Spirited Away: a lavish film representing the peak of Studio Ghibli’s creativity and the start of its decline

Hayao Miyazaki, “Spirited Away” (2001) In many ways, “Spirited Away” represents the peak of Studio Ghibli’s creativity and innovation, and the beginning of its decline as a creator of imaginative anime films aimed at children and families. Technically the film cannot be faulted and its production values are very high, colourful and lavish, even overdone. Its narrative …

Arrietty: disheartening social conservatism and narrow prospects for a plucky heroine mar a charming film

Hiromasa Yonebayashi, “Arrietty / Karu-gurashi no Arrietti” (2010) A charming offering from Studio Ghibli, based loosely on Mary Norton’s novel “The Borrowers”, this film is beautiful yet melancholy with themes of children on the verge of adolescence and a promise of love dashed, and a reconciliation between humans and nature, with all that that might …

Howl’s Moving Castle: cut-and-paste job of previous Studio Ghibli films masks a conservative message for women and girls

Hayao Miyazaki, “Howl’s Moving Castle” (2005) Up to and including “Spirited Away”, the animated films by Studio Ghibli are of a high standard both technically and in spirit. With “Howl’s Moving Castle”, the soulful quality of the earlier films that peaked with “Princess Mononoke” disappears and what we get is an empty shell of a …