7 + 1 Studio Ghibli Movies to Watch This Summer

Hullo, world!  

I’ve been waiting for this week to come because…

  1. Ghibli is my life
  2. It’s almost my blogiversary!!!

Yes, this is actually happening. I still can’t believe it’s going to be two years since I began blogging here at SJ Barnard and I’ve loved it all the way, albeit the earlier days when I was floundering. I’ve met so many fellow bloggers who share a passion for reading, writing, and screaming about fandoms, I can’t quite fathom what I’ll do without it. 

I’m thinking of doing a Q & A, so shoot me your questions in the comments section at the end. 🙂

Now that the introductions are underway, let’s dive straight into today’s post! 

1. The Wind Rises (2013)

Rating: PG, Romance, War

This is one of my absolute favourite Studio Ghibli films! It’s loosely based on the life of Horikoshi Jiro, who designed the famous Zero fighter plane during WWII. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • The Sky. Miyazaki’s love for planes are displayed at its best here
  • Taisho~Showa era vibes. Esp. the fusion between the western and Japanese culture
  • Undertone wars. The way it slowly encroaches upon every aspect of the story is haunting

2. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Rating: PG, Romance, War, Magic

This is the famous (or infamous) movie loosely inspired by Diana Wynne Jones’ book of the same title. I know there’s a lot of opinions out there, but can we just all agree on Howl’s supremacy??? 

What I Love About This Story:

  • Howl & Sophie. I don’t care if it’s book Sowl or movie Sowl. Or is it Hophie??
  • The Moving Castle. I mean, come on, it’s pretty cool you get to see it cranking and puffing along!
  • The world & soundtrack. HWC’s OST is one of my favourites!!!

3. From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)

Rating: PG, Romance, Thematic Elements?

Set a year before the  1964 Tokyo Olympics in port city Yokohama, FUOPH follows Mel and fellow classmates trying to save a wartime relic clubhouse from destruction. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • Mid-Showa vibes. I know, I’m kind of obsessed with the 20th century. 
  • Retro-Vintage Academia vibes. The “Latin Quarter” is absolutely the best club house in the world. I want to live there!!
  • Yokohama. I just love that city. I miss it. 😭

4. Ponyo (2008)

Rating: G, Thematic Elements, Magic

Okay, before anything, this was my childhood movie along with My Neighbour Totoro. I was a kid when it came out in the theatres, and I still remember we sang this for our sports meet in elementary!!

Ahem.

Anyhow, it’s a super cute story about a goldfish princess who wants to become human meeting a boy named Sousuke, very loosely inspired by the Little Mermaid and Japanese legends, IDK.

What I Love About This Story:

  • The Ocean. Hands down, the ocean town is the best thing in this movie
  • Sousuke & Ponyo. They’re just so cute together!! I mean, they’re probably going to be the best childhood sweethearts. Like, ever. 
  • Ramen. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Every time I watch this movie, I want to eat Nisshin’s Chicken Ramen. Shockingly expensive here…

5. When Marnie Was There (2014)

Rating: G, Thematic Elements

Also based on a book (that I love as well!!) WMWT chronicles the otherworldly summer of Anna, who is always on the “Outside” but meets a mysterious girl–Marnie, who changes everything. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • The Swamp House. There’s no other way to put it. 
  • Marnie. She’s just such a strange character I can’t really categorise her, but I would want to be friends with her!
  • Anna’s drawings, They’re so alive and a nice touch only the movie has. 

6. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Rating: 14A, Thematic Elements, Violence

Set in the late Muromachi period (14th century), Ashitaka, who was on his way to find a cure for a Tatarigami’s curse, finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and the mining colony, Tatara…

What I Love About This Story:

  • Historical Fantasy! I like how I can’t really place the story in an exact historical period, it’s like it’s a step removed from there.
  • Ashitaka. We all wish modern guys were like him…
  • Tatara. I guess now that I think about it, it’s steam-punk! (Also, the forest. It’s purely magical–or mythical, I should say.)

7. Ocean Waves (1993)

Rating: PG, Romance, Thematic Elements

This is an older movie also based on a book that even my Mum watched when she was younger. It’s not directed by Miyazaki or Takahata, but the toned down vibes and simple storyline is still captivating. 

OW follows Taku Morisaki’s recollection of his high school days as he travels back to his hometown from Tokyo. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • Showa vibes. Okay, I should stop, but Showa is the thing for us Heisei kids. Just wait until the Reiwa gen. grows up and starts talking about Heisei like a big novelty. 
  • Obviously, the ocean. Unlike the other movies on the list, I love how faded it feels because it’s a memory of bygone days. 

8. Grave of the Firefly (1988)

Rating: PG, War, Violence, Thematic Elements

The very last one on the list is probably the most gut-wrenching one partly because it takes place during WWII head on and partly because the main charcters are children. Every summer of my elementary years, schools and after school care would show this movie as a reminder of the great Tokyo air raid, and I have not forgotten it since. 

What I Love About This Story:

  • Realism. They really went all in with this movie, and it tends to get scary for younger audiences because of it, but I think it was necessary.
  • Sakuma drops. Literally every kid in Japan will buy one can at one point in their lives and keep it for eternity. Plus, it’s really good!
  • Fireflies. The way they wove it into the story is just… I can’t even. 

And that’s about it for now!

Thank you for reading! Have you watched any of these movies? Do you like Studio Ghibli? (It’s a loaded question, lol.) Tell me your thoughts & questions you’d like to ask me about my upcoming blogiversary below! I’d love to chat with you!!

11 thoughts on “7 + 1 Studio Ghibli Movies to Watch This Summer

  1. Hey, I’m a big Studio Ghibli fan, even though I’m still making my way through them and haven’t seen all of the ones on your list, just yet. Ocean Waves is such a good film, as is From up on Poppy Hill. I think Whisper of the Heart is a good one for Summer as well. To me it really feels like a summer film in a way that only Ghibli can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay for all the Ghibli fans in the world!! I’m not finished with all of them, but I think I’ve watched most of them. I LOVE Whisper of the Heart but somehow think of it as an autumn movie, although, now that I think about it, it is def. summer-y!

      Like

  2. I love Ghibli movies, and never get tired of watching them! Though I have yet to watch Ocean Waves, it’s been on my list for a very long time. I think Howl’s Moving Castle might be my favorite, but it’s actually way too hard to choose.
    I had fun reading about each film! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been wanting to watch grave of the fire flies for FOREVER! I was going to watch it this week but just realized Hulu took it off 💔 My Neighbor Totoro is super nostalgic from my childhood and dear to my heart ❤️ it’s hard to pick a favorite, there’s so many I still haven’t seen yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Grave of the Fire Flies are SO good. It makes me tear up every time I think about it… And yes, My Neighbour Totoro is the ultimate nostalgic movie of all time. 😉

      Like

  4. I admit, my family and I watched Howl’s Moving Castle and were rather baffled at how it all came together. Care to expand on the whole story plot? All I got was that there was an old/young lady who fell in love with some handsome guy who turns into a bird. Or maybe he falls in love with her. I have not a clue. 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    • You probably want to read the book first if you were confused. 😉

      To put it simply:
      1. Sophie is cursed by the evil Witch of the Waste who wants Howl’s heart (like, literally) which is why she grows old.
      2. Sophie leaves home (because her family can’t know about this), and finds a home at Howl’s moving castle.
      3. Howl tries to help Sophie break the curse, but is in turn helped by Sophie to break the covenant between him and Calcifer, the fire demon…and in the course of events, they fall in love. *tries not to start smirking*

      So, Sophie isn’t actually old. She’s like eighteen or nineteen in the story? So where she looks young is the movie’s effect where Howl can see past her curse.

      Like

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