I am not going to ask whether you like Ghibli or not— I think assuming you do is safe enough. I remember I may have mentioned a few times that Spirited Away occupies a very high position on my personal list of best movies I’ve ever seen. It was the movie that showed me the genius of Miyazaki and the pure beauty of Hisaishi’s musical compositions. I fell in love and knew I needed to see more. There’s something about Ghibli Studio’s creations that will take you back to that time when you were a carefree child, chasing butterflies (or frogs and grasshoppers like myself). It will make you smile and feel all warm and cozy. It will make you wish Totoro lived in that bush across the street, Arrietty’s world was real and Kiki delivered your daily mail. Or it will leave you speechless for a while, with tears streaming down your face. The beauty hidden in their movies is undeniable.
If you had a chance to find yourself in the world of any of those movies, you’d definitely take it — right? I had that chance and I took it! This February I found myself reliving the adventures of my favourite Ghibli characters in I’Park Mall in Seoul. Life-sized dioramas, scenes recreated with the highest precision, unique installations — what else could I ask for?
Ghibli exhibition in Seoul♥
Howl’s Moving Castle
I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this movie. It’s an amazing piece of creative work, but what else can I write about a film directed by Miyazaki with Hisaishi’s music? The castle model was fantastic and yes — it was actually moving!
I loved this diorama! Culcifer’s warm light really gave off that cozy atmosphere we see in the movie.
Sophie, Turnip-Head and the beautiful meadow.
Many people I met said their favourite movie is Princess Mononoke, so I’m actually a bit afraid to disappoint you… Of course, there are no words of criticism I could say about the Miyazaki & Hisaishi duo — the movie is breathtakingly beautiful and the music is out of this world… BUT! I’m not a big fan of the movies where Ghibli tackles environmental issues. I cannot really find the exact reason why I feel this way about them, but well, I’m just being honest here. I still think it’s a movie everyone should watch.
Life-size figure models combined with a movie projection, and the epic OST playing in the background. Simply amazing.
If you read what I had to say about Princess Mononoke, you might have already guessed what I think about PomPoko. I won’t bash it, I wouldn’t dare do that to a wonderful Ghibli Studio creation. It’s just not my favourite film plot-wise, though it’s still quite worth watching to learn more about rich Japanese folklore. And to understand why there’s so many raccoon dog figurines creeping around outside Japanese restaurants. And why male figurines have such big hmm… “pouches”.
I absolutely loved this diorama! Japanese culture is one of the most fascinating things ever — there’s a reason I have a maneki neko and a daruma tattooed on my body. I’d love to have these in my future house.
My Neighbour Totoro
I’m sure you know it and you love it! Seeing life-sized scenes from this heart-warming movie made me as happy as a kid in a candy store! Although I watched the movie as a 20-something, it did make me want to go back to the time I was a wee lass imagining that there has to be some magic creature living in the corn fields I saw from the window in my room (yes, there really are corn fields and a forest with boars surrounding my family house). And the story is even more interesting if you heard that urban legend about what My Neighbour Totoro is supposedly really about…
Totoro’s big belly was moving up and down, making him look so real! And the tiny Totoros were the most adorable thing ever.
I could talk for hours about how amazing this move is. If you haven’t seen it — please do! Everything about this movie is perfect — breathtaking scenery, music that will touch your heart, numerous links to Japanese folklore, history, and society. The movie makes you forget about the real world, the animation is a piece of fine art. Just watch it. And check out my blog post about Jiufen — a town in Taiwan, which is said to have served as a model for the magic world of spirits and ghosts Chihiro got lost in.
Let me just tell you how detailed the figures were! Yubaba’s wrinkles and hair looked so real, I felt she’d scold me for staring at her! Awesome work.
Everyone loves No-Face and it’s still a mystery to me. You might disagree, but I think he was in no way a positive character. First he was a raging customer at Yubaba’s bathhouse, then he tried to bribe Chihiro into being friends. I guess we all feel sorry for his lack of communication skills that made him lonely and miserable.
I’ve heard many people saying “animation is for kids”. I wish they gave Porco Rosso a go — I bet my bottom yen they would change their mind. Adult, witty humour with some political and historical context — it was great to see it as a part of this exhibition.
At the end of the Ghibli journey everyone could leave a tangible proof of their visit and draw their favourite character (or one that was the easiest to draw).
Here I just wanted to mention my Ghibli favourites that haven’t been given their own dioramas in the exhibition.
Kiki’s Delivery Service — a sweet story about a young witch named Kiki, growing up, seeking independence and her own identity
The Cat Returns — as a cat person, there’s no way I could not mention this animation with a lovely story!
Ponyo — Ponyo has to be on the 3rd position of my TOP 3. I just love the story and I think that Ponyo is the most lovable character ever.
The Secret World of Arrietty — when I was a kid, I had lots of dolls and I would sew little clothes and make little accessories for them all day. Then I would imagine that there were little people, who used my little hand-made items and this has to be why I like it so much.
Although I mainly mention Spirited Away as Ghibli’s absolute masterpiece, the movie that won my heart and will always be my number 1 is… Grave of the Fireflies.
It will leave you speechless. It will make you cry. It will squeeze your heart, leave a bitter gulp of sadness in your mouth, make you re-think your priorities. It’s as heart-breaking as it gets. It is hands down the saddest, the most eye-opening, the most painful movie I’ve ever watched. Every minute of it will stab you with the feels dagger, straight in the heart. I know it doesn’t sound fun, but that’s the whole point — this movie will show you that war is a disaster, the most inane thing in the history of humanity. No matter the reasons or the involved parties. Do watch it if you haven’t yet.
What is your favourite Ghibli movie? Why?
Thank you for reading! ♥