Studio Ghibli Films: A Balm for (Lockdown) Stress

I love Studio Ghibli films: I was converted after one film and each film I watch only confirms my love for them. But I’ve not managed to see very many because I’m not usually in the right mood. They’re quiet, slower paced and often you’ll find that very little actually happens in them. I also prefer to watch them in Japanese (with subtitles!) which means that you need to sit down and concentrate (100% concentration is bestowed upon only the most prestigious of films/shows).

Studio Ghibli

So far, I don’t think I’m being particularly convincing, but these films are truly a joy to watch. I love traditionally drawn animation and Studio Ghibli films are a winner in this category. Everything is drawn lovingly and they are just really pretty to look at, like moving artwork. This ranges from the unique character designs to the delightful food featured which will leave you hungry for Japanese cuisine. A lot of the films feature spirits which are fascinating to watch and ingeniously designed. The biggest factor that makes these films so visually stunning however is there is a clear love for the natural world behind the animation which is expressed in every film I’ve seen.


Another reason these films are so special to me is the music. I’ve listened to various film soundtracks from the Ghibli catalogue. The Eminence Symphony Orchestra has a variety of different suites dedicated to Studio Ghibli films and youtube is overflowing with piano covers which have me fall in love with the films twice. First, when listening to the music, the second when hearing it and recognising it in the film. The music is peaceful, it’s moving, it’s delightful.


These films are heartwarming and span across genres – from fantasy to slice of life dramas to book-to-film adaptations – so there is something for everyone. As Netflix has a whole roster of their films available and because they are mostly just loveliness in a couple of hours this is the *perfect* time to be whisked away to the fantastical and beautiful worlds depicted in Studio Ghibli films. (Except Grave of the Fireflies which I refuse to watch because when will I ever be in the mood to watch a sad movie set during WWII? Never. The answer is never.)

Some absolutely microscopic reviews of the Ghibli films I have seen (as a bonus, these are all on Netflix at the mo!):

Spirited Away

Spirited Away

Dream-like adventure in the spirit world, at times dark, at times beautiful. Features the most beautiful soundtrack.

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

Heavier, big themes of environmentalism and progress at the expense of nature. Featuring lots of big battles between spirits and humans but also a strong message.

Howl’s Moving Castle

Castle 3

Loosely based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones but no less magical. Featuring a witch, curses, a travelling castle and a love story.

My Neighbour Totoro

My Neighbour Totoro

Plot-light with a balance of happy and sad emotions (but shouldn’t make you cry). Lots of whimsy from dancing with forest spirits to the cool(?) Catbus.

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki 2

Light-hearted and fun, following Kiki the 13-year-old witch who, as all witches do, goes off with her broomstick and black cat Jiji to make it out on her own in a little port town.



The Ghibli twist on The Little Mermaid story following Ponyo as she follows her dreams to become a human girl.


I am not an expert, however, so I will leave you with this as a guide to choosing your first (or next!) Studio Ghibli film. Are you a fan of Studio Ghibli? What is your favourite? Which one should I watch next?

One thought on “Studio Ghibli Films: A Balm for (Lockdown) Stress

  1. Great post! I am a big fan of Studio Ghibli films and my favourite is (of course) Spirited Away. As for Grave of the Fireflies, which you “refuse” to watch – I completely understand. I watched it for the first time just last week, and to be completely honest – I regret watching it. It is one of the saddest films (let alone animations) I have ever watched and it now traumatised me for the rest of my life (probably).


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