I Watch Every Single Ghibli Movie: Part I

 Post dated: 22 Jul 2022

Dear Internet,

I haven’t seen a single Ghibli movie.

Not until recently, anyway. People who know me know I (used to) have a bit of a tendency to stay away from media that I felt was too “mainstream”. It’s a very teenage sort of brain-rot, and I’ve since grown out of it (I like to tell myself that, anyway).

That’s why I’ve neglected to watch any Ghibli films until not too long ago. I’ll be writing my thoughts on them as I watch them.

Ocean Waves

I watched this one first because my monkey brain saw a cute highschool girl in the poster. I enjoyed his movie a fair bit.

Ocean Waves screenshot

This movie ranks pretty low on peoples’ Ghibli movie rankings, and I can see why – the movie lacks a lot of the wonder and amazement that Studo Ghibli films are (apparently) typically known for.

The movie’s atmosphere is what I enjoyed the most – everything from the beautiful hand-painted backgrounds to the soundtrack felt like a warm hug, like I got into a time machine and landed in 1980s Japan.

This movie’s soundtrack broke my Spotify recommendations for a good while from how much I listened to it.

From Up on Poppy Hill

This one had a really pretty watercolor-styled poster so I watched it next. I liked it a lot too.

From Up On Poppy Hill gif

It was here that I started to notice that Ghibli films really nail soundtracks and atmosphere, where I got my first taste of the Ghibli-esque whimsy and fantasy, in albeit a small dose.

The movie’s plot was quite simple, in the nicest way possible. It’s your regular love story with a school-related subplot, but it’s filled with so much charm. The actual movie looks and feels and sounds like a shoujo manga would. Apparently it was based on one.

This movie, much like Ocean Waves, felt like opening a time capsule, whis this one from 60s Japan. The movie apparently has a pretty strong historical basis too: all of the technology is era-accurate, it makes references to the then-upcoming 1964 Summer Olympics. That’s not even mentioning the fact that the movie revolves around a student protest – which was apparently in vogue for the time.

Grave of the Fireflies

I thought to myself when picking the next movie, “What would the funniest possble next pick be?”

Because I thought emotional whiplash would be hilarious, I watched this one next.

Grave of the Fireflies art

Jumping another 20 years back, we have a film set in World War II era Japan. This movie was… incredibly hard to go through. It starts right out of the gate with a flash-forward to the main character dying of starvation, sending a message that in this movie, there won’t be a happy ending.

The whole world had a pretty big shortage of those around this era.

Having previously watched yet another animated film set in World War II era Japan, In This Corner of the World, I came in ready to draw comparisons (in good faith, of course). The two could not have been more tonally different, despite sharing similar messages. ITCotW felt like a Monet, and Grave felt like a Goya.

This movie was as heartbreaking as it was heartwarming, seeing the purity of childhod and watching it be crushed by things out of anybody’s control is extremely tragic. It often gets touted as one of the most important pieces of animation of all time, and I would be more inclined to agree than disagree.

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed watching the film, but I’m glad I did.


This was a really wild ride so far, and I’m only 3 movies in. I’m even past the saddest one. Next on my Ghibli radar is yet another 20 year jump back to the past – with The Wind Rises. I’m also looking at When Marnie was Here and Only Yesterday.

Thanks for reading!

Signed, yu-no

P.S.: I added a guestbook! Feel free to sign it.

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