‘Normally you can’t see soot gremlins, but every once in a while, when you go from a bright place to a dark one, you can catch a glimpse of them.’
Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio founded in 1985, so far they’ve made over 44 films. There’s no direct links between all the films, with huge variety in topic and tone, they’re all united by the fact they’re fantastical films that don’t shy away from discussing with children the difficulties of life yet retain their optimism and joy. They’re also some of the most visually stunning feature films in existence, any still could make for breathing artwork worthy of being put in a frame and mounted on a wall.
The perfect entry point film would be My Neighbour Totoro from 1988, which tells the story of the two young daughters (Satsuki and Mei) of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan. With their beloved mother seriously ill in hospital, these visits from these mysterious creatures are the perfect distraction for the girls – but could they be something more to it…?
At 90 mins long, My Neighbour Totoro is a universal film with something in it for everyone. The hand drawn animation is astonishing, the landscape of the farm and neighbouring landscapes are exquisite. A special mention has to go to Totoro himself, who is absolutely delightful and charming (so much so he even cameos in Toy Story 3 as one of Bonnie’s toys!) A timeless tale about imagination and childhood, full of warmth and heart, which is exactly what we need right now.