Miyazaki Films: The Five Greats

Warning: Spoilers!

Many consider Miyazaki animated films to be masterpieces and hold a special place in their hearts, but which ones are the best?

 

Number Five: Howl’s Moving Castle.

A scene from Howl's Moving Castle. Graphic from IMDb
A scene from Howl’s Moving Castle. Graphic from IMDb

 

This movie takes its viewers into a more modern setting, complete with magic and warfare. The heroine of our story, Sophie, is an average girl running a hat shop that manages to tick off a cranky witch. This movie is great because of Calcifer’s (the heart of Howl’s castle) humor. The story is exciting and the stakes are high. I gave this the fifth place purely because the movie is highly popular, yet makes the least sense out of the top five. Although the story is cool and interesting, the plot developments seem sudden and a little confusing, this is due to the fact that Miyazaki adapted the story from a novel.

 

 

Number Four: My Neighbor Totoro.

A scene from My Neighbor Totoro. Graphic from IMDb
A scene from My Neighbor Totoro. Graphic from IMDb

 

Totoro is essentially a family film about the bond between two young sisters who move into a new house and make friends with the king of the forest, Totoro. He is looks like a giant bunny and has the ability to make the trees grow. The children follow and are followed by this giant fluffy beast. The movie has many cute and silly moments. However, the main theme tells a sadder and relatable story of a family trying not to fall apart in a rough time. This movie has many strange moments, from Totoro’s weird stares to the grinning cat bus that transports the children around the country ide.

 

 

 

Number Three: Castle in the Sky

A scene from Castle in the Sky. Graphic from IMDb
A scene from Castle in the Sky. Graphic from IMDb

 

Steampunk meets pirates in this thrilling heroic tale. The young male hero meets the distant princess of an old and advanced civilization. Pirates and the government seek to use the princess to unravel the secrets of Laputa, the castle in the sky where her royal blood comes from. This adventure is filled with romance, flying robots, and greedy forces that will stop at nothing to obtain the power of Laputa. The story flows well and the characters are very lovable and have good development and screen time.

 

 

 

Number Two: Spirited Away

A scene from Spirited Away. Graphic from IMDb
A scene from Spirited Away. Graphic from IMDb

The only way for Chihiro to save her parents is to work at a bathhouse for spirits and await her chance. The characters in this story really transform it to something amazing. The spirits are so detailed and unique that an entirely new realm is created and is not doubted by the audience. Cruel and frightening characters also make this a very intense movie to view. The harshness and strangeness of them make this movie frighteningly interesting.

 

 

 

Number One: Princess Mononoke

A scene from Princess Mononoke. Graphic from IMDb
A scene from Princess Mononoke. Graphic from IMDb

Prince Ashitaka is plagued with a terrible curse and must leave his home. On his travels, he encounters an island of ironworkers and is put right in the middle of an ongoing war. This war is between the islanders and the rulers of the forest, the wolves. Among the wolves is Princess Mononoke herself who was raised by the wolves and fights along side them. Beside that plot, there is also a force trying to gain the head of the forest god, which will in turn destroy the forest. Again, Miyazaki is putting the idea of Man vs. Nature in our heads and the message of conservation and nature appreciation is very clear.

Graphic violence is displayed in this movie and brings it up a notch in parental guidance ratings. However, it does not distract from the plot, but makes it even more essential that the violence is stopped and the main characters work together to end the hideous war, which is not only destroying the forest, but also the people and animals. The action scenes are very well done and the plot is very exciting.