1995-Whisper of the HeartWhisper of the Heart is interesting in that it is the studio's only work besides Tales from Earthsea and the direct to TV movie Ocean Waves to not be directed by Isao Takahata or Hayao Miyazaki. Instead it was the work of Yoshifumi Kondo who had previously worked at the studio as an animation director. His work can be seen in Only Yesterday and Kiki's Delivery Service. He also worked on Princess Mononoke before his death from overwork by a ruptured aneurysm in 1998. He was tipped to become one of the directors who would take over from an ageing Miyazaki and Takahata.
The plot tells the story of Shizuku Tsukishima, a creative young junior high student living in Tokyo. It essentially tells the story of that tumultuous period in a person's life when they doubt themselves, worry about finding love and acceptance and are forced to decide how best to achieve their dreams. It is a story of teenage angst, love and of course, the Ghibli mainstay of growth.
To me the film was a little bit slow and a little light on plot. However, the message is beautifully executed in the end and will leave the watcher feeling uplifted and inspired.
1997-Princess MononokeOne of the most instantly recognisable in the Studio Ghibli catalogue, Princess Mononoke is entirely the work of Hayao Miyazaki and is considered one of the greatest works in a stellar library.
Princess Mononoke tells the story of a young prince Ashitaka and the titular unrelated Princess. The boy is attacked by an angry boar and journeys to Iron Town to find a cure. Here he learns the boar was an enraged forestt God and as he remains in his new surroundings he is embroiled in a War between Lady Eboshi trying to destroy the forest to maintain the town she has created, and The Forest Gods including Princess Mononoke a young gurl raised by the Wolf God. Ashitaka seeing the good in both sides tries to stem the flow of blood but is denounced as a traitor by each group. It seems the two worlds are destined to collide.
This film dwells on one of Miyazaki's prominent themes, the destruction of the environment by the human race. However, this film more so than any other of the director's works shows some sympathy for humanity. Lady Eboshi who is in charge of Iron Town is shown to be kind at various points in the film. She saves many prostitutes from lives in the brothel and gives employment to lepers as gunmakers. Humanity does not get off so lightly in later works.
Princess Mononoke is a fantasy epic equal to any of the major works in this genre animated or otherwise. The film draws the viewer in totally and although the film has a lengthy run time it rarely lags. The final few minutes of the film will live a meaningful impact on the viewer that will not be soon forgotten. A master class in animation and storytelling Princess Mononoke is an advertisement for the worth of a genre too often dismissed as child like and light weight.
The film was awarded a myriad of prizes including winning the best picture award from the Japanese film academy. It also became Japan's highest grossing film of all time upon its release. It was overtaken the following year by Titanic. It was made Empire Magazine's list of the 500 greatest film's of all time.The film at the time was also one of the most expensive Anime features ever made with a budget of US $23.5 million.
If youve missed any of the parts of this series catch up below:
Me and Studio Ghibli
Me and Studio Ghibli: Part 2
Me and Studio Ghibli: Part 3
Me and Studio Ghibli: Part 4