When Japanese animation company Studio Ghibli began garnering critical recognition worldwide, the misconception that animation was only for children was challenged. Founded by respected directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, the studio featured whimsical films that captivates with their intricate and colourful art-styles, giving viewers a peek of a wondrous fantasy land. But the more you watch, the more you realise that there is much more than meets the eye. You’ll find that within the magical worlds, there are elements and themes that reflect our reality. In the end, we get a deeper understanding of our own world.
Despite the widespread acclaim, it’s a known fact that Studio Ghibli films are usually hard to come by as they can only be watched on DVD. Seeing how the company’s former distribution deal with Disney excluded merchandising and editing rights, it appears that they’ve been hesitant in licensing out their films and surrendering creative control to foreign distributors. Because of that, it was a shocking delight when news broke that Netflix has acquired the rights to stream Studio Ghibli films. Starting this February, 21 of the studio’s titles will come out on the streaming platform, rolled out over the course of three months, in batches of seven titles at a time. Everything will be there: their multi-awarded masterpieces, and underrated treasures. The only thing we'll miss is the tragic World War II account of Grave of the Fireflies, which sadly won’t be available since its distributing rights are owned by the publisher of the book it was based on.
So once the films start dropping next month, get ready to re-live these iconic Studio Ghibli films on Netflix. Here are some titles we think you definitely must catch when they drop.