The Boy and The Heron is influenced by various streams of thought which have become a trademark of the Ghibli industry. While we discuss the top 5 Studio Ghibli movies to watch before The Boy and The Heron, we must understand that it is necessary to be able to identify how these distinct narratives are reflected in each other and how that denotes the essence of the Ghibli film studio.
Top 5 Studio Ghibli movies to watch before The Boy and The Heron (ranked)
MAL Rating: 7.93
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
Total Runtime: 1hr 40mins
Ponyo is Hayao Miyazaki’s tenth film and the eighth one he directed for Studio Ghibli. It follows the story of a mystical goldfish princess and the five-year-old boy she befriends from the land. The princess wishes to live on the surface but her being in the land disrupts the order of nature. It is a classic tale about friendship and nature, with a lot of loaded metaphors on ocean pollution.
Ponyo is considered Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s most narratively odd creation and it has a significant reference in The Boy and The Heron as well.
- Moreover, the narrative is far more suited for a child’s imagination in the dreamscape, a multi-layered conundrum for adults to decipher and understand.
- More than anything, it is the love for a fellow friend that dictates the entire narrative of Ponyo and therefore makes it one of the important Studio Ghibli movies to watch before The Boy and The Heron.
4. Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke is one of Studio Ghibli’s most striking stories. It tells the story of a forest princess named Mononoke who must mobilize her army to fight against mechanization and encroachment in the forest. The looming threat posed by industrialization and outsiders compromises her home and her people. Princess Mononoke is a classic tale of myth, fantasy, and war, with a loaded and painstaking narration of homelessness and abandonment.
Princess Mononoke holds a remarkable resemblance to The Boy and The Heron in terms of the representation of the fantastical landscape and the interaction of man and nature. This makes it a definite Studio Ghibli movie to watch before The Boy and The Heron.
3. Howl’s Moving Castle
Howl’s Moving Castle is one of Miyazaki’s forerunners in anti-war movies. It has been inspired by the novel of the same name written by Diana Wynne Jones. It follows the story of Sophie and Howl, the former a young lady and the latter a wizard. But things take a tragic turn as Sophie is cursed with old age by a jealous witch and Howl must employ and incorporate everything in his power to overcome the curse before time runs out.
Howl’s Moving Castle is a classic narration of fantasy, adventure, and war. Moreover, things take a dark turn towards the latter half of the movie and it is one of the most splendid contributions of Miyazaki to the anti-war movies.
- It has several references to The Boy and The Heron and therefore remains one of the most necessary Studio Ghibli movies to watch before The Boy and The Heron.
- Moreover, the striking resemblance of fantasy and the uncanny narration of conflict is a necessary concept to follow.
2. Grave of the Fireflies
MAL Rating: 8.51
Platforms: Apple TV, Vudu
Total Runtime: 1hr 28mins
Grave of the Fireflies is an adaptation of Akiyuki Nosaka’s semi-autobiographical short story of the same name. It is basically a story of two children and their undying struggle to survive in the ruins of Japan’s surrender in World War II. As an anti-war masterpiece, it is a story of loss, innocence, and hope in a realistically tragic yet startlingly beautiful piece of art. Being one of the saddest anime movies of all time, this particular movie withstands traditional conflict narration through mediation between tragedy and hope in a war-torn environment.
Grave of the Fireflies resonates with The Boy and the Heron in more ways than one.
- Both are strikingly beautiful narrations of war and their tragedy is imprisoned in the idea of eternal loss and pain.
- But what makes it all the more interesting is that the former is not a Miyazaki movie but was instead directed by Isao Takahata, making it all the more interesting to watch as the two minds intersect in their imagination of war and peace.
- These factors make it a top contender in the list of Studio Ghibli movies to watch before The Boy and The Heron.
1. Spirited Away
MAL Rating: 8.78
Genre: Adventure, Supernatural
Total Runtime: 2hrs 4mins
Spirited Away is perhaps the most remarkable creation by Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli and rose the industry to fame internationally. The story revolves around ten-year-old Chihiro who ends up in a world of Gods and Monsters. The strikingly beautiful and enchanting tale of navigation establishes a clear distinction between magic and fantasy.
- Spirited Away is a tale of magic, monsters, hope, mystery, and fantasy. It is a netherworld imagination, a dreamlike reality, where there is neither the dead nor the living.
- The spirit world and its imagination are intrinsically linked to the idea of memory and family, where one must abandon and sacrifice all if they do not escape in time.
This tale of adventure by Miyazaki in the form of an immersive fairytale is the most closely linked plot structure that we can establish with The Boy and The Heron.
The top 5 Studio Ghibli movies to watch before The Boy and The Heron come as an associated network of stories that are somehow at play in the latter’s narrative. These stories by Studio Ghibli follow a certain pattern and structure of imagination and this certain aesthetic of the imagination and the picturesque is highly reflected in the upcoming The Boy and The Heron anime.