It’s not a pleasant day here in the Pacific Northwest, but it is now officially reading break so I am immensely relieved & happy. This week, I am excited to announce that I will be sharing with you my first-ever attempt at creating a book recommendation list based on Studio Ghibli Movies!! *inserts cheers and fanfares and confetti*
Yes, you’ve come to the right place if you are:
- A devout Ghibli fan
- A budding Ghibli fan
- A wannabe Ghibli fan
It’s no secret that I am a self-declared Japanophile (given I’m Japanese, which I talk about more in this post) and an avid Ghibli fan. I’ve probably watched most of the major works and have known Miyazaki-sensei since the time before Ghibli, where he was working as an artist in the World Classics Animation series. (Pls let me know if anyone knows of the amazing works like Heidi, Girl on the Alps, A Dog of Flanders, or 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother!!) Sidenote: I’m very sceptical of the recent “Ghibli” movie by his son, but that’s beside the point.
I’ve done my best to stick to books that have English translations; some of them are not books but another manga/anime that I think is right down the genre. It’s not an exhaustive list, so I might do part two in the future, IDK.
But, without further ado, let me present to you, Book Recs Based on Studio Ghibli Movies!!
A: Castle-recs (Howl’s Moving Castle & Castle in the Sky)
- Howl’s Moving Castle (very obviously)
- A Winter’s Promise
- Mortal Engines
- Sorcery of Thorns
This was the easiest list to come up with for apparent reasons. These two films are one of my absolute favourites in Studio Ghibli, not to mention I absolutely adore these books as well! (You can also read my review on A Winter’s Promise if you’re curious.)
B: War-recs (The Wind Rises, Grave of the Fireflies, Porco Rosso)
- The Eternal Zero
- The Glass Rabbit
This list came to me quickly, but I debated over whether or not to include Catch-22 (also because I DNFed it halfway through…). As all these books are about the war, it’s kind of hard reading about them. At the same time, they offer perspectives from Japan (and Italy) which isn’t featured often here, so I would greatly recommend them if that sort of thing is your cup of tea.
C: Epic-recs (Princess Mononoke & Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind)
- Children of the Whales
- Attack on Titan
- Future Boy Conan (prob. His earliest work!!)
It was surprisingly tough to find books that might fit this list, probably because i) both of these movies are the “unprecedented” genres and ii) not many English epics are based on Asian legendary backgrounds. So, all of them are manga or anime…but don’t run away just yet! I promise they are totally worth watching/reading if you love Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä. (esp. Future Boy Conan contains a lot of elements that will come out in later Miyazaki works)
D: Marnie-recs (When Marnie Was There)
- When Marnie Was There
- I Had That Same Dream Again
When Marnie Was There came out about a year before I left Japan. It was also thought to be the last Ghibli work there ever will be, so I can’t forget the impression it left on me. Robinson’s book is just as breathtaking as the movie (if not even more so) that I couldn’t help but recommend it. Also, Yoru Sumino’s I Had That Same Dream Again has the same sort of translucent, dream-like quality that I love.
E: Earthsea-recs (Tales from Earthsea)
- Earthsea Cycle
- Till We Have Faces
Again, the Earthsea books expand Ghibli’s rendition of it. (I know some people hate the movie if they’ve read the book but I like the movie well enough!! Please don’t be too mad.)
And once I thought about it, C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces sort of reminds me of Earthsea (
not to mention I have a strong compulsion to include any Lewis book in a given book list) so here we are.
F: Heian-recs (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)
- Land of the Lustrous
- Heike Monogatari & The Heike Story
This is a traditional Japanese story that’s read to kindergarteners. I remember being distinctly terrified of the messengers from the moon and just the overall storyline. (Most old Japanese classics are kind of scary, now that I think about it.) Princess Kaguya reminds me of the Land of the Lustrous, which has a similar connection to Buddism and the moon. Heike Monogatari is a Japanese classic that’s read in schools and recently, it’s been adapted into a beautiful anime so I greatly recommend that as well!
Overall, it was much harder to come up with book recommendations than I thought. But it was fun, so I might do it again!
What did you think? Do you agree with the books I recommended? What are some books you’d put on the list? What’s your favourite Studio Ghibli movie? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you below!