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Top Six: Studio Ghibli Films *Potential Spoilers*

Posted on the 31 May 2012 by Kittyfairy @KittyFairy
I've been a fan of Studio Ghibli since the very early nineties when I first saw the film Laputa on television. However, it wasn't until the release of Spirited Away that I was introduced to many of the other classic animations from a company who puts Disney deeply to shame.
Studio Ghibli has the cuteness (at times) of Disney, but has a much deeper and warm heart at it's core, with beautiful imagery, memorable characters and fantastic stories that stay with you for a long time. And even better, their films aren't "just for kids", but for absolutely everyone.
It was really hard to choose which films to include and which to eliminate, because ultimately I adore them all, for their own reasons. But, these are the ones that I love just a little bit more than the others:
**Please note that there are some potential spoilers in this article, especially in my write-up for the No.1 film**
Six. Porco Rosso
Top Six: Studio Ghibli Films *Potential Spoilers*Release Date: 1992
English Voice Actors: Michael Keaton, Susan Egan, Frank Welker
Favourite Scene: The film starts with Porco Rosso rescuing a group of young school girls from a group of pirates. This group of girls are quite boisterous, getting excited about the idea of being kidnapped, and upon being rescued proceed to take over Porco's plane by stripping off their clothes.
I love this scene because it's so "what the hell" and bizarre, that it leaves you wondering what on earth you've walked in to, and feel utterly compelled to continue watching.
For a film that was apparently intended as an in-flight film for a Japanese airline, the idea behind this film is intriguing and beautifully pieced together.
The film perfectly embodies Director Hayao Miyazaki's love for aeroplanes.
Five. Howl's Moving Castle
Top Six: Studio Ghibli Films *Potential Spoilers*Release Date: 2004
English Voice Actors: Christian Bale, Jean Simmons, Billy Crystal, Josh Hutcherson, Emily Mortimer
Favourite Scene: Cowardly Howl sends gullible Sophie to do his dirty work. During which Sophie, again, encounters the Witch of the Waste. As they are not allowed to use magic, they must climb the millions (or so it probably seems to them both) of stairs, to the top. Sophie just about manages it, but the Witch of the Waste (who is undoubtedly a lot older than she tries to look), doesn't fair quite so well, transforming from a dignified woman, into a cowering and sweaty mess.
Very loosely based on the novel, of the same name, by Welsh author Diana Wynne Jones, the film features a variety of Miyazaki's loves, including planes and Welsh towns.
Four. Spirited Away
Top Six: Studio Ghibli Films *Potential Spoilers*Release Date: 2001
English Voice Actors: Daveigh Chase, Susan Egan, Suzanne Pleshette, Tara Strong.
Favourite Scene: It took me a long time to choose just one scene as my favorite for Spirited Away, however, I managed it eventually!
In an attempt to capture a "curse" that Yubaba has been using to control Haku, Chihiro/Sen accidentally steps on it and squashes it. During the following sequence, we see Baby Boh, now in mouse form, impressing the Soot Sprites by mimicking Chihiro's actions, and pretending to squash another "curse", including copying Chihiro's mortified expressions and movements. The small group even proceeds to copy Kamaji and Chihiro's actions to "cut the line" for good luck.
There is something so sweet and playful about Boh's actions in this scene, because it's probably the first time that anyone has ever paid much attention to him.
Spirited Away is often perceived as the film that truly brought Studio Ghibli into the Western spotlight, as it was the first film to be nominated for an Academy Award.
Three. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Top Six: Studio Ghibli Films *Potential Spoilers*Release Date: 1984
English Voice Actors: Alison Lohman, Shia LeBeouf, Patrick Stewart, Mark Hamill, Frank Welker, Tress MacNeille.
Favourite Scene: This was yet another film that I struggled to pick just one scene, as a favourite, because it's one of those films that is so beautiful and mystifying.
However, I finally settled on the scene when Nausicaa saves the Baby Ohmu, but by doing so, she becomes injured herself. As a kind of "thank you", the Baby Ohmu protects and heals Nausicaa, eventually bringing her back to life.
As a cheat, I also loved the follow-up scene when Nausicaa appears to be walking across a "field of gold", just like the prophecies had predicted. However, unlike what had been expected, the person is not in fact a male, but in fact a girl (y'know since Nausicaa is female!!)
For me, Nausicaa is one of those films that took me a long time to truly appreciate. Unlike many Disney films, there is a great deal of depth in a moral and human sense to this film, which gives it a beauty that I don't think any film will ever really match.
Two. My Neighbour Totoro
Top Six: Studio Ghibli Films *Potential Spoilers*Release Date: 1988
English Voice Actors: Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Frank Welker, Lea Salonga, Tim Daly.
Favourite Scene: I'm cheating on this one, because I have two favorite scenes from Totoro.
The first is the scene at the bus stop, when Satsuki and Mei are waiting for their father, at the bus stop in the rain. Mei has fallen asleep, so Satsuki is holding her beneath their umbrella, when she they are joined at the bus stop by the large Totoro, much to Satsuki's surprise.
If that wasn't bizarre enough, for Satsuki, Totoro's bus arrives and it's not really what Satsuki had been expected, as she is faced with the infamous Cat Bus.
My second favorite scene is when the sisters and Totoro work together to grow a tree. I absolutely love the music that is used in this scene, which I think is my number one reason for liking it so much. It is such a beautiful piece that suits the film, and essentially this scene, perfectly.
My Neighbor Totoro was actually originally marketed as a double-feature alongside Grave of the Fireflies, as it was believe that the film was no financially viable enough to stand on it's own. Comparing the happy and sweet tones of Totoro with the very morbid ones of Grave of the Fireflies, it's strange to even consider putting them together, as who wants to watch a very sad film, after watching a film that has left them feeling happy!?
One. Laputa: Castle in the Sky
Top Six: Studio Ghibli Films *Potential Spoilers*Release Date: 1986
English Voice Actors: James Van Der Beek, Anna Paquin, Mark Hamill, Cloris Leechman.
Favourite Scene: Since this is my favorite Studio Ghibli film, I think that warrants me to really cheat on this one, doesn't it? Well good, because I actually have several favorite scenes from Laputa.
1. At the beginning of the film, Pazu discovers that not only are the Army chasing after his new mysterious friend Sheeta, but also a group of pirates. In an attempt to escape both groups, the young pair race across an old wooden railway bridge, that ultimately ends up collapsing and the pair plummet down into a big, dark hole. But all is not lost, as the Levitation Stone that Sheeta wears around her neck comes into power, and the duo carefully float down into the depths of the mines. Further along after this scene, there is also a sequence in which we see how the Levitation Stone has made the rocks in the mine "restless" in what is a beautiful scene.
2. When the Army finally capture Sheeta, Mushka introduces her to a robot that fell out of the sky many years ago. Afraid for what Mushka has planned, Sheeta remembers a spell that means "Save Me" that her Grandmother taught her when she was a little girl, and that spell brings the robot back to life.
Although Sheeta is afraid of the robot, it is clear that he is working to save her, and I always find that quite touching.
3. When Pazu and Sheeta realize that they have finally reached Laputa, seeing the floating island for the first time: the robots, the world underwater, and the idea that people lived there is awe-inspiring.
Top Six: Studio Ghibli Films *Potential Spoilers*4. Right at the end, there is a long sequence in which Pazu is trying to rescue Sheeta, using the gun that he got from Dola. Sheeta passes the Levitation Stone, that Mushka is after, to Pazu who makes out that he has hidden it. Pazu asks to speak to Sheeta during which he encourages Sheeta to tell him a spell. Before Mushka can even comprehend what is going on, the pair, holding hands both say the words of a spell, and thus begins the destruction of Laputa.
For me, this sequence is probably the most important part of the film, because both Pazu (through his determination to rescue his friend, and his newfound fearlessness) and Sheeta (symbolised through the scene when Mushka shoots off both of her "childish" pig tails) really grow as individuals and as a partnership together. The events are so packed with raw emotion, as they choose to destroy the one thing that both of them had wanted to find more than anything, in order to protect it.
There are so many other scenes that I really want to mention, but I think I'll leave it there :)
I don't generally consider myself to be one of those people who has to watch a film in it's original language, however, Laputa is the only Studio Ghibli that I just cannot watch with the Disney/English dubbing, because the choices of voices for Pazu (Van Der Beek) and Sheeta (Anna Paquin) are just so wrong, in my head. Therefore, I always have to watch this film in Japanese. I think that the problem, for me, is that I originally saw a different dubbed version, in English, in the early nineties, and I always expect to hear those voices.

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