Last month, Netflix announced the news that shook the world: 21 Studio Ghibli movies would make their way to the streaming platform starting February 1.
So far, Netflix has uploaded seven of the adult animation studio’s films, with seven more to come in March. The films range anywhere from one to two hours, each with hand-drawn animation techniques. While each film is a must-see, deciding how to tackle this marathon-worth of movies can feel overwhelming. Here is The Stork’s suggested guide to watching this month’s Studio Ghibli releases before more come your way in March:
- Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Kiki’s Delivery Service runs for 1 hour and 43 minutes. (Photo from IMDB)
If you have never seen a Studio Ghibli film before, Kiki’s Delivery Service is a great gateway to the rest of the collection. The story follows a 13-year-old witch as she tries to establish herself in a new community. It’s cute and relatable due to its simple storyline with common themes. Plus, the potions and witches’ brooms in this movie help prepare for more magical tales from Studio Ghibli that get a little weirder.
- My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
My Neighbor Totoro runs for 1 hour and 26 minutes. (Photo from IMDB)
My Neighbor Totoro is one of Studio Ghibli’s most popular films, second to Spirited Away which joins Netflix in March. The film follows two sisters who move to a new house in the countryside. At their new home, the girls interact with new mystical creatures that resemble those of Alice in Wonderland. It’s a little more out of the ordinary, making the film unique in the world of adult animation. This is what Kiki’s Delivery Service was preparing you for.
- Castle in the Sky (1986)
Castle in the Sky runs for 2 hours and 4 minutes. (Photo from IMDB)
The magic of Studio Ghibli continues with Castle in the Sky, an adventure that involves a floating kingdom, pirates, robots and a magical stone. This film is a journey like no other, and it’s undertaken by two brave orphans, Sheeta (left) and Pazu (right). Together, they travel the land and sky to find the legendary land of Laputa. Castle in the Sky, unlike the previous two films, brings a larger cast of characters with a wide array of personalities to enjoy. There’s the military, the mysterious men in suits, the pirate clan and the miners of Pazu’s hometown. With this plethora of characters, there’s someone for everyone to relate to.
- Ocean Waves (1993)
Ocean Waves runs for 1 hour and 12 minutes. (Photo from IMDB)
Now it’s time to change things up and take a tour of Studio Ghibli’s realism pieces. Ocean Waves, which follows the story of Taku as he tries to understand the new girl at school from Tokyo, is an interesting take on the conventional romance movie genre. Rather than rely on cliches, Ocean Waves portrays how confusing it can be for a high school boy when he meets a difficult girl that he can’t seem to get away from.
- Only Yesterday (1991)
Only Yesterday runs for 1 hour and 59 minutes. (Photo from IMDB)
After watching Ocean Waves, keep up the realism trend with Only Yesterday. The story is about Taeko, a 27-year-old woman whose mind is stuck on her 10-year-old self. Through a series of flashbacks, we see Taeko try to understand her childhood and what that means for her today. This film does not have the strong backbone that Castle in the Sky has in terms of a plot. Rather, Only Yesterday feels like a fluid motion, just like Taeko’s thoughts that drift in and out for the entirety of the movie.
- Tales from Earthsea (2006)
Tales from Earthsea runs for 1 hour and 55 minutes. (Photo from IMDB)
Tales from Earthsea is the most recent film of the bunch even though the story takes us back into times of old. When dragons return to the land of humans, everything is turned upside down in the mythical land of Earthsea. The movie has a King Arthur vibe around it, so the magic in this film feels more ancient than that of Kiki’s Delivery Service or Castle in the Sky. This film also lacks popularity compared to the other films, so that’s why it is low on the list.
- Porco Rosso (1992)
Porco Rosso runs for 1 hour and 33 minutes. (Photo from IMDB)
Porco Rosso is last on the list, not because it’s the worst of the bunch. Rather, it’s here to pick you up from your Tales of Earthsea slump and leave you hungry for more Studio Ghibli films coming next month. Porco Rosso is a World War I veteran and an Italian pilot who was cursed to look like a pig. Through the film, he works with his spunky sidekick mechanic Fio to fix his destroyed plane and earn back his reputation as the best pilot around. The movie has pirates, lovely ladies, and fascists, thanks to the interweavings of historical fiction. With a loveable cast of characters and interesting character arcs, Porco Rosso is sure to work its way into the list of movies you’ll love to watch again and again.