Disney is one of life’s great pleasures, but I would argue that not all Disney movies carry the best morals. If you were to analyze some of the classic Disney films, you’ll realize messages like ignoring your parents advice, relying on wishes and dreams over patience and hard work, and forever love are commonly found in their films.
When Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki founded Studio Ghibli, he brought a whole new audience to anime cinema. I’m a huge Studio Ghibli fan and although there are some films that I didn’t enjoy, overall, you can’t really go wrong with showing these films to kids because many have very powerful life lessons. Plus, the animation is just beautiful so it’s so fun to watch the images on the screen.
To me, I feel that Studio Ghibli has taught more valuable life lessons than Walt Disney ever dreamed of, and here’s why.
My Neighbor Totoro is my ultimate favourite and what it taught me is the power of believing. Satsuki and Mei were dealing with an emotional trauma of having a very sick mother, but managed to find solace in a large and heavy-eyed forest spirit who taught them to believe in the power of magic. The concept of believing and never giving up is what I enjoyed most about this film.
In Ponyo, the story of a fish taht wants to become a human is similar to The Little Mermaid. However, in this story, it focuses on friendship and how love has no bounds. We should look out for each other no matter how different we are and that was exemplified through the story of the fish and a little boy Sosuke, who promises to protect her forever.
Kiki’s Delivery Service shows the importance of hard work and how it pays to be a helpful member of society. She learns to find the right balance between work, family, and friendship to live a happy and healthy life. This film teaches us to always make sure you’re living with purpose and not to just do something that doesn’t bring you satisfaction.
Howl’s Moving Castle teaches us that appearances can be deceiving. Similar to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but in this film, we get the lead character (Sophie) who doesn’t have much confidence regarding her looks. When she is cursed and transformed into an old woman, she learns that appearances aren’t everything.
Grave of the Fireflies was an emotional war-time film, but it taught us the pain of losing a loved one. It follows a journey of a teenage boy and his four-year-old sister who struggles to survive after the death of their parents. It shows the heart-ripping tale of the conflict and struggle of war.
If you aren’t a fan of anime, I would suggest that you give Studio Ghibli films a try. You’ll be surprised with what you end up learning.