Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation company that has made a name for itself with its intricate and imaginative films. However, what sets the company apart from others in the industry is its commitment to feminist ideals. In most of their films, Studio Ghibli has portrayed an empowered female protagonist, often situated in a male-dominated world. They have presented a society in which women are respected and celebrated, initiating a shift in the portrayal of women in Japanese animation.
One of Studio Ghibli’s earliest films, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, features a strong female protagonist who is a skilled fighter and a protector of the environment. In a post-apocalyptic world, Nausicaä’s strength and determination are crucial in battling hostile forces and understanding the natural order of the world. The character is emblematic of the values that Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have sought to represent: standing up for what you believe in, protecting those who are vulnerable and listening to nature.
Another notable film is Spirited Away, featuring Chihiro, a young girl who is spirited away to a magical world. In this realm, she encounters spirits who snatch her parents and force her to work in a bathhouse for spirits. Chihiro navigates through the new universe using only her courage and intelligence. Miyazaki’s portrayal of Chihiro offers an inspiring message to young girls who are navigating the world with a limited understanding of their capabilites and opportunities.
Studio Ghibli’s most recent film, When Marnie Was There, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, continues the studio’s tradition of empowering young girls. The movie features Anna, an introverted girl who discovers a secret mansion and a new best friend, Marnie. The film is an exploration of Anna’s journey of acceptance, identity, and growing independence. Yonebayashi’s portrayal of Anna and Marnie’s relationship explores the boundaries and meanings of traditional family units.
The depiction of empowered women in Studio Ghibli’s films has opened the possibility for young girls to envision themselves in complex, strong and capable roles. It also conveys a positive message to boys. Studio Ghibli films depict that strength is not about masculinity; women can have their own interpretation of strength defined by their own personalities.
In conclusion, Studio Ghibli has impacted the animation industry and feminism in profound ways. Through their female characters, they have built compelling narratives that challenge gender biases and encourage young girls to envision themselves as empowered members of society. There is no doubt that Studio Ghibli has helped contribute to the broader and ongoing conversation surrounding the role of women both in Japan and across the globe.