Embarking on a Studio Ghibli movie marathon

Pop quiz. How many anime movies has Studio Ghibli produced?

The first ones that will surely come to your mind are Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke. After that, you start recalling Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo and Howl’s Moving Castle. And then maybe you remember Porco Rosso, Castle in the Sky and NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind.

Ok, that’s nine. Perhaps add a few more lesser known ones, round up to an even dozen and that’s probably it, plus or minus. Right?

Wrong.

Since 1988, Studio Ghibli has made a total of 22 full-length anime movies. Yes, twenty two, and here they are in chronological order.

TitleYearDirectorDuration
NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind1984Hayao Miyazaki117 mins
Castle in the Sky1986Hayao Miyazaki124 mins
Grave of the Fireflies1988Isao Takahata88 mins
My Neighbor Totoro1988Hayao Miyazaki86 mins
Kiki’s Delivery Service1989Hayao Miyazaki103 mins
Only Yesterday1991Isao Takahata119 mins
Porco Rosso1992Hayao Miyazaki93 mins
Ocean Waves1993Tomomi Mochizuki72 mins
Pom Poko1994Isao Takahata119 mins
Whisper of the Heart1995Yoshifumi Kondo111 mins
Princess Mononoke1997Hayao Miyazaki133 mins
My Neighbors the Yamadas1999Isao Takahata103 mins
Spirited Away2001Hayao Miyazaki124 mins
The Cat Returns2002Hiroyuki Morita75 mins
Howl’s Moving Castle2004Hayao Miyazaki119 mins
Tales from Earthsea2006Goro Miyazaki115 mins
Ponyo2008Hayao Miyazaki101 mins
Arrietty2010Hiromasa Yonebayashi94 mins
From Up on Poppy Hill2011Goro Miyazaki91 mins
The Wind Rises2013Hayao Miyazaki126 mins
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya2013Isao Takahata137 mins
When Marnie Was There2014Hiromasa Yonebayashi102 mins

Add them all up and you get 2,352 minutes, or 39 hours and 12 minutes. If you count by 8-hour working days, you get 4 days 7 hours and 12 minutes. Which sounds like a very productive way to spend a work week.

We are big fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s work, but we’re not that obsessive, so the plan is to space it out and watch three to four movies each week, which means that we should be able to finish everything within two months.

By then, maybe a safe and effective vaccine to that-which-must-not-be-named would have be discovered, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

The Wife’s favourite movie is My Neighbour Totoro and she will give it a score of 10. My favourite is Princess Mononoke and I’ll similarly give that a 10.

As we watch each film, we’ll compare it against our respective favourites and score it individually from 1 to 10. Integers only, no decimals (despite The Wife’s protests). Our two scores will be averaged out, rounded to the nearest integer and that will be the final score assigned to each film.

And that’s one way of making a totally subjective process artificially scientific.

Logistics-wise, it’s very convenient that Netflix is currently streaming all except one of the 22 movies. The odd one out is Grave of the Fireflies (1988) and apparently it has to do with licensing issues, so we’ll have to find it somewhere else.

To kick off the movie marathon, we will look through old photos of our visit to the Ghibli Museum and recall fond memories. It was the winter of 2017 and we were on vacation in Tokyo. The museum was a 20 minute train ride from Shinjuku, followed by a 10 minute bus from Mitaka station.

After alighting from the bus, follow the signboards and you will quickly reach a foliage-covered building with a live-sized Totoro enclosed within glass panes, and cute little soot balls in a porthole just under it.

If you’re planning to visit sometime in the future, remember to buy your tickets beforehand, because daily slots are limited and there’s a high chance that you won’t be able to get tickets on that day itself. We bought ours online but you can also buy them at Lawson combinis.

Entrance times are staggered to avoid overcrowding the small museum, and when the designated time comes, just look for the long queue and follow the crowd. You’ll be given brochures and tickets for the short film screened in the indoor cinema, and once you’re inside the museum, photography is strictly prohibited.

The museum has recently started uploading short video tours on their official YouTube channel, giving future visitors a rare glimpse inside. Each video is quite short, but if you can’t visit physically, they are the next best thing.

To date, they have released 12 videos at a pace of roughly one each week, starting with the one below that was uploaded on 14 April 2020 and is reaching almost half a million views.

Photography is allowed, I think, on the rooftop open-air garden where you find a replica of the Laputa robots and various other sculptures.

And before you exit the museum, remember to visit the gift shop where you can stock up on all things Ghibli, including kawaii document folders that are guaranteed to raise eyebrows when you whip them out during meetings.

I’ve gotten many envious looks from senior management over the years that I’ve used them, or at least I think that’s what was going through their minds.

Now that the journey down memory lane is over, time to get down to work and start watching. First up is NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind. Ikimasho!

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