Almost every person has a list of comfort movies. Movies that you go back to, to feel that warm and fuzzy feeling of comfort blossom in your hearts. They can be cheesy christmas movies or cliché romcoms or trashy action films.
For me personally, every time I hear the term ‘Comfort movies’ my mind immediately wanders off to Studio Ghibli movies.
Studio Ghibli movies are animated Japanese movies made under the film studio named Studio Ghibli Inc. The studio is best known for its animated feature films, and has also produced several short films, television commercials, and one television film. The studio’s mascot and most recognizable symbol is the character Totoro, a giant cat-like spirit from the studio’s 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro.
When we think of Studio Ghibli movies we think of its fantastical creatures, whimsical world & unique art style. These movies craft a universe that fills our hearts with a kind of nostalgic feeling that cannot be described with words every time.
Let’s take a dive into what actually sets these movies apart from the rest:
FINDING THE MAGIC IN MUNDANITY
An unique quality that Ghibli movies possess is the ability to make the most mundane task look like the most magical one. There’s no doubt that most of the movies coming out of the studio are mostly fantastical in one way or the other but it’s most magical moments are often the ones with no fantastical element in them. Whether it be the old Sophie cleaning Howl’s castle from head to toe or Chihiro doing hard labor for the first time, or maybe even Kiki baking a cake. These ordinary everyday chores are presented in a way in every movie that it looks like the most wondrous task one can ever do. The movies pay an awe inspiring attention to detail while crafting these scenes that makes it look so transporting and so appealing to the audience.
Ghibli movies a lot of the time feel right out of a dream. The beautiful visuals, the adventurous storyline feel like something we can only dream of. Watching these movies make us feel like we’re escaping out reality and stepping into a dream world where everything is possible. It’s not just dreamlike in terms of it’s wondrous creatures but also in its whimsical atmosphere. These movies open up a universe where there are countless possibilities. Anything you can think of is just is. There’s no explanation or logic needed for it. Just like you feel in a dream. The fantasy part of Studio Ghibli movies evoke a sense of familiarity as much as wonder.
THE VIBRANT CHARACTERS
All the Studio Ghibli characters feel like people that we know in real life. They feel like people we see on a regular basis. These characters are in no means perfect. All of them are flawed one way or the other. But they are so lively, so vibrant that they make you fall in love with them in a matter of a few seconds. You can’t help but feel captivated by them. Each character in each of the movies has some quality that makes us feel attached to them. Whether it be Mei’s childlike curiosity in My Neighbor Totoro or San’s courage in Princess Mononoke, these characters have a way of making their home into our hearts.
THE WHOLESOME STORYLINES
Even though most Ghibli movies have some element of fantasy, they are at its core movies with very simplistic and wholesome storylines. They focus on the simpler elements of life like family, friendship, compassion, bravery etc. Most people expect children’s movies to be very fast paced and action packed but studio Ghibli movies are almost always subtle and slow in their pacing. They showcase the real and simple way of living. They don’t have extravagant quests or impossible challenges. All the quests and challenges are very understated and grounded in reality.
BEAUTY OF STILLNESS
Part of what allows the characters to be fully developed is the length of Studio Ghibli’s films. For animation movies, Ghibli movies are quite long and slow-paced. Studio Ghibli’s films present scenes of stillness, or slower scenic scenes with little to no action or words. These moments may feel unimportant but these are the moments that make these movies feel so peaceful and so beautiful. It is in these slower-paced moments that the audience can feel what the characters are feeling.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF LOVE
Ghibli movies explore love in different ways, not just in a romantic relationship. Love between siblings, love between friends, love between found families, love between an animal and human, these movies don’t shy away from exploring all of them. All these bonds, these loves feel so familiar and real. These are bonds we encounter in our daily lives. These profound connections are another reason why Ghibli movies feel so warm and comforting in every way.
FEELING OF NOSTALGIA
No matter what age you watch these movies, they’re bound to make you feel nostalgic. It doesn’t matter if what you’re encountering on the screen never happened to you, it still feels as if it’s taking you back to your childhood. They make you feel reminiscent of a past that never was. The childlike curiosity and the innocence of the characters make you want to go back in back time to when you were a child.
The slow development of the characters, the beauty of the visuals, the warmth and familiarity of the atmosphere are all the things that make up the magic of Studio Ghibli. All these little elements are what sets these movies apart from all the rest. These are what makes them so mesmerizing.
To get started on Ghibli movies, you can start with watching My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away or Kiki’s Delivery Service etc.
So, just grab your favourite comfort food and put on a Studio Ghibli movie. And you’re set for a magical day!