It’s challenging to find anyone today who isn’t familiar with the works of Studio Ghibli, even if they aren’t into other Japanese films, animated or otherwise. The round-faced, expressive characters that populate Ghibli’s films are instantly recognizable, whether they hail from kid-friendly fare like My Neighor Totoro or mature offerings like Princess Mononoke. And while Ghibli films have been available to North American audiences for a while now, it wasn’t until 2001’s Spirited Away made it to Western cinemas that the studio really got the attention of American audiences, especially after it took home the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
But the groundbreaking animation work of Studio Ghibli goes all the way back to its founding in 1985. And the studio’s scope goes well beyond your typical kiddie flick, as these movies appeal to audiences of all ages with timeless themes of determination, environmental justice, and the empowerment of the young. In other words, it’s totally worth diving a bit deeper than Totoro and Spirited Away to get a look at some of the untold truths of Studio Ghibli.