Ghibli and Disney animations have different styles. There are numerous reasons why audiences seek out the artful and poetic films from the Japanese animation studio.
Children in the land of cherry blossoms also grew up with Disney films, but for them, the meaning of Disney animations is entirely different from those of Hayao Miyazaki (the director of Ghibli). The sources of inspiration, the nature of characters, and the conveyed messages differ, creating the distinction between these two giants in the animation industry. Below elements enabling Ghibli to compete with Disney:
Elements enabling Ghibli to compete with Disney: 1. Source of Inspiration
Disney films always follow a common formula: choosing a familiar fairy tale story that is readily available. Hence, the topics derived from these fairy tales can somewhat captivate the audience. People are curious to see how the characters in these fairy tales will be depicted on screen.
Most other Disney characters, like the Little Mermaid, Hercules, and Aladdin, are usually not real and rather abstract.
On the other hand, Miyazaki often draws inspiration from stories rooted in reality and creates unique characters in his films.
2. Conveyed Messages
Miyazaki’s animations always carry a message of ecological preservation (Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, The Borrower…). In contrast, Disney has hardly ever touched upon this topic (except for Pocahontas).
3. Nature of Villains
The antagonists in Disney films always represent evil and have no remorse. The films usually showcase a fierce battle between the protagonist and the antagonist, and the end result is the defeat of evil.
In contrast, the villains in Miyazaki’s films are often not exaggerated; they always possess qualities of repentance and redemption in their souls. Princess Mononoke (1997) is a typical example. She is the main antagonist in the film but still holds admirable traits.
Furthermore, not all of Miyazaki’s films feature villains. My Neighbor Totoro (1988) tells the story of two sisters befriending a mysterious creature, creating a fascinating adventure. Kiki the Little Witch (Majo no Takkyūbin, 1989) also conveys a similar feeling. The main character, Kiki, a kind little witch, overcomes great difficulties in life through her own luck and effort.
4. Songs in the Films
Disney pays great attention to the songs used in their films. “Under the Sea” in The Little Mermaid won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1989; “Beauty and the Beast” in Beauty and the Beast also won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1991…
Many of Miyazaki’s films also contain beautiful and gentle melodies by Hisaishi Joe, an artist specialized in composing music for Ghibli’s films.
Introduce About Studio Ghibli
Ghibli was founded in 1985 by two legendary Japanese directors and animators, Hayao Miyazaki and Takahata Isao. Ghibli is considered the flagship of the Japanese animation industry, with its films having high artistic value and conveying profound messages. Miyazaki’s films address ecological issues, the consequences of industrialization, human greed and cruelty, the relationship between humans and nature, and elevate the role of women…
In 2001, the masterpiece Spirited Away brought Miyazaki an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, making him a legend. In 2006, Hayao Miyazaki was voted one of the 60 most influential Asians. Miyazaki is often compared with Walt Disney, but he himself dislikes this comparison, considering himself a fortunate artist.
Most of Studio Ghibli’s animations are hand-drawn. Every line, detail, and color is meticulously crafted by the animators. Although the studio has later adopted computer-generated graphics, this technique only plays a small part in the overall production. This difference is why many people still seek out Ghibli’s films, in the era where 3D animated films from Hollywood are dominating like a storm.
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