5 Studio Ghibli Films to Nourish your Soul

Studio Ghibli has created a series of masterful animations which draw on magic, art, fantasy and realism. Blending excellent animation with the emotions of the characters, with tight plots, Studio Ghibli’s work is ahead of its time.

Often featuring a heroine, and characters who look European or American as well as Japanese, the plots center around their kindness as well as coming of age. A lot of them have war in the background as the macro structure, and beautiful details such as the emotional arc of the character as the micro structure. 

All animations were written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

Here are 5 Studio Ghibli Films which will increase your love of spirituality and nourish your soul: 

Spirited Away 

Spirited Away is about a Girl, Chirhiro, who enters a bath house in the valley of the spirits. She gets ‘spirited away’ by them, and goes to visit the owner of the bath house, an old witch, Yubaba to try and get a job.

Yubaba tricks her by getting her to sign her name ‘Sen’, causing her to forget her name, meaning she cannot leave the spirit world. She meets Haku, a dragon boy, Zenibaba, Yubaba’s twin sister, and no-face, a lost spirit along the way.

The meaning behind it, is surely innocence. Chirhiro’s innocence and kindness pulls her through, and attracts some unlikely but thoroughly good friends to go on her adventure with her. Innocence is a part of the hero’s, or should I say heroine’s journey, and is a part of the spiritual journey of the hero because compassion is at the heart of it. 

Nausicaa of The Valley of The Wind

Nausicaa is a princess who exhibits great kindness and an ability to talk to animals. The insects threaten the valley of the wind, where her father reigns, as well as a neighbouring enemy. She is kind and understanding to the Ohms, and other insects, understanding them and attempting to get them to listen to her and her protective nature. It is this which will save her valley from the war, and the insects.  

Similar to Spirited Away, Nausicaa exhibits great kindness, and, when an animal bites her, instead of reacting violently she tells it, ‘See, there’s nothing to be afraid of, is there?’ It then becomes her pet, and is always at her side.

Seeing the Ohms point of view, is a unique gift of the divine child, and also that of royalty. Like the Buddha, Siddhartha, she was able to exercise compassion for all living beings, which made her worthy of being a princess.

Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving castle is about Sophie, a local hat-maker, coming across Howl, a local magician, and his magical moving castle.

Sophie angers a powerful witch, the Witch of the Waste, who puts her under a curse that transforms her into a 90-year-old woman.

Howl is misunderstood and has a fire demon called Calcifer who moves the castle, he does a deal with Sophie to break the curse on her if she helps break the curse which is on him. They have adventures together, as well as the other characters as Sophie tries to break her spell. 

Howl’s Moving Castle’s spiritual message is to follow your heart, but also to know yourself. Sophie is plain, and thinks no one will ever notice her let alone one of the most powerful wizards around. But, by becoming more of what her shadow side is, she successfully comes into her own, and blossoms spiritually, exercising kindness and finding the divine feminine in herself.

The Boy and the Heron

The newest of the Studio Ghibli films, The Boy and the Heron is about a boy, Mahito, during the Pacific war, whose mother dies. When he meets his new stepmother and goes to live with her, he discovers a heron, who has a message from another world.

As he listens to the message , he is eventually transported to the other world, where he is rescued from attacking pelicans, and meets a wizard with a stack of stones representing their dimension. 

The spiritual message of The Boy and the Heron is to be in another dimension. Whilst we live in one currently, there are several running concurrently to this, and this is what Mahito steps into beyond the gate. By stepping into another world, he discovers himself, and a love interest or soul mate. He also discovers his own divine calling, an understanding of the dimension, which is symbolised by his stone.

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke is about man and beast working in harmony, where a demon is attacking a village in Japan. The demon curses Ashitaka, a prince, before dying, and is revealed to be a boar god.

He meets Princess Mononoke, who was raised by wolves and hates humankind. Princess Mononoke tries to kill Ashitaka, but hesitates when he comments on her beauty. She also decides to trust him after a forest spirit helps him. 

The codes, or spiritual symbolism in Princess Mononoke relate to the earth and the divinity of beasts. Not that animals are divine, though they live in a divine state, as in the now, or the ever flowing whole of unity consciousness, but they are and have been connected to Gods and Demons throughout history. Taking the form of various animals, the Gods and Demons seek to reign again with Princess Mononoke’s help.

All five films are fantastic, and there are many more. Other dimensions, spirits, Gods and Demons, fire demons and moving castles, all are part of the unique magic Studio Ghibli weaves.

Images:

Studio Ghibli

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Lauren
Lauren
Lauren Simpson-Green, who has had quite a few life-affirming spiritual experiences already, now passes her days trying to master one of the most challenging and rewarding spiritual experiences of all; being a mother to two children. Based in Devon, UK, she spends the rest of her time working on a children's book, practising yoga and making wool fairies and gnomes for her daughter's school fayres.
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