September 26, 2022
Can you believe it? Spirited Away is turning 20 years old! When I found out the anniversary for this groundbreaking film was coming up, I thought two things. Firstly, time is moving way too fast. Secondly, this is the 20th anniversary of my real introduction to the world of anime. And it’s all because of Hayao Miyazaki!
You see before 2002, my only experience with anime was a little show called Pokémon. That phenomenon occurred when I was way too old and gave me the impression that anime was primarily for children. And I know that I was probably not alone in thinking that. However, a good friend of mine already knew of Miyazaki and was very excited for the release of the new film. She explained to me that if I really wanted to learn about anime, I had to experience a Hayao Miyazaki movie at least once.
So, she gave me a couple of his films that she had on video (you know, VHS tapes). The first movie I saw of his was the legendary My Neighbor Totoro. That was the beginning of my 20-year anime journey, and had it not been for Miyazaki and my friend, I would probably still be thinking of it as “kids cartoons from Japan.”
Since then, I have experienced a tremendous amount of anime from many different creators, but it was Miyazaki that first got me started. So, in honor of the anniversary of Spirited Away, here are some other Miyazaki films I highly recommend:
- Castle in the Sky – A young boy and a princess who falls from the sky must evade pirates and government agents as they search for the mysterious floating city of Laputa.
- My Neighbor Totoro – As their mother lies in a hospital, two sisters encounter the mysterious forest spirit Totoro who takes them on an enchanted journey that includes a cat that also operates as a bus.
- Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind – In a world that is slowly being swallowed by forests, young princess Nausicaa must prevent two warring nations from destroying each other and her home in the Valley of the Wind.
- Kiki’s Delivery Service – Striking out on her own for the first time, young witch Kiki must earn her stripes. So, she decides to start a delivery service on her broom.
- Princess Mononoke – Prince Ashitaka finds himself caught in a war between forest spirits and the mining colony Tatara. This is a timely story about humanity’s relationship with nature.
These are only a few of Miyazaki’s films. There are also many great works from Studio Ghibli (the studio Miyazaki founded) that are worth checking out. So, whether you are taking your first step into anime, or are simply experiencing Miyazaki for the first time, come visit MCPL and explore this wonderful genre.
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