My favorite thing about Miyazaki’s films, at least most of them is the idea that there are no real evil characters. All of the antagonists in the films have redeeming qualities. Ubaba in spirited away can be mean, but she gives anyone a job that asks, and takes care of everyone, and in the end learns a lesson. In Mononoke Lady Eboshi may be very evil at some times, her iron town is a haven for the downtrodden.
I love how he never seems to get stuck in cliche’s in his films, they are all so original!
The only ones I haven’t seen are Nausicaa and Porco Rosso. I’ve been told that Porco Rosso is not very exciting, though…
Some people I’ve talked to have also found Totoro boring, although the catbus DOES present a powerful argument in its favor.
Spirited Away is my favorite, although I can see how it would not be the ideal “gateway” Miyazaki film.
But I bought Princess Mononoke for my oldest kid and she loves it. I then bought Castle in The Sky and I can see the high quality of both - are you guys sure it’s anime?
I am defnitely picking up more and this thread can now serve as a prioritized list. I’ll start with Spirited Away.
Porco Rosso isn’t really about excitement. It’s about really cool plane designs and environment designs. I imagine there are people who would hear: “A pig flies a World War II biplane into his own private lagoon, then has dogfights with sky pirates” and not want to see that movie. I wouldn’t want to meet those people.
Porco Rosso is my least favourite. The rest, plus the ones you missed, are pretty close.
But the best I think is Nausicäa og the Valley of the Wind - WHICH YOU MISSPELLED! BWAAAH!
If you wanted the best to show people who think they hate anime, the uncultured, soulless shells of humans,
I think it’s a toss-up between Spirited Away and Kiki as the most mundane. Note: Judged from a European perspective,
Spirited Away isn’t all that weird. We’ve got stranger fairy tales.
Try to watch them subtitled, rather than subjecting people to a possibly awful dub.
If they can’t handle subtitles, forget anime.
“Anime” is just the Japanese word for animation. So, yeah, it’s anime. There are a lot of different sorts of animated films and shows in Japan, and if you like Miyazaki, I guarantee there’s more stuff out there that you’d enjoy (though Miyazaki truly is in a class of his own).
If you are a Miyazaki fan and haven’t seen My Neighbor Totoro, then your choice is clear.
It’s a hard call for me between Spirited Away, Totoro and Castle in the Sky as to which is my favorite, but I agree with those saying Totoro is probably the best place to start for a Miyazaki beginner. Without a basic familiarity of Japanese folklore and mythology Spirited Away might be kind of hard to parse, and while Totoro also draws from elements of Japanese culture and mysticism, it frames them as childhood whimsy, which is probably going to be easier to relate to for a western audience unfamiliar with the art form.
It moved painfully slow, nobody in it was particularly interesting, and it focused way too much on the girl. I liked the music, and the animation is certainly a cut above what you usually see in a series, but I was just bored out of my skull and didn’t care enough to continue. Plotting and pacing in modern anime really needs a shot in the arm.
To be fair, nearly all anime can trace its roots back to Osamu Tezuka, who was specifically adapting a Disney-esque style due to his admiration of Disney’s films. And again, what people tend to think of as “anime” is really very limited. A ton of stuff in Japan is animated because it’s cheaper to do that than do it in live action. Miyazaki is an example of someone who doesn’t make animated films so much as he makes films that happen to be animated.
It’s a medium, not a genre. And if anyone out there says they hate anime without seeing any Miyazaki, that’s like saying you hate cartoons without seeing any (original) Disney.
I voted for Laputa, since it’s always been my favorite (and one of my first) Miyazaki film. But I haven’t seen it in several years, so I’m not sure it’s aged well. As for which to show your friend, I’d say it depends on her tastes: Totoro, Kiki, & Spirited Away are modern-day fairy tales (with SA being the weirdest); Laputa is steampunk adventure; Mononoke & Nausicaa are kinda steampunk fantasy; Porco Russo & Howl’s…OK, not sure how to summarize them.
I’ll also throw a curve ball and toss out a recommendation for Satoshi Kon. Tokyo Godfathers is probably his warmest & most accessible film, but I like all his work.
Laputa/Castle in the Sky is like the realization of every fantasy I had as a kid. Airships? Check. Underground exploration? Check. Floating castle in the sky? Check. Action and adventure? Check. Robots? Check. Pirates? Check. Treasure? Check. Mystical advanced technology? Check. Cute girl? Check. It just goes on and on. It also has great, endearing characters, beautiful animation, and one of my favorite soundtracks. I really just love that movie, and I actually didn’t see it until like 2003 when Disney released it to DVD (or whenever that was,) so it’s not simply nostalgic in my case.