It’s Springtime! – The Aesthetic Nature of the Season From a Studio Ghibli Perspective

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The massive collection of Studio Ghibli films is notably known for their eccentric plotlines, characters, and aesthetically pleasing animation style. Many of the animation studio’s films include animations of nature and the outdoors, which for me, makes them amazing films to watch during the springtime.

Founded in 1985 by co-founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki, Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation (anime) studio based in Koganei, Tokyo, and has a strong presence in the animation industry – not just in Japan but around the world. 

The studio has created multitudes of films since its origin and has even expanded to various media formats, including short films, television commercials, and two television films. The most notable of the films and character who has been coined the “mascot” of the franchise is Totoro, a giant spirit inspired by cats and raccoon dogs (known as “tanuki”) from their 1988 film titled My Neighbor Totoro.

Along with My Neighbor Totoro, a few other Studio Ghibli films that helped in propelling the studio forward were 1989’s Kiki’s Delivery Service, 2001’s Spirited Away, 2004’s Howl’s Moving Castle, and 2008’s Ponyo. These films inspired the animation industry through the use of effective visuals and, of course, the beautiful scenery seen throughout each one. 

While so many of the Studio Ghibli films remind me of springtime due to their vibrant landscapes and backdrops of outdoor scenery, I narrowed the list down to my top three favorite films that, in my opinion, scream “spring vibes.” 

  1. Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) – 1988

As I mentioned above, Tonari no Totoro, also known as My Neighbor Totoro, is a classic when it comes to Studio Ghibli films. Set in the 1950s, the scenery, in my opinion, is the highlight of this film and is said to have been inspired by the landscape in the Sayama Hills region of Japan, where the founder and director of the film, Hayao Miyazaki, owned a home. The scenery is very tranquil, sunny, green, and lush, and everything is in full bloom.  

  1. From Up on Poppy Hill – 2013

The Studio Ghibli film From Up on Poppy Hill is another one of my favorite films due to the juxtaposition in scenery between the natural landscape of trees, mountains, springs, and the ocean and the man-made cityscape. The view of the mountainous coastline throughout the movie, as well as the bike riding scenes, add a very “spring feel” to the overall film that makes it, unlike other Studio Ghibli films. 

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle – 2004

One of my favorite Studio Ghibli films, Howl’s Moving Castle, is what I call, “the epitome of the spring season” due to the grassy, lush countryside valleys where much of the film takes place in. The amount of outdoor scenery in this movie is not for the faint of heart, and one of my favorite moments from it showcases stars falling over the grassy meadows – a beautiful depiction of springtime if you ask me!