have influenced the anime industry and the way people feel about anime.

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