Culture and People / Music, Movies and Television

My Favorite #Anime

My Favorite #Anime

Films from Ghibli Studio

The Beautiful World of Anime: Films from Ghibli Studio

Do you like watching movies?

Do you like watching animated movies?

Do you like animation with painstakingly detailed art work, story lines that make you thing, character that you would want to remember for long?

If your answer is a yes, please read on…

Have you heart of Hayao Miyazai or Isao Takahata or Toshio Suzuki? Do you know what is Ghibli Studio?

I would be surprised if the answer is not yes, but it it is a No, and you do not know about Ghibli Studio, I would urge you to please  read this ( first. You may also try to read this ( which is a humble attempt to introduce the wonderful world of Anime, you will have to spend a lot more time to understand it better and but to enjoy it just watch a couple of movies from Ghilbi Studios and I can bet that you will fall in love with this form of entertainment. That’s how I got exposed to them… searching for a good movie for my kids I stumbled upon Spirited away and then me, Meera, Kabir and Abha – we all were totally hooked on to their magic.

Here is a recommendation list of my favorite Anime Movies, you can watch any one of them and that will be enough to get you hooked into this amazing world.

  1. Princess Mononoke
  2. My Neighbor Totoro
  3. Spirited Away
  4. Howl’s Moving Castle
  5. The Grave of Fireflies
  6. The Secret world of Arrietty
  7. 5 Centimeters Per Second
  8. Summer Wars
  9. Laputa – the Castle in the Sky
  10. Kiki’s Delivery Service 

1. Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

In Muromachi period Japan, an Emishi village is attacked by a demon. The Emishi prince, Ashitaka, defends the village, but is cursed by the demon in the battle. The curse gives him superhuman strength, but will eventually kill him. The demon is revealed to be a boar forest god, Nago, made evil after contamination by an iron ball lodged in his body.

The village oracle tells Ashitaka that he may find a cure in the western lands Nago came from. On the journey to the west, Ashitaka meets Jiko-bō, a wandering monk, who tells Ashitaka that he might find help from the Deer God called the “Forest Spirit”, a Kirin-like creature by day and a giant Daidarabotchi by night.

Nearby, the people of Tataraba “Iron Town”, led by Lady Eboshi, are attacked by a wolf clan led by the wolf-goddess Moro. Riding one of the wolves is San, a human girl. Ashitaka discovers two injured Tataraba men and while trying to save them he also comes across San and the wolf clan; he tries to communicate with them, but they ignore him and leave. He carries the injured through the forest, where he encounters many kodama, and glimpses the Deer God.

In Tataraba, Ashitaka learns Eboshi has built the town by clear-cutting forests to reclaim ironsand and produce iron, leading to conflict with the forest gods. The town is a refuge for social outcasts, including former brothel workers and lepers, whom Eboshi employs to manufacture firearms to defend against the gods. Ashitaka realises Eboshi is responsible for turning the boar into the demon. Eboshi explains that San, whom she calls Princess Mononoke, was raised by the wolves as one of their own, and hates humans.

San attacks Tataraba to kill Eboshi, but Ashitaka intervenes in the fights that ensues, knocking them both unconscious. As he leaves the town carrying San, he is shot by a villager. San awakens and is about to kill the weakened Ashitaka, but hesitates when he tells her she is beautiful. She takes him to the forest, and decides to trust him after the Deer God saves his life.

The wolf clan, joined by the boars led by the boar-god Okkoto-nushi, plan to attack Tataraba to save the forest. Eboshi prepares for battle and sets out to kill the Deer God. Jiko-bō, revealed to be a mercenary, intends to give the head of the Deer God to the Emperor of Japan in return for protection from local daimyos. According to legend, the severed head of the Deer God will grant immortality.

In the battle, Okkoto-nushi is contaminated by a gunshot wound. Disguising themselves in the boars’ skins, Jiko-bō and his men trick the rampaging Okkoto-nushi into leading them to the Deer God. San desperately tries to stop him, but is swept up in the contamination consuming her body until Ashitaka and Moro rescue her. Eboshi beheads the Deer God during its transformation into the Daidarabotchi. Evil pours from its body, poisoning the forest. Ashitaka and San return the head from Jiko-bō to the Deer God. Restored, the Deer God falls into the lake, healing the land, Ashitaka and San.

Though Ashitaka means much to San, she still hates humans for their actions and decides to remain in the forest. Ashitaka chooses to help rebuild the town, but tells San he will visit her in the forest. In gratitude to Ashitaka’s efforts to save the people of Tataraba, Eboshi vows to rebuild a better town. The film ends with a kodama appearing in the rejuvenated forest.

2. My Neighbour Totoro

My Neighbour totoro

My Neighbour Totoro

The movie starts in 1958 Japan, a university professor Tatsuo Kusukabe and his two daughters, Satsuki and Mei move into an old house to be closer to the hospital where their mother Yasuko is recovering from a long-term illness. Satsuki and Mei find that the house is inhabited by tiny animated dust creatures called susuwatari—small, dark, dust-like house spirits seen when moving from light to dark places. When the girls become comfortable in their new house and laugh with their father, the soot spirits (called “black soots” in early subtitles and “soot sprites” in the later English dubbed version) leave the house to drift away on the wind. It is implied that they are going to find another empty house–their natural habitat.

One day, Mei sees two white, rabbit-like ears in the grass and follows the ears under the house. She discovers two small magical creatures (chibi or “dwarf” totoro and chu or “medium” totoro), who lead her through a briar patch and into the hollow of a large camphor tree. She meets and befriends a larger version of the same kind of spirit (ō or “large” totoro), which identifies itself by a series of roars that she interprets as “Totoro” (in the original version, this stems from Mei’s mispronunciation of the word for “troll”).[3] She falls asleep atop the large totoro, but when Satsuki finds her, she is on the ground in a dense briar clearing. Despite her many attempts, Mei is unable to show her family Totoro’s tree. Her father comforts her by telling her that this is the “keeper of the forest,” and that Totoro will reveal himself when he wants to.

One rainy night, the girls are waiting for their father’s bus and grow worried when he does not arrive on the bus they expect him on. As they wait, Mei eventually falls asleep on Satsuki’s back and Totoro appears beside them, allowing Satsuki to see him for the first time. He only has a leaf on his head for protection against the rain, so Satsuki offers him the umbrella she had taken along for her father. Totoro is delighted at both the shelter and the sounds made upon it by falling raindrops. In return, he gives her a bundle of nuts and seeds. A bus-shaped giant cat halts at the stop, and Totoro boards it, taking the umbrella. Shortly after, their father’s bus arrives.

The girls plant the seeds. A few days later, they awaken at midnight to find Totoro and his two miniature colleagues engaged in a ceremonial dance around the planted nuts and seeds. The girls join in, whereupon the seeds sprout, and then grow and combine into an enormous tree. Totoro takes his colleagues and the girls for a ride on a magical flying top. In the morning, the tree is gone, but the seeds have indeed sprouted.

The girls find out that a planned visit by Yasuko has to be postponed because of a setback in her treatment. Having reached the age where she fully understands the concept of death, Satsuki takes this seriously. She angrily yells at Mei and stomps off. Thinking that her mother can be cured by healthy food, Mei walks to the hospital with an ear of corn.

Mei’s disappearance prompts Satsuki and the neighbors to search for her. Eventually, Satsuki returns in desperation to the camphor tree and pleads for Totoro’s help. Delighted to be of assistance, he summons the Catbus, which carries her to where the lost Mei sits. Having rescued her, the Catbus then whisks her and Satsuki over the countryside to see their mother in the hospital. The girls perch in a tree outside of the hospital, overhearing a conversation between their parents and discovering that she has been kept in hospital by a minor cold and is otherwise doing well. They secretly leave the ear of corn on the windowsill, where it is discovered by the parents, and return home on the Catbus. When the Catbus departs, it disappears from the girls’ sight.

In the end credits, Mei and Satsuki’s mother return home, and the sisters play with other children, with Totoro and his friends as unseen observers.

3. Spirited Away

Spirited Away

Spirited Away

A Ten-year-old girl Chihiro Ogino and her parents are traveling to their new home when her father takes a wrong turn. Thinking that they have found an abandoned amusement park, her father insists on exploring and they cross a dry riverbed. While Chihiro’s parents eat at an empty restaurant stall, Chihiro finds an exquisite bathhouse. She meets a young boy, Haku, who warns her to return across the river before sunset. However, Chihiro discovers too late that her parents turned into pigs and she is unable to cross the flooded river.

After finding Chihiro, Haku has her ask for a job from the bathhouse’s boiler-man, Kamaji, a spider yōkai commanding the susuwatari. Kamaji and the worker Lin send Chihiro to the witch Yubaba, who runs the bathhouse. Yubaba gives Chihiro a job and renames her Sen. While visiting her parents’ pigpen, Sen finds a goodbye card addressed to Chihiro and realizes that she has already forgotten her name. Haku warns her that Yubaba controls people by taking their names and that if she forgets hers like he has forgotten his, Chihiro cannot leave the spirit world. While working, Sen invites a silent masked creature named No-Face inside, believing him to be costumer. A stink spirit arrives and is Sen’s first customer. She discovers he is the spirit of a polluted river. In gratitude for cleaning him, he gives Sen a magic emetic dumpling. No-Face tempts a worker with gold, then swallows him. He demands food and begins tipping extensively.

Sen discovers paper shikigami attacking a dragon and recognizes it as Haku transformed. When Haku crashes into Yubaba’s penthouse, Sen follows him upstairs. She reaches Haku, and a shikigami stowed away on her back transforms into Zeniba, Yubaba’s twin sister. She transforms Yubaba’s baby son Boh into a mouse, creates a decoy baby and turns Yubaba’s bird creature into a tiny bird. Zeniba tells Sen that Haku has stolen a magic gold seal from her, and warns Sen that it carries a deadly curse. After Haku dives to the boiler room with Sen and Boh on his back, she feeds him part of the dumpling, causing him to vomit both the seal and a black slug, which Sen crushes under her foot.

Firming her resolve to return the seal and apologize for Haku, Sen confronts No-Face, who is now massive, and feeds him the rest of the dumpling. While vomiting, No-Face chases Sen out of the bathhouse before returning to his normal size. Sen, No-Face and Boh travel to Zeniba. Enraged at the damage caused by No-Face, Yubaba blames Sen for inviting him in and orders that her parents be slaughtered. After Haku reveals that Boh is missing, Yubaba promises to free Sen and her parents in exchange for retrieving Boh.

Sen, No-Face and Boh arrive at Zeniba’s house. Zeniba reveals that Sen’s love for Haku broke his curse, and Yubaba had used the black slug to control Haku. Haku appears in his dragon form and flies both Sen and Boh back to the bathhouse. On the way back, Sen recalls a memory from her youth in which she had fallen into the Kohaku River but was washed safely ashore. After correctly guessing that Haku is the spirit of the Kohaku River and thus revealing his real name, Haku is completely freed from Yubaba’s control. When they arrive at the bathhouse, Yubaba makes a deal with Sen that in order to break the curse on her parents, Sen must recognize them from among a group of pigs. After Sen correctly states that none of the pigs are her parents, Sen is given back her real name Chihiro. Haku takes Chihiro to the now dry riverbed and vows to meet her again. Chihiro crosses the river and reunites with her restored parents, who do not remember what happened. They walk back to their car and drive off.

4. Howl’s Moving Castle

Howls Moving Castle

Howls Moving Castle

Sophie, a hatter, is a responsible eighteen-year-old girl who encounters a mysterious wizard named Howl while on her way to visit her younger sister. The Witch of the Waste, who pursues Howl, comes to the hat shop and curses Sophie by transforming her into an old woman. Seeking a cure for the curse, Sophie travels into the Wastes and finds a living scarecrow, who takes her to Howl’s castle. Here, Sophie meets the fire demon Calcifer, the source of the castle’s energy and power. Calcifer offers to break the curse in exchange for Sophie’s help in breaking the spell he’s under, which keeps Calcifer bound to the house. When Howl appears, Sophie announces that she is the castle’s new cleaning lady, hired by Calcifer because he was sick of how dirty the castle was.

Currently, Sophie’s country is caught up in the beginning of a war with its neighbor following the mysterious disappearance of the other realm’s Crown Prince. Howl receives summons from the King, who orders his various assumed identities to fight in the war. However, Howl comes up with an idea to send Sophie, under the guise of being his mother, to the king to profess the cowardice of one of Howl’s two aliases. At the palace, Sophie runs into an asthmatic dog, Heen, who she thinks is Howl undercover. She also meets the Witch of the Waste, who Suliman, the king’s magic advisor, punishes by draining all of her power, causing her to regress into a harmless old woman. Suliman tells Sophie that Howl will meet the same fate if he does not contribute to the war. As Sophie vehemently protests these measures, the Witch’s spell temporarily weakens due to the love in her words. Suliman realizes Sophie’s true relation to Howl and her strong romantic feelings towards him. Howl then arrives to rescue Sophie, Suliman tries to entrap Howl, but with Sophie’s help, they manage to escape.

Sophie learns that Howl transforms into a bird-like creature to interfere in the war, but each transformation makes it more difficult for him to return to human form. Sophie fears that Howl is preparing to leave them, as his remaining time as a human is limited, he returns to interfering in the war. Sophie’s mother shows up and is actually under Suliman’s control and leaves behind a bag containing a “peeping bug” under her orders. The former Witch of the Waste discovers it and promptly destroys the bug by tossing it into Calcifer. Unfortunately, Calcifer gets sick after eating the bug, rendering him unable to protect the castle from being discovered.

A few hours later, the city is carpet-bombed by enemy aircraft while Suliman’s henchmen invade the flower shop Howl made for Sophie. After protecting the flower shop from the bombing, Howl draws the guards away just after healing Calcifer. He tells Sophie he is not going to run away anymore because he has something he wants to protect before leaving to interfere with the war. Deducing that Howl must be saved, Sophie moves everyone out of the castle and removes Calcifer from the fireplace, destroying the castle. She offers Calcifer a piece of her hair to strengthen him enough to power and energize a portion of the castle. They head toward Howl when the former Witch of the Waste discovers Howl’s heart within Calcifer. The Witch takes the heart and refuses to let go of it although it is burning her. Sophie pours water onto The Witch of the Waste making Calcifer lose all his strength and power. The segment of the castle is split, and she and Heen fall down a chasm.

Making her way toward Howl’s heart, Sophie enters through the door into the black region and discovers a recollection of how Howl and Calcifer meet: Howl eats Calcifer, who then gains his heart. Sophie finds Howl, having now lost his human consciousness in bird form. They head back to the group, and Sophie asks the Witch for Howl’s heart. She gives it to her and Sophie places the heart back inside Howl, returning him to life, and freeing Calcifer. She kisses the scarecrow on the cheek as thanks, who reveals that he is actually the missing prince. Heen shows the scene of their happy end to Suliman, and the war is finally over. Howl, Sophie, and the others are seen high above the bomber planes returning home from the end of the war.

5. The Grave of Fireflies

Grave Of The Fireflies

Grave Of The Fireflies

The film opens on September 25, 1945, shortly after the end of World War II, at Sannomiya Station where Seita, a 14-year-old boy, is seen dying of starvation. Later that night, a janitor removes his body and digs through his possessions, and finds a candy tin containing ashes and bones, which he throws away into a nearby field. From the tin spring the spirits of Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, as well as a cloud of fireflies. The spirit of Seita continues to narrate their story, which is, in effect, an extended flashback to Japan in the final months ofWorld War II, during the firebombing of the city of Kobe.

The flashback begins with a fleet of American B-29 Superfortressbombers flying overhead. Setsuko and Seita, the two siblings, are left to secure the house and their belongings, allowing their mother, who suffers from a heart condition, to reach a bomb shelter. They are caught off-guard as the bombers begin to drop hundreds of incendiary bomblets, which start huge fires that quickly destroy their neighborhood and most of the city. Although they survive unscathed, their mother is caught in the air raid and is horribly burned. She is taken to a makeshift clinic in a school, but dies a short time later. Having nowhere else to go, Setsuko and Seita move in with a distant aunt, who allows them to stay but convinces Seita to sell his mother’s kimonos for rice. While living with their relatives, Seita goes out to retrieve leftover supplies he had buried in the ground before the bombing. He gives all of it to his aunt, but hides a small tin of fruit drops, which becomes a recurrent icon throughout the film. Their aunt continues to shelter them, but as their food rations continue to shrink due to the war, she becomes increasingly resentful. She openly remarks on how they do nothing to earn the food she cooks.

Seita and Setsuko finally decide to leave and move into an abandoned bomb shelter. They release fireflies into the shelter for light, but Setsuko is horrified to find that the next day they are all dead. She digs them a grave and buries them all, asking why they have to die, and why her mother had to die. What begins as a new lease on life grows grim as they run out of rice, and Seita is forced to steal from local farmers and loot homes during air raids. When he is caught, he realizes his desperation and takes an increasingly ill Setsuko to a doctor, who informs him that Setsuko is suffering from malnutrition but offers no help. In a panic, Seita withdraws all the money remaining in their mother’s bank account, but as he leaves the bank, he becomes distraught when he learns from a nearby crowd that Japan has surrendered unconditionally to the Allied Powers and that his father, a Captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy who had promised him that Japan could never be defeated, is probably dead, since nearly all of Japan’s navy is now at the bottom of the ocean. He returns to the shelter with large quantities of food, only to find a dying Setsuko hallucinating. Seita hurries to cook, but Setsuko dies shortly thereafter. Seita uses supplies donated to him by a farmer to cremate Setsuko, and puts her ashes in the fruit tin which he carries with his father’s photograph, until his own death from malnutrition in Sannomiya Station a few weeks later.

In the movie’s final scene, the spirits of Seita and Setsuko are seen healthy, well-dressed and happy as they sit together, surrounded by fireflies, and look down on modern city of Kobe.

6. The Secret world of Arrietty

The secret world of arrietty movie

The secret world of arrietty movie

A boy named Sho tells the audience he still remembers the week in summer he spent at his mother’s childhood home with his maternal great aunt, Sadako, and the house maid, Haru. When Sho arrives at the house on the first day, he sees a cat, Niya, trying to attack something in the bushes but it soon gives up after it is attacked by a crow. Shawn then discovers Arrietty, a Borrower, emerging from the bushes and returning to her home through an underground air vent. Later at night, Arrietty’s father, Pod, takes Arrietty on her first “borrowing” mission above the floorboards to show her how he “borrows” sugar and tissue. After obtaining a sugar cube from the kitchen, they walk within a wall to reach a beautifully intricate dollhouse (with working electric lights and kitchen utilities) in Sho’s bedroom, to get tissue. However, Arrietty is spotted by Sho while retrieving a piece of tissue from a tissue box and loses the sugar cube. Sho asks her not to leave and although Arrietty hesitates, she still leaves the room with her father.

The next day, Sho leaves the dropped sugar cube beside the underground air vent where he first saw Arrietty. Pod warns Arrietty not to take it because their existence must be kept secret from humans, but his daughter nevertheless sneaks out to visit Sho in his bedroom. She drops the sugar cube he left on the floor, letting him know that she is there. Without revealing herself otherwise, she tells Sho to leave her family alone and that they do not need his help. On her return, Arrietty is intercepted by her father. Realizing they have been detected, Pod and his wife Homily decide that they must move out of the house. Sho learns from Sadako that some of his ancestors had seen Borrowers in the house, and had the dollhouse custom-built in the hopes that Borrowers would use it. The Borrowers had not been seen since, however, and the dollhouse stayed in Sho’s room.

Pod returns injured from a borrowing mission and is helped home by Spiller, a Borrower boy he met on the way. He informs them that there are other places the Borrowers could move to. While Pod is recovering, Sho removes the floorboard concealing the Borrower household and replaces their kitchen with the kitchen from the dollhouse, in hopes the Borrowers would be more accepting of his knowledge of their existence. However, the Borrowers are frightened by this and instead speed up their moving process.

After Pod recovers, he goes to explore some of the places Spiller has suggested. Arrietty goes to bid farewell to Sho, but in the course of conversation he suggests to her that the Borrowers are becoming extinct. Realizing that he has upset his small friend, Sho reveals he has had a heart condition since birth and will have an operation in a few days. The operation does not have a good chance of success. He believes that there is nothing he can do about it, saying that eventually every living thing dies. Arrietty convinces Sho that he will fight for the life he has now nevertheless.

Meanwhile, Haru notices the floorboards have been disturbed. Sadako is out and Sho is still in the garden speaking with Arrietty. Haru unearths the Borrowers’ house and captures Homily. Alerted by her mother’s screams, Arrietty leaves Sho  in the garden and goes to investigate. Saddened by her departure, Sho returns to his room. Haru locks him in and calls a pest removal company to capture the other Borrowers alive. With the help of Sho, Arrietty rescues Homily. Sadako returns soon after the pest removal company’s arrival and sends them away. Haru and Sadako discover that the Borrowers have left, and that Sho has destroyed any trace of their presence.

The Borrowers stop for dinner during their move, and Sho’s cat, Niya, spots Arrietty. Niya leads Sho to Arrietty. He gives her a sugar cube, and tells her the Borrowers’ fight for survival has given him hope to live through the operation. Arrietty gives Sho her hair clip as a token of remembrance and they go their separate ways. Arrietty, Pod, and Homily leave in a teapot with Spiller. Spiller comforts Arrietty by giving her a red berry after she joins him on the teapot’s top.

7. 5 Centimeters Per Second

5 Centimeters Per Second

5 Centimeters Per Second

The story is set in Japan beginning from the 1990s and ending in modern day, with each act centered on a boy named Takaki Tōno. The first act takes place during a time when cell phones are uncommon and email has not yet reached the general populace.

Act 1: Cherry Blossom

Takaki Tōno quickly befriends Akari Shinohara when she transfers to his elementary school. They grow closer to each other due to similar interests and attitudes; for instance, they both prefer to stay inside during recess due to their seasonal allergies. As a result, they form a strong bond; they speak to each other using their given names without any form of honorifics, which is a sign of deep friendship and familiarity in Japan. This fact is lost in the movie’s translation to English and other languages, which reduces the implied closeness of their relationship.

Upon graduating from elementary school, Akari moves to Tochigi, due to her parents’ jobs. The two keep in contact by writing letters but eventually begin to drift apart. When Takaki learns that his family will be moving to Kagoshima, he decides to personally go see Akari, since they will be too far apart to visit each other at all after moving. He also prepares a letter for Akari, containing his feelings. However, during the journey he loses the letter and a severe snowstorm continuously delays Takaki’s trip for several hours. As the two meet and share their first kiss, Takaki realizes they will never be together again. Stranded in a shed due to the snowstorm, they fall asleep after talking late into the night. Takaki departs the next morning, and they promise to continue writing to each other. As the train rolls away, Takaki thinks that the loss of his letter is not important any more after that kiss, while Akari silently looks at her own letter addressed to Takaki.

Act 2: Cosmonaut

Takaki is now in the third year of senior high in Tanegashima, where the Tanegashima Space Center is located. Kanae Sumida, a classmate of Takaki, had fallen in love with him ever since meeting him in middle school but does not have the courage to confess her feelings. She tries to spend time with him, waiting long after school for the chance to travel home together. However, Takaki appears ignorant to Kanae’s feelings and treats her as a good friend. Kanae observes that Takaki is always writing emails to someone or staring off into the distance as if searching for something far, far away. It is later shown that Takaki’s emails are not being sent to anyone, and he has had recurring dreams which feature Akari. Despite Kanae’s feelings, she eventually realizes that Takaki is looking for something far beyond what she can offer and decides against telling him how she feels.

Act 3: 5 Centimeters Per Second

It is 2008. Takaki is now a computer programmer in Tokyo, and Akari is preparing to get married. Kanae is not strongly depicted in this segment. Takaki is still longing for Akari to the detriment of his lifestyle, which is acknowledged by an ex-girlfriend. This leads to Takaki on the verge of a breakdown and leaving his job. Akari goes through her old possessions and finds the letter addressed to Takaki. Takaki and Akari have a dual narration, both recalling a recent dream depicting the events of their last meeting in the snow and hoping to watch the cherry blossoms together again.

One day while walking down a road, Takaki and Akari appear to pass and recognize each other at a train crossing, where they decided to watch cherry blossoms together right before Akari’s sudden moving to Tochigi thirteen years ago. At opposite sides of the tracks, they stop and begin to look back, but the passing trains cut off their view. Takaki waits for the trains to pass but sees that Akari is gone. After a moment, he smiles to himself and continues walking.

8. Summer Wars

summer wars

Summer Wars

Kenji Koiso is a young high school student with a gift in mathematics and a part-time moderator in the massive computer-simulated virtual reality world OZ along with his friend Takashi Sakuma.

Invited by Natsuki Shinohara to participate in the 90th birthday of her great-grandmother Sakae Jinnouchi Kenji travels with her to Sakae’s estate in Ueda. While there, Natsuki introduces Kenji as her fiancé to Sakae. Kenji meets several of Natsuki’s relatives and discovers that the Jinnouchis are descendants of a samurai who challenged the Tokugawa clan in 1615. He also meets Wabisuke Jinnouchi, Natsuki’s half-uncle and a computer expert who has been living in the United States since stealing the family’s fortunes 10 years ago.

Kenji receives an e-mail with a mathematical code and cracks it. Love Machine, an artificial intelligence in the OZ infrastructure, uses Kenji’s account and his avatar to invade the infrastructure, causing widespread damage. Kenji, Natsuki’s cousin Kazuma Ikezawa and Sakuma confront Love Machine. Love Machine defeats Kazuma’s avatar King Kazma and continues to steal accounts, creating catastrophic  traffic congestions and disabling electrical devices. Two of Sakae’s relatives – Rika and Shota Jinnouchi – discover Kenji’s involvement. Shota arrests Kenji, but Natsuki has them return to the estate due to the ongoing traffic congestions.

Recognizing the situation as akin to war, Sakae calls her associates in important positions in Japan’s society and her relatives who work in emergency services. She encourages them to work their hardest to reduce the potential chaos and damage that could have occurred. Kenji is able to return control of the virtual world to the moderators and engineers. Wabisuke reveals that he created Love Machine and sold the program to the United States Armed Forces for a test run. After an argument with Sakae, Wabisuke leaves the estate. Sakae later encourages Kenji to take care of Natsuki during a Hanafuda match; and Kenji and the Jinnouchis, running to Sakae’s bedside the next morning, find Sakae dead. Her youngest son Mansaku  reveals she had angina and Love Machine had deactivated her heart monitor. Kenji, Sakuma, and most of the Jinnouchis initiate a plan to defeat Love Machine using a supercomputer with ice blocks as a coolant while Natsuki and the others prepare a funeral for Sakae.

Kenji, along with Sakuma and the others, capture Love Machine. However, Shota carries the ice blocks to Sakae’s body causing the supercomputer to overheat; whereupon Love Machine empowers itself and assimilates King Kazma; then redirects the Arawashi Asteroid Probe onto a collision course with a  nuclear power plant. At the same time, Natsuki discovers a will left by Sakae before reuniting with Kenji and the rest of the group. Natsuki has Wabisuke return home before the family reads Sakae’s will, asking them to bring Wabisuke back to their lives. Realizing that Love Machine sees everything as a game, Kenji has the Jinnouchis play Koi-Koi with Love Machine in OZ’s casino world, wagering their accounts in a desperate attempt to stop Love Machine. Natsuki wins several rounds, but gets distracted and nearly loses her “winnings”.

However, OZ users worldwide enter their own accounts into the wager on Natsuki’s side. Natsuki critically damages Love Machine, but the artificial intelligence redirects the Arawashi towards a collision on Sakae’s estate. Kenji hacks into the probe’s GPS, but is unsuccessful. To circumvent Love Machine, Wabisuke disables its defenses, distracting it long enough for King Kazma to be revived and assisted by several Jinnouchi family avatars before destroying Love Machine. Kenji activates the GPS code and redirects the Arawashi away from the estate. The satellite’s impact destroys the estate’s entrance and causes a geyser to erupt. The Jinnouchi family, celebrating their victory as well as Sakae’s birthday, has Natsuki kiss Kenji after confessing their love to each other.

9. Laputa – the Castle in the Sky

Laputa Castle in the Sky

Laputa – Castle in the Sky

In the film’s backstory, human civilizations built flying cities, later destroyed by an unspecified catastrophe, forcing the survivors to live on the ground while the sole exception Laputa remains in the sky, concealed by a thunderstorm.

In the story’s opening, an airship carrying a girl named Sheeta and her abductor Muska is attacked by the air-pirate Dola and her sons, in search of Sheeta’s crystal amulet; and in the resulting struggle, Sheeta falls from the airship, only to be slowed by the amulet in mid-fall. On the ground, she is received by a youth named Pazu, whose father had earlier been in search of Laputa. In the next day they are pursued by Dola’s pirates, and later by Muska’s soldiers; eventually to fall into a nearly-exhausted mine. There, they encounter the local eccentric ‘Uncle Pomme’, who informs them that Sheeta’s amulet is one of the ‘volucite’ crystals (‘Aetherium’ in the American release) formerly used to keep Laputa aloft.

Upon leaving the mines, Sheeta says that her real name is Lusheeta Toel Ul Laputa; whereupon they are captured by Muska. Later, Muska shows Sheeta a dormant Laputan robot and reveals his knowledge of her secret name, which he interprets as that of a Laputan royal line, and threatens Pazu, whom she therefore orders home. Disappointed in her, Pazu returns to his own house, where he is seized by Dola’s sons. Sheeta, retained by Muska, recites an apotropaic verse and unexpectedly activates the robot, who begins to destroy Muska’s fortress to find her, while Pazu and Dola’s pirates embark in winged ‘flaptors’ to rescue her themselves. Meanwhile the robot seizes Sheeta; but when struck by Muska’s artillery, retaliates against the fortress, until Sheeta orders it to desist, losing her amulet in the meantime. The robot is then overcome by the airship Goliath; and Pazu rescues Sheeta, while Muska retrieves the amulet. The pirates, accompanied by Pazu and Sheeta, return to their airship Tiger Moth, where Dola assigns Sheeta to the galley and Pazu to assist her engineer, and in which they pursue the direction identified by Sheeta’s amulet as that of Laputa, while Muska follows the same in the Goliath. Both airships arrive at Laputa on the following day, where the two children, separated from Dola’s pirates, discover a city devoid of human life, but possessed of a parklike woodland maintained by a robot resembling that of the fortress, while Muska’s soldiers plunder the city’s treasures, holding Dola’s pirates captive. Upon gaining entrance to the city’s central sphere, Muska captures Sheeta; whereupon Pazu frees Dola’s pirates and pursues Muska.

In the center of Laputa, containing the immense ‘volucite’ crystal keeping the city aloft, Muska identifies himself as one of the “Romuska Palo Ul Laputa”, another royal line, and uses Laputan technology to destroy the soldiers accompanying him; whereupon Sheeta seizes her crystal amulet and flees, prompting him to pursue her. Encountering Pazu through a gap in an internal wall, Sheeta gives him her amulet, and is herself later cornered by Muska in Laputa’s abandoned throne room. There, Muska is defeated when the protagonists cite Sheeta’s ‘Spell of Destruction’, blinding Muska and shattering much of the city. Having escaped the collapse, Pazu and Sheeta re-unite with Dola’s pirates, and later part from them, whereupon the ending credits show the remains of Laputa, maintained by the roots of an immense tree, in orbit above the earth.

10. Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki is a 13-year-old witch-in-training, living in a village where her mother is the resident herbalist. It is traditional for witches to live for a year alone when they reach 13 years of age. In the opening of the story, Kiki takes off for the big city with her best friend Jiji, a loquacious black cat. Kiki and Jiji  flying by the clock tower in Koriko just after arriving. It has been noted that the “vibrant” Stockholm-inspired city gives a sense of safety as well as independence.

Kiki settles in Koriko, a port city. After a hard start, mostly because of her own insecurity, Kiki finds friends and a place to stay. But she has only one witch’s skill: her ability to fly on a broom, at which she is still not fully proficient. So, in order to support herself, she begins a delivery service.

Kiki experiences setbacks, and she must contend with adolescent worries. She is pursued by Tombo, a local boy crazy about aviation who has developed a genuine respect for her flying power and a strong liking for Kiki as a girl in general. Kiki eventually warms up to him, but after an unpleasant encounter with Tombo’s friends, some of whom she had met earlier under unfavorable circumstances, Kiki’s powers to fly and speak with Jiji suddenly diminish and ultimately disappear, leaving her devastated. However, one of her friends, a young painter named Ursula, invites her to stay in her forest cottage, where she analyzes Kiki’s current crisis as “some form of artist’s block.” Since many things had not gone as hoped for, Kiki is experiencing such a period, which resulted in the loss of her powers; but if she finds a new purpose, she will be able to reclaim what she has lost.

Heartened,  Kiki returns to the city. While visiting one of her customers, she witnesses an accident on the television. A strong and sudden gust of wind blows in the area. Tombo is lifted into the air and blown away hanging from a dirigible. In her desperation to save him, Kiki pushes herself to regain her flying ability. Improvising with a street-sweeper’s push broom, Kiki reactivates her power and rescues Tombo.

During the credits, Kiki is now comfortably part of the life in Koriko as its own local celebrity and flying in formation with Tombo on his human-powered aircraft, a propeller-rigged bicycle. Kiki sends a letter to her parents about gaining confidence through difficulties and that she has decided to make this city her new home.


11 thoughts on “My Favorite #Anime

  1. Hi Bhuwan,

    Amazing piece. Thanks for creating my next bucket list of movies.

    I have laughed and cried seeing only the following.

    Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
    Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
    Princess Mononoke (1997)
    My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
    Spirited Away (2001)
    From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)

    But your well researched piece told me so much about the creators of these amazing collection. In fact, I am sending this article to some of my closest Japanese friends to read 🙂


    • 🙂 Thanks, you have seen the best ones already, I have yet to see two from your list. I just love this art form its a treat to watch them again and again.



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