I’m a big fan of Studio Ghibli and the World Masterpiece Theater. Want to know why?
Before I watched Ghibli’s films, I thought all anime were pure trash, filled with big breasted girls, shitty action shows, weird facial expressions, profanity and a lot of other stuff that made me never get interested into anime. Then, in 2014, someone recommended me to watch a Ghibli animation. It was Howl’s Moving Castle. I was amazed by how beautiful and charming it was. I had never seen such beautiful animation. Then I felt the need to watch other films made by the director of this movie. It was when I first read the name of the man himself: Hayao Miyazaki. I watched all of his movies in 4 days. But it wasn’t enough. I needed more. So I watched all the remaining Ghibli films in more 3 days.
So why I did get so captivated by Studio Ghibli’s works? Because everything is so vivid in their films, it’s mesmerizing. It makes me feel glad to be alive when I watch their works. Everything is so beautifully drawn, they explore themes that can make you think better about the life you live, the characters are really well developed and it’s easy to relate to them and even learn with them. I can say I’m spiritually independent today because of Kiki, as her struggle to make use of her talent to live by herself really inspired me.
But my ultimate life inspiration is the film Whisper of the Heart (Mimi wo Sumaseba, 1995, dir. Yoshifumi Kondo). When I looked at Shizuku, I could see myself, with all the insecurities and self-esteem problems we both had. But I learned how to overcome these issues, just as she did. Just as Shizuku, I learned that I must put myself to the test to prove that I’m capable of making use of my talents and capabilities to write my own future. Just as her, I’m someone that yearns to express my emotions through my art. I learned that I must find the emerald hidden deep within my heart by constantly improving my capacities. With Shizuku, I recovered my confidence.
By the months that passed after I watched every single film made by Studio Ghibli in one single week, I felt the need to go deeper in Miyazaki’s and Isao Takahata’s works. So I found out about the pre-Ghibli works, animations they worked on before Ghibli was founded. Among these were the series produced by Nippon Animation: Future Boy Conan, by Miyazaki, and three series directed by Takahata that were part of a collection of series called World Masterpiece Theater that adapted a Western classic book every year since 1974 ‘till 1997. That was my first contact with WMT, and I started to admire Isao Takahata much more after watching Heidi, Girl of the Alps, Marco (3000 Leagues in Search of Mother) and Anne of Green Gables, 'cause they're completely unique in the world of animation. They’re his true masterpieces.
The best aspect of the WMT series is that they can deeply touch you, ‘cause they focus on realism, are sensible and have characters you can relate to. They go through stuff we had lived in our lives or through something that really could happen to someone. You can feel exactly what they're feeling because it's portrayed in such a realistic way. You feel empathy for these characters to the point that you don't see them as simple characters - they become people close to you, whom you care and share the same feelings of happiness, satisfaction, anxiety, sadness, despair, among many others. Empathy. That's what is so fulfilling about the WMT series, the empathy that dominates you. I haven't watched every WMT series yet, but those and I did - and I hope many others I'll watch as well - are among the best and most valuable presents I ever got in my life, if not THE most.