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Castles in the Sky: Studio Ghibli

Cinema audiences across North America have been delighted to experience this survey of timeless Japanese anime in newly struck 35mm prints. Classics such as Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and My Neighbor Totoro are complemented by more rarely seen movies from one of the world’s most influential film studios. While Hayao Miyazaki is Ghibli’s most easily identifiable auteur, his work emanates from the Ghibli house style developed by himself and Isao Takahata: a deceptively simple, gently-paced aesthetic that sets the studio’s work apart from the more kinetic anime that dominates Japanese television. (Read an overview of the studio's film history here.)

Film descriptions excerpted from the TIFF Cinematheque (Toronto).

Past Films in This Series

 

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Kaze no tani no Nausicaä

1984, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
A breathtakingly ambitious sci-fi/fantasy epic, Nausicaä brought a new artistic credibility to anime, and its success led to the founding of Studio Ghibli. Nausicaä is a warrior princess in a world whose ecosystem has been destroyed in the wake of an apocalyptic war. When an airship with a monstrous creature inside crashes in the Valley, Nausicaä is forced to defend her homeland.  more info
 

Princess Mononoke

Mononoke hime

1997, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Sixteen years in the making, Princess Mononoke is a sweeping historical fantasy with a powerful ecological message. After killing a rampaging boar-demon that attacked his village, a brave young warrior named Ashitaka is stricken by a curse that vastly increases his strength but will eventually kill him. Traveling to the west in search of a cure, Ashitaka comes upon Iron Town, an industrial settlement clear-cutting the nearby forest. Soon embroiled in a war between Iron Town and the forest’s giant ... more info
 

Kiki's Delivery Service

Majo no takkyubin

1989, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
On the occasion of her thirteenth birthday, klutzy witch-in-training Kiki leaves her hometown in the company of her talking black cat Jiji, as it is customary for all witches to live alone for a year when they reach thirteen. Settling in a quaint seaside town, Kiki starts her own courier business, but finds that her powers are fading in the face of her insecurity and self-doubt. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a sweet-natured and inspirational coming-of-age story, forgoing grand adventure for ... more info
 

My Neighbors the Yamadas

Hohokekyo tonari no Yamada-kun

1999, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Isao Takahata
This rarely seen gem is a considerable departure for Ghibli in terms of both style and story: its comic strip-style animation (distinctly different from the traditional Ghibli style) was also created entirely on computers, making it the first Ghibli film to be made without traditional hand-drawn animation. In a series of titled vignettes such as A Family Crisis, Marriage Yamada-Style, and Patriarchal Supremacy Restored, Takahata explores the daily lives of the Yamada family. Interweaving the family’s everyday life lessons with ... more info
 

Howl’s Moving Castle

2004, dubbed in English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
When Sophie, a teenage girl who works in her father’s hat shop, meets the charismatic wizard Howl, she inadvertently arouses the wrathful jealousy of an evil witch, who casts a spell that turns Sophie’s face and body into that of a 90-year-old woman. Seeking to dispel the curse, Sophie is led to Howl’s castle, a colossal, sentient flying machine, and embarks with the wizard on a series of magical adventures and into the crucible of a destructive war that Howl ... more info
 

My Neighbor Totoro

Tonari no Totoro

1988, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
When the Kusakabe family moves to a new home next to a dark forest, sisters Satsuki and Mei discover that both the house and the woods abound with spirits and strange creatures, most notably the massive but good-natured “Totoro,” who befriends the girls and takes them on a series of magical adventures. more info
 

Only Yesterday

Omoide poroporo

1991, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Isao Takahata
Taeko, an office girl from Tokyo, takes a vacation in the country. There, she visits relatives and works on their farm, giving her an opportunity to reflect on her past and what her life goals might be. The film follows Taeko’s thoughts through flashbacks as she becomes aware that her life has for the most part been unfulfilling and aimless. Taeko finds a friend in Toshio, a second cousin who supports organic farming, and through their friendship she realizes that ... more info
 

Pom Poko

Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko

1994, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Isao Takahata
Tanuki, the legendary Japanese raccoon-dogs, are fun-loving creatures who live deep in the ancient forests. Threatened by the encroachment of suburban developments, one group of tanuki finally resolves to wage war against the workers and machines. Trained with the aid of three tribal elders from the distant island of Shikoku, the insurgent tanuki use their magic to stage a series of spectacular interventions to stop the invading humans once and for all. more info
 

Castle in the Sky

Tenku no shiro Laputa

1986, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Sheeta possesses a powerful crystal that might hold the key to the discovery of Laputa, a legendary floating city concealed within a violent thundercloud. Escaping from the clutches of the sinister Colonel Muska, Sheeta joins forces with Pazu and set out to find Laputa on their own. more info
 

Porco Rosso

Kurenai no buta

1992, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
After a mysterious encounter during World War I, famed flying ace Marco Rossellini was transformed to look like a pig. Now known as Porco Rosso ("Red Pig"), he works as a flying bounty hunter in his crimson seaplane, protecting ships from sky pirates. After a run-in with a band of pirates, Porco has his plane repaired, and his mechanic's granddaughter, Fio, becomes an unwitting pawn between Porco, the pirates, and Porco's girlfriend. more info
 

The Ocean Waves

Umi ga kikoeru

1993, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Tomomi Mochizuki
Rarely seen outside of Japan and never before released in North America, The Ocean Waves is one of Ghibli’s most poignant and unsung masterpieces, capturing the joys and drama of adolescence and teenage alienation with subtle insight and affecting sensitivity. Kochi is an average coastal town on the sleepy, idyllic island of Shikoku, and young Taku’s quiet life is turned upside down with the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful transfer student from Tokyo. As rumors start to spread at school, ... more info
 

Spirited Away

Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi

2001, in Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
After moving to a small suburban town, Chihiro and her parents discover what seems to be an abandoned amusement park that mysteriously contains a restaurant with plenty of food, but no customers. When her parents are turned into pigs after sampling the restaurant’s cuisine, Chihiro discovers that the park is a haven for hundreds of spirits and monsters ruled by the bobble-headed witch Yubaba. In order to save her parents, Chihiro is forced to work in the spirit world, where ... more info