I knew there’d be a good reason to share my favorite Ghibli movies with Kate awhile back. She’s since created her own fantastic Ghibli tag centered around their body of animated films that deserve just as much attention as their contemporaries (i.e. Disney/Pixar). Thank you so much for tagging me, Kate! I’m happy to participate in this tag.
- Please pingback, rather than link to me as Heather @ The Hermit Librarian. I will only know if you’ve done this tag if you pingback.
- Tag as many people as you want. Ghibli movies aren’t as popular as Disney or Pixar, so be careful that those you tag are at least somewhat familiar with Ghibli.
- You can use examples from books, movies, TV shows, anime/manga, and webcomics.
- As this tag celebrates heroines, please name either a piece of fiction or a female character, if you’re able.
- Have fun!
Nausicaa, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: (Even though this isn’t technically Ghibli, it’s still marketed that way). Nausicaa is a princess in a post-disaster world. She is compassionate and brave, a daring explorer who is capable and selfless. Name a strong female leader.
Note: I always consider Nausicaa a Ghibli movie, but if I remember correctly it came out shortly before the actual formation of the company.
Lada Dragwyla is a strong female leader in a number of ways. Not only does she have to survive in a world in which women are little more than property, but she has to contend with the fact that her father has abandoned her and her brother to a rival court as part of a political bargain. Ruthlessness is the only thing that will save her and she uses the courage she’s had all her life to not only survive, but to gain the power to conquer.
Based on the legend of Vlad Dracul, Lada can be vicious at times, but above all, strong.
Sheeta, Castle in the Sky– Although Sheeta may have a quieter demeanor than other Ghibli heroines, she is not a damsel in distress. She’s royalty, but doesn’t stay on the sidelines; she is involved, kind, and despite a sad past, hopeful. Name an inspiring member of royalty.
Alanna, whom I’m pretty sure is a princess or something of the like, is inspiring because she fights for her destiny to become a knight. As a girl in a medieval setting, she’s expected to learn magic in a convent, respectable work for a girl. However, she craves the adventure of being a knight and so, colluding with her twin brother, she switches places and seizes her future in her own hands.
Satsuki and Mei, My Neighbor Totoro- Before Anna and Elsa, before Lilo and Nani, there was Satsuki and Mei. Satsuki was incredibly young when their mother was hospitalized, and with their father at work, she has to take care of Mei. And Mei is only four, with a big imagination. Name a pair of siblings (or two friends who act like siblings).
While the Weasleys are a large and loving family, the twins Fred and George are by far the closest. There were only two or three times in the entire series when they were apart, none of them happy but let’s focus on the good. They were the jokers of the family and actually made quite a good living off this talent later in life. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, they fought against the establishment at school and out of it once the Second Wizarding War began.
Kiki, Kiki’s Delivery Service– Kiki has to go off on her own to live alone, as is the custom among witches. She goes through many things that newly independent young adults face, like money problems, finding a place to stay, job searching, and loneliness, before finding her way thanks to her special abilities. Name a female character who has supernatural gifts.
Nell, the primary main character of this novel, starts out as a character who doesn’t think she has any power. She’s escaped from an abusive relationship by faking her death and crossing the country. However, through the personal interactions she has on the island, she comes to terms with the inner strength she has as well as the supernatural gifts and destiny that drew her to this new home in the first place.
Gina and Fio, Porco Rosso- Gina and Fio are both heroines in this film, and they couldn’t be less alike. Gina is a young woman who is very feminine, a singer and a restaurant owner. However, she is very resourceful and capable. Fio is a teenage mechanic who is independent, goes against the flow, and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. She may be one of the best mechanics of her time. Name two inspiring heroines; one who is unabashedly feminine, and another who is more of a tomboy.
Tina and Queenie Goldstein are both heroines from the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. While Tina gets more screen time because she is the American counterpart to British wizard New Scamander, Queenie is just as important because she is Tina’s sisterly support and saves her & Newt from a wizarding execution squad at MACUSA. Tina’s clothes tend to lean more towards trousers and jackets that have a tomboyish look to them, while Queenie wears more traditionally feminine dresses made from light, airy fabrics in fair colors.
Angel, On Your Mark- On Your Mark is a music video that Ghibli helped a music group with. It may not have much of a story, but it’s beautiful and interesting, and not may people are aware of its existence. Name an underrated heroine.
There are two characters in this book that I think fit this prompt: the main heroine Margie and her best friend, or secondary heroine, Reenie. The story opens in the 1920’s and Margie is making the best of her life, trying to be better than her parents, which is hard for a woman of her class in those days. She keeps an optimistic attitude for much of the novel and I admire that.
Reenie is in a similar circumstance/class to Margie, but she’s different in that she doesn’t care what others think, which comes in useful as she falls in love with Sal, the son of Italian immigrants, which her mother disapproves of. When she becomes pregnant out of wedlock, she makes the best of things and marries Sal, who luckily loves her and is a decent person. Reenie converts and is welcomed by her new family, though her mother disowns her because of the conversion.
Both of these women bear a lot because of their times and situations and neither get recognized as worthy heroines, unlike Betty Smith’s most well known heroine, Francie Nolan, from her book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Shizuku, Whisper of the Heart– Shizuku is an eighth grade student who can’t quite focus on school as much as on her favorite books. However, through encounters with an ambitious boy who seems to have a likely chance at meeting his goals, a cat who rides trains, an antique shop owner, and a cat statue called The Baron, Shizuku is determined to meet her own goal and become a writer. Name your most relatable character.
Cath from Fangirl is very relatable to me. She’s a huge fangirl, obviously, and she finds quite a lot of comfort in her chosen fandom when life gets to be too much for her. I get that and I’ve got my fandoms, the ones that I turn to when I’m feeling overwhelmed or depressed. I felt like I understood Cath’s struggle with mental illness, hers as well as her father’s, as well.
San, Princess Mononoke- San has been raised by wolves her whole life. When humans begin to invade her home forest to make towns and use the resources for themselves while killing the spirits and animals within, San refuses to let it be. She takes a stand and becomes the village’s greatest obstacle. She is such a force to be reckoned with that they even give her a name: The Princess Mononoke. Name a female character who is physically strong.
Michelle, Maggie, and Anita, aka the Paper Sisters from R.O.D. Read or Dream, are physically strong because the two eldest (bookworms is too light a term for them) lug enormous book hauls around all the time, strengthening their muscles, and all three of them are adept at fighting. While, yes, they use their paper powers for most of their fighting, they have to be able to run and jump and all kinds of physical activity. Anita, if I remember correctly, is even trained in kung fu.
Chihiro, Spirited Away– At the beginning of Spirited Away, Chihiro starts off as a whiny, spoiled ten year old girl. However, during her time working at the spirit’s Bath House, she discovers parts of herself she didn’t know she had. The story is about her finding the strength she already had but was unaware of. Name a character who has an amazing character journey.
David, caught up in a terrible sadness over the loss of his mother and the formation of a new family, is sent to a new world that has some familiar elements in the form of fairy tales. However, while navigating them, David comes to realize that there’s more danger than he ever realized, because while there may be elements of the familiar, the journey proves that these fairy tales are twisted and are darker than he remembers.
Haru, The Cat Returns– Haru is a typical high school girl; kind, clumsy, and a little forgetful. But she soon finds herself involved in events that are out of her control. In a way, it is because of her normalcy that she can find her way out of her situation and become stronger because of it. Name a female character who may not have any supernatural abilities herself, but is memorable anyway.
Tohru encounters the supernatural in her series, Fruits Basket, but has no supernatural abilities herself. This doesn’t stop her from being the heroine of the series, bringing a much needed breath of fresh air to the Sohma family and the first chance of hope they’ve had in a long time at breaking their curse. Her joy for life, her stubbornness against the hardness of life, makes her a sweet and memorable character in spite of the characters around her that change into animals when hugged by members of the opposite sex.
Sophie, Howl’s Moving Castle– Sophie doesn’t think much of herself for a lot of the story. She doesn’t think she’s pretty or memorable, especially when compared to her younger sister, Lettie. It gets even worse when she’s cursed to look like an old woman. When she finds a new life that involves the mysterious wizard Howl, a fire demon, Howl’s apprentice, and many others, she is shown to be resilient and intuitive. Name an emotionally strong character.
This might seem like an odd choice, but my pick is Samantha from Every Last Word. She has Purely-Obsessional OCD and while it makes her life a struggle, I think she’s stronger emotionally that quite a lot of heroines because despite the struggle, combined with the toxicity of a high school clique she’s in, she continues to live. That is a huge to me.
Ponyo, Ponyo- Ponyo is one of the youngest Ghibli heroines at only five years old. But she still gets a lot done, including becoming human, discovering things, finding a best friend, and saving the world. Name a hero who happens to be a child.
Farah has to go on a journey into the steampunk board game, not unlike Jumanji, to safe her younger brother with her wits and her two friends to assist her along the way. It’s a lot to ask of children, but their adventure was a lot of fun to read and I think the audience for this book will only get bigger the longer it’s out.
Arrietty, The Secret World of Arrietty- Arrietty is a Borrower; she is tiny and survives by stealing small things that humans won’t miss. Yet she’s curious about the human world, and does braver things than most humans would be incapable of doing, despite her tiny size. Name an unlikely hero.
Despereaux, a mouse who loves music, book, and the princess. He’s the latest of his mother’s children and often forgotten or pushed around. What he becomes in spite of this is nothing sort of admirable.
I mean, c’mon, his sword is a needle. ❤
Nahoko, The Wind Rises- Nahoko has tuberculosis during World War 2. However, she doesn’t allow this to cripple her, and enjoys life to the fullest anyway, which includes painting and falling in love. Even being placed in a sanitarium doesn’t break her. Name an inspiring character with some sort of obstacle.
Andrew may not at first seem on the same level as Nahoko, but I think that by the end of his story, he deserves to be. Andrew’s obstacle is internal: it’s his own guilt, really, over the fact that he survived a tragic accident that killed his father, mother, and sister. An accident that there is more to learn about before the end of the book.
His guilt has him retreating into himself, hiding out in the hospital where his family was brought, working in the cafeteria and sleeping in a forgotten supply closet. The antagonist of the book, Death, haunts him at every turn as the hospital’s counselor (I believe that’s her job, but it’s something like that if not exactly).
He slowly starts to think of a future, of a life outside, when Rusty, a boy supposedly attacked and burned for being gay, is brought into the hospital. Becoming friends and something more starts to turn the darkness into hope, bringing out a side of Andrew long thought gone.
Kaguya, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya- in a time where women were expected to follow social norms such as blackening teeth, shaving eyebrows, and being forced into arranged marriages, Kaguya refuses to play along. She would much rather be outside, dance, and play with friends. Name a female character who challenges social norms.
Mariko, the main character of Renee Ahdieh’s Flame in the Mist, is expected to conform to her Japanese family’s traditional values, which for her means marrying someone that will further their standing in society, regardless of whether she loves him or not. While she was willing to do this, when her convoy to her future husband’s home is attacked, rather than conform and seek out the help of a man or return to her family, Mariko summons her courage and the mind she has cultivated to discover the truth behind the attack.
Her taking up a male identity in order to do so is evidence of her bucking the norm in the course of the book, but there’s also evidence of her doing so before the main story even starts. As a girl, her education would have been centered around certain topics, but she made sure to find ways to educate herself in the same topics her twin brother was privy to. She wanted more, even if she thought that her future lay along a somewhat more traditional path. Hopefully, in book two, we’ll see her future come to pass in all its beautiful glory.
Anyone who’d like to do this that loves Ghibli as much as I do! 😀