Where once Western ideas of anime were limited to Saturday morning reruns of kids cartoons like Naruto or Dragonball Z. These days everyone and their mum is familiar with the Japanese animation style. The enigmatic film company Studio Ghibli is largely responsible for this. Packing their films with heart and imagination that all can enjoy. Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, from the marvelous mind of Hayao Miyazaki, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, not only rank among the best animated films of all time, but all cinema in general.
The studio is no one-man show, however, as this new series at the harbourside cinema Watershed attests. Highlighting some of the studio’s lesser-known but no less noteworthy movies, Studio Ghibli Summer kicks off with Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies on July 29. It tells the heart wrenching tale of two young siblings’ struggle to survive at the tail end of WW2. It is devastating stuff, but it set the benchmark for animation storytelling when it was released in 1988.
Repeat matinee screenings will be given to four further films, highlighting the breadth of talent the studio has wielded over the decades, until August 28. This includes, the man himself, Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, The Wind Rises, as well as Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s When Marnie Was There and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya by Isao Takahata (the other co-founder of Studio Ghibli).
All three films were nominated for Academy Awards upon release and were the last to be produced by the studio before returning in 2020, with Earwig and the Witch, after a six year hiatus. Released within a year of each other, the range of animation styles and moving stories highlight how the studio stayed a cut above the rest for so many years.
The last film on the schedule is an odd-duck compared to the others at first glance. A collaboration between Studio Ghibli and several French studios, Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle is the only non-Japanese film of the bunch. However, the Tintin-esque art style is no less breathtaking in this stunning, dialogueless tale of a man set adrift on a raft.
The Studio Ghibli Summer screenings will run from July 29 to August 28. For specific times and dates, and to book your tickets, click here.