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Core points of Gamers

10 Times Studio Ghibli Movies Broke Our Hearts


Studio Ghibli is known for creating stories that run the gamut of human emotions. From historical films to fantasies, every tragedy or hardship a character goes through feels real to the viewer. The pain and joy of childhood are depicted in ways that show children that they are not alone and remind adults of what it was like to be little.


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Ghibli films, fantastic as they may be, often have heavy themes that explore the industry’s toll on nature and the atrocities of war. Watching noble characters endure pain they don’t deserve and watching the characters leave childhood behind can be as heartbreaking as it is cathartic.

10/10 Sophie’s feelings finally come to the surface

Howl’s Moving Castle

In the first act of Howl’s Moving CastleHowl completely breaks down when Sophie cleans his bathroom and mixes up his hair products. Clutching the red hair that was once blonde, Howl laments the fate of her and laments the loss of her beauty, uttering: “I don’t see the point of living if I can’t be beautiful.”

Although the scene is comically melodramatic, it highlights a real insecurity in the magician. Sophie has a degree of that same insecurity, and then Sophie throws her head back and cries in the rain, saying that she never felt beautiful. The shattered look on her face after resisting so long with the old curse really touches the hearts of the viewers.

9/10 Taeko says goodbye to childhood

Just yesterday

An image from Just Yesterday.

Sometimes a character’s heart is broken and reforged in a way that makes them stronger. Taeko experiences that when she passes from one period of her life to another at the end of Just yesterdaygracefully parting with some childhood stuff to carve out a place for herself as a more self-actualized adult.

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the last scene of only yesterday’s Elements of magical realism symbolize a nuanced, abstract sentiment. Riding the bus, Taeko sees herself younger and her childhood friends. It symbolizes Taeko taking them with her as she travels to new landscapes.

8/10 The forest before humans came

PomPoko

Pom Poko from Studio Ghibli.

PomPoko is one of the lesser known Studio Ghibli movies. It is about a society of raccoon dog creatures called tanukis. The tanukis rebel against the invading humans who are destroying their natural home. The tanukis try many ways to scare off the human invaders, to no avail.

The raccoon dogs’ latest attempt is to create an illusion in humans, showing them what the land was like before it was deforested. The illusion is a last ditch attempt to get rid of the invaders, and ultimately a final farewell to home before the tanukis assimilate with humans.

7/10 Haku and Chihiro met before

made disappear

Haku and Chihiro Ogino hugging in Spirited Away.

Haku and Chihiro’s connection is bittersweet in made disappear. Haku tells Chihiro that he can’t remember her name, but he remembers her, even though she just entered the spirit world. When Chihiro remembers falling into the Kohaku River, she helps Haku remember her name. This breaks Haku’s servitude to Yubaba.

It is revealed that Chihiro and Haku have a history; he was the river god who saved her from drowning when she was younger. The sad part is that the long-guarded Haku River has been covered by apartment buildings.

6/10 A Laputian robot suffers heavy damage protecting Sheeta

castle in the sky

The Robot Soldier in Castle in the Sky offers a flower to two children.

When Sheeta is kidnapped in castle in the sky, her crystal activates a Laputian robot that comes to her rescue. Trapped in a tall tower, Sheeta recoils from the robot as she scales the walls. The robot rises to her level to place an almost gentle hand on her chest as if introducing herself, activating her crystal.

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The robot is shot by Muska’s men and falls backwards in a concussive crash, then revives to drive the men away and take a passed out Sheeta in his hand, cradling her. Watching the robot get riddled with gunfire while trying to protect Sheeta until her last moments is endearing and saddening.

5/10 Sho does not see Arrietty after his operation

Arrietty’s Secret World

Arrietty talks to Sho in Arrietty's Secret World.

Sho is a boy who lives at his mother’s house with his aunt in Arrietty’s Secret World. He becomes acquainted with the little borrower girl, Arrietty, and even saves her from a crow. Sho and Arrietty’s friendship could be a danger to the Borrower family, prompting them to move.

Sho’s future is uncertain as he is about to undergo a risky operation to help with his heart problem. Fortunately, the operation is successful for Sho and he survives, but he never sees or speaks to Arrietty again. However, he is pleased when he finds out that small items are lost in the house, no doubt from the Borrower family.

4/10 Lord Okkoto dies despite San’s efforts to help

Princess Mononoke

San and Lord Okkoto in Princess Mononoke.

In Princess Mononoke, San and the boar god, Lord Okkoto, are on the same side. They want to protect the forest from Lady Eboshi’s ruthless industry. It was a boar, Nago, who was first corrupted by iron bullets in the movie.

The blind and aged Lord Okkoto wants to take one last stand to defend the forest and avenge Nago. He believes that his boar warriors have returned to his side, but San can see that they are just Eboshi men hiding in furs. San does everything he can to plead with the devastated nobleman Okkoto to keep him away from the fake boars, but in the end, he is unable to save him. However, he helps to complete Lord Okkoto’s goal of restoring the forest.

3/10 Mei cries while holding the corn she picked for her mother

my neighbor totoro

Satsuki Kusakabe, Mei Kusakabe and their father in My Neighbor Totoro.

my neighbor totoro is one of Studio Ghibli’s happiest movies. It is about two girls and their father who move into a house near a gentle spirit of the forest. Although Mei and Satsuki’s father is a loving and emotionally aware father, the girls are having a difficult time as her mother is in the hospital with a serious illness.

The sisters are remarkably stalwart and optimistic as they await her recovery. But when Satsuki gets a worrying call from the hospital, she yells at Mei. Mei walks away from her crying, clutching an ear of corn that she picked for her mother. It’s a moment where the audience can really sit with the lost feeling of being small and tired and scared.

2/10 Nausicaä makes a sacrifice

Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind

An image of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

Nausicaä is a princess who wants to build a bridge between humans and nature in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. She is a clairvoyant girl who never hesitates to do the right thing, even saving an Ohmu bug baby, even at great cost to herself.

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When Nausicaä dies in the process of saving the valley, everyone mourns the loss of Nausicaä. Children and grandmothers cry in disbelief, and Nausicaä’s faithful fox-squirrel companion lies in the crook of his arm as if waiting for him to move. Moved by her sacrifice, the Ohmu revived her.

1/10 Setsuko picks flowers

grave of the fireflies

Seita and Setsuko meet again at Grave of the Fireflies.

grave of the fireflies details the lives of two children at the end of World War II, showing a reality that no child should have to experience. Despite Seita’s best efforts, his little sister, Setsuko, does not survive. Right after her death, a montage of her past unfolds, showing how Setsuko forged a little childhood idyll in the bomb shelter, making toys out of whatever she could find.

grave of the fireflies it is an important portrayal of history and the evils of war. The montage scene serves to highlight Setsuko’s childhood life and wonder because, while it was brief, it was no less important.

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