I should start by saying this is a totally biased piece; I love Hayao Miyazaki. From the first time I watched “Spirited Away” I was hooked. Not only does his work have heart but the children in his stories have a perspective that often saves everyone because they still believe that miracles are possible and that love can change everything. So here’s a list of his movies and what I loved best about them.
This is the story of a little girl who is moving with her parents to a new town. After her parents trespass in a carnival that belongs to the gods, she is forced to work in a bath house for the gods until she can find a free them.
This movie is full of wonderful fantasy. Along the way she makes friends with living coal, a ghost a young boy and a dragon. I was moved by how realistically she is represented as a child; she cries, gets scared and is only brave in order to save the ones she loves. This story can be scary at times for small children but anyone over the age of seven should be fine.
This is the story of a Goldfish who dreams of being human. She is a daughter of two powerful sea gods. When Ponyo is accidentally exposed to the world of men and befriended by a little boy she no longer wants to live in the deep ocean. Because of her magical nature this causes huge floods and tidal waves.
This is the one that I most recently watched, just a few weeks ago. It is very sweet, no violence. I would say that it is safe for anyone old enough to sit and watch a movie.
A mysterious girl floats down from the sky and is being pursued by two different groups of people. She is somehow liked to mythic cities that are rumored to have floated in the sky. The boy who rescues her is the son of a pilot who believed in the cities. Who the mystery girl is and how she is connected to the city play out among epic air fights and journeys.
This is a fun story. It is a little more violent than others but not by much. I would say anyone over seven would enjoy it.
This is the story of a girl who gets cursed to look really old and seeks out a wizard to help her. The only problem being that the wizard is rich, hansom and totally self-absorbed and there is that thing about the fire demon that keeps his castle literally moving. Howle’s talents are sought after by many and some will resort to dastardly means to force him to aid them.
This movie (second only to Spirited away) is my favorite. Howle is so vain and spoiled you instantly side with Sophie and Calcifer (the demon) in picking on him behind his back. There is more to the story than meets the eye and if you like fantasy this a winner. Though there is not a lot of out right violence, there is war imagery and disturbing scenes. This is for the seven and up group.
This story starts in the post apocalyptic version of an alien world. A great war destroyed everything and pollution as made the air, water and plant life toxic as well as made the insects grow huge. Nasica a princess from on of the last spots of civilization can communicate with the giant bugs and is secretly studying the nature of the deadly plants. She uncovers a plot to bring back the monsters that destroyed her world when a ship crashes into her valley.
I was really surprised by the strong ecological message in this movie. I thought it was a wonderful way to show how our choices change the world around us and can have very negative consequences. It has strong imagery and violence due to the message as well I would say this if for the 7-10 range. So much would be lost if they were not old enough to understand.
This is the story of a young witch who has just set out to find her place in the world to do good and help people. She has her faithful cat Jiji but little else. At first it is hard for her to find a place to stay and meaningful work but eventually she figures out what her purpose is.
This story is very sweet with no violence and very little scary action. It is a sweet story about fining your place and making friends. This one is fine for the 5 and up.